Home' Partners : Partners: Raising incomes – pathways out of poverty Contents Fruit and vegetables boost
Fruit and vegetables have long been touted for their health benefits.
In the Philippines the virtues of horticulture now include the ability
to lift rural communities out of poverty.
nAcross the Philippines, smallholder farmers
have the opportunity to tap agricultural
science to improve farm profits from growing
fruit and vegetables.
nAssistance ranges across the supply chain,
from better managing soil nutrition, pests and
diseases through to establishing innovative
BY DR GIO BRAIDOTTI
Despite economic growth in the
Philippines of 5% during 2003--09,
the number of people living in
poverty increased from 20 million
to 23 million. In all, there are now
45 million Filipinos living on less than $2 a day.
Underlying these figures is a stark new
reality for poor rural communities: there is
relatively little new land available that is without
disputed ownership or generally suitable for
expanding agricultural production. In addition,
relative productivity growth on existing farming
systems has been low.
In May 2008, ACIAR launched the Philippines
Horticulture Program, a multidisciplinary series
of engagements with smallholder farmers
that leverages Australian and Philippine R&D
capability to identify opportunities across the
supply chain to improve farming profitability.
The program is run in conjunction with the
Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and
Natural Resources Research and Development
(PCAARRD) and includes innovations that better
link production practices to market demands
Les Baxter, ACIAR's research program
manager for horticulture, says the situation in
the Philippines is increasing pressure on Filipino
farmers to diversify.
"Income-generating horticultural crops have
strong potential but have been held back for a
range of reasons," he says. "These include farmer
knowledge gaps about horticultural practices
and innovations all the way through to the
need for ways to mitigate climate and locality
SUMMER 2013 PARTNERS
Pulvio Cabilladas has seen his income rise and costs fall
since getting involved in an ACIAR project.
impacts, such as heavy rainfall on sloping land."
While rice is the Philippines' dominant
agricultural crop, ACIAR undertook an extensive
country consultation process with PCAARRD
and looked at a range of food and income-
producing crops---especially for increasingly
marginal lands in the uplands---and found it was
fruit and vegetables that presented realisable
opportunities to raise farmers' income.
To better leverage horticulture's poverty-
reducing potential, the Philippines Horticulture
Program recruited the assistance of 27
research organisations from the Philippines
and Australia and 55 key researchers. They
have dealt with a broad range of production
and post-farm-gate issues, from developing
integrated crop management systems with
reduced chemical requirements and optimised
fertiliser use, through to improving postharvest
handling, quality, sanitation, marketing and
Dr Pat Faylon, PCAARRD executive director,
says that increasing the market competitiveness
of horticultural products can be achieved by
linking smallholders to markets and introducing
or expanding horticultural crops to achieve
"The Philippines horticulture program has
been helping smallholder farmers to overcome
key barriers to adoption of improved practices
for higher value fruit and vegetable crops.
Linking these farmers into local, domestic and
international markets has significant potential
to increase their livelihoods."
With support tailored to specific production
and market conditions, the program's impacts
on the ground have been as diverse as the
GROWING MORE WITH LESS
The Northern Mindanao region was identified
by the Philippines Horticulture Program as
an area with great potential for expanding
vegetable production. However, realising that
potential was contingent on best-practice
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