SM Foundation’s Farmers’ Training: Planting seeds of Opportunity

About 200 farmers attended the launch of SM Foundation, Inc.’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers’ Training Program in Barangay San Agustin, Betis, Guagua, Pampanga. The Pampanga training marks SM Foundation’s 81st batch and its first KSK training in 2015. Trainees for this batch include residents of the nearby community of Villa Santiago, a residential area for marginalized families, as well as small-scale farmers from neighboring barangays and municipalities.

KSK graduate inspires fellow farmers to ‘dream big’

During the event, Nestor Garcia, a graduate of the KSK program in 2008, shared how his journey in creating a better future for his family did not just end in his graduation but continued well after his training.

“We shouldn’t stop at just learning,” Nestor said in the vernacular, as he faced the crowd of eager farmers during the launch. “Instead, let us be diligent in applying what we have learned.”

Fondly called as “chairman” by fellow farmers, Nestor is the president of the Lambak Vegetable Growers Association in Pampanga, a cooperative group he and his fellow KSK graduates formed after completing their training. Excited to apply what they have learned in their own field, the group pooled together their resources to build a communal farm.

After a few months, the group was already supplying vegetables to local branches of a well-known fast-food chain. Today, the group supplies produce to public markets in Region III.

Nestor was also able to support his family and send his five children to college through his farming.

He added, “Let’s make our families and our children inspire us to persevere in life, especially in our farming. In our line of work, not only are we able to put food on our own table but we are also able to support our family financially.”

Cristie Angeles, SM Foundation Assistant Vice President for livelihood, shared that the KSK Farmer’s Training started as a personal initiative by the SM patriarch, Henry Sy, Sr.

“‘Tatang’ has always encouraged people to ‘dream big’, despite their circumstances in life,” Angeles said. “The KSK Program was formed through his vision of helping the Filipino farmers in creating a better life for themselves through self-sustainable methods.

The KSK Farmers’ Training Program is SM Foundation’s flagship program for its livelihood advocacy. Since 2007, it has equipped numerous farmers with knowledge in doable agricultural methods and technology and skills in entrepreneurship and marketing. The KSK is supported by its program partner Harbest Agribusiness in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and local government units.

To date, the farmers’ training program has trained over 10,080 farmers from 1,657 barangays in 479 municipalities and cities in the country. For 2015, SM Foundation targets to conduct 17 KSK trainings nationwide.