New book guides grassroots landcare approach in the Philippines

A new book, recently released in Manila, heralds a major step forward for the emerging landcare community development initiative in the Philippines.

‘Landcare in the Philippines: a practical guide to getting it started and keeping it going’, provides easy-to-read information on landcare, its benefits, and detailed processes for establishing and maintaining a landcare program.

Written by 15 experienced landcare personnel from the Philippines, including two farmers, the 140 page book contains over 70 photos, drawings and stories from landcare farmers, landcare facilitators, and community leaders involved in landcare.

The Philippines-Australia Landcare Project has been supporting the development of the landcare approach for the last ten years, at four regional sites in Mindanao and Bohol in the southern Philippines. The focus has been on helping reduce land degradation and improve livelihoods for farming communities in upland regions.

Noel Vock from the Queensland Government’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation has led the project, which was funded by the Australian Government through ACIAR and AusAID, and involving five agencies from the Philippines and two from Australia.

“By working closely with farming communities and encouraging them to take more control of their problems, the landcare approach has achieved changes in attitudes and adoption of new farming systems at a rate rarely before seen in the country,” said Noel. “It has also played an important role in building wider and more enduring local partnerships and improving regional security.”

“The book focuses on some of the lessons we have learned through the project – such as the important role of facilitation – working with farmers and others in the community to bring about change ‘from the inside out’ – an essential process for long-term sustainable change in poor rural communities,” said Noel.

“The facilitation process in landcare requires extension officers and community organisers to re-design their extension approach,” he said. “We anticipate the book will make this change a little easier to understand and implement and help new landcare developers implement a landcare process in their communities with minimal external assistance.”

‘Landcare in the Philippines: a practical guide to getting it started and keeping it going’ was officially launched in Manila by the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Rod Smith. It was subsequently released to the broader landcare community at the First Philippines National Landcare Symposium in Cagayan de Oro City.

Speaking at book’s launch was one of the original Philippines landcare farmers and the founding President of the farmer-based Claveria Landcare Association, Mr Marcelino Patindol, who coined the name “landcare” within the Philippines. He is now President and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Landcare Foundation of the Philippines Inc.

He said the landcare journey had been an incredible one for farmers like himself, who have transformed their farms from barren grassland. “Now, the grassland has been replaced by a forest of timber and fruit trees. The soil is fertile and, spring water is flowing from my forest and serving my farm and my household. I owe this to landcare,” Marcelino said.

Marcelino acknowledged the initial partnership between his farmer group, the Claveria Local Government Unit and researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre. He said that landcare would not have got off the ground without the three-way partnership and the guidance of the Centre’s staff, in particular Senior Research Officer, Dr Agustin (Jun) Mercado.

Ambassador Smith acknowledged the Philippines-Australia project partners – the Landcare Foundation of the Philippines, the World Agroforestry Centre, the Southeast Asian Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, Catholic Relief Services, the University of the Philippines Los Banos, the Queensland Government, and the University of Queensland. He also thanked Econnect Communication from Brisbane, Australia who helped produce the book.

Landcare in the Philippines: a practical guide to getting it started and keeping it going is available in hard copy and digital formats from ACIAR at Within the Philippines, copies are available from the Australian Embassy or the Landcare Foundation.

For further information contact Mr Noel Vock, Project Leader, Philippines-Australia Landcare Project

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