THE calamansi industry in Mindoro and jackfruit production in Leyte are subject to “commodity traps,” or barriers to development, a study conducted by Filipino and Australian researchers found.
According to the Philippine-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), these barriers are low productive capacity, poor soil, and producer-buyer power disparity.
SEARCA Director Dr. Gil Saguiguit Jr. said the study funded by the center’s Seed Fund for Research and Training (SFRT) found these barriers in their study conducted in Inopacan town in Mindoro and Victoria town in Leyte.
Saguiguit said a team of experts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños-College of Human Ecology (UPLB-CHE) and Australian National University-Fenner School of Environment and Society (ANU-FSES) is conducting the analysis of smallholder commodity systems using an integrative systems-based framework in the two towns.
The sites are SEARCA’s project on Piloting and Upscaling Effective Models of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD) in the Philippines, which is the focus of SEARCA’s core programs on graduate education, research and development, and knowledge management until 2019.
According to SEARCA, the study aims to identify the historical dynamics of the development of smallholder farming systems in the pilot sites; provide a platform for collaborative, integrative modeling of smallholder farming systems with multi-stakeholder groups; and present best practices in developing and integrating smallholder farming systems into commodity systems.
It also aims to integrate the results of the systems analysis into applied project planning and policy development to strengthen smallholder commodity systems in the project sites; and disseminate the results of the project to multi-stakeholders in the area, region, and academe.
Saguiguit said the study focused on a systems-based framework and participatory method through visioning.
“These methods help identify and assess problems besetting the calamansi and jackfruit industries of Inopacan and Victoria, respectively, and consequently formulate strategies through visioning exercises,” he explained.
Initial findings of the study showed that there are opportunities for diversification, local food and nutrition security, and consolidation of farmer groups with support from technical researchers and extension service providers to address the complex nature of their farms.
Results showed that in developing commodity systems in Mindoro and Leyte, it is also important to anticipate possible commodity traps and understand the history of commodity system development and complexity of today’s commodity system management.
Saguiguit said that the framework and methods implemented by the team revealed how involvement and participation of different stakeholders are instrumental in understanding their current and future situation.
He said the researchers provided several recommendations on multi-stakeholder engagement, policy alignment, value chain development, and establishment of social safety nets, among others.
Moreover, they have outlined some implications of the preliminary results of their study for ISARD, including adaptive learning and importance of understanding transdisciplinary work, he added.
The study team comprises UPLB-CHE researchers Jennifer Marie Amparo, Carla Edith Jimena, Maria Emilinda Mendoza, Dhino Geges, and Charisma Malenab as well as ANU-FSES lecturer Dr. Robert Dyball and Federico Davila, PhD scholar, who are both SEARCA Visiting Research Fellows.