70th SM Farmers’ Training Program Launched in Guiuan, Eastern Samar

Calamity-stricken Guiuan, Eastern Samar and Tanauan, Leyte are the latest venues of SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers’ Training Program.

SM Foundation’s 70th batch of the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers Training Program was welcomed last March 31, 2014 in Brgy. Cogon, Guiuan, Eastern Samar with 100 participants from the barangays Cogon, Timala, Mayana, Banaag, Banahao, Cantahay, Bagua, Lupok, Hagna, Tagporo, Surok, Cagusu-an, Alingarog, and Camparang as well as nearby municipalities of Mercedes and Salcedo.

Guiuan is one of the municipalities in Region VIII badly affected by typhoon Yolanda, which destroyed their main means of livelihood – farming and fishing. To help in their recovery, SM Foundation brought the KSK Program to teach farmers self-sustainable means while their areas are being rehabilitated. In partnership with Harbest Agribusiness Corporation, KSK introduced advanced technology on the production of fruits, vegetables and high-value crops, and as well as imparted entrepreneurial skill to the farmers.

The Department of AgricultureDepartment of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units were tapped to make the program successful and sustainable.

Another KSK program was also launched in Tanauan, Leyte. Farmers from Brgy. Pago in Tanauan and Barugo, Leyte started their 12-week hands-on training on the cultivation of high value crops, and fruits & vegetable farming.

This in turn will provide livelihood opportunities for the farmers inasmuch as the coconut farms & rice paddies in the area were completely devastated by the typhoon. Copra and palay are their main means of livelihood. According to Cristie Angeles, SM Foundation’s Assistant Vice President for Livelihood, 127 farmers from 50 neighboring barangays in Tanauan and 11 farmers from Barugo, Leyte attended the launch and orientation program given by Harbest’s President, Toto Barcelona.

Started in 2007, the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers’ Training Program is a dual technology training in high-value crops in vegetable and fruit farming intended to provide updated agricultural technology to participants thereby empowering them, not only to earn more income but also to be self-sufficient. The training is funded by the SM Foundation. Its program partner, Harbest Agribusiness Corporation, provides manpower and agriculture specialists who impart modern techniques in farming in the lecture sessions. The seedlings used in the actual training are also provided by Harbest while the demo farm is from the local government.

Capacity building and entrepreneurial skills are also incorporated in the training. The program includes provision for market linkages in cooperation with SM Food Group and Supermalls, the Department of Agriculture, DSWD, local government units, and NGOs.

Many of the farmers who finish the training program replicate what they learn in their own farm lots. To meet the increased demand for their produce, some farmers have formed cooperatives. Others have ventured into agribusiness, becoming regular suppliers to supermarkets.