Tacloban survivors find new opportunities through farming

Almost two years after Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) devastated the Visayas region, survivors in Tacloban still struggle to rebuild their lives, more specifically their livelihood. As a continued effort to help rehabilitate the area, SM Foundation recently concluded its 90th Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan training in Sta. Elena, Tacloban, training 167 farmers, from 15 barangays, in effective and sustainable agriculture.

For 12 weeks, the farmers were taught on proper planting and harvesting procedures and were also introduced to the latest farming methods and technologies. To cap off the training, a harvest festival was held to showcase their bountiful harvest.

The harvest festival was held on a 7-hectare land owned by UP Tacloban which was also used as a demo farm during the training. After graduation, UP Tacloban continued its support to the farmers by allowing them to grow their crops in two hectares of the land UP Tacloban owns.

A Buyer’s Forum was also held afterwards where the farmers were given the chance to interact with the SM Food Group represented by Savemore Merchandising Manager Rizan Leoligao, and SM Savemore suppliers Louiem Oballo (vegetables) and Mikan Sy (fruits) to learn more about marketing and production procedures in selling their crops. They were also given the chance to sell their produce on-site.

Since 2007, SM Foundation’s agricultural development program Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan or ‘Partners in Livelihood’ has been helping small-scale farmers establish self-sufficiency and food security through teaching them effective backyard farming. It also imparts sufficient knowledge on how to properly market surplus crops for added income.

To date, SM Foundation has already conducted 90 trainings, benefitting 11,329 farmers from 1,830 barangays nationwide. By the end of 2015, SM Foundation targets to complete its 100th batch of trainees, for a projected total of 13,000 farmer-graduates.

Here are some of the farmer-graduates:

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“Formosa watermelons are the sweetest,” Farmer Lope Leonido said during the harvest festival as he shows off the fruits of his 12-week training under the KSK program.

Leonido expressed his joy in being able to take part of the KSK training program. Father to 11 kids, he now feels more confident that he can properly provide food on the table for his entire family.

Housewife and mother to nine children, Julia Malinao wanted to help support her husband who works as a farmer by taking part in the KSK program. She said that everything she learned from the 12-week program, she shared with him.

Aside from growing eggplant, tomato, and banana in their backyard, they’ve also started planting sweet corn.

Malinao proudly said that after only 70 days into the program, their income increased to as much as Php 3,000.

Magdelina Oquino has four children. With her husband working as a construction worker, she wanted to look for other opportunities to help with the family’s expenses. Through the KSK Program, Oquino was able to start planting sweet corn and earned a gross income of Php 20K just after 70 days.

Through her earnings, Oquino was able to recently enroll her child in college at East Visayas State University.

KSK graduate Julio Olino proudly showed guests how to select good-quality honeydew for selling.

Olino shares that his family of eight benefits from his backyard harvest of string beans, eggplants, sweet corn, and honeydew.

Ben Indic, the father of 3 kids, expressed his gratitude to SM Foundation and Harbest for the knowledge imparted to him through the KSK training.

He aims to harvest bell peppers, ampalaya, and eggplant by August of this year. He added that he is very lucky to have his carabao to help him in his farming.