Farmers’ Training graduates form cooperatives to help supply fruits to SM stores

Just months after the completion of their training, SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers’ Training Batch 74 now helps supply fresh watermelons to SM City Cagayan De Oro (CDO) Supermarket and Savemore stores.

In October 2014, 120 farmers from Opol, Misamis Oriental graduated from their 12-week training under the KSK Program. KSK-graduate Carol Yu, who volunteered her family’s land as a demo farm for the training, initiated to organize a cooperative group among the graduates and create a sustainable livelihood. With the help of SM Foundation program partners Harbest Agribusiness, SM Food Retail Group (SM-FRG), SM City CDO as well the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Yu and most of the farmer-graduates were able to form the KSK74 Opol Farmers Association.

Diana Watermelons produced by SM Foundation KSK Batch 74 on display at the SM City CDO Supermarket

Led by Yu, the group partnered with SM-FRG supplier GreenProduce weeks after their formation. Yu offered their land again as a production farm and by March 2015, KSK74 was able to produce 1,503 kilos of Diana Watermelons which are now being sold at SM City CDO Supermarket and three other Savemore stores. The group plans to continue supplying different crops in line with SM City CDO’s Fruits of the Season every month.

Since 2007, SM Foundation’s KSK training introduces farmers to the production of high-value crops in a backyard setting. They are also taught on how to effectively market and sell their crops so that they can penetrate high-end markets.

Farmer-graduates who would like to market their crops are encouraged to form cooperative groups to help ensure that they meet production demands as a supplier.

“Equipping farmers with the right knowledge is only the beginning,” said Cristie Angeles, SM Foundation Assistant Vice President for Livelihood. “SM Foundation also supports our farmer-graduates by helping them penetrate the value chain through linking them to our suppliers or making them direct suppliers themselves.”

Aside from helping farmers generate income, the KSK Program also touches on the benefits of using backyard farming as means to secure food for the farmers’ families.

“The KSK also helps them in providing food on their table,” Angeles added. “Beyond earning, the farmers can use the fruits and vegetables they grow to provide healthy and nutritious food for their families.”