DISOP Philippines

Improving Natural Productivity and Enhancing Capacities of Rural Farming Households Within Taguibo Watershed (In – Peace)

Partner:

Luntiaw Mindanaw, Inc. (LMI) 2nd Floor Socorro Building, R. Palma Street, Butuan City, Philippines

Luntiaw Mindanaw was founded in 2003 . It was  registered with the Securities and  Exchange Commission (SEC) in the same year and has  been accredited by  Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC) for three 3 consecutive years.

Its  engagement for 7 years was in Bukidnon where it worked with rural communities in various projects on sustainable agriculture, microfinance, enterprise development and gender and development.  Over the years it has has partnered with various national and international organizations namely : The Global Fund for Women, MamaCash, Philippine Development Assistance Program with funding from Canadian International Development Agency, and with  national line agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry, Dept. of Social Welfare and Development and local government units in Bukidnon.

In 2007, it  expanded to Agusan del Norte when it entered into a partnership with Heifer International for a sustainable livestock project . Later in 2010, for a more streamlined operation,  Luntiaw focused on Agusan del Norte while its  microfinance program in Bukidnon spinned off into a separate, but sister NGO, the Abag Kalambuan Inc.

In partnership with Heifer Philippines International, the project self help groups, local government unit of Magallanes and Cabadbaran  and  the Department of Agriculture, it has implemented two projects. The first Project,  DREAM benefitted 150 families and the second Project named ENRICH benefited 300 families.

Integration of lessons learned from the previous project

After 5 years of implementing sustainable livestock-based  farming system, vegetable gardening,  vermiculture , there has been significant improvements in the income levels of the families. Aside from meeting their food needs, it has also resulted in asset building among them as shown in the improvements of their houses, acquisition of motorcycle or lot from the income of sold pigs.

The trained community animal health workers are now providing veterinary services not only to their  member-families but also to non-members are their services became known. From the initial original families, the number of families has expanded to around 400 families as the passing-on-the gift scheme of livestock and other inputs were embraced by the people resulting in successful passing of the gifts. In addition, self help groups are also engaged in group-managed enterprises such as meat vending  feeds production and retailing and micro-credit. Out of these initiatives, good practices such as savings mobilization, livestock management, financial accountability and production of feeds of good quality emerged.

On the other hand, the microlending that a self help group started did not fare well as the group met difficulties  in collecting payment from its members.Another, was the feedmill production that  was started but did not take off, which suffered from lack of capital . Taking lessons from these, it was decided that no microcredit should be done by self help groups but instead, Luntiaw will tap existing microcredit institutions in the locality to provide for the credit. Another is for the  households to focus on their family livelihood first before engaging in feed production on a large scale basis and to engage in partnership with prívate groups that can provide the technical expertise and additional capital for the feedmill. Another strategy that needs to be incorporated is the importance of involving the youth especially the young farmers in the Project since they are more open and are in the position for a long-term contribution to the development of their community.

With these initial gains and lessons  in the project barangays in Magallanes and Cabadbaran, Luntiaw  plans to replicate the best    practices and  expand its impact in nearby barangays surrounding the Taguibo watershed. It plans to build on the   success of  the previously assisted project with a new one so that it can create a bigger and wider impact.

Context analysis

Ways how the context analysis was made

The context analysis was made using secondary local data found in the local government unit of Butuan City, the socio-economic profile  contained in Agusan del Norte’s development plan and the accumulated insights of the officers and staff of Luntiaw Mindanao after several years of working in the said area.

Short analysis of the political, economic and social context

The Philippines  showed strong economic performance in 2012 with its 6.6 GDP growth or 4.8 in per capita terms . The growth, according to an Asian Development Bank report, are driven by a “ bouyant prívate consumption  and a recovery of government spending”.1The growth  continued in the first quarter of 2013 in which according to the National Statistician Coordination Board, our GDP grew by 7.8 percent.

Despite this , there has been “little job creation” , according to the Asian Developmemnt Bank. It cited that “poverty remains high with  a third of the population live on 2$ a day. This growth is yet to trickle in the poorest provinces of the country such as  Agusan del Norte and its neighboring provinces in Mindanao.

