The Philippines and Germany have signed agreements to boost income of abaca farmers by giving them access to markets here and abroad and to provide education and training to rice producers on specific farming techniques and use of modern technology, a top official said.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the following agreements were signed: Abaca Sustainability Initiative (ASI), which will be implemented in Madalag and Libacao in Aklan, Janiuay and Maasin in Iloilo; and Better Rice Initiative Asia-Fostering Agriculture and Rice Marketing by Improved Education and Rural Advisory Services (BRIA-FARMERS) in Aurora, Iloilo and Southern Leyte.
The Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority will implement the ASI in 2015 and 2016 and it aimed to increase the certified production areas to 500 hectares, Alcala said.
He said about 300 farms, with an average landholding of 1.5 hectares per farmer, will take part in the project under the Rainforest Alliance, a certifying body recognized by the Sustainable Agriculture Network.
“With their farms certified, the farmers will be assured of better market access in the coming years, hence, increasing their annual income,” Alcala said.
He said the project, which has a P19 million budget, would require putting up nurseries for replanting and rehabilitation of areas affected by abaca plant diseases and fiber extraction and drying processes will be introduced.
The project areas were expected to supply the demand for certified products such as teabag manufacturers and the program will be replicated in other abaca areas in the country to benefit more farmers, Alcala said.
Alcala said at least 8,000 farmers would be beneficiaries of the BRIA-FARMERS project, which will be implemented by the Agricultural Training Institute and the Philippine Rice Research Institute starting this year until 2017.
He said the project, which has a P90 million budget, will involve training farmers on value chain analysis, basic agriculture, use of technology-based nutrient management, post-harvest handling and mechanization.
“Another fresh feature of the project is improving the farmers’ marketing and enterprise skills through participation in farm business schools,” Alcala said.
“We have been deliberately incorporating entrepreneurship in our programs as we want to produce not only good farmers but also successful agri-entrepreneurs,” he said.