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PARAISO HIMSUG Program
By combining organic farm production and alternative medicine, the people in the Municipality of Surallah have come up with a program that addresses hunger and poverty, food security, rural improvement, environmental preservation, health development, and socio-economic issues. The program is called the PARAISO HIMSUG, a complementary program implemented together by the Municipal Agriculture Office and the Municipal Health Office.
The Palangumhan Aton Respetuhon, Atipanon, Ibalik ang Sinadto kag Organiko (PARAISO) component of the program entails organic and biodynamic practices which promote an ecologically-sound and economically-viable farming system. PARAISO also provides an innovative alternative method of composting farm wastes. The HIMSUG (healthy living) component focuses on the production of alternative medicine, whose inputs come from the produce of organic and biodynamic farming.
In the families who adopted the program, the men practice organic biodynamic agriculture while the women help produce alternative medicines in ways that are both dependent on each others’ inputs and outputs. Raw materials used in alternative medicine production were grown with the application of Korean Natural Farming (KNF) and bio-dynamic (BD) preparations in PARAISO.
In the household, the children together with their parents brew KNF and BD preparations. The father applies the KNF and BD preparations to agricultural crops. The women then process crops into alternative medicine preparations which they sell to consumers. Thus, the program enhances rural women and youth participation, promotes access to livelihood and at the same time improves their health condition.
As a result of this initiative, the community has better access to safe and quality food, increased household income, reduced cost of farming inputs, lower purchase price of synthetic medicines, and a clean environment. Surallah was even adjudged as the Cleanest and Greenest Municipality in the Philippines in 1995 and the Cleanest and Greenest Municipality in South Cotabato from 2005 up to the present.
An initial number of 127 farmers adopted the program’s PARAISO component in 2006. The number of adopters increased to 703 before the last quarter of 2009. The initial area of 64 hectares which implemented PARAISO in 2006 increased by 915% to a total of 650 hectares in 2009.
The farmers engaged in PARAISO gained an 87% increase in household net income or about P27,000 per hectare per cropping cycle. As a result, some farming families were able to get out of indebtedness. Apart from increasing incomes, the PARAISO program contributed to environmental conservation. Moreover, the farmer adopters showed that self-sufficiency and food security is attainable through organic and biodynamic agriculture.
Meanwhile, HIMSUG entailed the production of alternative medicine using traditional and readily available raw materials in the community. With the use of different medicinal preparations from sambong, lagundi, turmeric, banaba and other locally available raw materials, the LGU provided a new health program paradigm that is low-cost, highly accessible, and easily adoptable.
The HIMSUG component led to an estimated increase of P3,500.00 per month in the income of families who participated in the program. In 2007, 244 barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholars started to adopt the HIMSUG program. Towards the last quarter of this year, 535 women are regularly producing processed alternative medicines everyday.
The LGU-Civil Society Organization partnership was proven to be a key factor in enlisting the participation of farmers in the program. To deepen the sense of ownership of the program among constituents, the farmers, farmworkers, fisher folks, rural women, young farmers and entrepreneurs were trained on organic and biodynamic farming and alternative medicine. The PARAISO HIMSUG Program implements the counterpart scheme among beneficiaries— the LGU provides inputs while adopters provide equity in terms of land, labor and time.
The continual increase of PARAISO adopters with an average annual growth rate of 77% and HIMSUG practitioners with an average annual growth rate of 48% indicates that the program can be easily replicated and sustained.
The LGU also issued an ordinance to allocate funds for program implementation. Several trainers’ training were conducted among agricultural technicians, municipal health personnel and all LGU employees for them to understand and become advocates of the program. More trainings among farmers, youth and women were then conducted to downstream the program.
A major leap in program sustainability was realized when the PARAISO HIMSUG Program was integrated into the curriculum of the Surallah National Agricultural School. In continually adopting the multi-stakeholder participatory approach, the PARAISO HIMSUG program became part of the priority Executive and Legislative Agenda in 2009. In the Goal Achievement Matrix undertaken by the Local Development Council, PARAISO HIMSUG was identified as a prioritized program in the Comprehensive Development Plan and Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
A major leap in program sustainability was realized when the PARAISO HIMSUG Program was integrated into the curriculum of the Surallah National Agricultural School. In continually adopting the multi-stakeholder participatory approach, the PARAISO HIMSUG program became part of the priority Executive and Legislative Agenda in 2009. In the Goal Achievement Matrix undertaken by the Local Development Council, PARAISO HIMSUG was identified as a prioritized program in the Comprehensive Development Plan and Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
The PARAISO HIMSUG Program has drawn attention nationwide. Surallah has even hosted different exposure trips for local officials and farmers from Luzon and Visayas. This can only mean that more farmers and households will soon be pursuing more ecological and sustainable farming methods.
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