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Asiadhrra facilitates Farm and Livelihood Rehabilitation Projects in Typhoon Yolanda Affected Areas in the Philippines

Contract signing between SEaSPOC and AsiaDHRRA.

Contract signing between SEaSPOC and AsiaDHRRA.

By Cezar Belangel, Program Manager
AsiaDHRRA joined hands with farmer-fisherfolk associations in the rehabilitation efforts in the Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) affected areas in the Visayas Region and in Palawan Province.

Together with Fondation de France and AgriCord, AsiaDHRRA set up the Post Yolanda Fund  for Local Initiatives which initially channeled a total of 20 Million Pesos for rehabilitation projects, 80% of which are grant and 20% local counterpart, to four  farmer-fisherfolk associations, namely, Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uumang Ormocanon, Inc. (KAMAO, Inc) based in Ormoc City covering 15 barangays; Unahin Lagi Ang Diyos – Bito Lake Fisherfolk and Farmers Association (UNLAD-BLFFA) based in McArtur, Leyte covering 3 barangays; Southeastern Samar PO Consortium (SEaSPOC) covering the municipalities of Lawaan, Salcedo, and Guiuan with a total of 9 barangays ; and Tagbanua Tribe of Coron Island Association, Inc. (TTCIA) of Coron, Palawan with 2 barangays.

Participants of the SEaSPOC project launch last May 16, 2014

Participants of the SEaSPOC project launch last May 16, 2014.

The farmer-fisherfolk associations launched their projects in their respective communities last May 16 and 17, 2014. In attendance during the launch were the members and Board of Trustees of each association, representatives from local government unit (barangay and municipal level), representatives from the Department of Agriculture, NGO partners, and  AsiaDHRRA. During the project launch, the leaders briefed their members, partners, and local officials about the project and responded to clarifications and suggestions from the community. The public launching was viewed as a good exercise towards a transparent and participatory project governance. The memorandum of agreement between AsiaDHRRA and the concerned association was also signed before the community members.

The projects aim to support the participating families to revive their farming and fishing livelihood activities as the relief operations of the government and many local and international humanitarian organizations begin to wind down. The projects will embark on “cash for work” strategy to encourage the participating families in clearing their farms with fallen debris, and planting of short duration vegetables and crops following an integrated diversified organic farming system, and re-establishing their sea-based livelihood (e.g. seaweed farming). In addition, the projects will provide farming or fishing inputs and materials.

Board meeting of SEaSPOC last May 16, 2014.

Board meeting of SEaSPOC last May 16, 2014.

While the priority objective of the projects is to revive the farming-fishing livelihood activities, they also put importance in creating family and organizational vision for their farms or fishing activities – with serious consideration on the twin issue of production and marketing. To do this, the projects will provide opportunities to the participating families to formulate their farm plans, and join several capability building activities to increase their individual and collective awareness, knowledge and skills.

AsiaDHRRA looks at this rehabilitation initiative within a development paradigm.  At the core of this initiative, AsiaDHRRA puts importance in building the capacity of the farmer-fisherfolk association as member-based organizations to become active participants in the entire development process of their communities.  Non-government organizations and other well-established development institutions were tapped to provide technical support and expertise, backed up with clear terms of reference or partnership agreement with the local association.

The development partners/service providers supporting the cooperation with local FOs are the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in rural areas (PhilDHRRA), Guiuan Development Foundation, Inc (GDFI), Pambansang Kilusan ng Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), Philippine Association of Foundations for Intercultural Development,Inc. (PAFID); the Institute for Strategic Research and Development Studies – Visayas State University (ISRDS-VSU), Social Action Center of Leyte, and the Save Our Biodiversity Aggrupation (SOBA).

Members of the Board of KAMAO, Inc. with Asiadhrra’s Cezar Belangel during the project start up planning workshop on May 13, 2014.

Members of the Board of KAMAO, Inc. with Asiadhrra’s Cezar Belangel during the project start up planning workshop on May 13, 2014.

