This project aimed to improve the performance of smallholder value chains for fruit and vegetables, and build community capacity, in the southern Philippines to enhance smallholder's income, livelihoods and community well-being.
Poverty levels in the southern Philippines average 35-45% and are highest among smallholder farmers and fishers. Fruit and vegetable production is an important economic activity in this region, but is limited by small farm size, poor adoption of technology, low productivity and product quality, and high postharvest losses.
The study integrated with several others in the region, and focused on vegetables (eggplant, tomato, sweet pepper, ampalaya and leafy vegetables) and fruit (mango) in Eastern Visayas (Ormoc), Northern Mindanao (Claveria) and Davao (Davao, Samal Island).
2,400 smallholders and 160 wholesalers, collectors and retailers were directly involved over four years. 3,000 members of smallholder communities could benefit from developed value chains.
The approach to value chain integration adopted by the project was novel.
Instead of identifying a single ‘chain’ to investigate, the project conducted a broad analysis of the entire market for vegetables of interest and mango in the regions of interest. This approach allowed investigators to identify the relative attractiveness of alternative distribution channel members as potential customers. Measures of relative attractiveness included a number of characteristics but most importantly was the capacity of the community to consistently deliver products of the required quality. The broad approach to understanding the quality and quantity requirements of alternative chains and potential customers meant that communities with lower levels of product quality could select customers whose specific requirements they could meet. The market overview also provided communities with a ‘roadmap’ for product quality improvement because it provided them with an understanding of the product specifications, quantities required and prices paid for vegetables and mango of all qualities and to which they could aspire. The project facilitated meetings between farming communities and prospective customers and a number of mutually-beneficial relationships were established as a consequence.
The project made an important contribution to ACIAR’s Southern Philippines Horticultural Program and in so doing, developed a number of approaches that are available to be employed in other Research for Development projects.