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Story by Rico V. Locaba | Regional Program Manager | Heifer Central Philippines
Natural disasters such as typhoons, floods, landslides and earthquakes have posed significant challenges for the Heifer Philippines' project, Developing Dairy Zone Towards Local Economy Development for Smallholder Farmers in Ormoc, Leyte.
The need and opportunity to help small-scale farmers in the area became a priority, so the project was located on higher ground to reduce some risk. The partners' spirits were enthusiastic, despite their challenges, making them more vigilant and proactive.
In late 2012, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) and the Rural Development Institute-Leyte (RDI-Leyte) began the dairy project with co-funding from Heifer Philippines and the National Dairy Authority (NDA). This sub-project in Leyte is under the Developing Dairy Zones for Smallholder Farmers in the Philippines umbrella project.
Coordinating and networking with other stakeholders became a top priority for the RDI-Leyte families. With Heifer's help they began collaborating with government and local authorities. In the October 2012 issue of the Ang Ormocanon (the official publication of the city government of Ormoc City, Leyte) journalist Jun Tarroza wrote an article expressing Ormoc's full support of the dairy project.
RDI-Leyte and Heifer also invited the NDA Cooperative Development Officer for Visayas, Wilfredo Hinoguin, to attend a workshop on Heifer's 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development.
"The Cornerstone values are what we need in the NDA," Hinoguin said. "It is very simple, but powerful enough to change lives."
The NDA plans to ask Heifer to facilitate a Cornerstones workshop for their agency. A series of meetings and consultations were also made with the NDA, resulting in operational procedures, reporting and communications protocol. Heifer Philippines and RDI-Leyte are preparing for the original placement ceremonies for the first 100 dairy families this June, which will be immediately followed by a ceremony for the remaining 300 original families.
"This is the first of many firsts for the dairy project-the first collaboration with the national government and the first time to handle such a big number of families," said Community Facilitator Teodulfo Sebedos. "Knowing that many families will benefit from this project inspires us to innovate and improve the way we implement our project plans."