SEARCA welcomes women agripreneurs for planting program partnership

THE Kalipayan Farm and Alfonso Women's Council visited the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in Los Baños, Laguna to explore collaboration on capacitating women agripreneurs under a possible partnership on their joint Tanim Farm program.

Nikole Kazemi, founder of the Kalipayan Farm; chairman Len Maraan Reyes and board members Florinda Martal and Arceli Del Mundo of Alfonso Women's Council; and Deinielle Ramos, an intern at the Kalipayan Farm, visited SEARCA to explore partnership on August 11, 2023.

Also with the group was Dr. Andrew Gasmen of the University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Agriculture and Food Science-Agricultural Systems Institute, also a prospective partner.

According to SEARCA, the Kalipayan Farm is a social enterprise offering farm-to-fork solutions through farm input, fresh and processed goods, farm development consultancy, and education and wellness programs.

It noted that through these programs, the farm aims to develop family farm communities.

Through the Tanim Farm program, they have worked with communities in Bulacan, Leyte and Laguna, and are now actively supporting Alfonso in Cavite, particularly its women's council.

The Tanim Farm program also aims to integrate academe, government and private sectors' technical knowledge and experiences on sustainable farming, and document and impart best practices with beginning small family farm agripreneurs, particularly the farm wives of Alfonso town.

Presenting the program's conceptual framework and existing collaborators, Kazemi said their activities include developing a hands-on integrated and diversified natural farming (IDNF) training tailored to the needs of the family farm agripreneurs, and crafting a sustainability plan to conduct this training through an e-learning modality.

She said the program also provides on-the-job training opportunities to capacitate the youths' knowledge, skills and attitude on IDNF and agripreneurship.

"We saw a clear alignment between SEARCA and Kalipayan Farm-Alfonso Women's Council, and we want to show you what we are doing," Kazemi said, adding that SEARCA could assist the program through capacity-building initiatives on sustainable business, IDNF, community gardening and crop production.

Dr. Gerlie Tatlonghari, SEARCA program head of Research and Thought Leadership, who gave an overview of the School-Plus-Home Gardens Project, saw collaboration potential in entrepreneurship.

SEARCA director Dr. Glenn Gregorio added information on its offshoot projects, the School-plus-Home Gardens cum Biodiversity Enhancement Enterprise or SHGBEE, which aligns with biodiversity conservation and restoration, and the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship or SEL4E Project, which focuses on entrepreneurship

Reyes shared the agripreneurial ventures of the women of Alfonso, Cavite including selling fresh produce and snacks made out of healthful and accessible ingredients such as siomai made from squash and sweet potato, veggie patties and balls made from banana blossoms, and chips made from arnibal or señorita banana.

The Tanim Farm program which promotes youth in agripreneurship fits with SEARCA's many activities.

SEARCA Partnerships unit head Sharon Malaiba cited the center's joint activities with the Dagatan Family Farm School and Balete Family Farm School and the newly inked agreement between SEARCA and East-West Seed Philippines on a youth capacity building bootcamp.

She said the center also delves into incorporating robotics to entice the youth into agriculture.