Farm business school teaches CARP beneficiaries ‘to fish’

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Z WEB 20160127 NATL RICH PHOTO1“GIVE A man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,” and so the wise man said.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has chosen to feed its agrarian reform beneficiaries with new farming techniques and marketing strategies, hopeful that the newfound knowledge would help them produce more and quality harvests and market them like seasoned traders with the end in view of increasing their income.

As DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes once put it: “Our agrarian reform beneficiaries are no babies. We don’t have to keep an eye on them and tug them along every now and then. Time will come when we have to stop thinking of them as the ‘wards of the state.’

With this in mind, the DAR worked with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to establish “farm business school (FBS)” in selected agrarian reform communities (ARCs). The FBS is designed to hone the skills of farmer-beneficiaries as producers of raw farm goods to becoming agri-entrepreneurs. It was initially pilot-tested in the province of Nueva Vizcaya and in Nueva Ecija.

Dubbed as the “Capacity Building of Small Farmers in Entrepreneurship Development and Market Access,” the FBS is being supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Bureau of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development (BARBD) Director Susana Evangelista-Leones said.
She said the initial success of the project led to its being replicated to 15 more localities: La Trinidad, Benguet; Sarat, Ilocos Norte, Luna, Isabela, Santa Rita/Bacolor, Pampanga, Sariaya, Quezon; Roxas, Palawan; Ocampo, Camarines Sur; Badiangan, Iloilo; Balilihan, Bohol; Maasin, Southern Leyte; Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur; Tudela, Misamis Occidental; Kiblawan, Davao del Sur; Tampakan, South Cotabato; and, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.

Dir. Leones said the FBS, an on-site training program, seeks to orient farmers about operating their farms as business enterprise during the hands-on and season-long training, which covers 25 sessions on farming and financial management, like bookkeeping and accounting, among others.

“Here, our farmer-beneficiaries are taught with over-all farm management techniques, from production to marketing, to increase and ensure the quality of their harvests, raise their income and improve the standards of their living,” Dir. Leones explained.
Z WEB 20160127 NATL RICH PHOTO2She said the project sits well to what Secretary De los Reyes has been envisioning: “A training program that translates into business coaching system, with the end in view that we, in the DAR, have to let go at some point in time.”

FBS national coordinator/facilitator Norberto Quite said that the idea is to set the farmer-beneficiaries free from the claws of traders, who usually buy farmers’ products at bargain price, leaving the farmers practically with crumbs and the traders earning enormous profits.

“The main objective of the project, however, is to attain food security, improve the small farmers’ access to the market and increase their income,” Mr. Quite said.
“This should help change the wrong notion, from ‘farming is no fun’ to ‘farming is more fun,’” BARBD Director Leones stressed.

She explained that farming, like any other working profession, is no fun if the actors felt they were getting the lower end of the deal.

“The FBS is set to change the rural landscape as it seeks to transform farmers from mere producers of raw farm goods to traders, to food processors and, eventually, to agri-entrepreneurs,” Dir. Leones said. (Richard B. Gallardo)