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Crop Diversification Project Reaches Over 6,300 Farmers

Posted On: April 30, 2024
Key farmers celebrate their graduation from Farmers Field School in Castillejos, Zambales.

ZAMBALES and NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, PHILIPPINES – 100 farmers graduated from Farmers Field School in Castillejos, Zambales, on 16 April, followed by 100 more in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, on 25 April. Enrolled in a year-long crop diversification project, these key farmers learned every aspect of vegetable production, from planning and land preparation to harvest.

Key farmers ready for their Farmers Field School graduation in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

Beyond the graduating key farmers, the Upscaling of the Gulayan sa Palayan at Pagnenegosyo Toward Prosperous RiceBIS Communities project (May 2023–May 2024) reached an additional 6,139 farmers through training sessions held at the key farmers’ vegetable demonstration plots and at Field Day events.

Co-funded by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and implemented by East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation, this project focused on increasing vegetable production among rice farmers. Adding vegetable production to rice farming provides farmers with a steadier—and higher—income and reduces their risk. The project also promoted a farm cluster approach for sustainable market access.

Sen. Cynthia Villar (right) walks with Dr. Karen Eloisa Barroga, of PhilRice, at the graduation celebration in Castillejos. 

In Castillejos, the graduates were honored by the presence of Sen. Cynthia Villar, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food. Other distinguished guests included Dr. Karen Eloisa Barroga, Deputy Executive Director for Development, PhilRice; Janice Sardo, Municipal Agriculturist, Castillejos; and Jeffrey Khonghun, Mayor of Castillejos.

Stuart Morris, Director of East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation, also attended the Castillejos event—and was impressed with what the project has enabled the farmers to accomplish. “Net income from some of the trained farmers’ 500-square-meter vegetable plots is similar to net income from rice on one hectare,” he reported.

“Some of the farmers have been producing vegetables as a side crop for years,” he added, “but one year of intensive training has dramatically increased their yields and completely transformed their outlook on future business opportunities.”