With this issue of the BAR Digest, we have completed our national reporting and documentation of CPAR activities of BAR. We have every reason to be proud of our accomplishments. We are humbled by the enormity of tasks demanded by our intervention.
The lessons learned from the past did not provide the great turnaround needed by agriculture to be globally competitive. However, the people who live in rural communities have a storehouse of potentials that remain untapped. They have not lost their hope that something can be done to turn the tide of development in their favor.
Despite our optimism, we are careful not to repeat the negative lessons from the past. Be that as it may, we are in research and development; we know that we can, indeed, do something to reverse the present state of agriculture. We are very much concerned with the plight of small farmers whose limited production does not generate enough surplus for the market and, therefore, profit.
We know that something drastic must be done. This is the reason for BAR to adopt two complementary banner programs – CPAR and National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP). BAR knew that agricultural development is technology-driven and its role as the engine of development is real. Its potentials must be harnessed to benefit the marginalized rural communities. However, BAR is fully aware of the global lesson from the past – that technology alone is not the answer. In fact, to a certain extent, technology transfer has created irreversible havoc on the agricultural environment – abuse in the use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides are illustrations of this.
BAR knew very well, that without developing innovative solutions, it can also be trapped in simply repeating the lessons from the past. In the true spirit of research, BAR took the thrust of Medium-Term Development Plan (MTDP) as agribusiness development and used it as the goal of RDE. The recommendations of the AFMA evaluation proved timely because of its emphasis on the need to adopt a framework of action focused on resource management for agricultural development.
It is unfortunate that the need for a framework in the design and implementation of agricultural programs was not given much attention before. We can, indeed, escape from the vortex of failure if we adopt a framework of action – resource management.
BAR is now more confident in its strategy because it knew that the key to management is decision-making. Therefore, the new agriculture must be information driven. To raise the competitive level of agriculture, it must have access and control of the right information at the right time. Attention to innovative information has indeed, become a way of life.
In our implementation of CPAR, we made sure that we are creating an environment of making farmers sensitive to information and effective users of information. With the new management scheme of production farmers are organized through participatory action research. Instead of being made mere recipient of technology and information, they are made partners in the research process where their pool of knowledge is put to good use.
As amply illustrated in our CPAR projects, the active participation of farmers through their organization proved empowering. Project gains were easily institutionalized and the spiraling effects of development were felt by the farmers. With CPAR, our farmers are trained on the various uses of information technology. To reverse the trend in rural poverty, farming systems development through the modality of diversification was instituted by CPAR.
To ensure the success of CPAR implementation, a collaborative and integrated support system was instituted. The critical role of the local government units (LGUs) in the overall design of CPAR was noted in project management. The LGUs together with our other partners fully collaborated in its implementation. This created the right synergy for enhancing further our implementation gains.
We took note of the interaction between technology transfer and community development in our CPAR projects. These two, in reality, are complementary. In our way of thinking, this was the missing link in the design of earlier interventions. As reflected in our successful CPAR activities, the complementation of five key resources such as social, technical, economic, environmental and political were institutionalized through action planning.
As one reads through the CPAR reports, one will not miss the attention we gave to issues related to gender in development. The participation of women in livelihood related activities was critical to project success. In fact, we have supported the organization of women for enterprise development. Participatory education is the backbone of CPAR implementation.
We can proudly claim that through CPAR, we have made a difference in the lives of our farmers in the rural communities -- that difference is turning fate into faith – the future of agriculture as business is assured!