Agusan Norte is a land of contrasts.  It is rich in natural resources. The vast forestall land in  the province holds timber and mineral resources which resulted in extensive extractive activities such as mining and logging. With Caraga holding the biggest iron ore deposit in the world and largest nickel and gold and large reserves of copper,chromite and coal, it is no wonder that it is now being regarded as the mining capital of the country. With the price of gold soaring high in the international market, mining companies are racing against one another to exploit the reserves of the four provinces of CARAGA, which could result in rapid environmental degradation in the next years to come.

Agusan Norte has vast agricultural lands. Its 79,595 hectares are planted with rice, corn, coconut, bananas , mango and root crops. But despite the vast agricultural lands, productivity remains low with average farming making only P26,244 per hectare which is way, way far from the P 60,000 per hectare target that it has set for itself in 1995.

This results in 60% of its people to live in poverty. Despite its riches, Agusan Norte has one of the highest poverty incidence in the country with around 60.70% or 32,037 households  earning below the poverty threshold mark. Majority of those living in poverty are the marginalized farming households.

Like many rural families spread in other parts of Mindanao, these small farming households have minimal production assets and have little knowledge or exposure  to improved and sustainable farming technologies. Most of them rely solely on crops which are produced mainly for local consumption. Lacking in improved farm tools and  draft animals, farm efficiency is very low.

Livestock production, which could further enhance farm integration and improved productivity,  is very minimal. With  absent or minimal production support from the local government and marginal income derived from less productive farms, the farmers are increasingly drawn to logging and mining activities since these are “easy money”.

Discouraged by poor farm situation, most of the rural youth leave the rural areas for urban centers, creating shortage in human resources.If they opt to stay, most marry young thereby creating another cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

Such is the state of the marginal families found living in barangays within and around Taguibo watershed catchment, an area identified by Luntiaw as a priority concern.

The Taguibo Watershed emerged as a priority concern when the people of Butuan were caught in a life-threatening situation when it was brought to their attention that the potable water supply is no longer safe.  This arose from the high turbidity of water during rainy days that goes beyond tolerable limits. This prompted the local water district to close its gate valve thereby causing bathing holidays among the rich and poor. In addition, the people, including the poorest of the poor would have no other recourse but to buy bottled water just to survive  the day’s ordeal.

As one of the major sources of tap water , Taguibo watershed became the focus of attention when it was found out  that the Taguibo River Watershed is now under attack by illegal miners and timber poachers. A 10-km road was  illegally constructed right inside the watershed purportedly to simplify the transport of mine ores has caused the rise in the turbidity level of the Taguibo River. The illegal road serves as the conveyance of the surface run-off from the top ridge during rainy days. The run-off water passes through the gullies down to the Taguibo River making its water muddy.  Worse, these highly anomalous and immoral operations appeared to have enjoyed the blessings of the local politicians.

Taguibo river watershed is one of the major tributaries of the country’s second longest river, the Agusan River. It is the main source of Butuan City Water District for potable water supply for Butuan City and for irrigation water of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).These irrigation canals supply water to more than 1,000 hectares of rice lands at the downstream portion benefitting at least five farming barangays and about 3,000 small subsistence farmers.

It is worth noting that the fate of this irrigation project and those who benefit from it rests on the will of the people to protect the surrounding watershed. Taguibo River Watershed, being a critical watershed pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 1076 issued on September 4, 1997 by then President Fidel V. Ramos, is supposedly subject to strict protection and conservation for purposes of maintaining and improving water yield of the watershed.

In response to the need to address the twin problems of poverty among the rural households and the threatened Taguibo watershed which is a strategic source of water for the people of Butuan City and Agusan del Norte, the project IN-PEACE was developed.

The project, Improving Natural Productivity and Enhancing Capacities of Rural Farming Households Within Taguibo Watershed (In – Peace) intends to improve agricultural productivity of the marginal farming families living in the Taguibo watershed , raise their income and nutrition, enhance the capacity of the families to meet their basic needs and create sustainable employability through on farm/off farm income generating projects, and lessen pressure on the Taguibo watershed by encouraging them to shift from engaging in mining and logging activities to farming crops and livestocks.

The project will be implemented in 3  years to ensure that impacts are realized and sustained and to reach a greater number of beneficiaries in need. The project will be implemented by a Project Implementaion Team to be organized and managed by Luntiaw Mindanaw Inc.

Relevance of the project

Description of the problem and reasons why it was chosen to work on this problematic

The project intends to address the issues of poverty that continue to affect hundreds of families in  the rural areas surrounding the Taguibo watershed. The overall poverty is caused by a combination of problems: low productivity among marginal farming households; low organizational capacity to maximize opportunities and degraded environment.

