Making a difference one smallholder farmer at a time
by Aaron Cano
“Palay”, “bigas” and “kanin” all mean rice in Filipino and rice is the main staple food in the Philippines. I believe that in a country where we’re striving for rice self-sufficiency, smallholders play a key role in achieving this goal. However, they’re struggling with individual challenges affecting their productivity and livelihoods. That’s why I’m starting where it counts: In the field, with both feet on the ground and hands in the soil – one farmer at a time.
Smallholder Farming Manager at Bayer Philippines
Agriculture and farming have always been my passion. That’s why I also practice farming in my free time. This experience has given me a better understanding of how much dedication and heart farming really takes. I’ve felt the excitement when the first seeds start to sprout, the frustration that comes with unpredictable challenges such as weather, pests and diseases, and the helplessness if you don’t know what to do to succeed. It became clear to me that I want to make a difference in the lives of smallholder rice farmers who not only farm for a living, but also produce the staple food we consume in the Philippines, while struggling the whole time to unlock their full agronomic potential.
I’m excited and proud to be part of Better Life Farming so I can make this difference. By addressing the needs of smallholders across the entire value chain, we are a one-stop shop where they can access technology, know-how and resources, as well as being part of a global partnership that helps them increase their productivity and improve their livelihoods.
I believe that proper access to agricultural know-how and information fills the gaps in the farming foundation of many smallholders. If we help to grow smallholders’ knowledge, we can help them to grow their business and their success. We achieve this by conducting workshops about best practices, such as product stewardship and safety, and providing financial literacy training courses. To make it even easier to access knowledge for smallholders in the near future, we are currently working on a digital advisory tool for our farmers. We want them to gain information in real time, on time, and right at their fingertips so that they can act immediately and secure their yields.
But to find the best solutions for each individual farmer, I have to put myself in their shoes. That’s why my team and I regularly visit smallholders in their fields. It’s all about listening and understanding their challenges. This is the only way we can give the right tips and offer the right solutions to perfectly meet their needs and make a difference. I find harvest time the most exciting because that is when the farmers and I look forward to finally reaping what we sowed after all the hard work.
Personally, I want to make a difference one farmer at a time. Since we started our Philippine pilot in June 2017, we have already reached more than 3,500 smallholders in four different provinces. This shows me that our approach really resonates and this is my main driver to reach even more smallholders. That’s because the more famers we reach, the more farmers we help to unlock their full potential, and the more we can contribute to a better life for the farmers and our society.