Agripreneur bootcamp wraps up, business improvement plans set in motion

  • By Lichelle Carlos
  • 6 May 2024

As the Young Agripreneurs Building Opportunities, Nurturing Growth (YABONG) Bootcamp concludes, the final challenge is set. Participating agripreneurs will harness their newfound skills from the three-month bootcamp to devise innovative business improvement plans for their farms. By graduation day on 9 May 2024, they will bring their strategies to life in a pitch competition, with the top five earning a PHP 50,000 boost to kickstart their farm enhancements.

Mid-April marks the 21st and last online session for the YABONG Bootcamp. At the final face-to-face graduation session, 17 bootcamp finishers will compete for the awards on the best-laid plans while exhibiting their best products and services in a parallel innovation fair open to the public. The YABONG Bootcamp Innovation Fair and Graduation will be held at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

The East-West Seed Philippines (EWPH), in partnership with SEARCA, kicked off the first online session of YABONG Bootcamp on 30 January 2024. The aim is to enhance the expertise of 20 young farmers, selected out of 160 applicants all over Luzon, in vegetable production and entrepreneurship. The participants, almost half of whom were women, have started farming from half up to 12 hectares of land.

Right from the orientation session, the agripreneurs expressed enthusiasm for the growth opportunities from vegetable farming and learning. "May pera sa gulay, (There is money in vegetables)," said Mr. John Francisco, a YABONG participant. Ms. Genivie Marqueses, one of the youngest participants in the training, captured bright hopes with her statement, "Nasa agrikultura ang pag-unlad ng future" (The future's success can be found in agriculture.)

Adopting a hybrid learning approach, the program combines online and hands-on sessions to provide a dynamic and enriching experience. Topics ranged from managing seeds, seedlings, soil nutrients, water, pests and diseases, to marketing and selling vegetables, as well as creating business and financial plans.

Ms. Mildred Ninofranco, a young farmer from Bicol, expected to upgrade her knowledge and farming business as a result of the YABONG Bootcamp. "We need to learn different ways of planting, with new technologies. We also need to know how to avoid rejects," Ninofranco said.

Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc, president of the East-West Seed Foundation, said that participants can expect a lot from the YABONG Bootcamp, but it will also demand time and commitment from the hand-picked participants, to maximize their learning.

Halfway through the YABONG bootcamp, the first face-to-face session was held on 15 March 2024 in Bulacan, where participants tried their hands on cross-pollination, mulching, transplanting, trellising, pruning, and vine management. Participants also toured the East-West Seed Philippines warehouse and laboratories. They were briefed on the processes of seed variety development for tropical vegetables using modern plant breeding techniques, as well as the packaging and shipping of seeds to local and international markets.

Mr. Enrique Villaroman, subject matter expert, urged the YABONG participants to seriously work on their business plans as it has many uses, such as the creation of a complete strategy, the enrolment of partners, fundraising, business management, decision making, cash flow tracking, and effective product marketing. He shared quotes to stress that "a goal without a plan is just a wish" and that there are no shortcuts. "There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs," Villaroman added.

At the upcoming YABONG Bootcamp Innovation Fair, participants along with other agri-innovators will feature their value-added, farm-based products and services that visitors may purchase or order. Plant and farm doctors are also available for free consultation.

Finally, who among the YABONG Bootcamp finishers will get the seed money to set their business improvements into motion? A panel of judges will decide based on the completeness, feasibility and sustainability, entrepreneurial mindset and innovativeness, and delivery of the business improvement plans.

Come to the YABONG Bootcamp Innovation Fair and Graduation at SEARCA on 9 May 2024. Pick up an agri-innovative souvenir or consult a farm doctor during the morning fair. In the afternoon, discover the five awardees as they unfold their winning strategies at the graduation ceremony, marking the triumph of dedication, ingenuity, and agricultural excellence.

Below photos: YABONG Bootcamp participants join hands-on training in Bulacan.

Agripreneur bootcamp wraps up, business improvement plans set in motion

Agripreneur bootcamp wraps up, business improvement plans set in motion

Agripreneur bootcamp wraps up, business improvement plans set in motion

Agripreneur bootcamp wraps up, business improvement plans set in motion

Agripreneur bootcamp wraps up, business improvement plans set in motion