Agroforestry and sustainable vegetable production in Southeast Asian watershed: Market and gender components of Philippine study
M.E. Chiong-Javier; E. Bolingot; K.K. Zabala; X. Verbal
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Summary: The study is a four-year project launched in 2006 with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It will be undertaken until 2009 by a collaborative partnership between the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (lead institution) and multiple institutions particularly from the countries of Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region. The project belongs to an umbrella program called the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management-Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM-CRSP) managed by Virginia Tech.
In General, the project seeks to reduce poverty, food scarcity, and environmental degradation in the
region by combining economically viable and resource-conserving technologies and gender friendly socio-economic policies that will benefit and reward stakeholders in a watershed, especially small scale women and men farmers. It is hypothesized that integrating vegetable production in the agroforestry system on small farms will help to alleviate poverty and enhance environmental protection, sustainability, and ecosystem biodiversity in SEA watersheds and vice versa. The project has specific objectives on SANREM technology, marketing, policy, environmental and socioeconomic impacts, gender, and scaling-up (TMPEGS). Different studies to realize each of these objectives are simultaneously and sequentially being conducted primarily by collaborating institutions in the three countries with inputs from technical experts from western academic
institutions and international research centers. In the Philippine case, the market and gender studies were assigned to SDRC.
The market study aims to conduct market value chain research at the local, regional, and national levels that build upon existing market strategies and develop interventions to overcome constraints and take advantage of opportunities. On the other hand, the gender component aims to provide mechanisms to improve the socio-economic well-being of women engaged in vegetable production and agroforestry enterprises, especially in terms of income and labor share, and to involve women in decisions that concern their welfare.
Among the insights gained from the study were that: 1) Marketing is an individual rather than a collective enterprise; the marketer thrives through ingenious ways of tying the farmer and his supplies to the marketer.
2) The supply chains are not demand-driven but dominated and driven by middlemen buyers; farmers at the upstream are neither market-savvy nor oriented to downstream/consumer preferences.
3) Any assistance to increase farm productivity, whether for vegetables or tree crops, will continue to be cornered by men.
4) Development of tree-based market enterprises cannot but also be male-directed and -oriented. 5) However, vegetable-related market enterprises will most likely impact directly and positively on women’s welfare.