  1. Low productivity due to lack of access to productive capital such as seeds, livestocks, unsustainable farming practices (monocropping, use of chemical inputs), inadequate knowhow of sustainable farming technologies
  2. Low organizational capacity to maximize the opportunities to engage in enterprises and meet its needs;
  3. Degraded watershed due to mining and logging activities resulting to surface run-off, logged over and poor water quality

We have chosen to work on this problematic situation because it is within our mandate to contribute to the empowerement of women, families and communities through community development projects and we believe we have a strategic fit in terms of the needed intervention  and our capabilities since we have the experience in sustainable agriculture, gender and development, enterprise development.Taguibo watershed is also very important to Butuan City and nearby municipalities and must be urgently protected.

Geographical location of the project

The project  is located within the Taguibo Watershed in the province of Agusan del Norte in the islands of Mindanao, Philippines. The watershed area of the Taguibo River has an aggregate of 4,367.44 hectares which covers the municipalities of RTR and Cabadbaran and the City of Butuan.

Description of the target communities and final beneficiaries 

The beneficiaries of this project are the 1,500 marginalized  farming families living within and around the Taguibo watershed catchment which straddles Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Butuan City. The project aims to  reduce the economic vulnerabilities of the upland farmers within and around the  Taguibo watershed and lessening the pressure on the threatened natural resources.

This project aims to transform  marginalized farming families living within and around threatened Taguibo watershed,  into productive farmer and farmer-entrepreneurs contributing to the goals of food self sufficiency and employability for the province of Agusan Norte . This will be accomplished by providing  production support such as inputs , irrigation water system, improved farming technologies, entrepreneurial and organizational  capability-building support to  farming households and helping them gain better access to the market as well as mobilizing them to ensure that the natural resources are sustainably managed and protected.

The marginal farming households  need production and technology support to improve farm productivity and income. We need to capacitate these  farmers into more productive and entrepreneurial farmers capable of planning for a more efficient production by employing  sustainable farming technologies and diversified farming system . We also need to organize the farmers into self help groups or cooperatives and link them to the local market in order for them get a better price for their produce.They will be provided with technical assistance in improved agri-livestock production, enterprise and organizational management

Eventually, with better prospect in farming,  they will be weaned them from engaging in   extractive activities. They will be mobilized to establish assisted natural regeneration sites and riparian zones.

Luntiaw shall make use of the “passing on the gift” (POG) best practice which entails acts of gift-        giving, caring, and sharing of local resources among families and communities. Based on our successful experience in encouraging livestock raising activities among rural households in the nearby project areas of Magallanes and Cabadbaran, we intend to replicate and upscale the livestock and crop based farm production for the farmers located in the communities under the Taguibo watershed.  This will hopefully result in significant increases in jobs, income and food sources at the household  level and at the same time, discourage them from participating in mining and logging activities in the area.

Synergies

  • Local actors: Local civil society and public authorities, including decentralised
  • Description :

The local civil society in Butuan City has been active in the Save Taguibo Watershed Network since the issue exploded into the public’s consciousness in 2009. The civil society is headed by Father Saturnino Urious University , the religious groups, NGOs and Pos concerned about the degradation of the watershed

The Local Government Unit of Butuan City is headed by Mayor Amante, a progressive leader that replaced the old leadership of the Plazas whose economic interest lies in  logging activities in Agusan del Norte and del Sur. The current  LGU head is more open to new ideas and welcomes the presence and participation of NGOs.Under the decentralization mode , the LGUs are  proactive in responding to development issues and are generally welcoming help from the NGOs and foriegn funders. In 2012, the Sangguniang Panglunsod has in fact approved a resolution asking the DENR to designate Taguibo Watershed as a Water Quality Management  Area, which indicates  its concern to preserve the watershed on which the people of Butuan City and sorrounding towns are dependent  for drinking water and irrigation use.

  • Analysis of the ways used to strengthen their capacities

As  potential partners of the project, the CSO and the Barangay and City LGUs need to be capacitated particularly in resource accessing because the resources needed for the long term protection and preservation of the watershed is quite  big.The barangay LGU under which  the project will be implemented, in particular  need to be capacitated in participatory planning and land use review. They also need to be capacitated in watershed protection and disaster risk management.

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