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Oriental Mindoro, Quezon cooperatives grow stronger with SEARCA

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IN celebration of the International Day of Cooperatives, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) spotlights its impactful programs that have empowered calamansi and coconut farmer cooperatives in Oriental Mindoro and Quezon Province, Philippines.

By implementing innovative strategies and promoting sustainable practices introduced by SEARCA, cooperatives in the two provinces have achieved remarkable gains in yield, income, and community well-being.

Revitalizing a local calamansi industry          

In Oriental Mindoro, SEARCA’s initiatives focused on enhancing the value chain for calamansi farmers. This involved providing advanced training in agricultural techniques, introducing sustainable farming practices, and establishing better market linkages.

SEARCA conducted comprehensive workshops and field demonstrations, teaching the calamansi farmers modern cultivation methods, pest management, and postharvest handling. These sessions were designed to improve yield quality and quantity.

Moreover, calamansi farmers were trained in organic farming methods, soil health management, and water conservation techniques. This not only boosted productivity but also ensured environmental sustainability.

SEARCA also facilitated connections between farmer cooperatives and potential buyers, including supermarkets, food processing companies, and export markets. This helped farmers secure better prices and more stable income streams.

Furthermore, Victoria Kalamansi Farmers Federation President Ruel Sanchez has attested to SEARCA’s role in establishing their federation. He said the consolidation of the calamansi farmers enabled them to secure support and funding from Philippine government agencies like the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Dr. Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA Center Director, highlighted the importance of these efforts. He said, “Empowering local farmers through cooperatives is a cornerstone of sustainable agricultural development. By providing the necessary tools and knowledge, we enable farmers to improve their livelihoods and contribute to the broader economic growth.”

Developing coconut industry growth areas

In Quezon Province, SEARCA has worked closely with the local government and coconut farmer cooperatives to address the challenges of declining productivity and market instability. Initiatives included the introduction of intercropping systems, capacity-building programs, and the development of the Quezon Coconut Industry Roadmap.

In early 2023, SEARCA introduced intercropping systems where farmers were taught to grow other high-value crops such as cacao and coffee alongside their coconut trees. This practice not only improved soil health but also provided additional sources of income.

From June to December 2023, SEARCA conducted a series of trainings and workshops focused on best agricultural practices, financial management, and cooperative governance. These learning events equipped farmers with needed skills to enhance productivity and manage their resources effectively.

Furthermore, SEARCA helped craft the Quezon Coconut Industry Roadmap (2024-2026), which aims to improve the lives of coconut farmers in the province by expanding production, increasing farm productivity, and empowering farmers’ organizations. This will be achieved through training programs, improved farming techniques, and supporting the development of farmer-run businesses in the coconut industry.

During the Farmersโ€™ Day hosted by SEARCA last June 27, Jonathan Sibolino, President of the San Antonio Pala Coconut Farmers Agriculture Cooperative in Catanauan, Quezon Province, shared how SEARCAโ€™s coconut industry development project influenced the government’s direction toward relevant interventions that will benefit coconut farmers in their province.

Celebrating cooperative success

According to Dr. Gregorio, these success stories from Oriental Mindoro and Quezon Province are a testament to the immense potential of cooperatives in agricultural development given their strength in numbers and shared responsibility.

He added that with these initiatives in farming communities, SEARCA not only supports agricultural development but also helps strengthen the social fabric of rural areas, which fosters a sense of community and shared progress.

“As we celebrate this International Day of Cooperatives, SEARCA reaffirms its commitment to empowering farmer cooperatives across the Philippines,โ€ Dr. Gregorio said.

“SEARCA will continue to champion initiatives that drive innovation, sustainability, partnership, and prosperity for our farming communities,” the SEARCA Center Director affirmed.|

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