THREE Dabawenyo young farmers want to be changemakers in their communities by introducing modern and innovative farming practices.

National winners Judy Ann Villamor and Ramon Salvador of the Young Farmers Challenge Program by the Department of Agriculture have established Grace Hills Vineyard and Vegetable Farm in the Municipality of Laak to help the indigenous people make their uncultivated lands productive and profitable.

In Davao de Oro, Kennith Flor Balico, a national qualifier of the competition, has developed Tableya Spread to help cacao farmers develop their products with added value that can compete globally.

The young farmers have introduced new farming practices and ways of developing farmer’s produce.

Villamor and Salvador’s enterprise is a vineyard and vegetable farm located in Datu Davao, Laak, Davao de Oro, which is the boundary of Bukidnon and Agusan.

“What fueled us to continue our enterprise is our passion for the people. If you go there, many lands are still uncultivated. And the prices of goods are really expensive,” Salvador said.

The vineyard produces grapes that are sold for profit. However, more products such as wine and juices are underway, said Salvador.

Currently, the beneficiaries of the enterprise are the indigenous peoples from the Matigsalug tribe and Manobo Dibabawon.

“We want to help the indigenous peoples' communities. They have a vast area of uncultivated land but are unproductive. This is due to the lack of agricultural knowledge and skills,” Villamor said.

She added that the primary objective of the enterprise is to be developed into a demo farm to provide training and capacitate the locals to boost food production.

Balico, on the other hand, was inspired by the cacao farmers in Davao de Oro by helping them develop a value-added product and avoid the wastage of surplus cacao.

“Tableya spread is like localized Nutella. It is a spread for bread without any artificial preservatives,” he said.

When asked about the dwindling workforce of farmers in the country, the young Dabawenyo farmers remained hopeful that the younger generation will engage in farming.

“This is not just a competition but also we are helping the Philippines achieve food security,” Salvador said. “We want to ignite the passion of young people by creating a community of farmers...There is money in agriculture.”

Balico shared that he wants to remove the perception that Filipino farmers are poor, uneducated, and unskilled.

“Without our farmers, what will we eat and what is our future?” he said.

The young farmers were awarded on December 15 at Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. JDC