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FO Leaders from Yolanda Affected Areas Visit Successful Agri-Coops

Batangas, Philippines – Nine farmer leaders representing farmers associations in the provinces of Eastern Samar and Leyte (Region 8) and the province of Palawan went on learning visits to Soro-Soro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) on 23 November 2015 and to Buklod Unlad Multi Purpose Cooperative on 28 November 2015. Both cooperatives are located in the province of Batangas and are engaged in successful commercial-scale hog raising with auxiliary business operations such as feed milling and meat processing.

In 2014, with support from Fondation de France and AgriCord, AsiaDHRRA launched a funding facility, dubbed as Post-Yolanda Fund for Local Initiatives to extend assistance to farmers’ and fisherfolks’ organizations (FOs) affected by the super-typhoon Yolanda. The objective of the program is to rehabilitate the farming and fishing activities in the affected areas, especially after the end of the relief operations.

One of the strategies implemented by FOs was to immediately plant fast growing crops for household consumption while, at the same time, looking at long-term livelihood. Before the onslaught of the ST Yolanda, the most of the partner-farmers were used to monocropping systems. Through the program, they were introduced to “integrated, diversified and organic farming systems” or IDOFS, which include animal raising.

In the course of project implementation, there was an increased interest on hog raising, especially among Region 8 partners. The farmer leaders saw a good business potential with the increased numbers of hogs being raised in their respective communities. They started considering possible processing and marketing for their produce. Thus, the famer leaders decided to conduct learning visit to successful cooperatives, such as SIDC and Buklod Unlad, with hog production business.

For over 40 years, the SIDC  evolved from a small consumer store cooperative to a diversified hog feed milling and hog producer’s cooperative with over Php 1.8 Billion in assets. It provides almost complete services to its members’ hog production– from pig stocks, feeds, veterinary extension services, marketing, and, meat processing, among others. Meanwhile, founded in 1991, Buklod Unlad is a smaller hog producing cooperative having about Ph 350M in assets.

During the visit with SIDC, SIDC expressed interest to expand its membership-based in Region 8. Buklod Unlad, on the other hand, committed to share with the farmer leaders some of their technical processes in raising hogs. They are willing to provide them with training when needed.
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The learning visit provided opportunity for the farmer leaders to understand the concept of cooperative and how it can benefit to small farmers and fishers. Also interesting for them is the hog production processes employed by the two cooperatives and the services extended to their respective members. Such processes and services help reduce economic-related risks to the small farmer-members.

The visit raised hopes for the farmer leaders; it provided them with concrete models and actions that could be adopted in their respective areas. But, most importantly, they realised the need to work together, especially in consolidating small municipal associations in the provincial level to achieve economy of scale.

The nine farmers associations from Region 8 is currently organizing itself into a Region 8 Farmers Alliance or R8 Alliance.
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National and Local Groups of Farmers Discuss Strengthening of Agri-Coops in PH

Quezon City, Philippines – At least 80 representatives of local and national farmers’ associations and cooperatives gather during the National Forum on Agri-Cooperatives on 27 November 2015 at Institute of Social Order, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. It was led by PAKISAMA, with support from AsiaDHRRA, CSA, We Effect, Trias, Agriterra, NATCCO, FSSI, PhilDHRRA, and AFA.

Coming from the 2015 IYFF+1 KLM-PE on 25-26 November 2015, wherein agri-cooperatives development was discussed as one of the key thematic areas for empowering family farmers, the national forum aimed at taking a closer look on the experiences, challenges, and lessons from developing agri-cooperatives in the country, in Asia, and in Europe.

In his keynote address, Chairperson Orlan Ravanera of the Cooperatives Development Authority, emphasized the importance of cooperativism in addressing development goals such as poverty alleviation, environmental protection, peace and order, among others. He also shared the recent policy issuances and support programs specifically for agri-cooperative developments.

Mr. Marek Poznanski of Belgium-based Collectif Strategis Alimentaires (CSA) shared the vital roles played by agricultural cooperatives in Europe. Mr. Jose Ebron of NATCCO presented the status and some success stories of agricultural cooperatives in the country. Ms. Vicky Serrato of AFA discussed the models and/or experiences of organizing agri-cooperatives among their members.

After the sharing sessions, participants were divided into four workshop groups to map out the profiles of participating farmers’ organizations, define the challenges confronting them, and identify opportunities and actions points for working together.

The participants all agreed to sustain the national forum and eventually establish a national federation of agri-cooperatives. They also to create a Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of representatives from select farmer groups and the development partners and NGOs who supported the forum. The TWG will discuss and draft the roadmap for establishing the national federation; and, will then present it to a follow-up national consultation among the participating farmers’ organizations.
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AsiaDHRRA would continue supporting this initiative by engaging its partner-FOs, PhilDHRRA’s partner-FOs, and, PAKISMA; and, through continued linkaging with NATCCO and other key stakeholders.