AsiaDHRRA also participates in broad-based meetings on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation to optimize opportunities for collaboration.  It also initiated meetings with the Department of Agriculture (DA),  the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Peace and Equity Foundation, and International NGOs to explore complementarity of support and to link FO partners where possible and needed.  At least seven local government units through their Municipal Mayors and Agricultural Officers have participated in the project development process.

The projects mentioned above are part of the first set of approved projects. A second batch is expected by the end of June 2014. The programmed funds are for one year cooperation but with a perspective of long-term cooperation in light of the rehabilitation objectives.

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FASAP successfully concludes Leadership and Organizational Strengthening Project

By Florante Villas

Participants of the FASAP Evaluation Workshop held last May 14-15, 2014..

Participants of the FASAP Evaluation Workshop held last May 14-15, 2014..

Farmers Association for Sustainable Agriculture Production (FASAP) conducted an end-of-the-project evaluation last May 14-15 in FASAP Office and Training Center, Khoun District, Xingkhouang Province. The project entitled “strengthening of leadership and organization capacity of FASAP” is funded by AsiaDHRRA under the Farmers Fighting Poverty programming of AgriCord with support from the DGD Belgium Cooperation

Mr. Pa Kao Wue, FASAP President briefed the participants on the process flow and activities of the project

Mr. Pa Kao Wue, FASAP President briefed the participants on the process flow and activities of the project

Mr. Pa Kao Wue, FASAP President briefed the participants on the process flow and activities of the project beginning with training needs analysis based on the surveys and focused group discussions with groups of officers and members, the formulation of training design and in the conduct of training workshops and other capacity-building activities. The final outputs of the project include the amendments to FASAP by-laws, FASAP logo and FASAP strategic plan for the period 2014-2018.

FASAP Treasurer gave a financial report on the expenses incurred by the project.

FASAP Treasurer gave a financial report on the expenses incurred by the project.

The Chairperson of the Project Committee implementing the project presented the evaluation results while FASAP Treasurer presented the financial report and the expenses incurred during the evaluation of the project. A workshop followed to discuss the priority needs of FASAP that will be addressed in the following period and a subject of the next project proposal that will be submitted to AsiaDHRRA. The participants presented almost in unity that FASAP should address the problems confronting FASAP members in the production and marketing of organic rice.

FASAP’s Vice Chairperson and Head of the Project Committee presented the Project Evaluation Results .

FASAP’s Vice Chairperson and Head of the Project Committee presented the Project Evaluation Results .

 

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FAKZ gets a boost for organic rice production and marketing

By Florante Villas

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Farmers Association of Khangvieng Zone (FAKZ) and AsiaDHRRA held a joint planning workshop for a project “Enhancing capacities of 3,000 farmers in organic rice production and marketing.” Attended by officers and farmer-leaders from 9 villages in Khangvieng, the planning workshop facilitated a unity of understanding between and among members and leaders of FAKZ, Community Development of Environment Association (CDEA), FAKZ’s partner agri-agency, the local government unit of Khangvieng and AsiaDHRRA last May 16, 2014 in Khangvieng Zone Office in Pek District, Xiengkhouang Province in Laos. FAKZ was briefed on the reporting and financial guidelines required by AsiaDHRRA and the donor organization. A general implementation plan and schedules of activities were also agreed.

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On this occasion AsiaDHRRA and Farmers Association of Khangvieng Zone (FAKZ) also signed an agreement of cooperation for the FAKZ project entitled “Enhancing capacities of 3,000 farmers in organic rice production and marketing.” AsiaDHRRA agreed to finance the implementation of the project under the Farmers’ Fighting Poverty Programming of AgriCord, with support from the Dutch government under the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

Kum Khangvieng or Khangvieng zone is part of Peck district, Xiengkhouang province. It is 35 kilometers from Phonsavanh City, capital of Xingkhouang in the northern part of Laos, where mountains cover around 85% of the area.

