Farming opportunities at Tagaytay Highlands

Nestled in between luxurious green lawns and posh residential units of Belle Corporation’s Tagaytay Highlands is a 5,000 square meter of open land where 102 graduating Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan farmers proudly showcase the fruits of their 12-week training under SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers Training Program. This 111th KSK training is done in partnership with Belle Kaagapay, Belle Corporation’s social responsibility arm.

On August 30, the season-long training will culminate with a Harvest Festival, a staple among SM Foundation’s KSK training. Here, farmers gather their latest crops and celebrate their bountiful harvest with fellow KSK farmers, trainers, project partners as well as their benefactors.

“This is the first time we’ve partnered with SM Foundation for their KSK program,” Michelle Hernandez, Belle Corporation’s Vice President for Governance and Corporate Affairs said. “We are very excited to move forward with this project as we plan to magnify this by creating livelihood opportunities for our farmers by including them in Tagaytay Highland’s supply chain.”

According to Hernandez, they requested the program trainers to teach the farmers certain varieties of crops, more specifically lettuce and sweet corn, which are commonly used in dishes served at Tagaytay Highlands.

She added that the training is hoped to spark a more active partnership with the community by making the farmers full-time suppliers in the future as well as connect them to other potential buyers in the area.

Livelihood however, is just one aspect of the KSK program.

Since 2007, SM Foundation’s KSK program has also been addressing important social challenges such as food security by teaching participants updated and doable farming methods which they can replicate in their own backyards.

“During each KSK training launch, we tell our farmers that the core of this training is for them to be able to provide food for their family,” SM Foundation Assistant Vice President for Livelihood Cristie Angeles said. “After they have fed their families, they can sell the rest of their produce for additional income.”

Angeles added, “What we are providing these farmers are not simply livelihood or food on the table but opportunities—opportunities which they can use to create a better life for themselves.”

The KSK program is conducted in partnership with Harbest Agribusiness Corporation and is in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local government units.

To date, SM Foundation has already trained over 14,000 farmers nationwide since the program started in 2007.