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To improve soil erosion and poor soil fertility, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) introduced agroforestry measures. But because the measures were labour-intensive, they were being adopted only slowly. After a visit to a similar project, the farmers themselves suggested forming traditional mutual-help groups for the agroforestry work. These groups are called "hunglunan" in Albay province, "alayon" in Cebu, and "tropa" in Cavite. They usually consist of four to six members, but sometimes up to 10 or more members, who help one another with labour-intensive agricultural activities such as land preparation, planting, weeding, and harvesting. Members also help one another for fiestas, weddings and other social events. The local labour groups formed for the project were crucial in implementing the agroforestry measures. The use of local approaches and the fact that the groups were formed by the farmers themselves were important factors. Experience in many development projects has shown that groups introduced by outsiders seldom survive for long.
The sustainability depends very much on the project for which it is used. For example, if people do not find the agroforestry measures useful, they will leave the mutual-help groups. Another factor probably influencing sustainability is whether the groups formed themselves according to their own criteria or whether the groups were imposed by outsiders. Local people initiated the practice and were familiar with it. Local labour-sharing arrangements can be used as an effective tool for making labour-intensive activities more acceptable."