The development of the coconut industry in growth areas in Quezon province was planned in collaborative projects that were formalized through agreements signed recently between the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) and the provincial government of Quezon.
“Searca’s priority is to extend its expertise to its neighboring communities in Region IV-A,” Searca Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio said in a news release.
Gregorio said the partnership between Searca and Quezon provincial government is an expansion of an alliance that was started in 1985, with a parallel objective of linking the farmers to modern networks and innovative markets.
To develop enterprises and the capabilities of Quezon farmers through agricultural innovation, Gregorio explained that the Quezon provincial government and Searca have agreed to collaborate on product development, strengthening of market linkages and capacity building of farmer organizations.
Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, Searca program head for Research and Thought Leadership, said the collaborative activities will be carried out using Searca’s agricultural and rural development (ARD) model.
He explained that at the heart of Searca’s ARD model are participatory development approaches and sustainability strategies that strengthen farmer organizations while linking them with national and international organizations, academe and local government units for technical and material support, the Searca news release said.
These touchstones of the Searca ARD model are detailed in Searca’s “SEED: Scaling and Expanding for Effective Development” guidebook, which captures the lessons and results of piloting effective models of inclusive and sustainable ARD.
“Searca is keen to help Quezon [provincial government] realize its vision of a market-driven coconut industry with empowered and resilient farmers, engaging in profitable coconut-based enterprises, contributing to inclusive and sustainable agricultural development,” Gregorio said.
Orencio underscored that Searca can complement the program through interventions that will lead to agricultural systems transformation and increase the level of agricultural investments.
He also stressed the importance of academe-industry-government interconnectivity in the project design.
Gov. Danilo E. Suarez affirmed the value of the partnership between Quezon province and Searca to establish an inclusive and sustainable ARD system in the province, the news release said.
He commended Searca’s aim to contribute to the country’s food and nutrition security and poverty reduction.
He also shared Quezon province’s agricultural programs to help improve the socioeconomic condition of the farmers, fisherfolks, and rural communities. These include farm mechanization, enterprise development, and marketing.
Suarez expressed his intent to further solidify the status of Quezon province as a top producer of agriculture and fishery commodities and become known as the “food basket” in the region. He said this is where Searca can be of best assistance, with its knowledge and expertise on extensive research.
Orencio said Searca and Quezon province will conduct a scoping of the coconut industry growth areas in the province together with the stakeholders to establish their project’s baseline.