SEARCA, East-West Seed to train youth in farming

THE Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the East-West Seed Philippines (EWPH) have signed an agreement to train young farmers in vegetable farming and agri-entrepreneurship.

Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, signed the memorandum of agreement (MoA) with East-West Seed for the project titled "Yabong," or Young Agripreneurs Building Opportunities, Nurturing Growth Bootcamp, that also intends to showcase stories of young agri-entrepreneurs to inspire more of the youth to engage in vegetable farming.

The MoA was signed at the East-West Seed Hortanova Research Center in Lipa City, Batangas, with the seed company represented by General Manager Jose Marie "Jay" Lopez.

Witnesses to the MoA were associate professor Joselito Florendo, SEARCA deputy director for administration, and Roderick Bayaborda, East-West Seed technology manager and Yabong Bootcamp program lead.

"We can work together on bringing in or developing young Filipino entrepreneurs who would like to go into farming," Lopez said.

Bayaborda also voiced the need to make farming "a sexy enterprise and profitable business."

Gregorio said the bootcamp will be conducted in a hybrid modality, combining both online and hands-on sessions on vegetable production and entrepreneurship to be delivered by industry experts and practitioners.

He explained that for its first run, the bootcamp will accept 20 young farmers with at least one year of farming experience. They will be screened based on their dedication to pursuing vegetable farming as a business, willingness to serve as a model young farmer, and entrepreneurial mindset and innovativeness.

Also during the signing ceremony, Gregorio shared other SEARCA initiatives promoting youth engagement in agriculture.

These are the School-Plus-Home Gardens Project and the SEARCA Hub for Agriculture and Rural Innovation for the Next Generation or Sharing.

Gregorio also expressed optimism on future collaborations with East-West Seeds.

Thanking SEARCA for partnering with East-West Seeds, Mary Ann Sayoc, East-West Seed group public affairs lead, cited previous SEARCA-East-West Seed collaborations like the Innovation Olympics 2.

"The Yabong Bootcamp would take Innovation Olympics 2 to a higher notch, given the project's technical skills training, funding and marketing components," she said.