Iloilo farmer sees new tomorrow in agribusiness


Iloilo City farmerand KSK alumna Rita Soltis

Many passionate and devoted farmers continue to explore ways to address the age-old challenge of making agriculture a viable livelihood. They continue to seek ways to improve efficiency and yield as they play a key role not only in the country's economy but also in securing access to fresh, nutritious produce for all Filipinos.

SM farmer-beneficiary Rita Soltis reaps the fruits of the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan training program with a bountiful harvest.

Putting focus on empowering farmers through education, SM Foundation, the social good arm of the SM Group, conducts its Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan program, reaching out to low-income farmers across the country. 

Since its inception in 2007, it has introduced modern farming techniques to roughly 30,000 farmers, including Rita Soltis of Iloilo City.

Eager to learn and earn

Soltis, a long-time crops farmer, has always strived to hone her agricultural expertise. Through years of experience, she's struggled to navigate the intricacies of the agricultural business and mitigate the impact of unforeseen challenges—from weather to pests—by planting watermelon and vegetables during off-season for their family’s consumption.

Aside from palay, Rita plants vegetables, which she sells in local markets and SM’s weekend market.

“Palay lang po ‘yung una kong tinatanim... Dati po ay hindi kami masyadong nagtatanim ng gulay, sapat lang para sa amin,” she said.

Seeking new opportunities, she completed KSK's 14-week training: “Gusto ko pong magkaroon ng bagong oportunidad para matuto sa farming at lalo na sa marketing kaya nagkainteres po akong sumali sa programang KSK ng SM Foundation.”

Through KSK, she learned modern farming techniques, mechanization, and wise investment strategies.

“Natuto kami ng tamang budgeting, pag-iipon ng kita, pagpa-plano kung saan-saan ilalaan ang kita, at pagbasa ng demand ng market... Sabi nga ni Tatang, ‘Recognize the opportunity,’” she added.

Expanding her business, she founded "Dorime Garden," offering various vegetables for sale and creating job opportunities.

Rita now harvests various vegetables in her garden—from chilis to eggplants.

Since completing KSK in 2023, Soltis's efforts have borne fruit. This year, she successfully harvested 50 kilograms of eggplants, marketed effectively through local and weekend markets at SM Supermalls. Establishing her garden has not only expanded her business but also provided community members with livelihood opportunities.

“Ngayon, may kaakibat nang kaalaman ang bawat desisyon na aming gagawin... Sa tulong din po ng Weekend Market ng SM, kami po ay nakakapagbenta ng harvest sa bigger market, kung saan maraming tao,” she proudly shared.