Pampanga State Agricultural University
Best Practice Focus Area/s
This is a Recognized Best Practice
Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU) is a state-owned university nestled at the foothills on the western slope of Mount Arayat. It has a total land area of 508.8534 hectares. In 2010 about 30 families illegally settled in the area, occupying around 35 hectares. The university leadership developed management strategies to solve this problem by promoting a sustainable co-management of forest land. The effort resulted in a harmonious relationship between the farmers and the university administration. The tension and lack of peace were replaced by active participation, cooperation, and a sense of ownership and co-management of the coffee-based agroforestry plantation site.
Background and Problem
In 2010, when PSAU was still called the Pampanga Agricultural College, 30 families settled in the title land of the college. They burned slash to clear the area to plant crops and engaged in the illegal charcoal business. The illegal kaingin resulted in the depopulation of biodiversity in Mount Arayat and the tension between the illegal settlers and the College administration. It occupied a total of 30 hectares of land.
Solution and Impact
To solve the problem in an orderly manner, a management strategy was initiated by President Honorio M. Soriano. He invited the 30 informal settlers to a meeting in June 2010, where the settlers were informed that the land they were occupying was titled and owned by the school. He explained that it was illegal to invade and cultivate the ground as it was not theirs. The 30 illegal settlers were initially terrified to learn their actions were unlawful. Still, out of compassion, President Soriano told them he would organize them into a farmer association to be farmer partners and co-managers of the 30 hectares of land. Since the illegal settlers were from nearby barangays of the college, namely barangays Ayala and San Agustin, the association was named Ayala-San Agustin Farmers Association or ASAFA. The school administration assisted the farmers in formalizing their association and registered ASAFA with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2011.
After organizing the informal settlers, President Soriano’s second management approach was to forge a MOA between the 30 ASAFA members and PAC a project entitled: “Establishment of a Joint Project on Coffee Plantation” to promote sustainable co-management of forest land through the provision of livelihood source and income to the informal settlers, who became members of the Ayala-San Agustin Farmers Association. Thus, the project simultaneously helped them in their livelihood while protecting the biodiversity of the forest reserve of the university by stopping the illegal cutting of trees and charcoal making.
The MOA for this project was signed on June 30, 2011, with the following responsibilities of the university to meet the objectives of the Ayala-San Agustin Farmers Association and the PSAU Coffee-Based Agroforestry:
- Engage the informal settlers as university partners by formally organizing them into the Ayala-San Agustin Farmer’s Association (ASAFA);
- Designate a piece of land (one hectare for each ASAFA member) within its reservation area to establish a coffee plantation jointly managed by PSAU and the farmer-cooperators;
- Assist in the distribution of coffee seedlings to the farmer-cooperators;
- Provide technical support to ASAFA members in coffee production and other crops like bananas, tamarind, and vegetables; and
- Share 70% of the profit from sales of coffee to ASAFA members, while 30% will go as Cash incentives to their children taking Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and BS Agroforestry.
From the coffee profit, 70% will be shared directly with the ASAFA farmer cooperators. In comparison, 30% will be cash incentives to their children taking Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Bachelor of Science in Agroforestry.
The following are the immediate results of this best practice:
- It resulted in a regular source of income for our ASAFA farmer cooperators. The tension between the informal settlers and the administration was resolved.
- No more informal settlers were invading the forest reserve area, and the illegal cutting of trees and charcoal making were immediately stopped.
- The administration peacefully organized them into a farmers’ association—ASAFA.
- Vegetable production intercropped in the coffee plantation included the following cash crops—okra, string beans, eggplants, squash, etc.
- The perennial lack of water was solved after installing a solar pump irrigation system funded by the Department of Agriculture through the fund source initiative of PSAU President Soriano. This resulted in increased productivity during summer.
The following are the long-term impacts of this best practice:
- Preserved biodiversity of the PSAU’s forest reserve;
- Achieved food security, poverty alleviation, better nutrition, source of income, and improved lives of the ASAFA farmer cooperators and their families;
- Prevented soil erosion and degradation;
- Mitigated climate change through sustained coffee-based agroforestry planted with bignay, tamarind, cacao, bananas, and other fruit-bearing trees; and
- PSAU became an agro-ecotourism destination and an immersion site for urban areas.
This project involves PAC designating one hectare of the forest reserve for each ASAFA member. This was to be utilized in planting coffee, intercropped with bananas, fruit trees, and cash crops such as eggplants, string beans, squash, sili, to name a few.
- In 2011, PAC conducted a 12-day free training course for ASAFA in partnership with Morning Glory Foundation. A week after the training, 10,227 coffee seedlings of the Liberica variety were distributed to the 30 ASAFA farmers.
- Since it takes four to five years to harvest and with just one major harvest a year, the farmers intercropped their coffee plantation with cash crops and marketed these in the municipality of Magalang to serve as their immediate income. The university does not require them to share their profit from these crops.
- The farmers’ earned income from their banana and vegetable or “cash crops” sales, which sent their children to school and provided for their needs and wants.
- The farmers’ highest net income was P294,500.00 in 2017, derived from coffee, banana, and vegetable sales.
- UPLB College of Forestry and College of Ecology came to PSAU to benchmark this best practice.
- Twenty-five managers and coffee “baristas” from Starbucks, a worldwide coffee chain, undertook an immersion activity at the coffee plantation site in 2018. They interviewed and exchanged views with the coffee growers.