SM Foundation welcomed 261 farmers from Cebu into livelihood program

SM Foundation welcomed 261 farmers and Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries from Daanbantayan and Bantayan Island in Cebu to its Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers’ Training Program last August 27 and 28.

Cristie Angeles, SM Foundation’s Assistant Vice President for Livelihood, said that the Foundation has chosen to bring its farmers’ training program to Cebu to help residents who lost their source of income in last year’s Yolanda disaster.

“Due to the destruction brought by Typhoon Yolanda, most of the residents’ primary sources of income—fishing and fruit-bearing trees (banana and coconut)—incurred heavy damages. Many are left without a livelihood,” Angeles said.

Cebu was one of the areas devastated during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in 2013. Yolanda’s destructive trail left 103,000 families displaced and caused over Php 4.1 billion worth of damages to Cebu’s infrastructure, crops, and livelihood.

On August 27, the Foundation launched its 77th KSK training in Daanbantayan, a coastal town 130 km north of Cebu City proper. The event was attended by 133 participants from Barangay Pajo and its neighboring communities. The following day, SM Foundation welcomed 128 farmer-beneficiaries to its 78th KSK batch in Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island in cooperation with the Philippine Geothermal Production Corporation. Both KSK training is scheduled to run once a week until December.

SM Foundation’s KSK Farmers’ Training Program is expected to help create more livelihood opportunities in the province of Cebu. Most of the participants who joined the program are new to vegetable and fruit farming but expressed their interest in learning new skill sets to increase their income.

Since 2007, SM Foundation’s KSK Farmers’ Training has been empowering marginalized farmers through training on doable agricultural technology in producing high-value crops such as vegetables and fruits. For 12 weeks, farmers are taught land preparation, seedling selections and propagation, effective microorganism, trellis installation, pruning, pest control, and harvesting. Participants will also experience growing fruits and vegetables on a 5,000 sqm demo farm. As a culminating activity, the farmers attend a Harvest Festival where they are given a chance to participate in a Buyer’s Forum with the SM Food Group and their suppliers.

SM Foundation’s Farmers’ Training program is in collaboration with Harbest Agribusiness, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and local government units.

Aside from Cebu, the Foundation has conducted livelihood training in other Yolanda-stricken areas. This year, a total of 10 KSK farmer trainings have been implemented in Aklan, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Samar.

Other rehabilitation efforts for Yolanda-stricken areas include rebuilding the Tacloban City Hospital and the Tabontabon Rural Health Center Annex in Leyte as well as plans to build five more rural health centers before the year ends. Along with this, the Foundation has already conducted 12 medical missions in areas struck by Yolanda. The Foundation is also constructing two 2-storey, 10-classroom school buildings in Hernani, Eastern Samar with eight other school buildings scheduled to be built in Cebu, Leyte, Iloilo, Aklan, and Capiz, and Cadiz for a total of 56 classrooms. Finally, under its SM Cares division, the Foundation targets to construct 1,000 disaster-resilient houses in Visayas for those whose homes were destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda.