Improving the methods and impacts of agricultural extension in conflict areas of Mindanao (the Philippines)
Farming households within conflict-vulnerable areas of Mindanao face many challenges to improving their livelihoods.
These include dislocation to farm activities, difficulty in accessing markets, uncertainty about long-term investment in farm infrastructure, lack of social cohesion and isolation from government information and services.
Previous ACIAR-funded work in other areas of Mindanao has highlighted how certain types of community-based extension methods can rapidly improve livelihoods of farming households. This project aimed to refine and evaluate these extension methods in the more complex setting of conflict-vulnerable areas of western Mindanao.
Through the project, the livelihoods of relatively poor farmers in these conflict-vulnerable communities were improved and helped to diversify their income away from single livelihood mainstays such as mono-cropping of corn and the environmentally destructive practice of charcoal production. Two new farmer enterprises – tree nursery production and high-value vegetable production – were introduced and saw an almost complete cessation of charcoal production by participating communities.
The aim of the project was to develop an improved ‘model’ for agricultural extension in conflict areas of Mindanao.
The objectives were to:
- Determine the livelihood impacts of conflict on agricultural communities and extension services in case study conflict-affected areas.
- Implement a pilot program of improved extension and livelihood innovations, making use of principles and methods largely derived from previous ACIAR projects.
- Analyse the impacts of the pilot extension and livelihood innovation program.
- Engage more broadly with relevant conflict area extension and other agencies outside of the case study areas to communicate project methodologies and findings.
- Successful livelihood development programs were established with farming households and Local Government Unit (LGU) technicians in six pilot communities in Zamboanga Sibugay, South Cotabato and Maguindanao.
- Two new farmer enterprises were developed – tree nursery production and high-value vegetable production sites. Results showed that tree nursery activities added 10 to 20 per cent to farmers’ annual income. Similar improvements in farmer incomes was achieved from the vegetable production.
- In each of the pilot sites, the livelihood development program was delivered through an improved model for agricultural extension targeted at assisting LGUs, NGOs and other locally-based extension agencies to more effectively provide their services to farming households in their conflict-vulnerable communities. This included facilitating farmer access to technical innovations, building community social capital, and collaborating closely with local institutions.
- Through the project the important role of women as key players in rebuilding their communities in both social and economic terms has been highlighted. Considered by their communities as proficient communicators and negotiators women are taking leadership roles, building trust, maintaining farms and food production, initiating small enterprise and supporting community-based recovery processes.
- Landcare Foundation of the Philippines
- University of the Philippines Mindanao
- University of the Philippines Los Banos