Jerry Estebia and Renaldo Ecibar are abaca farmers. They plant abaca, strip its fiber, and sell the fiber for a living. At PhP 80 to PhP 120 (US$1.7 to US$2.50) a kilo, that is already a modest source of income. The pair belong to the 200-member Centralized Farmers Association (CEFA), a partner-beneficiary of the Eastern Visayas Partnerships for Rural Development (EVPRD), Inc.

CEFA is managing the 1,050-hectare community-based forest management (CBFM) area. Forty-one percent of its members are women and most are upland farmers and forest dwellers that rely mainly on abaca, coconut, rice, banana, root crops and other CBFM produce.

EVPRD is a Small Grants Programme grantee of the UNDP and GEF. The project seeks to create a model for social fencing to protect and conserve the local conservation area in the municipality of Mondragon in Northern Samar and the larger Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) through the establishment of organized production and marketing system for abaca and other CBFM produce. The project covers the upland barangays of Cablangan, Nenita and Flormina.

Through the SGP grant, CEFA is able to expand its micro-lending project to other non-members in other communities. With increase in incomes, members can now repair or improve their houses and finance their children’s education. Some are able to procure farm implements and carabaos while others buy motorcycles and appliances.

By giving high priority to one of the most important crops and main source of livelihood of the beneficiaries, which is abaca, the project is able to engage active participation of all members of the association. As a result, production, harvesting, and marketing of abaca by CEFA have never been more organized and more sustainable. (SGP5/ Anna Rita C. Saet)

 

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