PBSP conducted a series of orientations among local smallholder farmers in Davao City and some municipalities in Sarangani Province to encourage them to join the “Sustainable Integration of Philippine Smallholder Farmers into the Global Cocoa Value Chain” Project.
Many smallholder farmers in the Southern Philippines live in poverty because of small farm plots, ageing farmers, lack of knowledge, and lack of economic opportunities. To help address this problem, PBSP, in partnership with Kennemer Foods International, Mars Foods and Agronomika Finance Corporation, has gotten the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark for the implementation of the landmark project “Sustainable Integration of Philippine Smallholder Farmers into the Global Cocoa Value Chain” which will assist 1,000 smallholder farmers in Palawan and Mindanao.
The project aims to create sustainable income opportunities by capacitating the farmers in intercropping their existing coconut with cacao farming and providing them with opportunities to engage in the global cocoa value chain of Mars Foods and Kennemer Foods International. Meanwhile, Agronomika Finance Corporation will provide the farmers with financial service, including loans, insurance services, savings, and payment systems.
Before the pandemic, the project conducted series of orientations among local smallholder farmers in Davao City and some municipalities in Sarangani Province purposely to disseminate the project and encourage farmers to join. The orientation also discussed the components of the project and requirements to participate. The declaration of state of public health emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic slowed orientation activities as widespread travel restrictions imposed by local government units in most identified project sites in North and South Cotabato and Sarangani Provinces.
Significant number of farmers signified interest and applied to be part of the project. In 2020, the project received 126 farmer applications. However, only 34 were approved as community quarantine halted the validation process of the remaining applications.
Last December, the assessment and validation of the remaining applications finally resumed after local government units eased some travel restrictions. To date, the project team continuously conducts farmer orientations in accordance with the health and safety guidelines and protocols to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
One of the attendees of the orientations is a 34 years old Elmer Lascuña, a farmer from barangay Dominga, Calinan District, Davao City and member of the Dominga Farmers Association (DFA). Elmer learned farming from his parents when he was only 13. His siblings and cousins are also farmers.
Their four-hectare farm land is shared among his siblings. After learning about the project, Elmer consulted his family and decided to apply. In August last year, Elmer started establishing his one-hectare cacao farm with banana as intercrop and has been attending regular training on the proper care and management of his crops. He believes with hard work a successful cacao farm is within his reach.
Since 2020, the project was able to orient over 700 farmers. The orientations were held in coordination and with support from Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Provincial or City Cooperative Development Office, and local government units. The project hopes to reach more smallholder farmers.
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