Thursday June 10th, 2010 was a significant day in the history of the PSHF. Ireen Ingles, treasurer on the PSHF board of trustees exchanged contracts with Mr Serapion Gampay for the purchase of a 2.3 hectare plot of land on the island of Guimaras in the western Visayas region of the Philippines. This piece of land, as yet unnamed, is to become a pioneering farm for the practice of permaculture and in the future, we hope, a training centre for sustainable agriculture.
Over two decades, the PSHF has been offering loan assistance to poor families for a wide variety of livelihoods. The highest proportion of loans have been for farming and in particular for rice and sugar cane cultivation. Overall, the projects have fared reasonably well with the vast majority of the loans being ultimately repaid in full. Nevertheless, we have come to realise that this does not necessarily indicate success on the part of the farmer.
Sometimes, harvests have been poor and the loan has been repaid from the sale of livestock; other times, the harvests have been satisfactory but not profitable enough to free the farmer from the debt cycle. We have also noticed that whilst we encourage organic farming practices and even offer training seminars, there is a tendency for farmers to take short cuts and not follow through on what they have learnt. This can result in a semi organic approach to farming which as a consequence does not offer the full benefits nor indeed the profitability of a totally chemical free approach.