While it seems that the ASEAN region is advancing due to the thriving economies of several member countries, the living conditions of a significant part of the population prove that some developing nations within the region, have yet to experience the benefits of economic growth and technological advancements of its neighboring countries. This project aimed to provide opportunities to disadvantaged ASEAN communities in Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam, allowing them to gain access to appropriate knowledge and affordable technologies which have helped other ASEAN countries achieve economic development and transformation.
ASSIST in partnership with Bayer Thai, implemented an Integrated Social Economic Model (SEM) that facilitated economic transformation through food security, mitigating post-harvest losses and improving the quality and preservation of agri / aqua-cultural products coming from the bottom of the pyramid communities. The farmers were also introduced to financial linkages that connected the farmers directly to markets.
The project implemented the WeCARE Sustainability Scorecard approach that had the three dimensions of – Society (enhancing livelihood, community cooperation and social harmony), Economy (reducing post-harvest losses and improving earning capability), and Environment (energy efficient technologies and eco-friendly materials).
The agricultural sector of the Philippines comprises 30% of the workforce and about 12 million people. Challenges from resource depletion, social exclusion and lack of access to technology among others, continue to affect the worsening agro-economic trend in the country. Given this, the national roadmap for the cocoa sector has been set to increase production tenfold, providing sustainable incomes for as many as 130,000 Filipino farmers.
Capacitating Cacao Farmers in Mindanao is a project under the DeveloPPP program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in partnership with DEG and Yara Fertilizers Philippines Inc. It is implemented to address cacao farmers’ limited capacity to meet industry demand due to low productivity. This is mainly due to the shortage of viable planting materials and the farmers’ lack of knowledge on crop nutrition, good agricultural practices (GAPs) and post-harvest handling.
The project also aims to increase the efficiency of farmers in cacao production through Yara’s crop nutrition solutions and effective crop handling. Twenty-five local farmers will be trained to become cacao specialists, who will, in turn, provide crop nutrition training to 50 cacao farmers. In addition, model farms will be established and post-harvest processing facilities will be set up in partnership with selected rural-based cooperatives in the area. Through these strategies, the yield of farmers is expected to increase by at least 25 percent and the selling price of the processed beans to increase by at least 10 percent. Eventually, the project will contribute to the country’s achievement of its national target, which is to produce 100,000 MT of dried fermented beans by 2022.
Traditional farming methods practiced by farmers in the Philippines are becoming less reliable with unpredictable changes in weather patterns due to climate change. Inaccurate weather information would mean inefficient planning of farm activities from seeding to land preparation to post-harvest. This would also result to mismanagement of agricultural inputs, the risk of incurring unnecessary costs and low production and profit. There are many new technologies available to improve agricultural productivity but these are not readily affordable for most smallholder farmers.
Improving Productivity in Agriculture through Climate-Smart Technology in the Philippines (ImPACT Phils.) is a partnership with DEG and Pessl Instruments GmbH under the DeveloPPP program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It aims to improve the agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers and farming communities in the Philippines by providing access to relevant information, data, and technology. The Pessl-manufactured METOS instruments measure environmental parameters such as temperature, humidity, rainfall, leaf wetness and insect pressure based on a farm’s location.
The project’s success would be measured by the reduction in the cost spent by the farmers on fertilizers, pesticides and water; and the increase in income and savings by at least 10 percent. In the long run, sufficient historical data will be established through the system, which would contribute to the development of disease models, yield forecasting, crop water management and harvest cycle models for the varieties of crops particularly grown in the Philippines.
Vietnam is the world’s leading exporter of pepper. While this industry exports to 97 countries, it also serves as an important contributor to the country’s economic growth, while bringing good revenue for farmers. However, this fast growth entailed challenges in enforcing appropriate food safety practices. Adverse weather conditions, pests, and diseases pushed farmers to use pesticides with poor awareness of their impact. With this, risks to Vietnam’s pepper acceptance in global markets have been identified.
ASSIST, together with Eurofins Sac Ky Hai Dang Company Ltd and DEG, launched Safe Pepper – a project that aims to increase Vietnam’s pepper export quality and improve international competitiveness. In cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, beneficiary cooperatives were identified, followed by a comprehensive status quo analysis of pepper cultivation, particularly with regard to the use of pesticides and production and export patterns in Vietnam.
As a result, the project was able to engage farmers, processors, and local experts through awareness campaigns, workshops, events, and training of trainers (ToTs). Knowledge sharing on regulations and quality standards were expounded through fertilizer and land treatment courses as well as pesticide treatment courses. Moving forward, the project aims to sustain impact through developing case studies on the improvement of farmers’ income, agricultural practices and quality standards for know-how transfer.
Coffee production in the Philippines has been dwindling for the past 20 years albeit the increasing consumer demand. Driven by the rising consumption in emerging economies, as well as shifting preferences in established consumer markets, ASSIST together with Nestle and DEG, implemented CoFFEE – a project that aims to help smallholder coffee farmers boost production through the acquisition of new technologies on coffee farming.
Capitalizing on strategic geographies characterized by fertile plains, rolling terrain and hilly mountains, the project supplements the effort through promoting proper crop nutrition and integrated crop management (ICM) along with new fertilizer types in order to ensure quality produce. Strengthening farmers’ overall farm management capacity was also key to maximizing adopted technology. Trainings on farm budget and management, utilization of portable drying facilities, as well as transport of green coffee beans to buying stations were key knowledge sharing activities.
As a result, intensive training on key topics such as Nursery Establishment, Care & Maintenance and Plantation Establishment were given to the farmers. Part of the Training of Trainers (ToT) program also included hands-on training on coffee growing methods & technologies in Nestle´ Coffee Plantlet Production and Training Center (NCPPTC). 30,000 seedlings were distributed to be planted in the 25 hectare demo farm which also houses existing coffee trees.
Sugarcane farming is one of the most important segments in Indian agriculture. Over 50 million growers find livelihood through this crop supplying to the sugar industry, for which India ranks 2nd in the world economy. Maharashtra, the largest sugarcane belt in the country, suffers from unpredictable monsoons as well as low farmer yields (80T/HA), which can be largely attributed to unsustainable farming practices such as poor irrigation, lack of proper care for the soil, use of manual labor and related costs. However, over one-third of the yield comes from medium hold sugarcane farmers, indicating that building their capacity on sustainable practices and smart mechanization will work wonders to increase the overall yield of sugarcane.
ASSIST, SDF and DEG have partnered to implement Smart 4 Green – a structured project meant to sensitize sugarcane farmers on good agricultural practices, packaged into a practical and sustainable guide and coupled with a level of mechanization, that can help enhance the sugarcane farming sector and revive livelihood in these areas. The key objectives of the project are increasing awareness on 4 feet sugarcane plantation methods, upgrading farmer capacity on sustainable farming and smart mechanization, value chain enhancement through dealer training and ensuring the presence of continued support for farmers.
This project aims to support sugarcane farmers in the adoption of sustainable practices and smart mechanization through numerous interventions and partnerships with local academic institutions, government agencies, and financial service providers. A Farmer Help Centre for sugarcane farmers will be set up to provide continuous support and consultation. Pilot demonstration farms using the improved operations will be established, closely monitored and showcased for the sugarcane farmers who will also be undergoing training sessions. By the end of this project, sugarcane farmers in Maharashtra will understand the benefit and utilize advanced farming practices and mechanization, strengthening India’s sugarcane value chain and the overall agricultural sector.