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Khangvieng is among the hundreds of poor rural communities in Xingkhouang Province and in Lao PDR. The community has limited access to water during the dry season, forcing women and children to walk long distance to fetch water for their homes. For cooking and warming purposes people use fire wood from the forest. Every year after rice harvest children and women have to spend about 30 days in the forest to cut trees for fire wood. Approximately 20-30 cubic meters of fire wood that each household use for cooking and heating every year.

In 2011, the Community Development for Environment Association (CDEA) initiated a project in Mieng village aimed at providing clean and potable water supply and improve sanitation. The project organized a project management committee. With the jump-start project, members of the community managed to create the Community Development Fund (CDF) at the village. The CDF has now accumulated around 40,000,000 Kip (US$5,000). Villagers can borrow money from CDF to carry out income activity then pay acceptable interest 1% per month, for illness 0.5%, for children going to school 0.5%.

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The Khangvieng Farmers Association was then established. With a good track record, the local government office of Kum-Khangvieng, proceeded to approve and register the establishment of Farmer Association in Khangvieng Zone (KAKZ) and was approved subsequently by the Pek District Authority on 21 March 2012. FAKZ FO covers 9 villages namely: (1) Bane Mieng, (2) Nalam, (3) Phonh-thaong, (4) Bane Lao, (5) Bane Phay-Ngam, (6) Bane khangvieng (7) Bane Manh-Somg, (8) Bane Pungpanh, (9) Bane Sykhoune. Khum-Khangvieng Farmer Association focus on organic farming in order to protect environment, improve and diversify agricultural production, establish enterprises and find ways and means to help members adapt to climate change.

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The overall objective is “to improve living conditions of people in target communities according to the government’s MDGs for poverty reduction” and facilitate the over-all strengthening of FAKZ services to members as well as other farmers in Khangvieng. Specifically, the project aims to 1) Enhance the capacities of 600 lead producers in the production of quality organic rice for members to comply with organic rice quality standards and provide extension, coaching and mentoring services to more than 3,000 farmers in Pek District; 2) Form and strengthen organic and brown rice collectives to achieve economy of scale in marketing and benefit from better marketing terms (premium price, cash on delivery payment terms, realistic delivery schedules, better milling services and logistical support, lasting business/marketing relations with markets, and Increase incomes of 3,000 member organic rice producers of FAKZ by 15% to 20%.

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Asiadhrra funds development cooperation project with Laos Farmers

By Nonoy Villas, Regional Program Manager, Asiadhrra

In another groundbreaking milestone, Asiadhrra launched its first development cooperation project in Laos. On the occasion of FASAP’s planning workshop held last January 16-17, 2014,  Asiadhrra and Farmers Association for Sustainable Agriculture Production (FASAP) in Khoun District, Xiengkhouang Province, Lao PDR signed an agreement of cooperation to strengthen the leadership and organization capacity of FASAP.  AsiaDHRRA agreed to finance the implementation of the project entitled “Capacity-building of FASAP farmers organization in Khoun District, Xiengkhouang Province” with the funds provided by the Belgium government under DGD Belgium Cooperation. The signing was witnessed by 14 representatives from 14 villages, elected leaders, representatives from the District Authorities of Lao government and staff of SAEDA.

FASAP Chairperson and Vice Chairperson signed the Contract Agreement of cooperation with AsiaDHRRA.

FASAP Chairperson and Vice Chairperson signed the Contract Agreement of cooperation with AsiaDHRRA.

The Farmers Association for Sustainable Agriculture Production (FASAP) was established on December 27, 2010 and was registered at the District Office in Xienhkhouang Province. At the start, there were 300 farming households members in 7 villages of Khoun District. FASAP aims to develop and share best practices in sustainable agriculture techniques and organic production; supply safe agricultural products to consumers; derive better benefits from farming, and contribute to poverty reduction and environment conservation in province.

