Brgy. Don Montano, Umingan, Pangasinan was chosen as benchmark site (BMS) of the Philippine Crop-Animal Systems Research Network (CASUN) project. The site fairly represented the agro-ecological zone of a typical lowland rainted area. Using the combination of characterization tools such as Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA), Survey, and Participatory Rural Appraisal-Focused Group Discussion (PRA-FGD), the actual needs and situations tithe target site were properly identified and accounted. Thos enabled the programming of research agenda and development interventions by the project's multi-disciplinary research team in consultation with development workers and local farmers.
The cluster of data gathered to characterize the CASREN BMS were biophysical characteristics, socio-economics, livestock and livestock products, and institutional factors. From the processed data, it can be seen that low farm productivity stemmed from lack of knowledge and capital to improve cropping systems and increase animal holdings. These highlight the need to improve productivity and income from local fanning operations through appropriate R&D interventions. On characterization, PRA-FGD proved to be a good means to validate the traditional survey method, since it also captures persons' emotions as information are being generated.
Indeed, BMS characterization was an effective approach in analyzing the actual needs of a locality and in programming demand-driven researches and Interventions.