Prasad PH & ZIDOFA In Quiet Revolution, Dissolving Farmer Poverty!


Without fanfare, in the Philippine countryside, 2 approaches are being worked out to dissolve farmer poverty, and both are succeeding! For the last 3 years now. And both involve cereal farmers, the most numerous in the country. I am recording both as parts of what I call Economics of the Little.

Early today Friday, 09 November 2018, I suddenly realize that in resolving the problem of farmer poverty, already we have 2 entirely different revolutionaries in the field of cereal farming: one of big business agriculture and the other of small farming. And they both bring good news to farmers raising rice and farmers cultivating corn.

While the 2 approaches are entirely different, I realize that they have a common final tool for emancipating their farmers from poverty – they are both pursuing that whose name I am inventing now, the cultivators' return on investment, The Farmers' ROI.

One approach is with rice farming by the Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association, ZIDOFA, based in the town of Zarraga in Iloilo Province, starting 2015. The other approach is with corn growing by Prasad Seeds Philippines, based in the town of Santo Tomas in Pangasinan Province, starting 2016. ZIDOFA is based in Western Visayas and Prasad is based in the Ilocos Region; they are 825 nautical km apart (Wikipedia); yet, they have a common Mission of emancipating the farmers; thus, here, distance lends enchantment to the common view.

They both wish that farmers be liberated from poverty, not simply ameliorated in poverty. And that their escape from poverty and improved lives be sustainable.

One already is called the ZIDOFA Approach, Chair Joby Arandela tells me. ZIDOFA started as a formal organization registered as a people's organization on 15 June 2015. (I first wrote about the group on 20 June 2018; see my essay, "PH Rice Self-Sufficiency, No With Duterte, Yes With SRI, If You Know What I Mean!" GAIA Con GAIA, blogspot.com.)

Nameless, the one by Prasad I will call the Prasad Salvacion Approach. Now, as it turns out, Salvacion is a serendipitous find, a double entendre, as the word Salvacion is Spanish for salvation; it also happens to be the name of the village in the town of Santo Tomas in the province of Pangasinan where Prasad's corn-drying facility is located. Release from poverty is the farmer's salvation.

Here's what they have been doing to increase the farmer's ROI in raising his crop, which is corn for the Prasad farmer and rice for the ZIDOFA farmer. Prasad is a corporation working with farmers; ZIDOFA is an association of farmers working with themselves. In both cases, the farmer's ROI is very much higher than any other farmer outside of Prasad or ZIDOFA – I'm sure, as you will see when I explain it.

Prasad Seeds I have already written about but not in the manner of this sudden awakening (see my essay, "PH Lesson: Modeling Farmer Inclusive Growth In Rosales, Pangasinan," 30 September 2017, GAIA Con GAIA, blogspot.com). In that essay, I quote InangLupa President William Dar as saying that Prasad "educates its seed growers on agripreneurship and financial literacy, and not just on becoming more efficient seed growers." The Prasad farmers learn to become business-minded.

In Mr Dar's Manila Times column of today, "The Game Changers For Agriculture" (Part 2) (manilatimes.net), he speaks of Prasad Seeds Philippines thus: "Doing business with smallholder farmers that I believe is a game changer for agriculture." I repeat: Prasad is "doing business" in farming that in a way is "a game changer." And I agree 100%, even if I did not see that reality before. Game changer, key factor, crucial component.

Having read his column, and remembering an earlier essay I wrote about ZIDOFA (essay cited above), as I said earlier, today I'm inventing a new form of the return on investment, ROI, into the Farmers' ROI, which must be guaranteed to be high and sustainable, to benefit the cultivators of the soil continuously. And this has been inspired by them, and I must congratulate both Prasad in Pangasinan and ZIDOFA in Iloilo, because each in a different way has been insuring that all cereal farmers involved are rewarded quite handsomely – Prasad for corn and ZIDOFA for rice. For either cereal, such unusually high farmer returns never happened before 2015.

According to John Dearden, the ROI as an approach to financial control was invented by Du Pont in the early 1960s (May 1969, "The Case Against ROI Control," Harvard Business Review, hbr.org); thus, he says, it is also often called the "Du Pont System." I'm not interested in how it is computed; in this essay of mine, all I'm interested in is inventing a new application of the System: the Farmers' ROI.

In the old business transaction with farmers, it is only the Merchants' ROI that is high, at the expense of the ROI of farmers. In the words of Mr Dar, "There were (agro-industrial) companies who sourced their raw materials from farmers at prices that were not mutually beneficial."

Differently this time, with Prasad Salvacion, it is the buyer that dictates the high price, not the seller; it is the opposite with ZIDOFA, as it is the seller that dictates the high price. Not to worry, in both cases, the Farmers' ROI is high!

High Farmers' ROI – no fancy computations necessary to get the value, as this one depends almost entirely on what the farmers get of their produce after sale. And in fact, this is what both Prasad and ZIDOFA guarantee their farmers. Prasad volunteers a high price for the farmers' produce, and delivers as promised; ZIDOFA demands a high price for its farmer members from direct consumers, and receives as deserved.

Prasad PH has contracted with corn farmers in Rosales and other towns in Pangasinan Province to grow Prasad corn with all material inputs coming from the company and all harvests going to the company. It is a mutual-benefit arrangement. Additionally, a contract with Prasad guarantees that a corn farmer can obtain a loan anytime between harvests, under affordable rates. This is heaven-sent, as most Filipino farmers belong to the cashless society in-between harvests!

ZIDOFA has contracted with its farmer members in Zarraga and other towns in Iloilo Province to grow rice using the package it calls organic SRI, that is, with the application of organic fertilizer and the observance of the protocols for System of Rice Intensification invented by Fr Laulanie in Madagascar in the 1980s. As with Prasad, ZIDOFA assists its farmer members with their inputs. With institutional buyers of their organic rices, meaning several varieties, ZIDOFA farmers have been receiving their high ROIs.

In his today's Times column, Mr Dar says, "The end result is gradually lifting smallholder farmers from poverty."

But I'm an impatient man; I want it to happen today, to emancipate the farmers from poverty. Which all means we have to convince more farmers to practice the ZIDOFA Approach in rice and more companies to practice Prasad Salvacion in corn. May their tribes increase – now!

Being the international science manager that he has been formally since 2000, being the Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, ICRISAT, based in India, for 15 years or up to 2014, we cannot blame Mr Dar for being global in outlook. And so in his Times column, he says Prasad's corporate strategy is guided by 9 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations:

Goal 1: No Poverty; Goal 2: Zero Hunger; Goal 5: Gender Equality. Goal 6: Clean Water And Sanitation. Goal 7: Affordable And Clean Energy. Goal 8: Decent Work And Economic Growth; Goal 9: Industry, Innovation And Infrastructure; and Goal 13: Climate Action.

Finally, Mr Dar says:

And finally, under (the UN) Partnerships for the (Goal 17), we will invest on agribusiness that will promote export opportunities for our partner-farmers. We can also prioritize crops/commodities that have high export potentials such as coffee, sugar, corn, wheat, cotton and soybean.

Ah, today the Philippines; tomorrow, the world! @

10 November 2018. Total text count excluding this line: 1345



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