Wednesday, March 1, 2023 - 11:54

Better World for and by the Farmers

The people who spent most of their time in the farm tilling the soil and waiting months for crops to grow know that a big dream needs patience and dedication. When farmers want to make their way out in the entrepreneur world whether for their benefit or for others, nothing can stop them.

An almost 150-kilometer distance from Metro Manila was not a limitation for vegetable growers to experience a greener pasture. A millenial farmer and farm school owner has marketed his farm’s eggs to a mall giant. A mushroom production-enthusiast found larger market for his mushroom products. These stories will again put farmers in a higher pedestal like no other.


Bringing joy to consumers and farmers

Located far northeast of Metro Manila, Alfonso Castaneda Vegetable Growers Association, Inc. (ALCAVEGA) is still a starting association of vegetable farmers in Alfonso Castaneda, Nueva Vizcaya. In 2017, Jollibee Corporation gave them an opportunity to partner with them. Driven by the desire to create a direct market for their produce, ALCAVEGA organized themselves into an association.

“Tatlo ang aming Vision. Una, itaas ang antas ng pamumuhay ng vegetable growers dito sa aming nayon. Pangalawa, mapataas ang kaalaman ng mga maggugulay, at [pangatlo] magkaroon ng combined agri-enterprise na binubuo ng mga magsasaka na pwede naming mapakinabangan ng pang-matagalan,” said Mr. Zaldy Agustin, the association’s president.

Like the road towards their town, ALCAVEGA’s journey was curvy. Composed of 15 vegetable farmers from three barangays, members trained for almost 5 years with the help of Jollibee Corporation. Members experienced hurdles for the initial four years. However, they finally started supplying their produce to Jollibee Corporation starting on October 2022 despite the distance.

To ensure the quality of products, they harvest the crops a day prior to the delivery. For produce that did not make the cut, ALCAVEGA makes sure that nothing will go to waste. They sell their produce to local market. They also created linkage with institutional buyers as part of their enterprise strategy.

Mr. Zaldy reminded farmers who want to organize their own association that unity and commitment are needed. He also stressed the importance of asking assistance to government agencies such as Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) for technical or financial support.

Laying a market for eggs

Engr. Christian Paulo Magsino is a millenial farmer from Santiago City, Isabela. Initially, he focused on rice farming. He is operating a Learning Site for Agriculture which is certified by the ATI.

Realizing that brown eggs in the market is not a common display, he came up with an idea to try and produce brown eggs to be sold. With the financial assistance that ATI gave him, he started his free range chicken layer and egg production. He now have over 200 chickens that produce about 180 brown eggs daily. Carrying out a plan to find a market for the brown eggs, he approached Robinsons in Santiago City, one of the mall giants in the country.

“Nagka-idea ako kasi mayroon ngang brown eggs sa supermarket pero medyo may kamahalan. I tried to compute the cost at nakita ko na kakayanin namin na makipagcompete at magbenta sa mababang price,” he shared.

After getting an approval in his business proposal, the mall giant welcomed him as local supplier. Today, he supplies over 400 dozens monthly.

He firmly believes that agripreneurs must have a sure market, especially for those who are still starting with their business.

“Katulad ko, hindi biro ang puhunan sa farming. Malaki ang ginagamit na capital kaya dapat entrepreneur ang mindset ni farmer para hindi sayang ang pera niya at ma-maximize niya ang profit,” said the young agriprenuer.

Making Room for Mushroom

In Cabagan, Isabela, Cassia Integrated Farm and Learning Center boasts its LSA cooperator, Reygan Foronda. A mushroom production enthusiast since his second year in college, Reygan is untiring in finding more opportunities to market his farm’s oyster mushroom products.

Initially, Reygan focused on mushroom fruiting bags and mushroom products. Growing mushrooms has always been helpful to Reygan since it paved the way for him to generate income to pay for school expenses from Php 3,000 capital.

Now 32, Reygan knows no limit in expanding this business. In 2019, he attended Training on Mushroom Production and Processing by DA and ATI-RTC 02 to become equipped with more knowledge on mushroom production. He increased his income through value-adding. He packaged the mushroom products and branded them after his farm, Foronda’s Mushroom Farm.

Through his efforts and innate talent as a mushroom entrepreneur, his products was introduced to more markets. Today, the products are being sold in pasalubong centers and has reached overseas such as in Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Hongkong.

Reygan’s mushroom products and his story has been featured in multiple media platforms such as in the Agriculture Magazine and G TV’s Pera Paraan. He hopes that through this story the youth are inspired to reach their dreams. 

Success is far when you are only looking at it. However, if you take small steps towards it, you will find yourself an inch closer. It is true that farmers who had it worst has the most dedication and eagerness to create their own versions of success. In a world where farmers thrive, we hope for a better tomorrow; for farmers and by farmers.

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