Each one teach one.
Father-to-son. Agent-to-farmer. Farmer-to-farmer.
Marvin, a 24-year-old coconut farmer in the Davao region of the Philippines, wishes he had known about Grameen Foundation sooner.
“If [they] had reached us even before last year when there was a long period of the dry season – when our farm was damaged – if we had received the messages then, we could have prepared our farms,” said Marvin.
The messages Marvin refers to are part of a Grameen Digital Farming platform designed to overcome the poverty of Filipino coconut famers. The platform itself is digital, utilizing basic mobile phones as a receiving device for sophisticated data to inform farmers about good agricultural practices. The application process is fast. Text campaigns that alert farmers to threats from pests, disease and extreme weather are a critical component of its success. But the real secret to its success are the Grameen Community Agents who reach and teach farmers how to take advantage of it.
Before reaching Marvin, Grameen’s Digital Farming platform helped more than 3,000 Filipino farmers protect their crops from the same prolonged drought that devastated Marvin’s trees. Now that he is part of it, Marvin is recovering and preparing for future harvests.
“I am very thankful for the visits of [Community] Agent Charity. Every time she visits, she encourages me to fertilize, to mulch, and she shows me the various kinds of pests which could possibly infest our farm,” said Marvin. “Monthly visits by an Agent help us improve our farm and make it prosper for our own good.”
Like most farmers in the Philippines, Marvin inherited his land and his farming practices from his father. “My father passed on to me all he knew about how to take care of his farmland. Everything I know about farming, I learned from him. And now I learn through Grameen.”
Take mulching, for instance. In the past, Marvin burned coconut husks to drive away mosquitos, unaware that piling the husks around his trees would improve their resiliency. “This is especially [true] during the dry season to keep the soil most – to prevent the coconut tree from drying out and also to keep it bearing fruit,” said Marvin.
Though he has worked with Grameen for a relatively short time, Marvin is enthusiastic about his own progress and plans, as well as about how others in his community would benefit from working with a Grameen Community Agent.
“Our coconut trees are now slowly bearing fruits and growing more leaves. I want to apply everything that I have learned to our farm so that we don’t get left behind from other growers. I am hoping that this [program] will continue so it could help others aside from me. So, others could increase their income and enhance their knowledge. So that those who don’t know… will know and will be able to teach others.”
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