Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Philippines: DA-IRRI Heirloom Rice Project taps local champions for its grassroots advocacy

Grassroots advocacy is one of the most effective ways of raising the level of awareness regarding certain causes to influence public perception, regulations, or public policy. To mobilize and harness the power of grassroots brand advocates, the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP) conducted a workshop for “local champions” from local government units and state colleges and universities in Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.

Local champions are HRP partners within their communities who will actively coordinate self-help group activities for the project beneficiary and eventually sustain the management of the Department of Agriculture (DA) project. The HRP team, composed of staff from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and DA-Cordillera Administrative Region organized the activity to update the local champions on the latest project developments. The workshop also helped them define their roles in the implementation activities for HRP’s second year and in the identification of project activities with community-based indicators of landscape resilience, that is, the rice terraces sites of the UNESCO world heritage.

Digna Manzanilla, a social scientist at IRRI and co-project leader for HRP’s components on linking smallholders to the value chain, as well as on model documentation, knowledge management and M&E, facilitated the discussion on the various roles of local champions in the project’s activities. The participants defined how their current professional qualifications and responsibilities fit into their new role as local champions. They have also identified capacity-building needs that could enable them to better perform their part.

Mr. Adrien Salazar, an IRRI graduate student intern from Yale University, gave the participants a brief overview of community-based indicators of resilience to guide them in identifying activities that they perceive as contributing to the environmental, economic and social dimensions of landscape resilience. Outputs of this workshop will be applied to the framing of indicators relevant to heirloom rice farmers, through field research to be piloted in two project sites in the coming weeks.

The DA-IRRI Heirloom Rice Project workshop was held in Tuba, Benguet on June 24, 2015.

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