SM Foundation rolls out more farmers’ trainings for 2015

SM Foundation started conducting its farmers’ training program in six areas for the second half of 2015. The program targets to train over 700 additional farmers in sustainable backyard farming by the end of the year for a total of over 2,000 farmer-graduates for 2015.

More farmers expected to be trained in new and doable agri-methods by the end of year

Since 2007, SM Foundation and program partner Harbest Agribusiness Corporation have been helping farmers improve both the quality and quantity of their produce through its sustainable agriculture program Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) farmers’ training. For 12-weeks, participants are taught new and doable agricultural technology and methods through modular lectures and hands-on training on high-value crops.

Around 20 to 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables are grown by the participants in their 5,000 sqm demo farm. Crops produced at KSK trainings include bitter gourd, bottle gourd (upo), corn, cucumber, eggplant, finger chili (siling pangsigang), honeydew melon, luffa (patola), lettuce, squash, tomato, and yellow and green Diana watermelon, among others. Crops are chosen in consideration of each location’s topography and type of soil and can easily be grown right in their own backyards.

“During every training launch, we emphasize to the farmers that the core of this training is for them to be able to provide food for their family,” Cristie Angeles, SM Foundation Assistant Vice President for Livelihood, said. “They can even sell the rest of their produce for additional income for their family.”

Farmers are also taught on how to effectively market and sell their crops in a way where they can penetrate high-end markets. To aid this, SM Foundation has partnered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development which conducts sessions in social entrepreneurship, basic accounting and values formation, and the Department of Agriculture for additional training inputs and materials.

“For 2015, SM Foundation targets to conduct its 100th KSK Training by the end of the year,” said Angeles. “That will bring our total KSK farmer-graduates to 13,000 by December.”

Each year, SM Foundation trains over 1,000 farmers in different areas nationwide. In 2014, SM Foundation included additional trainings in Yolanda (international name: Haiyan)-affected locations, and was able to produce 2,798 farmer-graduates.

As of August 2015, SM Foundation has already trained 11,562 farmers nationwide since the program started in 2007. Some of the KSK program’s previous graduates have already formed cooperative groups and are currently supplying fresh produce through SM Food Group’s wholesalers.

For the second half of 2015, KSK trainings will be in Davao (Tagum), Isabela (Cauayan), Pangasinan (Laoag), Iloilo (Iloilo City), Negros Occidental (Canlaon), Iligan (Iligan City).