Farmers who are considering adopting the SRP standard have already set their expectations of obtaining higher yield and a higher market price for their produce.
Pilot testing of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standard in the province of Iloilo has shown Filipino farmers’ strengths in managing their farms in a sustainable manner as well as opportunities to improve their current practices to achieve sustainable rice cultivation.
In the 2016 wet season, SRP-trained agricultural extension workers, farmer technicians, Better Rice Initiative Asia (BRIA) coordinators, and staff from the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office in Region 6 (DA-RFO6) monitored the participating farmers in four municipalities from April to September. The monitoring gauges whether farmers’ practices are sustainable based on the SRP standard.
On average, the farmers scored 64 to 76 sustainability points out of the 90 points required for them to earn sustainability status. They had the lowest scores in food safety and labor rights. The results indicate that the farmers could work toward sustainable rice cultivation if given the appropriate support such as tailored programs that build on what they currently have to narrow these gaps.
The pilot testing also covers the 2017 wet season and will end in October. The sustainability scores in both seasons will then be compared and evaluated based on the thematic areas for which the farmers have improved and for which they require reinforcements.
However, the farmers are already seeing the benefits of the SRP.
“The SRP enlightens us on the value of record keeping,” said the members of the Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association. Keeping track of various management details (e.g., rice varieties used, yield, amount of fertilizer and pesticide, costs, profitability) is part of the standard. “It also widens our understanding of the importance of protecting the environment through the efficient use of water and organic fertilizer.”
Members of the Banga Dawis Pototan Farmers Association added that, through the SRP, they learned that the proper use of physical protective equipment and minimizing the use of pesticide can lead to better health. “We now know that we are eating safe rice,” one member said.
Furthermore, farmers who are considering adopting the SRP standard have already set their expectations of obtaining higher yield and a higher market price for their produce.
The DA-RFO6 has acknowledged the importance of the SRP in its current work and has considered the SRP standard as a tool for monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of their training, as well as tracking the practices of farmers through their records.
Supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ )under the framework of BRIA, the pilot testing is implemented by DA-RFO6 and the International Rice Research Institute in cooperation with the municipalities of Zarraga, Pototan, Leganes, and San Miguel.
Mr. Gallentes is the senior coordinator for GIZ Agri-DPP Projects.