Monitoring visit to the Philippines
The DMDP Secretariat recently travelled to the Philippines to visit the three DMDP projects in the country. The visit was a very helpful encounter for the Secretariat to better visualise the impact of each project and the positive outcomes. All three projects take a point of departure in the paradox that Philippines is one of the largest coconut producers in the world, yet from the perspective of the individual small holder farmer, the productivity is very low, and it is a significant challenge to make a living income from their coconut farms.
One project is focused on valorisation of the coconut husk that is generally a waste product with no value. The commercial partner has set -up a processing facility which processes coco nut husk into coco chips which are used for multiple products such as growbags for hydroponic production of vegetables and fruit in green houses. The commercial partner sells its products to more than 40 countries. The project works with farmer cooperatives to establish first level processing and supply to the commercial partner. The farmers are now able to sell their husk to the cooperatives and a number of jobs are created in processing and transportation. The project works with 3,000 farmers and after a slow start due to COVID-19, production has picked up in 2022.
The second project involves a Mindanao based processor of cacao that is seeking to expand its supplier network. For coconut farmers that struggle to make a livelihood out of their coconut farm there is an interesting opportunity to intercrop cacao and banana between the existing coconut palms. The project currently works with 600 farmers and as is now expanding its involvement of farmers.
The last project is comparatively new as it started in 2021. At the core of the project is the Lionheart farm operating out of Palawan and produces a range of organic sweet and salty food products from the nectar (the sap) of the coconut palm. The project is driving efforts to replace old senile trees with new and far better yielding varieties. Farmers partnering with the Lionheart farm are shifting from producing coconut production to harvesting the sap from the flower which is more labour intensive but also offers a significantly better income compared to selling coconuts. The project targets to engage with 10,000 farmers and workers.
The visit was overall a great experience, and the Secretariat is very appreciative of the hospitality shown from all our partners. The visit was a great opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities and to also identify areas where projects can be adjusted based on the learning from the initial implementation and maximise impact.