Better Rice Initiative Asia
Title: Better Rice Initiative Asia – Fostering Agriculture and Rice Marketing by improved Education and Rural advisory Services (BRIA-FARMERS)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Lead executing agency: Philippines
Overall term: 2013 to 2017
Under the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, food security and increased incomes were established as overarching goals of the agriculture sector. To support the achievement of those goals, the Department of Agriculture launched the Food Staples Sufficiency Program, the objective of which is to achieve self-sufficiency in staple foods. In the Philippines, food security is closely linked to rice production. Rice provides 45 per cent of the average Filipino’s calorie intake, and consumes 20 per cent of a typical household budget. More than two million households are engaged in rice farming, while millions of farm labourers and tens of thousands of merchants depend for their livelihoods on rice farming and trading.
Over the last two decades, public investment in important infrastructure and services, such as irrigation systems, research and development, and agricultural extension services, has stagnated and must now be reinvigorated. As well as additional resources, there is also a need to make investments and service delivery more efficient. Effective extension services that spread knowledge, skills and technology to farmers are an important element in closing yield gaps. However, due to the low priority and inadequate funding, the extension services provided by local government units have deteriorated.
Farmers in selected local government units benefit from an improved market position and higher incomes. This is contributing to greater food security.
The Better Rice Initiative Asia is a multi-stakeholder development partnership with the private sector. In the Philippines, it supports the objective of the Philippine Development Plan to establish a competitive, sustainable and technology-based agricultural sector which builds on efficient value chains and contributes to inclusive growth and poverty reduction. Together with GIZ, the main public-sector partners are the Department of Agriculture (both the central office and the regional field offices), the Agricultural Training Institute and the Philippine Rice Research Institute. The private enterprises Bayer and Yara provide financing, know-how and technical advice. The private partners have also established a pool of experts to carry out activities in the provinces of Aurora, Iloilo and Southern Leyte. The project works mainly in the following areas:
Better rice production: The public and private partners collectively support a system of farmer schools. These provide training, not only for 200 agricultural extension workers, but also for lead farmer technicians, farmer leaders and rural private service providers from 13 municipalities in the three provinces. The courses include training for trainers in areas of basic agriculture, farming as a business, judicious and safe use of crop protection products, as well as rice and rice-based integrated farming systems and the rice value chain. Following the courses, local extension services and other service providers organise on-farm learning sessions targeting about 8,000 farmers.
Better market linkage: The project explores channels to improve the direct marketing of rice and rice by-products. It also supports farmer organisations in providing assistance to farmers, and promotes access to market price information. Moreover, it directly links the farmers and farmers’ associations to private millers and government-supported procurement entities. The project team is working to identify other partners along the value chain and to integrate additional activities covering more of the rice value chain. It also seeks to identify suitable local rice mills and retailers, whom encourages to develop long-term engagements with farmer groups.
Policy dialogue and knowledge management: The project records its lessons learnt and good practices, and feeds them into the ongoing policy dialogue and exchanges with public institutions, the private sector and civil society. This information is also shared at a regional level with other countries involved in the Better Rice Initiative. In addition, the project organises and participates in national and regional events on agriculture and food security. This includes annual round table meetings involving all the partners and relevant civil society actors.