Story by Sensoy Constante | Program Officer | Heifer Philippines - Southern Region

Project partners in Mindanao and the Visayas attended a series of capacity enhancement trainings in October 2012, with the goal of achieving efficient and effective implementation of the dairy project in the Caraga and Central Philippines regions.

Executive directors, project supervisors and community facilitators of three dairy projects attended workshops, including Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, Self-Help Group (SHG) Formation and Strengthening, and Training of Trainers (ToT).

Before the workshops, attendees took part in learning visits to a successful household dairy farm, the National Dairy Authority (NDA) multiplier farm, and the High Land fresh dairy processing plant. These visits inspired participants as they gathered significant information on how to facilitate the organizing of the SHG into dairy associations and cooperatives.

A post-reflection session showed that participants really valued the learning visits because of the lessons learned, including best practices of dairy farmers who have transformed themselves into farmer businessmen and entrepreneurs of the region’s local dairy industry. One of their realizations was that “there is daily money in milk,” and that the industry needs passion, hard work, patience, perseverance, focus and dedication.

After the field visit and reflection session, the Cornerstones and ToT workshops were held, followed by microteaching and coaching facilitated by the Heifer Philippines team and led by training manager Sarah Dominguez.

Another core training was SHG Formation and Strengthening. Community facilitators, who will accompany the SHGs in their development process, must be prepared to guide. They are the frontliners and need to strengthen their knowledge, skills and attitudes to ensure that strong and vibrant SHGs are guided in all project areas.

One of the highlights of this workshop was Nilda Udarbe, a seasoned community facilitator who is now facilitating her third Heifer-funded project. She shared the process of SHG formation and strengthening as she experienced in the implementation of actual projects.

A special session on Developing Dairy Zones for Smallholder Farmers in the Philippines was presented by Lyndel Tagle, senior program manager for Heifer Philippines, and Jesus So, project development officer for the NDA Mindanao. They both explained the project design of the Heifer and NDA-funded project, the basic criteria for the selection of partners and families, and the potential of the dairy industry in the Philippines in the proposed regions and dairy zones. Most participants expressed excitement about working with the new project partners. They said that, based on the presentation, they are already comfortable to start working with NDA, because of its concrete program and guidelines that help farmers improve income and nutrition through the dairy industry.

It was a long 11-day course, but the participants returned to their respective areas full of knowledge and skills to share with the families who need their support to fight hunger and poverty.

The Heifer Philippines Training Department, in collaboration with Heifer Philippines' Southern and Central regions, conducted the October 9-19 trainings at De Luxe Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City, for the TOUCH Foundation, Rural Development Institute (RDI) and Propegemus Foundation dairy projects.

Author

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.