SEARCA eyes planting program with women agripreneurs

Collaborative opportunities to capacitate women agripreneurs through a planting program were explored during the recent visit of the Kalipayan Farm and Alfonso Women’s Council to the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in Los Baños, Laguna.

Kalipayan Farm founder Nikole Kazemi visited SEARCA along with Alfonso Women’s Council Chairman Len Maraan Reyes and board members Florinda Martal and Arceli Del Mundo.

Intent on developing family farm communities, Kalipayan Farm is a social enterprise that provides farm-to-fork solutions that range from farm inputs to fresh and processed goods, farm development consultancy, and education and wellness programs.

Notably, Kalipayan’s Tanim Farm program has already made a positive impact in communities across Bulacan, Leyte, and Laguna, and is currently actively supporting Alfonso in Cavite, particularly the local women’s council.

Kazemi introduced the program’s framework and collaborations and discussed the customized hands-on integrated and diversified natural farming (IDNF) training, plan e-learning, and offer on-the-job training for agripreneurs.

She furthered that the Tanim Farm program has a broader vision of integrating the expertise of academia, government, and the private sector in sustainable farming. It also seeks to document and disseminate best practices among aspiring small family farm agripreneurs, with a special focus on the women involved in farming in Alfonso town.

Dr. Gerlie Tatlonghari, SEARCA Program Head for Research and Thought Leadership, gave an overview of the School-Plus-Home Gardens Project and noted the potential for collaboration in entrepreneurship. SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio elaborated on offshoot projects such as the School-plus-Home Gardens cum Biodiversity Enhancement Enterprise (SHGBEE) focused on biodiversity conservation and restoration and the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4E) Project, emphasizing entrepreneurship development.

On the other hand, Alfonso Women’s Council Chairman Len Maraan Reyes shared the inspiring agripreneurial ventures of the women of Alfonso, Cavite, which include selling fresh produce and snacks made from nutritious and readily available ingredients like squash and sweet potato siomai, veggie patties and balls crafted from banana blossoms, and chips made from arnibal or señorita bananas.

“We see a clear alignment between SEARCA and Kalipayan Farm-Alfonso Women’s Council, and we are excited to showcase our initiatives,” Kazemi said.

She added that SEARCA could play a pivotal role by supporting the program through capacity-building initiatives in sustainable business, IDNF, community gardening, and crop production.