SFRT-funded project examines smallholder commodity systems in Leyte and Mindoro

  • 2 February 2017

Ms. Jennifer Marie Amparo discusses the preliminary results of their SFRT project.

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA, PHILIPPINES. A team of experts from the College of Human Ecology, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University (ANU) presented on 27 January 2017 the preliminary results of the study, titled "An analysis of Smallholder Commodity Systems using an integrative systems-based framework in two pilot ISARD communities in the Philippines."

This SEARCA Seed Fund for Research and Training (SFRT)-funded project aims to analyze the smallholder commodity systems using a systems-based framework to ensure integrative and sustainable commodity system development in Inopacan, Leyte and Victoria, Oriental Mindoro. These municipalities are the same sites as SEARCA's project on Piloting and Upscaling Effective Models of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD).

Specifically, 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; present best practices in developing and integrating smallholder farming systems into commodity systems; 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.

The project 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.

Mr. Federico Davila explains the concept of integrative systems-based framework.

The study also identified barriers, called "commodity traps" to the development in the calamansi and jackfruit industries. Some of these are resource depletion traps such as low productive capacity, pollution trap evident in poor soil health, and community decline trap (e.g., producer-buyer power differential).

Initial findings of the study show that there are opportunities for diversification, local food, and nutrition security, as well as consolidation of farmer groups with support from technical researchers and extension service providers to address the complex nature of their farms. In developing commodity systems in the sites, 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. 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. 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.

The project team is composed of researchers/professors from the Department of Social Development Services-College of Human Ecology, UPLB, namely, Jennifer Marie S. Amparo; Carla Edith Jimena; Maria Emilinda T. Mendoza; Dhino B. Geges; and Charisma T. Malenab. In this project, the team collaborates with the Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU through Dr. Rob Dyball, Lecturer and Federico Davila, PhD Scholar, who are both SEARCA Visiting Research Fellows. (Maria Katrina Punto)