Earlier, the Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Development Association (SAEDA), a long-time partner of AsiaDHRRA in Laos had the opportunity to work with the Laos Youth Union in Xieng Khouang province. Such opportunity provided SAEDA venues to organize training activities on sustainable agriculture. The opportunity facilitated the formation of FASAP.

In the years 2010-2013, SAEDA worked with the Laos Agricultural Extension Program (LEAP) and the District Agriculture and Forest Office (DAFO), allowing continued support to FASAP through participatory agricultural extension support.  FASAP expanded to include 4 more villages and expanded its membership. FASAP is planning to expand its scope to 14 more villages in the coming years. But prior to this expansion plans, FASAP leadership felt the need to strengthen the FASAP’s organizational capacity, in leadership, governance, management, planning, implementing and evaluating, among others.  District association is a new concept in Laos and there are no existing formats or guidelines on the steps for establishing and managing  farmers association. FASAP Committees as well as farmer-members have little understanding of their roles as well as their full potential as members of an association. There is also a lack of skills in running an association (administration and management), business planning, monitoring and reporting, and financial management.

FASAP leaders and members listened carefully to the briefing by Ms. Lorna David, AsiaDHRRA Finance Manager, on the accountability and financial reporting requirements of the project.

FASAP leaders and members listened carefully to the briefing by Ms. Lorna David, AsiaDHRRA Finance Manager, on the accountability and financial reporting requirements of the project.

Asiadhrra responded to FASAP needs by supporting activities that will help FASAP enhance its organizational capacities, improve governance and develop human resources to manage the organization and provide better services to its members. Asiadhrra through its partner, SAEDA, will accompany FASAP in the implementation of the project.

AsiaDHRRA is now working on possible cooperation with two other farmers organizations, namely:

  1. The Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers’ Groups Association or AGPC in Champasak Province of Southern Laos
  2. Farmers Association in Khangvieng Zone, Peck District, Xiengkouang Province, Laos.

Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers’ Groups Association or AGPC was organized by the Lao government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry  with the support  from the French cooperation through its agency AFD (Agence Française de Développement).  AGPC was formed in August 7th in 2007. AGPC is a coffee producers organization composed of 2,650 families divided into 53 groups. About 60% of these families live below the poverty threshold. These producers organized themselves in groups in order to increase the value-added of their produce and to fight against all forms of exploitation. 40 small wet-processing centres were created between 2007 and 2008. In April 2010, a fully-fledged coffee factory that can produce sorted grade green coffee for export (Organic and Fair Trade certified) and roasted quality coffee for the domestic market was opened. In addition, a sensory analysis laboratory was officially opened in February 2011. AGPC and its members own all these facilities.

Support from AFD will end by June 2014 as AFD sees AGPC now being able to support its own operations from the revenues generated in their export markets. AGPC, however, is planning to expand its export markets as well as develop domestic markets for  its grounded and instant coffee products and therefore, requires additional members from among the small-coffee growers.

Khangvieng Zone is part of Peck district, Xiengkhouang province. It is located 35 kilometers  from Phonsavanh City, in the northern part of Laos, where mountains cover around 85% of the area.

FASAP leaders and members during the planning workshop held in its office in Khoun District.

FASAP leaders and members during the planning workshop held in its office in Khoun District.

The Farmers Association in Khangvieng Zone (FAKZ) is an organization of farmers located on marginal lands near the forest in Peck District. With poor resources, farmers rely on rice for food and cash income, as well as, forest products for fuel and heating. FAKZ members aims to develop their farms, improve productivity, rely more in their production and reduce reliance of forest products for their daily needs.

FAKZ was organized through the support of Asiadhrra long-time partner of Community Development and Environment Association (CDEA). CDEA has accompanied FAKZ, among other farmers organization, in their efforts to achieve appropriate capacities to strengthen their organization.

AsiaDHRRA provides support to farmers organizations in Asia under the banner program “Farmers Fighting Poverty” (FFP) (http://www.farmersfightingpoverty.org/en) of Agricord, (http://www.agricord.org/about) of which AsiaDHRRA is a member.

