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Long after the completion and turnover of project support, the beneficiaries of the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP2) are now doubling the benefits they gained from the project’s interventions in their livelihoods.

 This was known following the conduct of a field visit cum monitoring of 3 livelihood interest groups (LIG) that were assisted by CHARMP2 in Macalino, Calanasan, Apayao. The visit was carried out on February 1, 2018.

The field visit aims to assess whether the interest groups are implementing their activities as stated in their business plans. The visit also aims to identify the needs of the LIG for possible interventions by the Project and other partner agencies.

 The interest groups monitored were the Macalino Indigenous Farmers Association (MIFA) which served as the mother PO for the MIFA hog growers, MIFA coffee production, and MIFA soft broom production, processing and marketing.

At the moment, the MIFA coffee and MIFA Soft broom group used their livelihood assistance fund (LAF) to finance their corn production since coffee and soft broom is not yet in season at the time the LAF was turned over to the group. The group however, assured the monitoring team that they will follow and implement the activities contained in their business plans.

 The MIFA Hog growers association has 20 members who are very thankful of the Project because they were able to benefit from the AAIGA Component of the Project. According to Ms. Cheryl Agustin, “nakatulong ken mayat daytoy a proyekto ta idi inlakok dyay naited knyak idi damo nga baboy, naggatangak t dowa nga burias, tadta kasla adda ganansyak nga dowa a baboy.” (The subproject is beneficial and good because when I sold the first hog, I used it to buy two piglets. Right now, I have two swine that serve as my gain.)

 After the consultation with the project beneficiaries, monthly meeting schedules to be set and storage facilities to be put up by the group, for the monthly dues to be paid by members on time and for the materials needed by the group such as planting materials and fertilizers to be purchased all at the same time were the agreements made by the group.

 The monitoring of completed CHARM2 Project is in pursuance to the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Project, Local Government Unit (LGU) and beneficiaries that mandated continuous monitoring of subprojects by the project staff in partnership with the Municipal Local Government Units (MLGU) through the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) even after project phase out.// MJMAGUIDE


 

Many  local farmers find being certified as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) difficult to attain.

 

GAP are differing sets of codes, standards and regulations jointly developed by governments, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and the private sector to improve the sustainability of agriculture.

 

The pursuit of GAP seeks to ensure food safety and assuring food quality as well as keeping high regard for environmental protection and improving workers’ health, safety, and welfare.

 

Farmers and other producers or suppliers along the food chain are encouraged to adopt GAP regulations covering crop irrigation water, manure and municipal bio solids, worker health and hygiene, field and forest sanitation, postharvest water during packing, transportation, and storage and distribution, among others.

 

In the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is the responsible agency that grants, maintains and withdraws GAP certificates to individual growers or farms or to their produce marketing organizations.

 

It is specifically administered by the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Products Standards (BAFPS as chair and co-chaired by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). The members include the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA); Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM); Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI); High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP); Representative, Private Sector; Representative, NGO/PO; Representative, Academe; and others.

 

To encourage more farmers to adopt GAP and become certified as practitioners, main PhilGAP promoters have joined hands in reviewing and assessing their interventions to come up with a unified and complementary strategic approach that would help and encourage their farmer-clientele to become GAP certified practitioners.

 

According to Ms. Joan Bacbac, HVCDP regional focal person, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is the first region that organized its Regional GAP Team. Because of this, the CAR guidelines & protocols were prepared and approved. Last year a total of 1,285 farmers were already trained on GAP with Package of Technology under the DA CAR HVCDP aside from those funded by the LGU’s.

 

GAP certification is seen as a ticket to the ASEAN market, following the region’s integration where trading of vegetables and other produce among ASEAN countries is free, yet only a few farmers are applying for GAP certification, lamented Bacbac.

 

In spite of that reality, she explained that “we should continue doing our mandate, to conduct trainings and boost information dissemination on GAP."

 

Assistant Director Myrna Sta. Maria of ATI-CAR supported Ms. Bacbac’s proposition saying farmers must organize into cooperatives to compete in the emerging globalized markets. She added that all partners and participants in the agricultural industries of the country must also converge their efforts to resolve problems relative to product competitiveness and advance local products in the markets.

 

While GAP certification brings benefits to farmers, the costs associated with becoming GAP certified can discourage potential applicants, especially small farmers in third world countries.

 

For instance, growers who adopt GAP and other food safety practices do not receive higher prices for their products but may face higher production costs due to the costs of adopting GAP.

 

There are actually more problems and concerns that local PhilGAP implementers and promoters face but coming together to unite and advance best practices in promoting in the area is commendable, according to the participants.

 

The meeting was attended by representative from ATI-CAR, DA-RFO- CAR HVCDP, BSU, BAPTC and the assigned HVCDP focal persons and report officers from different provinces and municipalities of CAR last January 30-31, 2018 in ATI-CAR, La Trinidad, Benguet.

 

Each representatives presented the highlights of GAP interventions they conducted to farmer-clientele. Issues and concerns on the conduct of GAP interventions were aired, discussed and addressed.//  Karen T. Gawigawen