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Moving up the value chain, key to sustain Cordillera's agribusiness

 

Doing business requires patience, resources and entrepreneurial skills most especially if there are geographic and financial hurdles to overcome. The northern Philippine highlands or the Cordilleras is known for its abundance in natural and agricultural resources; hence, agri-food production for subsistence is a common practice among farming households.

The Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP2) is an investment program supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) that aims to promote agribusiness development through: 1) linking farmer-group enterprises with local, regional and national markets and 2) stimulating market demand for Cordillera agricultural commodities. CHARMP2 is implemented by the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) since 2008 and will be concluded in 2015.

Farmer Business School in the Highlands

As part of CHARMP2 activities, training on Farmer Business School (FBS) was conducted in collaboration with Food Security Through Asian Roots and Tubers (FoodSTART), an IFAD-supported research program implemented by the International Potato Center (CIP).

FBS is a participatory action learning approach supporting farmers’ participation in dynamic agricultural value chains. The approach is guided by structured yet flexible curricular framework which comprises a series of group-based experiential learning activities over a production-marketing cycle while interacting with different chain actors and stakeholders.

CHARMP2-supported agri-enterprises launched in “Tatak Cordillera”

Twelve (12) participating farmer groups in the FBS unveiled their respective agri-products to the general public during the first-ever launching of CHARMP2-supported agri-enterprises. Dubbed as “Tatak Cordillera: Adding value to local products for emerging markets”, the event on December 4, 2013 at the Baguio Convention Center has attracted about 300 participants during the business launch. The diversity of visitors is comprised of private entrepreneurs, local government units (LGUs), representatives from government agencies (both from the local and national offices), NGOs, different value chain actors and business development support (BDS) services.

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony was the business pitch conveyed by the representatives of enterprise groups. Each group member was given a minute to present the key features of their product and entice the consumers to buy it. Several farmers emphasized the health and nutrition benefits of their respective produce. Majority of the farmer representatives shared that it was their first time to deliver their own business pitches.

The business launching activity was held primarily to obtain: a) feedback from markets and customers to improve products and innovations; b) information on markets and value chain opportunities; c) contacts and networks established with chain actors and stakeholders; d) action plans or next steps for business development; and e) capacities in promotion and marketing strategies.

The second portion of the one-day activity is a panel discussion on a) accessing business development support (BDS) services with representatives from the government and private sector; and b) market development with representatives from business firms and customers.

The discussion was primarily essential to the farmer groups who are newly engaged in business operations. This was the ideal venue for the farmers to clarify questions on regulations and to explore potential markets of their products. Business development services provide enabling environment to the farmers in enhancing their products.

Informal discussions between enterprise groups and value chain actors and BDS providers concluded the one-day event. From the initial talks, each enterprise group was able to determine their specific action plans and next steps to business development. There are groups that were able to establish new markets while others will submit renewal requirements for organic product certification.

Enterprise groups venture into RTCs

Five of the 12 enterprise groups have root and tuber crops (RTCs) as their priority commodity. Each of the group has distinct product quality that attracts specific markets.

The Amlimay Camote Producers Association (ACPA) in Buguias, Benguet uses compost in raising camote crops. The group learned the organic production technology during the learning visit to Masters Garden in La Trinidad, Benguet. With the organic practice, the group was able to link with Health 100, a health and wellness restaurant that serves organically-grown foods.

Layad Farmers Association in Bayyo, Bontoc in Mountain Province were provided trainings in food processing using sweetpotato as part of the group’s income generating activities. The snackfoods include shanghai, siopao, puto, kutsinta, polvoron, among others. Starter kits consisting of a stove with fuel tank, steamer, set of knives, basin, weighing scale and sealer were also provided to the association as part of the start-up support of CHARMP2. The sweetpotato-based snacks are now included in the processed products being sold to Bontoc Pasalubong Center.

Another sweetpotato group is the Tukucan Farmers Association in Tinoc, Ifugao. To be able to sell sweetpotato products from Tinoc, people have to walk two to three hours carrying their produce going to the municipal market. As part of the FBS activities, the group was able to develop their business plan funded under the Livelihood Assistance Fund of CHARMP2 to finance the group in marketing and processing their sweetpotato products. As a result, sweetpotato chips produced by the group are now sold in community school and local stores. CHARMP2 assured that group strengthening and capability building activities will continue until 2015.

Apart from sweetpotato, taro or galiangin the Cordilleras are also being processed as snack food. Through the FBS, Camandag Agricultural Producers and Processors Association (CAPPA) in Asipulo, Ifugao were trained on preparation of galiang chips for flour making. Snack foods processed by the group are supplied to local schools and canteens. The association has an existing stall at Nueve Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal (NVAT) and sells two tons of fresh galiangtubers per week.

The complete list of enterprise groups and products are presented in the table below.

Group

Product

Location

Atok Organic Practitioners Association (ATOPA)

Assorted  organic vegetables

Sayangan, Atok, Benguet

Abiang Community Multipurpose Cooperative (ACMPC)

Arabica coffee   green beans and parchment coffee

Abiang Brew

Abiang, Atok Benguet

AtoK Coffee Growers and Marketing Cooperative (ACOGMAC)

Arabica coffee   green beans and parchment coffee

ATOKAPE

Caliking, Atok, Benguet

Cuba Binnadang Association (CBA)

Live black pigs

 

Preservative –free Processed meat products

Cuba, Kapangan, Benguet

Amlimay Camote Poducers Association (ACPA)

Fresh Camote tubers

Amlimay, Buguias, Benguet

Lubon RIC

Muscovado sugar

Lubon, Tadian, Mountain Province

Layad Farmers Association

Fresh camote tubers

Camote chips

Bayyo, Mountain Province

Barlig RTFC, Hungduan RTFC

Heirloom rice

Barlig, Mountain Province

Hungduan, Ifugao

SAPAT

Taro chips

Karikitan, Conner, Apayao

Camandag Agricultural Producers and Processors Association (CAPPA)

Fresh galiang tubers

Galiang snack foods

Camandag, Asipulo, Ifugao

Tukucan Farmers Association (TFA)

Fresh camote tubers

 

Tukucan, Tinoc, Ifugao

Poblacion Tinoc Municipal processing Group

Shelled peanuts

Processed peanuts

Poblacion, Tinoc, Ifugao

 

Tatak Cordillera 2013 creates the hallmark of outcomes from IFAD’s CHARMP2-FoodSTART partnership. Aside from FBS piloting in six sites of CHARMP2 areas, the partnership was also able to package 19 enterprise plans for RTCs. The 12 enterprise groups that have been launched were just the start and CHARMP2 is considering making the event as an annual activity in the Cordillera.

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