Following a suspension of activities due to COVID-19 work and travel restrictions, the USAID Protect Wildlife project re-engaged 30 abaca farmers from indigenous T’boli and B’laan communities in Maasim, Sarangani province through the Climate-Smart Field School. This six-month training program has been designed and facilitated by the project and its partners Philippine Fiber Development Authority and Conrado and Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation.
Through the field school, facilitators introduced advanced abaca production technology and best practices in disease prevention. Farmers also learned more about conservation agriculture and climate change adaptation, which would inform their farm-level decisions on abaca production, pest control and farm preparation. The training curriculum has three modules: integrated conservation and development, technical capability enhancement, and practical skills and enterprise development. These would help indigenous farmers improve their farming practices while also boosting their abaca production and sales. In addition to special topics on postharvest handling, roles of women in agroforestry, farm planning and record-keeping, and leadership and values, farmers also learned value-adding skills and techniques in abaca production.
With their participation in USAID’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, abaca farmers from two local associations would soon complete their training. The farmers would then be ready to apply their new knowledge about the ecological importance of and good conservation practices in Mount Busa, a key biodiversity area in Sarangani where their communities are located. (PWP/ May Anne Ramos)