Experiences in linking smallholder vegetable farmers to the emerging institutional market in the Philippines
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In the Southern Philippines, under a collaborative research project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Component 4 (C4) is working with small groups or clusters of smallholder vegetable farmers to link them to high-value institutional markets. For smallholder producers, the key benefits of cluster marketing arrangements include; greater access to markets, technical information, inputs and micro-finance; improved bargaining power; higher prices and lower costs. For the community, with an assured market, cluster marketing provides greater opportunities for employment associated with land preparation, planting, harvesting and sorting, and transport. However, cluster marketing also brings the community closer together, making it easier for them to access public investments in infrastructure. For the environment, the adoption of low input biodynamic production systems has resulted in a significant reduction in the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. However, in the long term, cluster marketing groups will only survive where there is an appropriate level of trust, confidence and unity; a personal commitment; active leadership; open communication; collective decision making; multiple buyers and abundant institutional support.
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