Rosalinsa Basamot, a farmer cooperator in Ilocos, is all smiles as she shows her renovated
house she refers to as “sementado na.” Right below her is a bamboo slat in which her old house was made of.

Rosalinda Basamot considers herself a happy farmer as she is earning a respectable livelihood by planting rice, corn, and winged bean, along with vermicompost production and cattle fattening. Rosa, as she is fondly called, is a farmer-cooperator of the Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) project implemented by the Department of Agriculture –Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 1 and funded by the Department of Agriculture –Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR).

The CPAR project, which started in 2012, targets an increase in the farmers’ productivity and income by integrating rice + winged bean – yellow corn, white corn – winged bean + cattle fattening in two adjacent barangays, namely: Sumader and Camguidan in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

DA-RFO 1 CPAR focal person, Ms. Melinda Calumpit, explained that the project hopes to address problems on low yield, high production cost; and to make the technologies available to farmers to improve their farming. “Farmers have very limited knowledge on new farming technologies, that’s why when we introduced CPAR, they really valued the learnings enough to change their way of farming. They really appreciate it,” she said.

“The first step in involving the farmers into this kind of undertaking is to capacitate them,” Calumpit added. The selected farmer-cooperators were provided with trainings with the help of the local government unit of Batac.

With various trainings Rosa has been a part of, she was able to acquire new knowledge and take advantage of her farm to its optimum potential. Along with the CPAR farmer-cooperators of the Camguidan Multipurpose Cooperative, she underwent trainings on rice and corn production, integrated nutrient and pest management, waste management utilization, vermicomposting, and farm recordkeeping. “Marami akong natutunan sa training na to. Hindi lang pala basta-basta ang pagtatanim,” she delightedly shared.

The CPAR life

Rosa has been into farming for as long as she knows. Her husband, who is a tobacco farmer, sustains the family’s expenses through the income he gets from tobacco.  According to Rosa, the profit they get from it was enough for them to get by every day. “Sapat lang siya sa pang araw-araw na pangangailangan namin,” she shared.

But when they become part of CPAR, her enthusiasm was sky high. “Excited talaga ako kasi alam ko na maganda itong magiging proyekto ng CPAR. Unang-una ay dahil sa planning pa lang sinabi na sa amin na malaki ang magiging bahagi namin dito. Bukod pa doon, talagang hinanda kami sa pamamagitan ng trainings. Marami akong natutunan,” Rosa said.

Rosa allotted 0.25 hectare of her farm land for the CPAR implementation. For corn and rice production, she integrated improved practices through the use of biological control agents instead of chemical pesticides, utilized crop residues for compost and feed for animals, and nutrient management practices that have equally contributed to the increase in harvest.

“Nabawasan ang gastos namin sa production dahil natuto kaming mag-organic,” said Rosa. Since the farmer cooperators were trained on organic fertilization, they now produce vermicompost which they utilize in their farms. To her, their ability to organically produce their own fertilizer contributed a lot to reduce their cost in farm production.

On average, she harvests 1,200 kilos of rice (35-40 cavans) in which she sells at P15.00/kilo; 480 kilos of corn and sells it at P12.50/kilo. In the case of winged bean, the crop is naturally grown in the area and she harvests 2 bundles per meter per week. The harvest for winged bean usually lasts for 4 months. She gets a fair income of around P25, 000 per year out of these commodities.

She markets her produce at local markets in their community. But most of the time, buyers come to her house to buy such commodities. This made her save up from transportation expenses. “Yung mga bumibili na ang pumupunta dito sa akin para bumili ng mga ani ko, nakatipid pa ako sa gas,” she said.

The CPAR impact

The success of a CPAR project is always determined by the impact it has brought to the lives of its farmer-cooperators in general. Usually, it takes years after which the impact is measured and assessed. But for these farmers, the effect of CPAR in their lives has been felt in such a way that a sudden change in their way of living becomes evident.

As in the case of Rosa, she was able to support the schooling of their children in a much equable way. Food is no longer scarce, and what’s more, she was able to renovate her house. “Sa CPAR, malaki talaga ang itinaas ng kita namin. Patunay nito ang pagpapagawa namin nitong bahay namin na dati ay gawa sa kawayan lang. Inaanay na nga yon e. Pero dahil sa lumaki ang kita namin dahil sa CPAR, nagkaroon kami ng pagkakataon para maipagawa ang bahay namin, ngayon sementado na,” Rosa shared.

Prior to CPAR, Rosa, along with her husband were into tobacco farming, as this was a common practice in their community. Their yearly harvest gives them an average income of P15,000.00.

For Rosa, her CPAR life has just begun. More than anything else, she truly cherishes the learnings she acquired through the trainings, the confidence she gained, and the ability to provide well for her children. “Ito yung masasabi kong malaki talagang pagbabago na hatid ng CPAR,” she beamingly said. ### (Daryl Lou A. Battad)