The Flagship Project of the Economic Dimension of Zarraga-SIAD or Larga Sustainable Zarraga is ZAP or the Zarraga Agriculture Project. There are synergistic overlaps with GAIA. The specific objectives of ZAP have already been explained . Below are updates in pictures.
Before we recommend to farmers, we verify the package of technologies through scientific tests. There are a lot of anecdotes floating around which may be true or not. But since we are going to potentially involve the lives of thousands of farmers, we have to make sure that the technologies we are recommending really work. SEA is responsible for the scientific design of the experiments.
Thus we conduct statistically designed scientific trials. For example, we proved that locally manufactured organic fertilizers for rice were uneven in quality and performance. This contributed to the image of organic farming as low-yielding which is not true. The trial emphasized the need to have good quality organic fertilizers that farmers can rely on. Otherwise they will not adopt the technology.
Once we have verified the technology, we then demonstrate the technology in action at a scale that is comparable to the actual size of the holding of a peasant farmer.
Seeing that it works, farmers are interested to learn how to use the technology in their own farms. We then conduct training sessions on organic agriculture for rice farmers. The latter constitute 0ver 95% of all farmers in Zarraga. SEA conducts the training for aspiring organic rice farmers.
For those who have been practicing organic farming, Zarraga government, in partnership with SEA, conduct investigations to determine if the farmers do use organic farming technologies. We use the national standards of the Department of Agriculture to make this determination. SEA lead activator, Nicanor Perlas, is the head of the certifying body of the town and trained local government officials in the process of certification.
SEA also helped the town of Zarraga set up the country’s only Organic Farming Trading Post to exclusively market organic products.
SEA also helped the town get in touch with Johnny Que, a certified organic farmer, and co-owner of 7 supermarket chains in Iloilo City, which is 20 miles from Zarraga. Que’s supermarket provide additional outlets for organic products. Iloilo Supermart, the brand, is part of the value chain for organic products. Unfortunately Que’s supply of organic vegetables were not enough to supply the huge market for the product in Iloilo City. SEA continues to unravel various aspects of the value chain as part of its work for the Zarraga Agriculture Program.
Because of the significant impact of SEA’s work in organic agriculture, Zarraga became the kick off area for the Second Regional Summit on Organic Agriculture. SEA’s lead activator and organic farming expert, Nicanor Perlas, also gave the keynote address of the Summit on Organic Agriculture. The Summit was graced by Department of Agriculture Undersectary Ms. Berna Puyat, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor , Provincial Agriculturist Dodong Toledo , and Regional Organic Farming Coordinator, Dr. Joyce Wendham. Mayor John Tarrosa of Zarraga also opened the kick off ceremonies in Zarraga.
Technical Working Group on Organic Agriculture
Helping coordinate many of this activities is the Organic Agriculture Technical Working Group of Zarraga. SEA’s Nicanor Perlas is Co-Chair with the Mayor Tarrosa of this working group. Members include representatives from civil society, business and the towns Municipal Agriculture Officer and a number of his technicians.