FARM consolidation in order to achieve efficiencies through scale is required to transform agriculture in the Philippines, where farmers tending small plots have become the norm, the World Bank said.

“To succeed, efforts at clustering and consolidation need to be voluntary, built on trust and confidence, and collaborative relationships among stakeholders whether they are farmers, communities, municipalities, other local government units, or small and larger agribusiness enterprises,” World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, and Philippines Ndiame Diop said in a statement Friday.

A World Bank report prepared in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA) indicates that the Philippines can explore various arrangements for farm clustering.

Clustering can be pursued within irrigation systems, by supporting market-oriented producer organizations, or via contract farming organized by agriculture enterprises.

The World Bank cited the efforts of the Philippine Rural Development Project, which has organized producers into agriculture enterprises.

“Where different approaches to clustering land management are not feasible, support for the mechanization of farming and post-harvest operations may be an alternative or complementary strategy for smallholder-based systems to increase farmer productivity and incomes, both on and off the farm,” Mr. Diop said.

The World Bank said a typical farmer in the Philippines earns P100,000 a year, which is below the poverty line set by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

It added that the average size of farms in the Philippines declined to 0.9 hectares (ha) per family in 2012, from 3 ha in the 1980s.

“These increasingly smaller farms are often split into more fragmented blocks. The country has some 5.56 million farms, totaling 7.2 million hectares, of which 57% are one ha or less, 32% are one to three ha, 9% are three to seven ha, and only 2% are seven ha or larger,” the World Bank said.  – Revin Mikhael D. Ochave