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AsiaDHRRA Continues its Support to IYFF+10 Campaign

iyffgQuezon City, Philippines – Following the success of last year’s national celebration of International Year of Family Farming Knowledge Learning Market and Policy Engagement (IYFF KLMPE), the national Technical Working Group on IYFF—composed of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the International Fund for Agriculture and Organization (IFAD),  AsiaDHRRA, PhilDHRRA, AFA, PAKISAMA, ANGOC, and, AgriCord Philippines Synergy—continued the collaborative effort through the 2015 KLM-PE with the theme: “IYFF+1 Partnership for food security, nutrition and climate resiliency: increasing farmers market power.” It was held on 25-26 November 2015 at DA-BSWM Convention Center, Quezon City.
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The 2015 IYFF+1 KLM-PE aimed at a) generating progress updates, reviewing current challenges and opportunities on 2014 IYFF declaration and commitments; b) drawing lessons from current models/innovations on climate-resilient agriculture, institutional purchase and farmers’ market, and agri-cooperatives; and, c) agreeing on action points for 2016 that would advance capacity building and effective participation of family farmers in policy making and program implementation, monitoring and evaluation of current government programs that build family farmers’ cooperatives, increase their market power and capacity to mitigate climate change. It also signalled the decade celebration of IYFF, dubbed as IYFF+10.

It was participated by at least 250 participants from government agencies, civil society organizations (CSOs) and farmers’ organizations (FOs). AsiaDHRRA mobilized participation of the Region 8 FO Alliance composed of FOs being supported through its Post-Yolanda Fund Local Initiatives, and, of FO-partners of PhilDHRRA.

The gathering commenced with the opening of interactive learning exhibits and sessions that showcase public and private programs and knowledge products related to family farming. During the opening programs, Dr. Liza Lim, PhilDHRRA’s Board Member, gave a remarks on behalf of the civil society organizations (CSOs). She encouraged the participants to take a unified action in addressing challenges especially on climate change, confronting family farmers.
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Ms. Marlene Ramirez, AsiaDHRRA’s Secretary General, presented the progresses made and challenges faced by CSOs in taking actions related to 2014 IYFF declaration. Undersecretary Rosalinda Bistoyong of the DAR and Mr. Soc Banzuela of PAKISAMA also did the same on behalf of the government and the famrers’ organizations (FOs), respectively.

The 2015 IYFF+1 KLM-PE also served as venue for introducing good practices on a) sustainable agriculture and climate resiliency, b) enlarging farmers’ market power, and, c) agri-cooperatives. AsiaDHRRA anchored the workshop on sustainable agriculture and climate resiliency wherein the participants agreed that there is a need to:

  • promote integrated and diversified farming systems to combat climate related disaster risks based on the experiences of AsiaDHRRA’s partner-FOs in Yolanda affected areas;
  • provide family farmers a better access to appropriate sustainable agriculture technologies such as those introduced by SIBAT—an NGO promoting organic agricultural practices;
  • preserve and promote indigenous knowledge and practices in protecting and managing natural resources such as in the case of Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP2) of the DA with support from IFAD; and,
  • organize family farmers to help them in constructively engaging with the government and in accessing public programs.

Recommendations from the three workshops were consolidated into 2015 Philippines IYFF+1 Action Agenda.
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Highlights of the workshop on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Resiliency may be read on this link.

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KTLFA, PDCI farmer leaders exchange learning visits

Bula, Camarines Sur – AsiaDHRRA hosted the learning exchange visits of 2 farmers from Kyone Ta Loke Farmers Associations (KTLFA) in Pathein Myanmar, and, 2 farmers from Pecuaria Development Cooperative, Inc. (PDCI) on 18 – 28 February 2015. the KTLFA implements a cooperation on rice farming and marketing with financing from AsiaDHRRA through the Farmers’ Fighting Poverty (FFP) of  AgriCord/DGIS.

Mr. Soe Min and Mr. Sa Aung Kyaw Min of KTLFA first visited the PDCI office and some of its members’ farms in Bula, Camarines Sur, Philippines to be introduced to integrated/diversified organic farming and production.

The 2 were then joined by Mr. Ludem Molina (PDCI) and Mr. Randy Rabina (PAKISAMA Bicol), together with AsiaDHRRA team, to a meeting with FPSDC-UMFI in its new warehouse at Pasig City, Philippines. Ms. Tetay Plantilla, Chief Executive Officer of Federation of People’s Sustainable Development Cooperative (FPSDC), discussed the marketing/business model of UMFI. She and her staff also gave a tour around their production area.
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Mr. Molina and Mr. Rabina then visited Myanmar to share some of their rice and organic fertilizer production practices. The 2 farmer technicians were generously hosted by the Karuna Myanmar Social Services Diocese of Pathein.

This farmer-to-farmer (f2f) approach is part of FFP and AsiaDHRRA’s strategy for effective transfer of agricultural technologies.

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AsiaDHRRA trains farmer leaders on community organizing, project and knowledge management

Tacloban City, Philippines – AsiaDHRRA, in partnership with PhilDHRRA and PAKISAMA, conducted a training-workshop with a theme: Basic Orientation on Community Organizing an Project Management, Monitoring and Evaluation from 31 January to 2 February 2015.
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AsiaDHRRA organizes MTCP 2’s learning exchange forum on seeds

8 December 2014, Quezon City, Philippines – AsiaDHRRA organized a forum, entitled: “Harvesting Experiences, Challenges and Opportunities on Seeds in Asia and the Pacific: A Learning Exchange Forum” on 5-7 December 2014 at Brentwood Suits, Quezon City, Philippines.   It was participated by FO representatives from South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Pacific Islands who belong to the MTCP2 cooperation among farmers’ organizations. Continue Reading →

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