Sector: Agriculture and Rural Development

WeCARE – Economic Transformation through Food Security

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).

Capacity Building Towards Advancing Food Safety Standards and Strengthening the PH-EU Cooperation on Food Trade

The food industry of the Philippines is one that has a rich cultural base that fits the palates of the world. The country is likewise blessed with a rich array of natural resources that provides all types of raw materials for the development of food products such as marine and fresh water fishes, crustaceans, domesticated animals, fruit trees, crops and vegetables, to name a few. Given this potential, the project aimed to discover the hindrances to the Philippine food industry in gaining considerable market share and bounty.


ASSIST through this project, conducted consultation activities and researched on obstacles to higher food safety standards by raising awareness among CEOs and different stakeholders and implementing online and offline training modules. Through this project, it was discovered that one of the problems is the lack of activities to capacitate the food industry to produce world-class products. The project therefore, specifically aimed at addressing this problem while fostering cooperation and trade relationships between the Philippines and EU member states through the reduction and elimination of hazards / risks in Philippine food production.

Fairtrade: Mainstreaming Equitable Practices in the Production and Trade of Agro-Products in the Philippines

The Fairtrade movement in the Philippines has been around for more than two decades but only few producers, especially farmers, are aware of it. Part of the goal to change this, is to form a Fairtrade Marketing Organization (FMO) in the Philippines that will promote fairtrade certification and increase the sales of fairtrade products.


ASSIST in partnership with FLO-Cert, OURFood and SIGNAsia implemented this project to support the establishment of FMO and increase awareness on the benefits of fairtrade to farmers and businesses.


ASSIST developed awareness raising materials on fairtrade,  including international standards for small producers and the certification process. This was achieved through the conduct of workshops, forums and a market research; and strategy to identify commercial partners. The project also secured the commitment of future fairtrade product retailers in the Philippines. Two workshops were conducted in the Visayas region (Bacolod and Cebu) to provide basic information about Fairtrade International, FMO, standards for small producers and the certification processes. This was attended by civil society organizations (CSOs), including farmer organizations and small businesses.

Sustainable Dairy Farmers

Small milk farmers play a crucial role in India, one of the world’s top milk markets. Unlike developed nations, in India, currently, 75-80% of milk production still comes from them. However, these farmers face issues that limit their productivity and make it difficult to increase their earnings. With an annual production of 164 million tonnes of milk, the dairy sector in India generates approximately USD 70 billion of revenue a year and is supposed to grow heavily. The past few decades have seen an increase in private sector investment in dairy farming, supply chain, processing facilities and backward integration. Dairy farming is also an important secondary source of income for 70 million rural households in India. These small dairy farmers are also suppliers to many private dairy companies. Most of these farmers lack capacity. They have an average herd size of 2-3 animals that produce only 2-6 litres of milk per cattle per day, just under a third of that in the west.


ASSIST is undertaking the following project with Lactalis – to establish two integrated model dairy farms; capacitate fifty local dairy farmers as cattle custodians to build local capacity and extend technical support; provide advisory support to ten pilot dairy farms of committed, progressive small dairy farmers and transform them into high-productive and profitable dairy farms; promote balanced cattle feed management and clean milk production among 150 dairy farmers; and establish a dairy support center which will have a registry of helpline numbers for farmers to access. It will also have a feed bank that will cater to the year-round supply of cattle feed.

Cacao Pro

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.

ImPACT Phils. – Improving Productivity in Agriculture through Climate-Smart Technology in the Philippines

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.

Inclusive Agribusiness Roundtable Event

Organized by the World Economic Forum’s Grow Asia Partnership, The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia’s Food Systems Innovation (FSI) Initiative, the Seas of Change Initiative and the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, this event outlined how to transform good intentions in the agribusiness sector into practice.


This event brought together the numerous people to share key approaches and explore practical and innovative solutions to the growing, inclusive agribusinesses in SE Asia. It continued efforts to build an active, regional network of strategic stakeholders for continued exchange and innovation. It also identified opportunities for investment in agricultural development, critical areas for future research and the policy requirements to drive greater business-led inclusive growth.

Excellence in Food Safety for Agro & Dairy Producing Industries

Vietnam’s fast-growing food processing and food export enterprises have been grossly challenged by the low level of awareness on multilateral regulations covering the food industry. The non-availability of appropriate laws and the lower levels of enforcement by the government have further aggravated the situation.


ASSIST together with TÜV Rheinland Vietnam Co. Ltd and DEG, launched a project that targeted the agro and dairy food exporting and food processing industry of Vietnam located in the Central area (Da Nang City), Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho Province in the Mekong Delta.


In order to achieve set project objectives, the project created a mass-based awareness on the governing international food standards (HACCP/ISO 22000) and international food safety regulations. Technical seminars in multiple provinces have also qualified 75 local trainers. e-learning modules on food safety, self-implementation guidelines and self-audit guides were also compressed into kits which were distributed for knowledge propagation.

Safe Pepper

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.