SEARCA, Balete Family Farm School, lead the Center's culminating activity on Women's International Month celebration

  • By Nathan Felix
  • 10 April 2023

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) concluded its one-day learning activity for the Balete Family Farm School, Inc. (BFFSI) students on 31 March 2023 at the Drilon Hall.

BFFSI, the only all-female family farm school in Asia, participated in an oral presentation of business plans critiqued by a panel of experts from SEARCA. This one-day learning activity aims to deepen the students' knowledge and understanding of agripreneurship beyond the four corners of the classroom. The first group's business plan, "Tekarence Food Jeepney," harnesses the concept of a food truck to bring a concoction of delicious food to residents in Balete and Lipa, Batangas, Philippines.

"It is a food jeepney that can roam around parks in Batangas to eliminate the need to travel far places to buy food," said Ms. Rhene Florence Dimaano, group representative. Ms. Lichelle Dara Carlos, program specialist, Emerging Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD), suggested they could explore selling home- and school-grown nutritious food to promote food security while using ecofriendly or sustainable biobased packaging.

On the other hand, Ms. Allyson Mae Deguito of "Viaje," a travel vlog business, presented how digital publishing in the new norm can come in handy to capture memories in exploring attractive tourist destinations of Batangueños.

Dr. Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, recommended that Viaje focus on sustainable agri-tourism hotspots in the province of Batangas to attract the public. Moreover, he said that the videos produced can become educational materials to learn more about the intersection of food among people, businesses, the environment, and culture.

After the business plan pitches, Dr. Gregorio inspired the youth through a short lecture on agripreneurship. As a farmer, the director presented his agri-research start-up company, BINHI, which focuses on micropropagation.

"Our aim is to advance plant breeding and micropropagation through smart technologies and practices to achieve sustainable commercial farming," said Dr. Gregorio. He emphasized further that agriculture is not only limited to production, but farming can also be a sustainable agribusiness.

The young ladies enthusiastically asked questions about farming and agripreneurship to Dr. Gregorio. They expressed their interest in agriculture as they see many prospects and new opportunities, especially for the youths in starting an agriculture enterprise. Through the one-day learning activity, they were made aware of the significant position of agriculture in the economy.

In addition to the oral presentation of business plans and a lecture, SEARCA publications donated to BFFSI were also turned over to the school administrators led by the school principal, Ms. Fides Maranan. The BFFSI students were also engaged in a tour of the SEARCA Hub for Agriculture and Rural Innovation for the Next Generation (SHARING) AgriMuseum and Café.

The one-day learning activity was attended by the SEARCA executive committee comprising Dr. Gregorio, Dr. Nur Azura Adam, deputy director for programs, and Assoc. Prof. Joselito Florendo, deputy director for administration. With them are SEARCA officials and other support staff.