HomePhilippine Journal of Veterinary and Animal Sciencesvol. 33 no. 2 (2007)

Farmer Field School for Sustainable Agriculture: Sweet Potato-Based Cattle Fattening

I.m. Adion | Ma. Teresa SJ. Valdez | J.e. Luis | C.s. Basilio | Y.f. Juan | C.j. Aguilar

Discipline: Agriculture



The project was conceptualized to develop a feed system for beef production by integrating sweet potato as a major component. It was also intended to enrich local knowledge system on feed utilization through the integration of appropriate scientific information that would enhance households' knowledge and skills critical to wise decision-making. This was done through the farmer field school. The project had the following objectives: to develop a learning curriculum on integrated sweet potato-based feed system for beef production; to evaluate the effectiveness of farmer field school (FFS) as extension and training approach in promoting improved technologies; to assess the potential contribution of sweet potato as feed resource to improve livelihood of livestock raising households; and to determine the technical, socio-economic and environmental outcomes of the feed system. The pilot FFS was implemented in four barangays of Paniqui and was attended by 24 farmers while the second FFS was attended by 51 farmers from six barangays of Paniqui and two barangays of Moncada. A learning curriculum for FFS on beef cattle feed system was developed in partnership with various institutions (OMA, OPV, SUC, DA-RFU III, CIPUPWARD) as well as with farming households as the major actors. The curriculum and the benchmark information served as bases in developing the field and technical guides which were prepared by the experts after conducting an agro-ecosystem analysis and problem-needs assessment. These curriculum and guides were tested through the pilot FFS and reviewed and revised during the second FFS. From the technical guides, farmers' hand-outs were also prepared as clamored by the participants. The developed curriculum contained 20 sessions with 22 appropriate topics. The effectiveness of FFS as a learning approach was manifested by the actual application of scientific strategies and practices by the farmers. These practices included stock judging, sweet potato chipping, housing, record keeping and action planning. Increased average daily gains (ADG) were obtained due to improved feed system. The ADG markedly improved from 0.3 to 0.5 kg under traditional practices to an average of 1.44 kg ADG/day. The new feed system was highly acceptable because it was developed or improved based on farmers' traditional practice which was qualitatively enriched to suffice animal requirements. It also provided better management alternative for farm wastes or crop residues which, if left unused, would only serve as pollutants. It efficiently converted weeds and crop residues into high value and nutritious beef.