New book guides grassroots landcare approach

May. 28, 2009

Manila — A new book on landcare was launched by Australian ambassador Rod Smith, marking a new era for the emerging landcare community development initiative in the southern Philippines.

The book highlights the collaborative effort central to the landcare approach — working with farmers and other community members to bring about change ‘from the inside out’, which is essential for long-term sustainable change in poor rural communities. “Over the years this approach has led to changes in attitudes of farmers and their communities particularly in adopting new farming systems, improved farm incomes, and environmental management and preservation,” Smith said.

Entitled ‘Landcare in the Philippines: a practical guide to getting it started and keeping it going’, the book will help new landcare developers understand and implement landcare principles and processes in their communities. It includes easy-to-read information on landcare, its benefits, and detailed processes for establishing and maintaining a landcare program.

Published by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (Aciar) in conjunction with the Landcare Foundation of the Philippines, the 140-page book was written by 15 experienced landcare personnel including two farmers, and contains over 70 photos, drawings and stories from landcare farmers, landcare facilitators, and staff involved in landcare.

The Philippines-Australia Landcare Project, a 124 million peso initiative funded by the Australian government through the Aciar and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid), is implemented in partnership with five agencies from the Philippines and two from Australia.

The Philippines-Australia Landcare Project has been supporting the development of the landcare approach in Bohol and four provinces in Mindanao for 10 years. The program aims to help reduce land degradation and improve livelihoods for upland farming in these communities.

The Landcare Foundation of the Philippines, based in the original heartland of landcare in Claveria, Misamis Oriental and headed by Maria Aurora Laotoco, is being supported to take on a leadership role in further developing landcare in the region.

Speaking at the book launch, Marcelino Patindol, who hails from Claveria and is one of the original landcare farmers, said the landcare journey had been incredible for farmers him. “Now, we have transformed our farms from barren grassland to a forest of timber and fruit trees. The soil is fertile and spring water is flowing from the forest and serving my farm and my household. I owe this to landcare.” (AusAid/PIA XI)

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