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Experience is the best teacher. As true as the saying goes, a cross-farm visit was conducted on May 30 to June 2, 2017 in the provinces of Leyte, Samar and Easter Samar to expose the Farmer Business School (FBS) facilitators, people’s organizations (POs) leaders and the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project staff of Bohol to the completed/on-going FBS groups facilitated by Visayas State University-Philippine Root Crops Research and Training Center (VSU-PhilRootcrops) in production areas (big and small), nurseries, actual good manufacturing process (GMP) & food safety-compliant micro and small enterprises (MSE) operations of different scales and locations.

The activity was anchored in the partnership collaboration of the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Food Resilience Through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia Pacific (FoodSTART+) implemented by International Potato Center (CIP) under the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).  The collaboration is currently piloting the FBS approach within the agro-forestry context in INREMP project sites in Bohol with 6 PO which seeks to help improve  the livelihood and food resilience of farmers in the Wahig-Inabanga Watershed.

The cross-farm visit was an agreement during the FBS monitoring workshop last April 25, 2017 to help enhance the capabilities of FBS facilitators, POs and INREMP staff in implementation of FBS in their respective sites, and to understanding the requirements of root and tuber crops (RTC) production within the context of agro-forestry, developing the supply chain serving RTC micro-scale enterprises, GMP and food safety compliance, improving product quality, linking to markets, and improving business skills.

The participants were able to exchange dialogues with members of the Kusog han Kababayen-an an Salcedo (KAKASA), Eastern Samar Entre-Pinoy Workers’ Association, Inc. (ESEP), Alyansang Samahan para sa Kaunlaran at Pangkabuhayan ng Brgy. Gahoy (ASAPKAPA), Farmer’s Entrepreneurs Association (FEA), and Sta. Rita Food Processors Association. They were also to visit facilities of Dagami binagol (from giant taro) and sagmani (from taro) processing, Food Innovations Center at the Eastern Visayas State University, Ormoc root and tuber crops (RTC) plantation nursery and fruit trees farms, and VSU’s clonal tree nursery and GMP-Compliant RTC Facility.

At the end of the visit, the participants were able to improve their knowledge and understanding on FBS implementation including the requirements and practice for quality compliance of products, rootcrops production and processing technologies within the agro-forestry context. 

Clockwise from top left. Visit to PhilRootCrops root and tuber crops (RTCs) experimental farm in Baybay City; discussions with a sweetpotato farmer in Dulag, Leyte; lecture on agro-forestry with RTCs models; demonstrations on cassava food processing.
Clockwise from top left. Visit to PhilRootCrops root and tuber crops (RTCs) experimental farm in Baybay City; discussions with a sweetpotato farmer in Dulag, Leyte; lecture on agro-forestry with RTCs models; demonstrations on cassava food processing.
Participants of the cross-farm visit in taro plantation in Dulag, Leyte.
Participants of the cross-farm visit in taro plantation in Dulag, Leyte.