The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform, together with the Department of Agriculture, participates in Market Oriented Agriculture Promotion using the Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion (SHEP) Approach for Asian countries.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Facilitates the three-week program from August 27 to September 15 in Hokkaido, Japan, and Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa.

The program aimed to give participants hands-on experience with the SHEP methodology through activities like market research, crop selection, cropping schedules, and interactions with SHEP farmer groups. Also, they gained knowledge about the Kenyan SHEP experience.

Mr. Edmar Fajutanaga, Supervising Agriculturist, DA-AMAS, Dr. Maricel Leonzon-Dullas, Supervising Agriculturist, AMAD, DA-region III, Ms. Colene Sheila Magpantay, Market Specialist, AMAD, DA-region IV-A, and Mr. Ramil Timpolok, Senior Agriculturist, AMAD, MAFAR-BARMM represented the Philippine delegation.

A total of 26 participants from various Asian countries, including Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan, and four participants from the Philippines participated in this program.

The SHEP approach has proven effective in increasing the income of smallholder farmers engaged in horticulture. This approach focuses on enhancing the technical and managerial skills of farmers to engage in market-oriented horticultural farming.

Some unique features of the SHEP approach include farmers conducting market surveys, establishing business connections between farmers and service providers, and promoting gender equality to strengthen the partnership between farming couples.

The result of this approach is a significant increase in farmers’ income from horticulture, leading to improved livelihoods not only during the intervention period but also in the following years.

Farmer groups have become self-reliant and innovative in expanding their horticultural businesses.SHEP activities are systematic and interconnected to achieve the goal of improving farmers’ livelihoods.

During the training program, participants engaged in various workshops, learned about Japanese agriculture through farm visits and observed how information gaps with market stakeholders were mitigated while building mutual trust. Participants also gained insights into the work environment of extension workers and their role in enhancing farmers’ technological capabilities.

Overall, this training program aims to enable participants to adopt the SHEP Approach in all capacity-building efforts for smallholder farmers in their respective countries. This adoption is expected to increase farmers’ income by shifting from a “grow and sell” mindset to a “grow to sell” approach driven by market demand.