PROMDI CITY FARMERS: The Future of Sustainable Agriculture

CORPORATE EMPLOYEES TURNED SEASON FARMERS – THE EMERGENCE OF THE TREND OF REVERSE MIGRATION TODAY IS ABOUT TO SAVE THE NATION FROM FUTURE STARVATION. People from urban places, far and wide, are now settling to rural areas to build a more stable and future-ready farm business. As they bring in their corporate values to work for a sustainable agriculture, farming systems are evidently becoming developed and more efficient, most especially the methods of documenting and liquidating. These farmers from the city consider this as their edge, setting a standard in our country’s agribusiness.

Photo by Jayvee Masilang
Beyond and Play, Manila Bulletin, Agriculture Online, GMA 7, ABS-CBN, Knowledge Channel and other media entities
Photo by Ash Canilang
Photo by Ash Canilang
Photo by Jayvee Masilang
Mr. Karl Maligaya Salibio, Agricultural Training Institute, Department of Agriculture, Information Service Division
ATI Region IV-A Trece Martires City, Cavite
ATI Region IV-A Trece Martires City, Cavite
Mr. Ash Canilang, Agricultural Training Institute, Department of Agriculture,
Photo by Jayvee Masilang
Photo by Jayvee Masilang
Photo by Jayvee Masilang

Last March 25 – 27, Beyond and Play participated in a three-day farm tour in CALABARZON organized by the Department of Agriculture (DA). Indeed, agritourism, more than being an additional source of income for farmers, is another way to open a new perspective on farming. It is through the visit that the team was enthused by the current trend of reverse migration and on-farm sustainability efforts the migrants maintain. Activities like this have become one of the common advocacies that DA developed to push environmental stewardship and encourage more potential agriculturalists. Discovering a lot of reasons to become one is absolutely worth the time.

Photo by Jayvee Masilang
AGRICULTURAL TRAINING INSTITUTE REGION IV-A Trece Martires City, Cavite

A HAVEN OF HARMONY

Struggling with traffic and pollution in Metro Manila day by day while fulfilling a long list of tasks is never the life that anyone wants. However, because of the common mindset that there is a rise of opportunities in urban places, these experiences became a usual routine for most people. “I opted for an early retirement dahil na-stress na ako sa buhay-opisina. My house is in Quezon City while ang work ko ay sa Pasay pa. Then, yung pressure and stress sa trabaho, parang hindi ko na kayang lunukin pa kaya I had to leave.” This are the reasons why Ms. Aida Briones, the owner and administrator of Chad’s Nature Farm, together with other farm owners, decided to settle in rural places instead.

Ms. Aida Briones, Owner & Administrator of Chad’s Nature Farm, Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas
Photo by Jayvee Masilang

It is undeniable that, over decades of corporate employment, farm profitability and its increasingly competitive and viable environment is poorly appreciated by many. “Walang interest yung mga siblings ko. Even until now, ang dami nilang questions. Eh, ito ang gusto ko.”, Ms. Aida added. There is something about agribusiness that gave her enthusiasm. The harmony she and other farmers found in this haven after experiencing the demanding diversity of the world in urban places is invaluable – one they will never trade for the shades of cityscapes again.  That is why for some who came across it like them, offering this kind of experience to non-farmers has become a part of their advocacies, with a hope that more people will recognize it.

Chad’s Nature Farm, Mataas na Kahoy Batangas
Ms. Aida Briones with Beyond and Play & other Media Entities
Photo by Jayvee Masilang
Photo by Ash Canilang
Ms. Aida Briones, Chad’s Nature Farm
Photo by Jayvee Masilang
Photo by Ash Canilang

SEASONS MAKING FARMERS STRONGER

Photo by Ash Canilang
Ato Belen’s Farm, Barangay San Juan, San Pablo City Laguna.
Mr. Ato Belen (middle, green shirt), Beyond and Play with other media entities
Photo by Ash Canilang
Photo by Ash Canilang

Ato Belen’s Farm is one of the living proofs of how seasons make farmers stronger. Being in the industry for thirty six (36) years is an adequate sign of it. Mr. Brian Amante Belen, the General Manager of the farm and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ABF Integrated Farms in Agribusiness Center Incorporated, shared how it is a way of life. “Yung kailangan ng isang farmer to thrive in the Philippines, knowing na tayo ay typhoon belt, is yung tatag ng loob. Para maging season farmer ka, kailangan mong pagdaan ng pagdaan yan.”, Mr. Brian noted. “Kagaya ngayon na El Niño, ang mindset na important parati sa akin, pag ang mindset mo talaga ay farming na, is kung paano ka babangon after.” Growing from a family of farmers and being a graduate of an Agribusiness-related degree, Mr. Brian considers this as a lifelong commitment. Although he has worked as a corporate employee for nine (9) long years, he knew that getting back to the roots of what sustained them will help other farming communities become more resilient as well – not only as a farmer, but as a person in general.

Mr. Brian Amante Belen, General Manager of Ato Belen Farm & CEO for ABF Integrated Farms in Agribusiness Incorporated
Photo by Ash Canilang
Photo by Jayvee Masilang

A CALL FOR THE NATION’S SUSTAINABILITY

Mr. Eduardo Cleofe, the President and CEO of Luntiang Republika Farm, Alfonso, Maragondon, Cavite
Photo by Jayvee Masilang

Above all of the reasons, the farmers’ ultimate goal has always been about achieving our nation’s sustainability without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. However, with the aging population of today’s farmers, the greatest worry is the nation’s food security in the coming years. DA’s agritourism advocacy is also meant to open the eyes of the youth that farming is gainful in terms of financial, agricultural, and personal growth.

Photo by Ash Canilang
Photo by Jayvee Masilang

“We really need young people to go into farming. It’s something to think about. Tapos I hope that the youth reconnects with nature so they will be reminded na mayro’n kang happiness na makukuha even in the simple things that we do, na ang buhay ay hindi lang laging nakasalalay sa virtual world.”, Mr. Eduardo Cleofe, the President and CEO of Luntiang Republika Farm, beseeches. Like those abovementioned, his farm is also one of the Extension Service Providers (ESP) accredited by Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). Alongside with its responsibility to make the farm as a venue of trainings, he is hoping that there is a multiplier effect on their graduates so that they may reach more people, creating more farmers for our future.

Photo by Ash Canilang

After all, proven in many life testimonies of farmers and circumstances we personally experienced, the nation’s sustainability is the risk worth taking beyond measure. We hope that the nation does not grow weary of it over the long haul – for in due season, we will reap.

Photo by Ash Canilang
Photo by Ash Canilang
Photo by Ash Canilang