More than 40 staff of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) investment projects (from India, Indonesia and Philippines), International Potato Center (CIP), and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) participated in the Farmer Business School (FBS) Cross-Learning Visit to Manila, Tarlac, and Benguet in the Philippines on 23 to 30 January 2018.
Organized by Food Resilience Through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia Pacific (FoodSTART+), the cross-learning visit was attended by partners from IFAD investment projects, namely, Meghalaya Livelihoods and Access to Markets Project (Megha-LAMP) from India, Smallholder Livelihood Development Project (SOLID) from Indonesia, Fisheries, Coastal Resources, and Livelihood Project (FishCORAL), and Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) both from the Philippines. Other representatives from IFAD investment projects also joined the activity, such as the Fostering Climate Resilient Upland Farming Systems in the North East Project (FOCUS) from India and Convergence of Value-Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (CONVERGE) from Philippines.
The cross-learning visit aimed to familiarize partner IFAD investment projects with the FBS approach and build their implementation capacities, particularly to learn from the Philippine FBS experience in the Cordillera and Tarlac as implemented by the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP2) of the Department of Agriculture – Cordillera Administrative Region, and the Sweetpotato Value Chain Development for Food in Central Luzon project led by PhilRootcrops of the Visayas State University.
In addition, the cross-learning visit aimed to promote interaction and joint learning among FoodSTART+ partners in the region, and visit facilities to learn the research and development programs on root and tuber crops of Tarlac Agricultural University, and Northern Philippine Root Crops Research, and Training Center of Benguet State University. The Sapang Multi-purpose Cooperative was also visited by the group. The IFAD Philippines Country Office likewise welcomed the participants during a briefing meeting on January 24, 2018 in Manila.
The cross-learning visit successfully concluded with positive feedback from the participants. One gladly shared that the “FBS is a great approach to help farmers to be entrepreneurs and to help them increase their livelihood income with increasing confidence of the farmers to their products. Farmers are happy with the assistance provided per module conducted”.
Another participant highlighted the enthusiasm and commitment of the FBS facilitators, local supporters and farmer group members in the CHARMP2 project. In addition, a participant shared that the “cross-learning visit provided an opportunity in enhancing my learning in simple way in understanding value chain at the community level”.
It is envisaged that more FBS will be scaled out in IFAD investment projects in 2018 and contribute market opportunities for farmers.