CPAR and real farmers' stories

Created on Thursday, 07 May 2020 Published Date

Have you ever wondered why DA is continually assisting farmers through sustained implementation of the Community-based Participatory Action Research or CPAR?

Ms Rufelie Sotes Gula, the project leader and Supervising Science Research Specialist poignantly answered this by saying that the project emphasizes on partnership with farmers in the communities.

CPAR recognizes the importance of involving members of a study population as active and equal participants, in all phases of the research project. The research process serve as a means of facilitating change.

“We do believe that better and more effective solutions can be achieved if the Researchers and Farmers themselves establish a collaborative partnership, which is exactly what we are doing,” Ms Gula added.

Along this line, the DA-RFO 8 thru its Research Group initiated a CPAR Project on Rice-based Farming System focusing on the production of certain commodities that include: Rice+Vegetables+Ducks+Native Chiecken+Tilapia+Salted Eggs, among others.

Villages in the surrounding areas of the Babatngon Experiment Station, like Governor Jaro and Brgy. Bagong Silang were initially chosen as pilot sites for CPAR Projects.

“Even under the current situation where Coronavirus creates undesirable fear on people’s physical health, we can count on them to help us in food production , the way we do it in all our CPAR projects,” Ms Gula delightedly explained. CPAR farmer-proponents enjoy the abundance of food because of their knowledge and skills in home gardening.

Planting of vegetables may come in the form of so called “edible landscaping.” Simply, it is an innovative concept of combining various principles of landscape design with existing technologies for small-scale crop production. This utilizes vegetables, herbs, and fruit crops as major softscape materials to substitute for the ornamental plants commonly used in conventional landscaping. It considers the aesthetics and functionality of space in relation to the production of safe and readily available crop products for the family and community

Today, Edible Landscaping or even a simple home gardening is undoubtedly becoming a buzzword – especially during this time when people are advised to stay home due to Covid-19 pandemic.

No less than the DA Secretary William D. Dar himself admonished the farmers, fishers and other workers in the food value chain to play a crucial role in the fight against Covid-19.

“That’s why taking the cue from our Secretary, we continue to empower our CPAR farmers to ensure a sustainable production and delivery of food to those who really need them,” the CPAR Project Leader further intoned.

The DA-RFO 8 through Regional Executive Director Angel C. Enriquez continues to support effective programs, projects and activities to induce peoples’ greater engagement in food production. There’s no doubt that in times like this, the utmost priorities of people are: Health and Food.

Both should always go together as if one cannot exist without the other.

As primary food producers, farmers, fishers and other farm industry workers are exempt from the community quarantine so that they could continue doing their job of feeding their countrymen.

To bear witness to CPAR farmers' active involvement in the current food production campaign, the DA-RFO 8 deployed a documentation team from the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Section (RAFIS) headed by yours truly.

In our first visit to some CPAR projects in Brgy. Governor Jaro, Babatngon, Leyte, Assistant Regional Director for Research Director Elvira C. Torres , one of the pioneers of CPAR projects, revealed that at the start of CPAR a few years back then, a bridging fund of PhP500,000 was actually provided by the Rice Program. And cognizant of its positive impact to the farmers, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) has allocated and downloaded a total of PhP2.3Million which the Research Group used in the pursuit of these projects through conduct of trainings, provision of various farm inputs and needed interventions complemented with rapid transfer of technologies.

Today, because of their basic knowledge in food production and gardening, this group of CPAR farmers stood out from the rest of their fellow farmers. Their basic yet science-based skills in coping with a stressful crisis like what we are in now seems to have paid off.

Accordingly, there were 40 CPAR Farmers who initially qualified as project beneficiaries, all of them have availed of the initial 50 heads of ducks from the project. Some opted for native chickens which invariably provided them a daily family income.

In our previous posts, we featured the story of Farmer-Leader Jonathan Alegro, along with fellow farmers Nenita Badajos, Fe Badajos and Rodrigo Alcaraz, all from Governor Jaro.

Meanwhile, in our second documentation visit, we headed to Brgy. Silang, also in Babatngon, Leyte - the other village with other CPAR sites, to see what other farmer-proponents are doing.

Our first stop was in the modest residence of Esmeralda Villanueva and Dolores Perez where they showed us their mastery in the preparation of a Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ) concoction. This is a fermented extract of a plant's sap and chlorophyll, a rich enzyme solution full of microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria and yeast that invigorates plants and animals. FPJ is used for crop treatments.

The insurmountable rising cost of inorganic fertilizers drove the DA researchers to teach farmers to look for an alternative measures to sustain his farming business profitability and the production of home-made Fermented Plant Juice is just one of the many strategies taught during CPAR trainings.

Our next stop was the containerized gardening project of Hilda Bardaje. In her very limited backyard space, we saw a lot of recycled materials used as pot or containers for a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, pechay, cabbage and the like. Looking at her small garden, containerized gardening is indeed a great way to reuse and upscale containers you would otherwise be dumped as garbage.

The third CPAR-farmer that we visited was the home garden of Elias Bulgado. He is one farmer who believes that conventional agriculture is unsustainable and as CPAR farmer-proponent he developed alternative modes of production to improve their family health, farm income and/or self-reliance. Thru CPAR, he learned about organic agriculture and he is adopting it as a method to improve household food security or to achieve a reduction of input costs. His produce is not necessarily sold in the market but mainly for his family consumption. Yet, whenever they have a surplus of veggies, he readily shares them to his relatives, friends and neighbors.

Our last stop for the day was right at the doorstep and frontyard of Primitivo “Tiboy” Llano, the former Research Station Superintendent and now, a full-fledged farmer who is among the top performers as far as CPAR project is concerned. Interestingly, Boss Tiboy have lots of tremendous money-earning projects which can be told and retold for others to emulate.

His farm exploits certainly needed a separate space. Please bear with us as we cut off this very long post. We do hope that you enjoyed reading this. Next time, we will tell you the whole story about Boss Tiboy... Ciao! ### (Francis C. Rosaroso, Chief, RAFIS)


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