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CASREN Philipppines: Reaching Out…Serving Smallhold Farmers Towards Improving Crop-Livestock Production Systems in Rainfed Areas

The Crop-Animal Systems Research Network (CASREN) in lowland rainfed areas in the Philippines works with farmers to increase productivity of crop-livestock systems by introducing a basket of options of appropriate technologies. The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) leads CASREN country efforts in the Philippines in collaboration with CLSU, Department of Agriculture and Local Government Units in Pangasinan. It is part of the project entitled “Improving Crop-Livestock Production Systems in Rainfed Areas in Southeast Asia”. CASREN Phase II commenced in 2002 and will be implemented until 2004. CASREN Phase II builds upon the accomplishments of a three-year initial phase. It is development oriented, in contrast to the R & D focus of the previous phase. With the general objective of improving productivity of crop-livestock systems among smallhold rainfed farmers, the project specifically targets to disseminate applicable technological interventions, develop and recommend policy changes, and enhance the capability of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS). In its second phase, CASREN is seeking tangible impacts through greater participation from local governments and smallhold lowland rainfed farmers. CASREN Philippines wants farmers to capitalize on livestock, not only as a security asset, but more importantly as an enterprise or major source of income for the farm family. Now, the Philippine CASREN team is building-up from the gains of Phase I (e.g. characterization of the needs of target population using participatory approaches, screening of locally viable technological interventions for improving crop-animal systems productivity; increase in research capability among participating NARS scientists) and upscaling its operations to pursue a more development oriented objective. As part of its upscaling activities, the project targeted geographical expansion, as well as intensification of project operations. From its initial base in Umingan, Pangasinan, CASREN expanded to cover nearby municipalities belonging to the same rainfed agro-ecological zone, such as Balungao, Calasiao, and Sta. Barbara. Common to the areas is the importance of livestock, and the limitations typical to rainfed areas. This intensification in operation also necessitated the strengthening of the CASREN team. A local working group, composed of agricultural technicians and veterinarian, has been constituted to better ground R & D activities and gain a semblance of local ownership in covered sites. Rather than adopt the traditional dole-out scheme, CASREN Philippines focused on capability building and retooling among smallhold farmers and extension workers through participatory modalities. This entailed the utilization of appropriate participatory approaches and information, education and communication (IEC) strategies such as print and broadcast media, training/seminars, farmers’ field day, study tours, and information technology services. As of December 2002, CASREN Philippines had already implemented 6 CASREN orientation seminars, 2 farmers’ field days and 9 trainings on goat-crop systems and crop residue utilization. A total of 579 extension workers and smallhold crop-livestock farmers have been oriented and re-tooled on recommended S & T interventions for better crop-animal systems productivity. Print and broadcast media such as press releases, technology fliers/leaflets, and radio interviews have also been produced to effectively disseminate information among target groups. The maiden issue of CASREN Philippines Newsletter was printed during the year. To better showcase the packages of technological interventions, technology demonstrations were established for goat-crop systems, cattle-crop systems, and improved forages. This medium proved to be effective in radiating technology adoption within target farmer groups. As an output of the Joint CASREN-TAG443 M&E workshop, a stronger monitoring and evaluation mechanism was installed within CASREN operation. This allowed for better monitoring of stakeholder feedbacks, project accomplishments and impact. As of December 2002, a total of 102 farmers with 361 specific technology adopted and tested were documented in the BMS and Phase II expansion sites. Technology mixes adopted ranged from feeds and feeding technologies, sustainable parasite control, food-feed systems and genetic upgrading goat and cattle. The initial results of the Philippine project during the year are good indicators of the project’s potential benefits to the clienteles. With local efforts in full swing, more accomplishments and greater impact could be expected from CASREN Philippines in the future.


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