Voices from the field: needs of small-scale Filipino rice farmers
Palis, F.G. | Diaz, C. | Todcor, G. | Flor, J.R. | Tanzo, I. | Datoon, R.
This paper presents an assessment of needs and coping mechanisms of small-scale rice farmers in the Philippines. Various ethnographic methods were used in the study. Focus group discussions among farmers and key informant interviews among agricultural staff and extension workers were conducted in 51 villages of 19 municipalities in six provinces of the country. Household survey was conducted among 923 farmers in the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Iloilo and Isabela [Philippines]. The major needs faced by small-scale Filipino rice farmers ranged from overcoming biotic and abiotic stresses, economic sufficiency, structural sufficiency, to be the most knowledge in rice farm management and technologies. Sufficient capital prevailed to be the most common need in rice farming. Other specific needs include low input cost, higher paddy price, access to equipment and post-harvest facilities, adequate irrigation system, farm-to market roads, overcoming biotic stresses such as pests and diseases, overcoming abiotic stresses such as flooding and drought, and improved knowledge on rice farm management and technologies. Some needs and constraints were found to be location-specific such as biotic and biotic stresses, but were interrelated. Adoption of key technologies promoted in the PalayCheck system to increase rice production remains a great challenge since these technologies such as the site specific nutrient management are closely interrelated with timely availability of sufficient financial capital. Farmers were found to manage and cope by borrowing money from informal lenders who charge them with high interest rates, and traders that require farmers to sell their products immediately after the harvest with a low paddy rice. These situations entrapped our rice farmers in a cycle of poverty, hence pro-farmer policies and programs that addressed real needs of farmers should be in place: easy access to formal financial institutions with low interest rates and simplified credit requirements ; a competitive price for paddy ; reduction in costs of inputs; livelihood programs to farmers and their households; access to post-harvest facilities; better irrigation systems and road infrastructure; and most of all strengthening farmer organizations. A working multi-stakeholder partnership among farmer organizations. Department of Agriculture and local government units are imperative in addressing the needs of farmers to increase rice production, farming households' income and addressing the needs of farmers to increase rice production, farming households' income and achieving the country's goal of rice self-sufficiency.Show more [+] Less [-]
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