CASE STUDY: PAKISAMA BICOL’s Journey: The Pecuaria Path
Resolute advocate fighting for land tenure
Pecuaria Development Cooperative Inc. (PDCI) in Lanipga, Bula, Camarines Sur is a successful experiment on fast tracking agrarian reform. 988 hectares of land were distributed to 426 farmers. One hundred percent (100%) of the beneficiary-farmers now have security of ownership over the farms wherein each of them has been equally provided with 1.7 hectares of land to till and another 600 square meters to build their houses.
Making the land productive the cooperative way: the motive force for organic farming
PDCI is one of the pioneering farmers’ cooperative engaged in sustainable agriculture which eventually focused on organic farming. The farmer-members of the cooperative adapted the Organic Agriculture standards as a strategy to increase productivity and improving product competitiveness in the market for the benefit of farmer-members, the cooperative and the community in general.
Reaching out to other farmers as consolidator for organic red rice
Staggering at the bottom of the value chain, farmers in general get low returns for their produce (even if prices were high), squeezed by the network of hands (and market forces in operation) that intervene between the farm and products’ ultimate destination. Some reasons like drought, hurricanes and floods are beyond control. However, improving production (quality and quantity) and farm productivity (optimum returns from a square unit of land), and enhanced product marketing, are within control. These not only augur for reduced farmers’ risks but also provide opportunities to acquire better prices for farmers’ produce.
PDCI’s strategic role in EU-Agriterra’s Philippine Farmers for Food Project
The PFF project assumed that strong and representative farmers’ organizations, like PDCI are indispensable for the promotion of democracy, for a better distribution of income and for economic development. By doing collective production and marketing, small individual farmers can achieve economies of scale and therefore benefit from higher returns from their product.
The EU-Agriterra Farmers for Food Project provided the window of opportunity for the national confederation of PAKISAMA, where PDCI is a long standing affiliate, to enter the organic rice business. Upon sustained advice and assistance of EU-Agriterra project consultants, PAKISAMA National negotiated with Pecuaria for procurement of members’ organic paddy rice at prices that were higher by at least P 1.00 per kilogram (dry paddy) than the government’s buying price. Furthermore, Pecuaria also agreed to provide (on loan and payable upon harvest) organic seeds and fertilizers to members to facilitate their conversion to organic farming system.
Side by side with these negotiations with Pecuaria, PAKISAMA Bicol‘s Area Management Team begun to identify and organize the commodity clusters from other farming communities and also started gathering/preparing their respective production plans in support of this marketing initiative with Pecuaria. The farmer-trainers to head each cluster were selected and trained. Learning farms for installation were identified and corresponding MOA with base organizations, commodity clusters, farmer-cooperators and farmer-trainers were prepared.
Overall, 13 organic rice clusters initially enrolled in this incubation period. These were the organic clusters in the municipalities of Sta. Elena, Labo, Talisay, Basud andDaet (in the province of Camarines Norte) and the organic clusters in the municipalities of Libmanan (3 clusters), Pamplona (4 clusters) and Iriga (1 cluster) in the province of Camarines Sur.
Initial teething problems and future potentials observed:
- Climate change problem
- Pricing negotiation
- Miscommunication on price agreements
- Lack of essential equipment like weighing scales, etc.
- Delayed releases of funds
- Increased labor cost in replanting
Impact on farmers:
- Savings from cheaper/lesser farm input requirements
- Cheaper cost of seeds for planting
- Higher or similar yield using organic fertilizer
- Better health observed when the farmer stopped applying chemical pesticides/herbicides
- Extra income from other farm produce/animals
- Even farmers who suffered crop failure due to erratic climate condition, expressed willingness to continue adapting organic farming system
reposted from: PAKISAMA website