RECENTLY the Department of Agriculture (DA) had been keener in promoting agriculture and farming programs to the youth.
The younger generation now has so many career options to explore like freelancing, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. jobs, and/or their own business. Farming could be one of these many options especially if they grew up in a family of farmers. These days, farming is no longer just limited to those in the provinces or those that have a wide space. With urban agriculture becoming more and more popular, opportunities for farming become more feasible for everyone -- even those in their 20s and early 30s.
Last Tuesday, July 13, we invited a young agripreneur from Malita, Davao Occidental to share on Twenty Something live talkshow her own learning experiences. Ella Yap is a licensed teacher who studied at the Holy Cross of Davao College, Davao City before recently deciding to take part in the family farming business. She shared that they have a five-hectare of cacao plantations intercropped with coconuts. Although she just decided to be fully involved last year, the cacao plantations had been with them since 2000 when her grandfather planted the cacao seedlings he got for free from DA Davao Region. Since then, the family has ventured into tablea business which they called RosWing Yap Cropland-Tablea and Native Coffee.
Ella has a few points to share to his fellow millennials who also wish to try venturing into agribusiness.
1. Ask assistance from DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
While DA can give training on agricultural practices, they also provide free seedlings and fertilizer upon request. On the other hand, DTI gives trainings and seminars on product packaging, marketing, and quality standards.
Ella shared that she learned a lot after attending a number of trainings with DTI. Because of her close professional relationship with the government agency, they were given the opportunity to display their products in One Town, One Product (Otop) exhibits. Further, they have also improved in terms of their packaging.
2. Farming is a continuous learning process
Ella admits that she still has a lot to catch up on in terms of her agricultural knowledge and experience given that she spent most of her young years in school and focused on finishing her studies. However, her being new in being an agripreneur does not discourage her to explore and to be enthusiastic in farming. The family farm has a caretaker who has been with them for eight years now. Ella said aside from her uncle and her father, she learns a lot from their caretaker. She asks essential questions such as knowing when is the perfect time to wrap the cacao fruit in a plastic bag to protect it from pests or the best time to harvest, etc.
She also shared that knowledge in farming should also grow at the same time that one’s interest for it grows as well. As younger farmers, she said it helps to ask advice from those with more experiences to learn more.
3. Use social media to your advantage
Being a millennial, social media use comes to Ella naturally. But as she now handles the social media page of their business RosWing Yap Cropland-Tablea and Native Coffee, she realizes the importance of social media as more than just posting. She has scheduled posts in the morning, afternoon, and evening to make sure that their followers always get updates.
Because of social media, her reach of customers was not only limited to Davao Occidental. They have also reached customers in different parts of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
4. There is no such thing as “not a green thumb”
A person with a “green thumb” is someone who has a natural “talent” of caring and tending for plants and making sure that they really live. On the other hand, those who consider themselves without a green thumb are those who often find plants dying under their care.
On the contrary, Ella believes that there is no such thing as “not a green thumb”. She said it always depends on the soil that you use -- if it’s feasible to the plant, the type of environment, and the type of care that you give the plant.
Ella said if one keeps on believing that they will not be able to take care of a plant, then it attracts a mindset that farming is difficult. She shared that she is very happy visiting her very own planted coconut and seeing how much it has grown. There is a certain level of satisfaction and happiness after seeing the plant you have nurtured to grow and live to its full capacity.
5. Farming is a stress reliever
Sure, farming can be a lot of work and can be physically straining. But with the level of progress and satisfaction that one gets from farming, it can be really worth it. The serenity and the silence that farms have can be good for a person’s mental health. The fresh air helps with the relaxation.
Aside from the business benefits of farming in the long run, Ella encourages more youth to take part in farming as its instant benefits include relieving stress. In this time of pandemic when, at some point, it has taken a toll on our mental health, it’s good to have something to be busy with that is both productive and relaxing at the same time.