Socio-economic impact of cluster farming for smallholder farmers in Southern Philippines
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Cluster farming is an alternative farming strategy for smallholder vegetable farmers in Mindanao, an island in the Southern Philippines. Two cluster farming approaches were identified: an area based and a commodity based approach. In the area based approach, farmers came together based on the proximity of farms and trading posts, while in the commodity based approach, farmers planted the same type of vegetable and combined their produce to achieve a higher volume. The main objectives of cluster farming are to consolidate smallholder farmers' produce, to deliver in bulk to save on transport and transaction costs, and to increase income. This paper examines the socio-economic impact of cluster farming on smallholder vegetable farmers. A total of 84 smallholder farmers from three cluster groups were interviewed using a structured survey questionnaire. Results show that only one cluster group improved their average monthly income. However, 91% of the respondents believed that they were financially better off after joining the cluster. Participating farmers received other mostly non-monetary benefits such as improved access to wet and institutional markets, market information, market and production linkages, technical and financial support, and production inputs.
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