Farmer-beneficiaries of the “Sa Palay at Gulay – May Ani, Hanapbuhay, Oportunidad, at Nutrisyon” (PAG-AHON) II Project in Lupao, Nueva Ecija are now selling their produce in a bigger market.
Henry V. Ramos, president of Lupao Vegetable Growers Association (LVGA), said during the PAG-AHON harvest festival, Nov.13, that the project taught and assisted them in marketing their own produce.
“We dreamed of becoming entrepreneurs, and it came true because of this project. We were able to focus on the production and marketing aspects. Now, our produce has reached Ateneo de Manila University and we are also one of NutriAsia Company’s suppliers,” Ramos said.
Dr. Roel Suralta, PAG-AHON project lead and scientist at the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice), said that market-matching, a major support the program provided, helps farmers to directly engage consumers.
According to Suralta, project beneficiaries’ income increased by an average of 38.5% because farmers get the entire profit without the product agents or traders. Manila-based Dizon Farms, a market linked by East-West Seed Company, is the main buyer of the PAG-AHON farmers’ produce.
Other than marketing and financial literacy, the project also trains farmers on rice and vegetable production under its crop diversification component.
Health professional-turned-farmer Aila G. Grospe said that she and her husband learned to use the right amount of fertilizer, the right timing of pesticide application, and good farming practices through the training. She was able to apply this to her 2,000-m2 farm.
According to Dr. Suralta, rice farmers are also encouraged to diversify under the “Gulayan sa palayan” component.
Manuel P. Garcia, farmer from Brgy. San Antonio Este, said he is happy that his land that used to be a goat pasture is now teeming with rice and various vegetables.
The harvest festival was attended by Dr. Eduardo L. Lapuz Jr., DA’s OIC-regional technical director for operation and extension and agri marketing assistance; Henk Hermans, general manager of East-West Seed Co. Inc.; Dr. John C. de Leon, executive director of DA-PhilRice, Dr. Karen Eloisa T. Barroga, deputy executive director for development of DA-PhilRice; Dr. Roel R. Suralta; LGU officials; and farmer-beneficiaries. Dr. Lapuz represented Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar in the said event.
PAG-AHON project is part of the Plant, Plant, Plant program of DA. It aims to increase rice farmers’ harvest and income, and provide them access to planting materials and diverse sources of nutrition. It is implemented by DA-PhilRice, the local government of Lupao, East-West Seed Company, LGVA, and DA-RFO III.
Following the success of the project’s phase I implemented in 2020, the DA has mandated DA-PhilRice to continue by implementing phase II this year.