(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Thursday, 18 April 2024) Easterlies affecting the country. 𝗙𝗢𝗥𝗘𝗖𝗔𝗦𝗧 𝗪𝗘𝗔𝗧𝗛𝗘𝗥 𝗖𝗢𝗡𝗗𝗜𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡: Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms due to Easterlies. Possible flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms. 𝗙𝗢𝗥𝗘𝗖𝗔𝗦𝗧 𝗪𝗜𝗡𝗗 𝗔𝗡𝗗 𝗖𝗢𝗔𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗟 𝗪𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗥 𝗖𝗢𝗡𝗗𝗜𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡: Light to moderate winds coming from East to Northeast will prevail with slight to moderate seas (0.6 to 2.1 meters).

Tuesday, 20 February 2024

Butuan’s ‘AgriBoost’ a game-changer in vegetable production

By Renelle Escuadro

BUTUAN CITY  (PIA) -- “AgriBoost has motivated the farmers in Butuan City to engage in vegetable farming, and they are now enjoying the good results of the program.”

This was the statement of Pierre Anthony D. Joven, head of the Butuan City Agriculture and Veterinary Department (CAVD), as he discussed the transformational role of AgriBoost in motivating farmers to diversify and plant vegetables on their farmlands during his recent interview with ButuanOn Aksyon Teleradyo.

Joven recalled that the farmers before were demotivated and called for a reform in agriculture as the city’s agri-ecosystem was trader-dominated, which resulted in low vegetable production in the place, stating, “Almost half of the land area in the city is conducive to farming; however, we were 18 percent self-sufficient on local vegetable production. “

“Out of 100 kilograms of vegetables that we ate, only 18 kilos came from local production; the rest of the 72 kilos were sourced out from outside locations, such as Northern Mindanao, Davao, and other areas,” he explained.

Farmers in the city opted to plant rice instead of vegetables because vendors are buying the products at very low prices that could not cover the operating expenses of the farmers. Vendors, on the other hand, claimed that the city did not have a stable local market for those who would buy the vegetables. That's why vendors needed to buy them at a cheap price because they still needed to look for buyers outside of the city that required additional travel costs and others.

“AgriBoost program served as a beacon of hope to address the dilemma of the farmers,” Joven said.

AgriBoost, the city’s banner program on agriculture, is an agri-ecosystem innovation that bolsters local farmers’ competitiveness and catalyzes market forces for a sustainable, food-secure and vibrant community.

With the said program, farmers are transformed to be contract growers who are now demand driven, as they passionately participate in the four components of the program namely:

1.  AgriBloom allows farmers to enroll in a capacity training program at the farmers’ field school to learn new and resilient farming technologies and equipment. The CAVD, on the other hand,  assesses the implementation of the agricultural theories through its weekly visits to the farmlands of the participating farmers, including support for smart technology and agricultural inputs against climate change.  

2.  AgriMart capacitates the farmers and market channels, comprising of market vendors, restaurants, supermarkets, and stores, with entrepreneurial mind-setting, financial literacy, and proper product handling for food safety, among others.

3.  AgriHub is the brain of the project that orchestrates the supply and demand for vegetables for the farmers and vendors. It provides feasible planting time, what to plant and its quantity, socialized wholesale price and delivery schedule, contract of agreement between the farmer and market channels, among others, that are made available through the AgriMart mobile application.

4.  AgriBoost Comms engages the community to help in the increase of vegetable demand in households and to embrace and alleviate the nutrition level of the city against  malnutrition and consumption of food with inferior nutritional value.AgriBoost  Comms engages the community to help in the increase of vegetable demand in households and to embrace and alleviate the nutrition level of the city against  malnutrition and consumption of food with inferior nutritional value.

Its dry run implementation started in 2023 and was participated in by 35 farmers and 24 market channels as pilot respondents to engage in vegetable production and trade, and they are  now reaping the results of their hard work.

“In a controlled implementation and environment, our first delivery happened in March 2023 with 1,000 kilos of vegetables only. By December 2023, we ended the year with a delivery of 9,400 kilos of vegetables weekly from our local farmers,” he shared.

“What is more inspiring is to see our farmers now earning more, this time, with income increasing from eight to 20 percent weekly. Previously, our farmers would only earn P12,000, but with AgriBoost, our farmers are now earning a minimum of P25,000 weekly,” Joven said.

“We have a farmer in Barangay Anticala who expanded his vegetable plantation from 1⁄4 hectare to 2 hectares as his income allowed him to buy additional land,” he relayed.

“With positive performance and results, the AgriBoost community has also expanded the participants in the program. Today, AgriBoost has 50 vegetable farmers and 30 market channels. For 2024, we will continue with the dry-run implementation with incremental expansion. Hopefully, by next year, we will do the full program implementation, so no farmer will be left behind,” he added.

Joven further disclosed that the local government of Butuan City continues to sustain the success of vegetable production, trade, and linkage among the farmers and market channels, as they have considered expanding the program to include highland vegetables like carrots, cabbage, peas, and onions. 

Under the leadership of Mayor Ronnie Vicente Lagnada, AgriBoost started as Butuan City’s winning entry to the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, which bested over 600 applicants from around the world, including the more than 100 cities and municipalities that submitted their applications from the Philippines.

Butuan is the first Philippine city to be awarded the grand prize of $1 million to realize its breakthrough idea on agri-business and ecosystem, in addition to the three-year technical support and coaching to implement and share this idea with other cities around the globe. (RLE/PIA-Caraga with a report from Butuan City PIO)