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This project aimed to educate families about organic crops and alternative farming techniques, enabling them to grow a diverse range of nutritious organic food to eat and sell. Access to a greater range of quality food will help to reduce child malnutrition in Northern Samar, which has the country’s highest child mortality rate.
Plan has established 20 Farmers Associations and 22 demonstration farms to assist farming families learn new skills. The farms have also served as ‘laboratories’ where all farming experiences are shared. Over 500 farmers have received training and have been able to achieve increased productivity for their root crops.
Distribution of small farm machineries, including hand tractors, also helped to increase farm productivity.
Plan has established Seed Banks to the 20 Farmers Associations to ensure continuous collection of locally adoptable seeds and materials for the following season.
Livestock such as water buffalo, pigs and chickens were provided to the farmers to provide additional household income and to serve as work animals during land preparation activities.
Adoption of a diversified and integrated farming system has increased family production of consumption and additional income.
Photo: The women of Las Navas in their communal farm.
Rowena Gancena is 48 years old and married to Julio. They have 8 children; the eldest is 25 years old while the youngest is 3 years old. Their main source of livelihood is farming; they own 1 hectare rice field. The family have been part of the Sustainable Livelihoods project.
“There are a lot of good things that organic farming has given us. Expenses in our farm work have been reduced, and I am healed of my sickness. Before, I always have headache and felt chest pains. I thought I will die because I cannot bear the terrible pain.
When my husband was first trying out organic farming, I strongly opposed this because we have good harvest then from our farms. I worry that our produce will decrease and there will not be enough supply for our food. I was even the one who bought the chemicals that he used in spraying and did the storing. I endure the stinky smell of the chemicals because we rely on it in killing the pests.
However, my husband persisted and continued to shift to organic farming. True enough, after so many croppings, our rice harvest was better than before.
After a year of eating organic rice and vegetables I no longer have headaches and felt chest pains which I have been suffering before. Maybe this is because of the healthy food that we eat and not being exposed anymore to chemicals.
Even my children now only eat organic food that we produce because we are sure that it was not sprayed with chemicals. We no longer buy vegetables in the market. My children say that they don’t easily get hungry when they eat organic food. My children are healthier now. They don’t suffer from diarrhoea like before, and they don’t easily get sick.”
The project will continue through to conclusion in late 2013. The Farmers Associations will be self managed, but the provincial government of Northern Samar is supporting the local government in mainstreaming this project.
Photo: Farmers of San Roque sell organic squash during the celebration of Nutrition Month.
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