Connecting Farmer Groups and Research Institutions to Improve Farming Systems and Technologies
The FFF implements various projects that enable farmer groups to directly benefit from research and technology packages provided by various institutions. Among these projects are the following:
Marketing Development Program through Clustering Approach
The objective of the project is to enhance the incomes of participating farmers and the sustainability of their clusters by developing their marketing capacities and programs. By promoting a more market-oriented approach to production among cluster members, farmers will be able to produce the right varieties and quantities of products for pre-identified buyers with lessened risks of marketing failure. In turn, they will be able to enhance the quantity, quality and value of their products based on market needs. In the process, they will also be able to earn more financial rewards for their farming efforts. The clusters themselves will be able to generate revenues for their operations in exchange for providing marketing services to their members and/or engaging in profitable marketing operations themselves. An additional objective is to develop the institutional capacity of the FFF and FFFCI to undertake marketing development programs on a sustainable basis.
Biofarming Network Project
Aiming to build on the dynamism of the groups involved in various commodity-focused projects (rice, coconut, bananas, cacao, vegetables), the Biofarming Network started the formation of clusters among organic farming practitioners. The biofarming clusters that include a cluster center and a demo farm serve as the organic supply center and training and information hub for cluster members and their communities . The concept has been approved for support under the Philippines Farmers for Food Project that involves four groups in the Philippines. The FFF component of the project will install 30 biofarming clusters over 22 months.
Organic Rice Production Project
Established 99 trial farms in 21 provinces. A group of Core Farmer Technicians assisted in training of farmers, setting up of trial farms to identify traditional rice varieties suitable to local areas and undertaking mass production of organic rice. After two years, farmer participants are secure in the supply of rice for the family, incur lower farm input costs and sell healthy, organic rice to the local community.
Coconut Farm Development Project (CFDP)
To address the problem of senile and low-yielding coconut trees, the project installed coconut nurseries in 21 anchor farms in 10 provinces using nuts certified by the Philippine Coconut Authority. Managed by organized farmer groups and a number of state colleges and universities, these nurseries have sold the premium seedlings at suitable terms directly to farmers or to local government units that distributed these to other farmers. After a year and a half, some nurseries have rolled over the proceeds from the sale of seedlings to grow new planting materials.
Efficacy of Mykovam on Coconut Seedlings in CFDP Anchor Farms
In partnership with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (UPLB-BIOTECH), the project involves 17 of the 21 CFDP anchor farms in testing the efficacy of the organic supplement, Mykovam, on coconut seedlings. Scientists work side by side with farmers in monitoring the plants according to a scientist-designed experiment. Through this project, farmers also learned to do soil testing using soil test kits.
Science and Technology-Based Farms (STBF)- Banana
In partnership with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), the FFF identified farmer partners in growing tissue-cultured lakatan and cardaba (saba) bananas in Laguna, Quezon and Bohol. The first phase involved 12 farmers, a second phase will involve 33 farmers. The farmers will start selling their produce in the middle of 2010 and the project also anticipates selling banana plantlets to other farmer groups. The package of technology prescribed by PCARRD includes the assignment of a scientist to the project who ensures that the appropriate steps are followed throughout the project implementation. The expert partners are the Southern Luzon State University and the University of the Philippines Los Baños Foundation.
Also in partnership with PCARRD, the project involves 4 sites in Laguna and 4 sites in Quezon. A Magsasaka-Siyentista was involved in conducting the training for the farmer participants and supplying the budded cacao planting materials. The Quezon Agricultural Experiment Station (QAES) has been assigned as the partner institution for the project.
While directly benefiting the project participants, the wider communities around the project sites have also been involved in various activities allowing them to learn organic methods of agriculture such as soil conditioning with compost, production of organic foliar and botanical pesticides, farm planning and processing of farm produce.