Through the project Empowering farmers’ cooperatives through sustainable promotion of high yielding rice production technologies for progressive rural economy, agricultural cooperatives were recognized as important vehicles in promoting cost-reducing and high-yielding rice and rice-based farming technologies.
“What makes agricultural cooperatives unique is that they have a unified action to become viable while helping individual members improve. When the cooperative is able to prove that a specific technology is efficient, it is certain that the farmer-members will adopt it in a sustainable manner,” project member Christian Flor Guittap said.
In 2014, PhilRice partnered with farmer cooperatives in Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan for the promotion, evaluation, and adoption of technologies to help their farming communities.
Among the partner-agricultural cooperatives was Parista Barangay Defense System Multipurpose Cooperative (PBDS-MPC) in Lupao, Nueva Ecija.
“During our discussion with PBDS-MPC, we found that the cooperative practices conventional farming such that its members do not use quality rice seeds and other technologies, and apply fertilizers without assessing their soil needs,” Guittap said.
To address these gaps, the project members established technology demonstration farms and conducted season-long training programs, field days, farmers’ forum, and training for the cooperative’s farm advisors.
Of the 59 farmer-members of PBDS-MPC who participated in the project, 78% adopted the technologies promoted by the project in 2015 wet season (WS) and 2016 dry season (DS).
“This percentage equates to high level of adoption. In 2016 DS, we also found that 73% of the participating coop-members achieved an average yield increase of 0.5 t/ha while 22% of farmers attained more than 1 t/ha increase in yield,” study lead Joel Pascual said.
The farmer-members of the coop adopted various technologies such as the use of certified seeds, Minus One Element Technique (MOET), leaf color chart (LCC), integrated pest management (IPM), and rice-based farming systems.
“When I tried using the new variety NSIC Rc308 endorsed by PhilRice through our cooperative, my harvest increased by up to 40%. Along the banks and dikes, I also tried planting cash crops such as saluyot, string beans, and okra that we now sell in the Lupao market,” farmer-cooperator Ferdinand C. Orate said.
Meanwhile, project lead Dr. Aurora Corales said that the partnership with cooperatives contributed to the empowerment of farmers and their organizations toward community welfare.
“This model may serve as a guide in implementing developmental activities, promoting location-specific rice and rice-based technologies to improve farmers’ lives,” she furthered.
The research team recently won the best poster award under the category technology promotion and delivery accelerating adoption and achieving impacts on farm productivity and sustainability for their study, Agricultural cooperatives: Key partners in technology promotion and rural development during the 29th National Rice R&D Conference held at PhilRice, Sept. 8.