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Managing a Community-Based Coconut Nursery: The Padillos of Calape, Bohol

“I’ve learned how to manage a nursery which farmers can establish in their own farms. The training also encouraged us to be smart on how we plant coconuts as well as other crops to avoid losses due to changes in weather conditions”, said Lorna Padillos, 47, a farmer from Barangay Lucob, Calape, Bohol.

She is the manager of the community coconut nursery which is located in a patch of land near their family’s farmhouse. She and her husband, Silvestre, take turns ensuring that the nursery is well taken care of and secured from being damaged by farm animals.

One hundred coconut farmers who are partners in the implementation of the RISE Coco (Recovery Intervention for SEverely Affected Coconut Farming Communities of Bohol by ST Odette) project in Barangay Lucob presently use the nursery to propagate seed nuts and prepare seedlings for planting in their respective farms. Lorna shared that the nursery became a learning venue for them to apply good coconut farming practices such as choosing the best variety of seed nuts to propagate, using organic compost or vermicast as fertilizer, and deciding the appropriate time of the year to plant based on climate conditions that they learned from the series of training conducted through the project. They were also trained on how to manage their finances and how to save for emergencies such as typhoon Odette which took almost everything they own.

“We used to live comfortably before the typhoon. We had a house, a coconut, and a rice farm. We also raised poultry and livestock and tended a vegetable garden for food”, she said.

The typhoon left only one room of their house for them to live in for a while. They lost the coconuts, rice, farm animals, and vegetables to the harsh winds and heavy rains. The experience left the couple devastated and didn’t know how to provide for their family’s daily needs.

They received financial and material assistance from the government which only lasted for a couple of months. They had to rely on one of their children who was already working to provide them with money for repairing their house and to have something to eat daily. To start farming, they borrowed money from lenders to buy farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers. However, they found it difficult to source coconut seedlings because all of Bohol was heavily affected by the typhoon.

When the RISE Coco project staff conducted a consultation in their barangay in August 2022, their family was selected as one of the beneficiaries in their community and were oriented about the project. They accepted to be part of the project because of their interest in recovering their coconut farm. She and her husband underwent training on financial literacy and sustainable good agriculture including climate-resilient coconut farming.

With the establishment of the nursery, Lorna became its manager. This was during the long dry season and propagating seed nuts was a challenge because of the intense heat. She and her husband, along with other farmers took turns in watering the seed nuts every day to prevent them from withering. Their hard work paid off. By October 2023, they were able to propagate almost 3,9678 seed nuts and seedlings. Out of these, they have replanted 2,849 coconuts in various beneficiary farms.  

As a manager, she has the challenging task of encouraging her fellow coconut farmers to be responsible for their seed nuts and seedlings in the nursery. She sees it as a sustainable source of seedlings and income for the members. Many farms in the province are still struggling to find a good source of copra-quality seedlings. Community-based nurseries that are well-managed like theirs could earn from selling their seedlings.

“We rehabilitate our farms and we will no longer worry about where to get seedlings when we need them”, she added. 

The RISE Coco project aims to address the critical needs of typhoon Odette-affected coconut farmers for livelihood support, primarily the alternative sources of income while rehabilitating their damaged coconut trees in 2 years. It is implemented by CARE in partnership with the CebuBohol Relief and Rehabilitation Center and supported by Cargill.

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