SEARCA completes regional surveys for crop project sites

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Philippine-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) recently staged a reconnaissance survey of rice, corn, and coconut producing regions appraise appraisal potential project sites.

SEARCA’s Linking Farmers to the Market: Towards Transforming Subsistence Farms to Commercial Farms conducted the survey and participatory rapid area appraisal (PRA) in potential project sites in Isabela, Cagayan, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Quezon, Iloilo, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon and North Cotabato.

The surveys were conducted from December 2015 to March 2016.

The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR).


The survey and PRA aimed to validate the suitability of selected areas for data collection and determine whether the statistics reflect the current situation at the municipality level in terms of rice, corn, and coconut production.

The survey enabled the project team to trace the chain of activities for the crops and products and find out if there are unique enterprises for these crops.

The results of the scoping activities will be the basis for the sampling design, selection of individuals or group of individuals, and areas for the case studies and household survey.

A common feature in all of the municipalities, regardless of the crop, is the presence of market-credit tie-ups between the farmers and product outlets. The outlets are usually input providers or money lenders and traders.

It was noted that yellow corn can be described, to an extent, as commercialized” because the market is established for the produce.

There are large buyers and processors of yellow corn like the Mindanao Grains in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. On the other hand, white corn is produced mainly at the subsistence level.

These observations lead to the question of where producers of chichacorn and similar products get the raw materials.

In the case of coconut, despite a number of value-added products, cooking oil is the usual product after processing. But farmers sell their harvest either as whole nut or copra.

The chain for rice was found to be simple as the produce is only sold either as milled rice after processing or palay in raw form.

In Malasiqui, Pangasinan, farmers have the Rice Processing Complex (RPC) as an outlet for palay besides the usual traders and agents and, at times, the National Food Authority (NFA).

However, in Iloilo, the El Niño and lack of irrigation facilities resulted in either crop failure or absence of second cropping. The irrigation system is currently being rehabilitated by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) due to the damage from Typhoon Frank.

The value-added for rice, corn and coconut was also determined. The most notable product from the crops is rice crackers produced by a family business in Iloilo and sold to small stores in the capital city.

The project team noted that because of the reliance on solar drying as part of the process, it would be hard for the business to expand unless additional investment for a dryer is made for production to continue even when sunlight is scarce.

The observations and results of the reconnaissance survey and PRA will be discussed in the first progress report to DA-BAR by SEARCA. The project team is headed by Dr. Prudenciano U. Gordoncillo, Associate Professor of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of the Philippines-Los Baños.

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