SRI Success Story: the iRelief Foundation Livelihood Recovery and Rehabilitation Program
iRelief Foundation is a non-profit organization established to give support to underprivileged individuals, families, and communities that have been affected by calamities and disasters in hard to reach areas. The foundation was created in response to the massive devastation of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on November 8, 2013. They started by implementing relief operations in Capiz followed by Livelihood Recovery and Rehabilitation Program for fisher folks in the coastal barangays of Pan-ay. In response to the plea for help of the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to extend assistance to affected farming communities, the foundation crafted another project for rice farmers – the technology transfer of Organic SRI (System of Rice Intensification).
The foundation launched its Organic SRI Project in Panit-an, Capiz in July 2014 by holding a series of technical training-workshops for the farmer-clusters coming from the barangays of Salocon and Timpas. These initiatives were undertaken with the support of the Municipal Agricultural Office of Panit-an headed by Mr. Wilfredo Dolor, SRI Pilipinas national trainers Mr. Venancio Garde and Mr. Rene Jarandilla together with SRI practitioner-advocate Mr. Joby Arandela. They harvested their first organic SRI rice 92 days after transplanting period in late December 2014 where the first demonstration farm of 1,400 square meters yielded only an equivalent of 66 sacks or 3.3 tons per hectare. Those were not convincing figures, but when taken into account the successive typhoons Ruby and Seniang that hit the area plus the demo farm being submerged in flood waters for two days during reproductive stage, it was an above average yield. The farmers who volunteered to help during harvest – cutting, threshing, and cleaning, were impressed at the yield and quality of the grains especially when the adjacent and nearby farms cultivated through conventional method yielded about 40 to 50 bags or 2.5 tons per hectare with darker grains. The following cropping season, the harvest doubled at 6.8 tons per hectare under good weather conditions.
With hopeful results in Panit-an, the organic SRI project expanded in May 2015 to set up demonstration farms in 9 barangays of Dao, Capiz where even better yields ranging from 5 – 11 tons per hectare were garnered and resilience to adverse farming conditions further proven. The project later extended to the towns of Calinog, Lambunao and Bingawan in Iloilo with relatively the same results. Ms. Dindin Daliva, Program Head of the foundation, stated that the farming technology not only improved the productivity of rice, but helped the farmers achieve self-sufficiency in rice farming with lower production cost.
The project came up with different noteworthy innovations among them the revival of bayanihan spirit in farming requiring all their beneficiaries to engage in hil-o hil-o / tangkuris (Capiz) or dagyawan (Iloilo) where they work together as a group at various farming stages. Collective experiential learning and values formation imbedded in project rollout helped facilitate the learning process of individual farmers as they transition from chemical-based to organic rice farming. Currently, the foundation has an impressive crop cut record of 11 tons per hectare which is equivalent to 220 bags per hectare, and an average yield of 7-8 tons per hectare.
The success of the project has been possible through the hard work and efforts of organic SRI farmers in Iloilo and Capiz with the support and guidance of iRelief Foundation led by its program head Ms. Dindin Daliva. To date, the foundation continue to extend assistance to improve farmers’ livelihood and innovate the field of agriculture through organic System of Rice Intensification.