The first model that was presented was on institutional purchase discussed by Mr. Celso Ludwig of FETRAF Brazil. During his discussion, the importance of public policies has been emphasized. It was indicated that the focus should be more on the policy rather than the government that drives it. Through the years rulers that compose the government can change but the public policy will still remain. In Brazil, family farmers have already been producing to different kinds of demands and as of the present they already feed at least 50 Million children a day. In the government it is a must to get at least 30% of their production from family farmers, their goal to achieve a higher percentage in the future.
Ms. Judith Parlero of Camarines Sur shared their experiences as a pilot community of the Institutional Purchase model in the Philippines called the Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (PAHP). According to Ms. Paterno, through this model “Ang mga farmer ay tinuturuang maging isang negosyanteng magsasaka” (the farmers have been taught to also be businessmen). The initial change commenced through the Farmer Field School with the assistance of the Department of Agrarian Reform. All the 30 members have been taught to plant organic produce in the established 500 square meter demo farm. All the produce has been sold and the sales were used for the farmers’ initial capital. After their graduation, the members have been clustered into 5 with each group concentrating on only one or two commodities. Eventually they have already been supplying to different nursery centers in several barangays and the excess have been sold to the schools and municipal employees for 25 pesos per 1/8 kilo. They overcame their challenge of adapting other vegetables in their area. According to Ms. Parlero: “Walang lupang hindi productive” (There is no non fertile soil). Through the greenhouse given by the Department of Agriculture, they have been able to experiment and eventually produce vegetables that are not normally produced in the area such as lettuce, cabbage and others. In the future they plan on establishing organic production of organic chickens, pigs and tilapias with the assistance of DAR.
Agri- Pinoy Trading Centers: A farmer friendly way of trading
Another business model was presented by Mr. Jay Lim of Sentrong Pamilihan ng Sariaya. Since its establishment in 2004, the trading center has already become a viable alternative for traders who seek good prices and reliable quality and volume of supply. Their practice has been to encourage the farmer to sell his products directly to the trading center. Through this their produce can be sold with a fairer price which can benefit not only the farmer but also the traders and the end consumer. Mr. Lim indicated that through such a practice “magkakaroon na ng tiwala ang farmer at ang trader sa isa’t isa” (The farmer and the trader can now experience security and trust in trading). As of the present more than 300,000 kilos of Highland Vegetables are already marketed to Commonwealth Market, Malabon, San Juan, Makati, Quezon City, Sariaya and other institutions. A Total of 65 farmer individuals from Atok, La Trinidad, Tuba, & Bugias have already participated and benefited in the milestone 1 Pilot Testing project earning a gross average of 10,000 pesos gross income per farmer per month only for 2 times a week transactions.
Improvements in the life of farmers cannot only be credited to the development of this new trading center. In a testimony made by a Sariaya farmer, Mr. Zombroino Pangkaliwangan: “Kailangang may gawin din ang farmer, wag lang umasa sa gobyerno” (The farmer has to do something, we should not rely merely on the government). He is one of the founders of the farmers group that have developed through the Sariaya trading center. He shared that before it has been the practice of the farmers to sell the land given by the government, but through practicing good agricultural practices and working together with the other farmers as well as traders they have been able to establish better farming conditions resulting to better income.
GlowCorp Model: Meeting the a larger market demands
Another business model has also been shared by Glow Corp representative Mr. Bernie Bertuso. According to him organic products greatest challenge has been its ability to reach its demand considering that 80% of its market comes from Manila. It has been their purpose to consolidate these products and negotiate with the big market in order to establish presence and assure that these products can continuously supply the huge demands of the big corporations. Despite the challenges such as high barriers of entry; logistics; warehousing and costs in entering supermarkets, Glowcorp has already increased their sales trend to more than 47 Million in 2014. It is their goal to eventually supply 6,500 farming households in four years by providing access to sustainable markets.
Through the presentations, lessons have been learned and more options for sustainable farming have been provided for the farmers. According to one participant: “natutunan ko na kailangan ng kooperasyon ng bawat isa para sa mas magandang pagsasaka” (I learned that cooperation is needed for better farming). It was highlighted that the farmers play a key role not as beneficiaries but as partners in supplying the needs of their community.// ARN