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Asiadhrra assists VNFU in the launching and conduct of start-up planning workshop

Last December 16-18, 2013, AsiaDHRRA participated in the launching and conduct of the start-up planning workshop held in VMQ Hotel, Hanoi, Vietnam. This activity is part of the Phase 2 of the Project entitled Building VNFU staff’s capacity in using right tools to support the development of collective economic forms in agriculture.  This project is supported by Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires (CSA), an agriagency-member of Agricord based in Belgium with funds from the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGD) through Agricord. AsiaDHRRA provides technical support and accompaniment to the project.

Mr. Lai Xuan Mon, Vice- Chairman of VNFU emphasized that developing tools or strategies in collective economic forms in agriculture is the direction that the Party and State has to support to empower farmers towards increased incomes and improve their living conditions .

Mr. Lai Xuan Mon, Vice- Chairman of VNFU emphasized that developing tools or strategies in collective economic forms in agriculture is the direction that the Party and State has to support to empower farmers towards increased incomes and improve their living conditions .

At the opening ceremony,  Mr. Lai Xuan Mon, VNFU Vice-Chair supervising the Economic Department and Mr. Pham Huu Van, Director, Economic Department, expressed his very strong support to this project as strategies for collective economic forms in agriculture is very important for VNFU members in the context of globalized trade, ASEAN economic integration and the growing strength of private agricultural companies. Also, the very energetic Ms. Hoang Thi Hau, chairwoman of the Thanh Xuan Commune Farmers Union, spoke about their experiences in engaging markets with their organic vegetable products. Mr. Than Dy Ngu, Director of Ecolink, a private company, also spoke about its company’s experiences in relating with organized farmers for the supply of agricultural products.  A summary of lessons from the 6 studies of collective economics was also presented. All these pointed out many weaknesses, including those from the supply side (farmer groups), product quality, economies of scale, pole-vaulting and difficulties in terms of rural infrastructure, transport and logistics, among others.

Ms. Hoang Thi Hau, Chairwoman of Thanh Xuan commune farmers’ Union, told participants how their cooperative of organic vegetables producer has grown from one group of 11 farmers in July 2008 to 13 groups of farmers supplying Hanoi markets with 23-28 tons of organic vegetables a month.

Ms. Hoang Thi Hau, Chairwoman of Thanh Xuan commune farmers’ Union, told participants how their cooperative of organic vegetables producer has grown from one group of 11 farmers in July 2008 to 13 groups of farmers supplying Hanoi markets with 23-28 tons of organic vegetables a month.

Ms. Hoang Thi Hau, Thanh Xuan, Chairwoman of Thanh Xuan commune farmers’ Union presented their experiences in marketing organic vegetable in Thanh Xuan commune, Soc Son district, Hanoi, Vietnam. Thanh Xuan organic vegetable model has been started since July 2008 with the participation of only 11 farmer members.  In September 25, 2009, Thanh Xuan organic vegetable production inter-group was established. Now, there are 13 organic farmers’ groups, supplying the vegetable to markets in Hanoi with 23-28 tons of vegetables a month.

Mr.Than Dy Ngu, Director of Ecolink, Hiep Thanh Group of Companies also presented the company experiences in linking up with farmers union for supply of agricultural products.

Mr.Than Dy Ngu, Director of Ecolink, Hiep Thanh Group of Companies also presented the company experiences in linking up with farmers union for supply of agricultural products.

Mr.Than Dy Ngu, Director of Ecolink, Hiep Thanh Group of Companies also presented the company experiences in linking up with farmers union for supply of agricultural products.  Established in 2001, the Company’s strategy was to provide high-quality sustainable products by contracting farmers’ groups producing  organic tea, herbs, spices and food items. The tea value chain includes farmers’ groups/production teams (about 10,000 farmers), sell their products to ten processing factories that was established by the company in the provinces. The company exports tea and sell other products in the domestic market. The company exports around 5,000 tons of tea every year.

