New Project Uses Value Chain Approach to Boost 25,000 Farmers’ Incomes
Farmers in the rural Philippines face many obstacles. Poor infrastructure, damaged irrigation and a lack of storage are just a few of the problems farmers in rural Mindanao must manage as they move crops to market.
Rice farmer Benjamin Abando (pictured on his farm at left) says that some communities do not have even the bridges farmers need to cross waterways so they can reach market-bound roads.
“I hope government agencies and ACDI/VCOA can help with these shortcomings,” says Abando, who spoke at the launch of a new ACDI/VOCA project, which aims to help farmers find solutions to these and other market-related constraints.
The new $5.4 million project, funded by USDA, aims to increase the incomes and food security of 25,000 farmers in select Mindanao provinces who work smaller farm plots and often struggle to earn a basic living. The CoCoPal project—named after cocoa, coconuts and palayamanan (or “rice wealth”)—will harness local value chains to increase farmers’ opportunities in a way that is economically and environmentally sustainable.
Better Farmer Links to Markets, Global Trade
“We need stability and a fair market for our fermented beans,” says cocoa farmer Johny Silva, who was named “Outstanding Farmer” under ACDI/VOCA’s previous SUCCESS Alliance Phase II program.
Silva and many other farmers have benefitted from the training and technical assistance they received, and now they need help establishing relationships and connections with buyers and other market players.
“We’re hoping that through this project we cocoa farmers, through cooperatives and farmer clusters, will become competitive and be able to produce and sell cacao around the world,” Silva says.
Untapped Market Potential in Philippines
ACDI/VOCA and its local partners, including Landcare Philippines Foundation, Philippines Rice Research Institute, Cocoa Foundation of Philippines and Philippine Association of Small Coconut Farmers, aim to make such aspirations possible. The partners see tremendous potential for the Philippines to expand its exports of high-value crops like cocoa, coconuts and rice.
According to Ronilo Beronio, executive director of Philippines Rice Research Institute, the Philippines may have a rice trade deficit, but it has ample land suitable for rice production.
Charles Avila of the Philippines Association of Small Coconut Farmers Organizations notes that about one-third of the global land suitable for growing coconuts is located in the Philippines, and exports could be significantly expanded. Yet much of the current harvests go to waste, he says.
Better Food Security Too
While the project’s technical assistance and value chain focus aims to increase farmers’ productivity and marketability, the project expects increased incomes to lead to better food security for rural families as well.
“CoCoPal will not just produce new revenue streams but also improve food security,” says Edward David, president of the CoCoa Foundation of the Philippines (CocoaPhil).
More than 200 industry leaders, nongovernmental partners and local government officials attended the April 21 project launch event in Davao City. Read the news release.