The Visayas Island-wide Assessment Conference was conducted to make an interim assessment of the status of the biofarming clusters in the Visayas and plan their activities for the rest of the year (until the end of the project). A total of 12 cluster representatives (9 male and 3 female) attended the conference. They represented clusters in Iloilo, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Biliran and Southern Leyte. They were joined by three (3) National Office staff (National Manager Raul Montemayor, National Treasurer and project assistant Jean Villacote, and National Bookkeeper Ma. Femila Gregorio), the national marketing adviser (Mr. Dante Apara) and the project consultant (Ms. Joan Uy).

Following their arrival in the morning of June 27, the participants devoted the afternoon to refining and finalizing their agro-enterprise plans for their respective clusters for implementation until the end of 2014. National office and project staff assisted the cluster representatives in filling up the forms for their agro-enterprise plans. Mr. Montemayor also provided a brief introduction on the objectives and expected outputs from the exercise.

In the second day, the following activities were conducted:

1) Short introduction
2) Short status reports from the clusters
3) Results of the cluster assessment and evaluation exercise
4) Evaluation of data on harvests, sales and farmer costs and returns
5) Framework for planning for July to December 2014 activities
6) Workshop to complete Jul-Dec 2014 plans
7) Recapitulation

The cluster representatives noted the severe effect of natural calamities (typhoons, droughts and earthquakes) not only on their production but also on the ability of their members to follow group planting and marketing arrangements. Still, it was noted that the project was able to generate significant volumes and sales from vegetable production. Most of the crops also proved to be profitable although considerable effort needs to be made to improve productivity and yields.

Each cluster worked on its plans to develop seedling nurseries, identify focus crops and dedicated members, finalize their supply and marketing plans, and identify ways to activate their site working groups and more actively involve FFF leaders in the project. The project consultant, Ms. Joan Uy, provided comments for improving the plans during the reporting on workshop outputs. Mr. Montemayor explained the types of support that can be extended through the project and the procedures for accessing the support. He added that a monitoring and evaluation system is in place to track the progress of the clusters and assess the overall impact of the project before the end of the year. All the cluster representatives expressed optimism that that will be able to fully implement the clustering approach in the second semester of 2014 and generate significant volumes of production and incremental incomes for their members.