Story by Jun Ayensa | Southern Philippines Regional Program Manager | Heifer Philippines
and Herc Paradiang | Country Director | Heifer Philippines
Photos by Jun Ayensa and Berlie Gatchalian | Heifer Philippines
Steve Denne, chief operating officer for Heifer International, and Padma Singh, Asia South Pacific Director of Programs, visited the Philippines April 12-18, 2013. Together with Heifer Philippines Country Director Hercules Paradiang, Denne and Singhs first stop was the Heifer community of Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur, in Southern Philippines, which is recovering from Typhoon Bopha.
Fernando Salise, Heed Foundations executive director, met with the group and shared the history and mission of their organization, an NGO based in Sta. Josefa and an active partner of Heifer Philippines since 2008. They are now implementing a second project with Heifer, Resource-Based and Integrated Social Enterprise for Sustainable Development (RISE). With Heeds mission of uplifting marginalized sectors through sustainable agriculture, social enterprise, environmental protection, enhancement and linking to like-minded organizations, Denne expressed his appreciation that the organization can work along with Heifer to achieve the same mission.
During the visit, the team had the opportunity to see the projects Farmer Field School (FFS) trial pens while having a conversation with the project family partners and hearing about their experiences being part of the RISE project. The team also talked to the families regarding their experience during Bophas onslaught and how they are slowly rising up from the devastation.
The Heifer team inspected the feed mill and witnessed the threshing of the first harvest in the village after Typhoon Bopha destroyed hundreds and hundreds of acres of rice paddies in the province.
The visit included a brief meeting with the Philippines country program office staff, who discussed their experiences and recommendations to further improve the RISE project and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) implementation in the Philippines.
The leaders took the opportunity to meet with Heifer Philippines partners and potential donors. Together with Paradiang, the visitors had a brief meeting with the National Dairy Authority (NDA), which is implementing the Developing Dairy Zones for Smallholder Farmers in the Philippines project with four subprojects implemented in four provinces. Jaime Lopez, OIC operations manager, and Popoy Tanedo, executive assistant of NDA, also joined the group. NDA Administrator Grace Cenas presented NDAs current programs, including stock upgrading, multiplier farms, school feeding program and marketing provisions. Heifer gave updates on the implementation of the dairy project and discussed the findings on the dairy value chain studies conducted for the three regions of CARAGA, Eastern Visayas and Cordillera.
The group paid a visit to the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service, an attached office under the U.S. Embassy now based in Makati. Bill Versani and Philip Shull, the agriculture attaché and the agriculture counselor of the United States Department of AgricultureForeign Agriculture Service (USDA-FAS) respectively, together with Pia Francesca Ang, agricultural specialist, shared the USDA programs and potential funding for international NGOs. At the end of the meeting, the group agreed that USDA-FAS will share a copy of USDA dairy and livestock situation and Heifer in return will extend the same invitation to the agency during Heifer-related activities.
The last official visit was with the Poverty Reduction Programs Bureau under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Geo-Ann, the OIC-director III of the Sustainable Program Management under the Bureau, presented DSWDs three-pronged program to eliminate poverty: Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT); KALAHI-CIDSS and the Sustainable Livelihoods Program (SLP). The Heifer Philippines proposal under the SLP Program is being reviewed in terms of financial and legal aspects and DSWD will give comments before end of May.
Steve and Padmas visit to our country program, no matter how brief, served as an inspiration to all of us on the Philippines team. With their guidance and vision in mind, for sure, we will be on the right track, Paradiang proudly shared in closing.