CARE makes history after organizing the 1st Leyte Cassava Congress in collaboration with the Global Affairs Canada, Fatima Multi-Purpose Cooperative (FMPC), Philirootcrops and Philippine government agencies at the Visayas State University.
The event, attended by over 300 people, brought small-scale cassava farmers closer to government agency officials and other service providers for additional support, and San Miguel Foods and Beverage Inc., the largest buyer of cassava in the province.
Through CARE’s Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Reconstruction Assistance (THRA) project, farmers’ associations are strengthened and empowered to increase productivity, income, and access to resources.
“The Cassava Congress is part of our value chain development efforts to ensure the sustainability of this livelihood endeavor. This supports our objective to help farmers contribute to Leyte’s booming cassava production industry,” said Tess Bayombong, Project Team Leader of THRA.
More than 240 community associations in Leyte and Biliran have become part of this project. Over 13,300 farmers (69% women) were trained and given technical assistance by CARE to boost their livelihoods.
The farmers, who heavily relied on coconut farming, lost their livelihoods when Typhoon Yolanda left catastrophic damage in Leyte. While waiting for coconut trees to fully recover, they find cassava production an equally beneficial alternative given the available market. Also, more women have now participated in cassava production and some of them have even become active association presidents.
“We are very thankful for this project as we are able to mobilize farmers in our community and start improving and expanding our cassava plantations. Now we get to earn from cassava production and help our families,” said Yolanda Colbe, President of Brgy. Cutay Gudti Nga Parag-uma Farmers’ Association in Carigara.
CARE and its partner FMPC have also facilitated the registration of community farmers associations with the Department of Labor and Employment so they can access more support from the Government. Some of these associations were able to prepare proposals and have received equipment, seeds and financial and technical support from government agencies.
Also, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA), farmers were trained on “Good Agricultural Practices” focusing on organic farming and productivity. To be able to minimize loss during disasters, farmers have also availed crop insurance from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.
“We were able to receive entrepreneurial training from CARE. Aside from cassava farming, we have also engaged in cassava chip making for additional income. We also received a cassava grater from the DA and also additional cassava processing equipment from CARE. It is such a big help and gives us another livelihood opportunity,” said Nida Lauron, President of Baruhogay Sur Farmers Association in Carigara.
The THRA project in Leyte is closely coordinated with other government agencies such as the Philrootcrops, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, DA, Department of Social Welfare and Development-Sustainable Livelihood Program and Agricultural Training Institute.