IFAD step ups local farmer support

An agro-enterprise project, supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has beefed up "value chain" opportunities for Filipino farmers in 21 poverty-stricken provinces, linking them to markets, credit, training and technology.

In a webinar, hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca), the Department of Trade and Industry reported that a project called "Rapid" had been helping raise income for small farmers and unemployed rural women. Rapid stood for Rural Agro Enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth.

The concept of Rapid was to first organize farmers into bigger groups as there was strength in numbers and in organization.

Then, the farmers were provided with all the business support needed to succeed.

"There was sustained growth of agri-based MSMEs (micro small medium enterprises) with strong backward linkages to farmers," said Mysol Booc Carcueva, Rapid national value chain officer, at the webinar.

"The project generates employment and livelihood opportunities," added Carcueva.

The webinar was part of the Searca Online Learning and Virtual Engagement series in support of its five-year thrust toward Accelerating Transformation through Agricultural Innovation. So far, the Rapid project helped 78,000 farming households increase income by 60 percent. Carcueva said this household income increase was attributed to increased production due to farm production area rehabilitation and expansion. Farmers reduced transaction costs by consolidating produce, creating economies of scale.

Rapid generated 31,000 direct jobs and 155,000 indirect jobs. MSMEs expanded their markets, raising income from value addition. A total of 1,050 MSMEs increased sales by 100 percent.