In the organic tea supply chain, there are 1,200 farmers’ households participating in managing the quality of products based on internal certification system (ICS). The organic tea and spice factories follow  the export standards set by EU and North America. Other products are sold  through the online selling system of ECOMART. The Company focuses on supporting farmers’ group development, contracting with farmers’ groups and building the product trademarks. However in the process of cooperation, the company finds some difficulties in developing organic tea production models. Farmers pole-vault on supply agreements. The State and local authorities has yet to provide regulatory mechanisms to ensure the sustainable linkage between enterprises and farmers.  There is also poor infrastructure facilities in the tea production areas. The road network is difficult to pass during the rainy season, delaying delivery and transportation of tea products. Poor storage and drying facilities also affect product quality which in turn downgrades farm gate prices.

These were some of the challenges facing farmer commodity groups and agricultural company business relations. The company promised long-term relationship with farmer groups but need to work together for a favorable supporting policies and programs of government especially on the role of local authority to help in the development of physical support in terms of infrastructure and facilities that help farmers produce and develop quality products.

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Smallholder agriculture calls in the ACSC-APF 2012!

The CSO event statement highlights the adverse impact of the “loss of forest and agricultural land to monoculture plantations” to the  biodiversity, food security and human rights in the region and proposes to the ASEAN members states several measures to mitigate these effects.

The agriculture and environment CSO stakeholders recommend that ASEAN and/or its member states:

  1. Stop forced evictions in the interests of large-scale agriculture;
  2. In all cases where development projects will result in dispossession, international human rights standards should be fully observed. Affected communities should be fairly compensated, including by ensuring access to agricultural land
  3. Ensure sufficient budgets for sustainable agriculture and develop policies and programs to support small-scale farmers – women, men and young persons. In particular ensue access to land, waters and seed, provide support to organic farming, cooperative marketing, access to affordable credit, infrastructure, agricultural extension and meaningful participation of small-scale farmers in decision-making processes towards ensuring food and nutrition security;
  4. Ensure that all agriculture development programs and policies are gender sensitive and gender responsive;
  5. Extend technical assistance to improve competitiveness of small-scale farmers through sharing and learning exchanges on sustainable farming technologies, the establishment of an ASEAN Farmers’ Bank and ASEAN Small-scale Farmers’ Council to ensure institutionalized participation in ASEAN processes;
  6. Install monitoring mechanisms to hold transnational corporations accountable for their role with respect to large-scale food and agro-fuel production, toxic chemicals, land grabbing and the displacement of food crops including provision of guidelines for ASEAN governments on how to strengthen coherence between national and global food policies;
  7. Ratify and implement international treaties and provisions pertaining to natural resource management and agriculture, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which provides for the right to adequate food and to a decent living, which in the case of small-scale farmers includes the right to seeds and land.

Read full ACSC-APF 2012 Statement

Ms. Lany Rebagay in behalf of Asiadhrra, presented during the Opening Plenary of the ACSC-APF 2012 the AsiaDHRRA-AFA Experience in Engaging ASEAN on Agriculture and Rural DevelopmentDownload the presentation here…

About the ACSC/APF

The ACSC/APF is an annual gathering of civil society which was started in 2005 during Malaysia’s chairship. It follows with the Philippines in 2006, Singapore in 2007, Thailand in 2009, Vietnam in 2010 and Indonesia in 2011. At the end of each Forum, civil society comes up with a collective statement and recommendations for ASEAN.

The ACSC/APF is a main space for democratic and constructive debates on ideas, formulation of proposals for ASEAN, exchange of experiences among civil society and peoples’ movements, expanding networks across issues in the region, and doing joint actions, especially on community building process. This year, reflecting the major concerns of the ASEAN people towards the Association, ACSC/APF 2012 chooses the theme “Transforming ASEAN into a People?Centered Community”.

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