CPAR project provides abundant harvest to farmers during pandemic

            With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic heavily affecting the country, and the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon paralyzing the operations of most economic activities of the state, our farmers, fishers, and rural agriculture workers are undeniably far among the most distressed in this ill-fated situation. Luckily, with the Agriculture Department focused on bringing prosperity to farmers and fishers, programs like the Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) got their backs.


            For more than two decades now, the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) has been continuously dedicated to the development and improvement of the implementation of CPAR as a program which merges the efforts of farmer- and fisher-cooperators and research.


            In trying times like the current health crisis, CPAR has empowered and somehow prepared thousands of farmers and fishers across the country by capacitating them in various different agricultural techniques tailored based on their locations, resources, and needs which enabled them to increase their yields and profits.


            A remarkable example would be the story of barangays Gov. E. Jaro and Bagong Silang in Babatngon, Leyte.


            The two are primarily agricultural barangays; hence, communities rely heavily on agriculture for income. However, they used to suffer from low productivity issues and income because of mono-cropping (rice only), high cost of production inputs and labor, and lack of interest in venturing to value-adding options.


             Thus, the project titled “CPAR on Rainfed Lowland Rice-based Integrated Farming Systems in Brgys. Gov. E. Jaro and Bagong Silang, Babatngon, Leyte” was conceptualized in collaboration with DA-Eastern Visayas.


            The project mainly looked at the intensification and diversification of farming systems of the communities.


            Rice-duck integration was first introduced to the barangays as it was then gaining popularity in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Ducks were grown along with rice to promote an environment where the soil is aerated, weeds and controlled, and pests are eradicated.


Ducks act as yield-enhancing agents which, at the same time, reduces production technology for both. This makes it a sustainable enterprise because additional income can be derived from duck meat, egg, and other by-products.


            For the rice-duck integration alone, significant increases were recorded. Bagong Silang reached 3.80 t/ha from 2.54 t/ha, and 2.78 t/ha from 2.76 t/ha during the wet and dry season, respectively. On the other hand, Gov. E. Jaro reached 3.99 t/ha from 3.62 t/ha, and 4.16 t/ha from 3.88 t/ha during the wet and dry season, respectively.


            Meanwhile, duck eggs provided up to PhP 2,000 of additional income to farmers monthly.


            Edible landscaping was also introduced to 40 farmer-cooperators. Farmers planted various vegetable crops such as eggplant, okra, lettuce, upland kangkong, patola, bitter gourd, pechay, bottle gourd, bell pepper, tomato, pole sitao, alugbati, and squash. Container gardening using recycled materials like empty bottles of softdrinks, cans, plastic bags, used water jugs, and used sacks were among the encouraged materials to promote environmental conservation and management in the process.


Moreover, members were subjected to various different trainings, including climate-smart agriculture, organic agriculture, edible landscaping, vermicomposting, mushroom culture, business planning, and enterprise development.


Two years after the intervention, the initiative continues to thrive and gain attention among members of the community.


This proved true for farmer-cooperators when their rice-duck-vegetable farming system cum edible landscaping provided the communities with abundant harvest with what better timing than during the height of the pandemic crisis.


“Our ongoing CPAR project in Babatngon came out to be the perfect solution in this time of crisis. We are glad that our 40 farmer-cooperators have enough food for their families and more to share to their neighbors,” Rufelie Gula, project lead, shared.


With success stories from both cooperators and partner-implementers, CPAR has proven to be an effective way of securing food security, sustainability, availability, and affordability, especially for farmer- and fisher-cooperators.


            CPAR is one of the banner programs of the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research which focuses on the enhancement of the role of research for development in the process of hastening the transfer of various technologies to farmers and fishers in the field. ### Jhon Marvin R. Surio