German gov't funds PH sustainable agri projects
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala signed agreements with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) worth almost 2.2 million euros (P106 million) on March 17. The GIZ is the conduit of grants provided by the German government as part of its international cooperation efforts.
The grants will be used to fund the Abaca Sustainability Initiative and a market education project for farmers, the Better Rice Initiative Asia-Fostering Agriculture and Rice Marketing by Improved Education and Rural Advisory Services (BRIA-FARMERS).
The Abaca Sustainability Initiative will be carried out using a grant assistance of 386,000 euros (P19 million), to be implemented by the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) for two years in the municipalities of Libacao and Madalag in Aklan, and Januiay and Maasin in Iloilo.
Around 500 hectares of abaca production areas in these provinces will be certified by the Rainforest Alliance, a foreign certifying body for sustainable industries, to expand their export markets.
Before these production areas can be certified, farmers will undergo training on good agricultural practices and sustainable production methods.
An initial 10 farmers and agricultural extension workers would be trained, and will later as trainers to 300 smallholder farmers cultivating the 500-hectare project area.
The project's beneficiaries would also be provided with planting materials and paraphernalia such as decorticating machines for fiber extraction. In addtion, they would be assisted in setting up nurseries to be used for replanting and rehabilitation of cultivation areas affected by plant diseases.
“This project is a wake-up call for abaca farmers and it is also a way of telling the world that Philippine abaca is now being certified,” said Alcala.
Abaca is one of the country’s top industrial crops along with coconut, rubber, tobacco and sugar.
The Philippines is a major supplier of abaca pulp to teabag manufacturers. Among the companies that use teabags made from Philippine abaca pulp is Unilever, the maker of Lipton Tea. The conglomerate aims to shift to the use of certified tea bags by 2016.
Raw abaca fiber is processed into pulp used to make tea bags, surgical masks, sausage cases, and coffee filters, among others.
Among the export markets of Philippine abaca fiberare the US, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, China, Taiwan, and South Korea.
The BRIA-FARMERS project is supported by a grant of 1.8 million Euros (P87 million) aimed at increasing production and marketing knowledge of beneficiaries and to help them get started with farm-based enterprises that will be sustained beyond the duration of the project.
The project is set to be implemented from 2015 to 2017.
Under the project, 400 rice farmers and agricultural extension workers in select provinces would be trained on technology-based nutrient management, integrated farming systems, and enhanced agricultural extension. Afterwards, they would extend their knowledge to 8,000 rice farmers in the targeted municipalities.
The beneficiaries would be assisted in establishing linkages with private sectors and institutional buyers. Their marketing skills would also be honed through participation in farm business schools.
“We have been incorporating entrepreneurship in our programs as we want to produce not only good farmers but also successful agri-entrepreneurs,” said Alcala. – Rappler.com
EUR1€ = P 48.1