Trailblazing Sustainable Farming in Negros Occidental

102 farmers from the municipality of Don Salvador Benedicto joined the sustainable farming revolution in Negros Occidental. They recently completed SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers’ Training Program where they were taught sustainable agricultural methods to help improve the quality and quantity of their produce.

A few years back, Negros Occidental embraced sustainable farming and has exceeded its goal to convert 10,000 hectares into sustainable farmlands. The local government allotted about half a hectare to the partner People’s Organization (PO) to serve as their demo farm. At the end of the 12-week training, the farmers harvested watermelon, lettuce, patola (gourd), onion, squash and ampalaya (bitter gourd).

“Matamis ang amon nga produkto (Our fruit produce are very sweet),” shared Rodger Rebatado, Chairman of the partner PO.

The said PO association is hopeful to become a formal cooperative in the near future. In time, the farmers hope to have enough members and produce enough volume to supply to the nearby markets or even contribute to third party suppliers of SM.

SM Foundation also works in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to help closely monitor the farmers and provide follow up mentoring. Moreover, under DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program, participants who are part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program receive additional support after the training.

“After graduation we organize sustainable farming associations,” shared Fernando Alabado, DSWD Provincial Coordinator for Sustainable Livelihood Program in Negros Occidental. “Just like we did in the other batch in Murcia, here in Negros, we provided them a seed capital of Php360,000.” DSWD also provides additional training support particularly in bookkeeping and marketing.

Incidentally, the SM Foundation KSK Farmers’ Training program was first launched in Negros Occidental at Barangay Handumanan, Bacolod City in 2007. Since then, milestones have been achieved in the promotion of sustainable agriculture in the province.

Barangay Handumanan Kagawad Nene Baya was a participant of KSK’s batch 98 farmers’ training program last year. He applied all that he learned by setting up a vegetable garden on a 347 square meter lot, which is now the source of the ingredients for their barangay feeding program. Their project was recognized as one of the best sustainable farming projects in the province.

The SM Foundation 12-week KSK Farmers’ Training Program concluded with a graduation ceremony held at the SMX Convention Center in Bacolod City. “Nagapasalamat gid kami sang dako sa inyong tanan sa programang ito (We would like to thank all of you for this program),” shared Dolores Ceralbo, one of the participants.

This is the 118th batch of SM Foundation’s KSK Farmers’ Training conducted nationwide. The program helps farmers attain food security and also provide additional source of income for their families.