It all started with a call from Ms. Alyannah Lagasca, the President of the Empower Alumni Community saying that they have slots through Keep Hope Alive (KHA) for interested attendees of the Leaders and Entrepreneurs in Agriculture Forum (LEAF) 2018 powered by Agrea Philippines, that the Team ALAB took their chances of joining and winning the Young Agri-preneurs pitch last September 30, 2018 in Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City.
ALAB, a group of young promising leaders namely: Domyson A. Abuan, Krizelle S. de la Cruz, Julie Ana L. Pizarro, Ma. Elaine Joy P. Quidato and Angela M. Villareal are all from batch 2016 and alumni under the Teach for the Philippines, Inc. (TFP), a non-profit, for-purpose Non-Government Organization that envisions ‘quality and relevant education for all Filipino learners’.
Just like a fire, their passion for education never died down despite finishing the course of the public school teaching last April 2018. In fact, it got even more ablaze as they have found a platform of translating their leadership and teaching skills in creating a yet transformative program that will lead youth to the most critical sector of the society: agriculture.
Originally formed during the Empower 2.1 Camp entitled Agri-preneurship and Livelihood Summit last May 8-11, 2018 in Oriental Mindoro organized by the Empower Advocacy Camps with Ms. Lagasca and supported by Keep Hope Alive (KHA) led by Mr. Shernan Gamol, they have since been connected to make the program feasible in their target site—Del Carmen, Siargao—where their colleagues Kriz and Elaine were placed for their Ambassadorship Program which is still a program under TFP. Attended by more than a hundred participants from around the Philippines, Team ALAB had the chance to have a wider grasp of the agriculture realities through the wide range of speakers and exposures from such sector. They were also introduced to programs and activities initiated by different persons and organizations to which AGREA has been further elaborated by Mr. Rafael Seño, its Director of Rapport and Communications.
CENTER STAGE. Ma. Elaine Quidato presents their innovative young agripreneur's pitch which aims to provide an inclusive agricultural program to the youth through continuous and sustainable Developmental Leadership Sessions with focus on Leadership, Agriculture, Community and Entrepreneurship (LACE).
Chances versus Everything Else
It was never an easy journey for these young agri-movers. Since they all come from different locations of the country—Isabella, Metro Manila, Laguna and Cagayan de Oro—and different walks of life—teacher, engineer, biologist—literally they needed to meet half-way to deal with their distances and limitations no matter how unfriendly the chances may be.
First chance they took as a challenge was to travel all the way from wherever they were to Mindoro, a place they have never been to before. Riding with nothing but high hopes that they will arrive in the venue safe and sound, they got into a van and RORO transportation in the middle of the night. And their unique experience has marked even until now with their realizations on agriculture and with the friends they have solidified.
Second chance, was the current one: the LEAF 2018. The call was Friday and the event was on Saturday to Sunday where they needed to prepare for a pitch for the Young Agripreneur’s Pitch Competition. Now that they have been deployed to different parts of the globe—yes, they have gone global—Metro Manila, Siargao and Japan. Therefore, it was impossible to easily gather all the five just like the Power Rangers ready to conquer their adversaries. With nothing but high hopes to share the program they have created to a crowd of leaders and agripreneurs, their members from Siargao swept barriers that tried to block their way: impossible airfare ticket prices, long distances, limited financial resort , and most especially uncertainty, in order to make the voice of Agri-Youth be heard in the international arena.
Along with their former co-teacher’s daughter, Nina Marie Talaro, who has become part of the glowing flames of ALAB, they took their chance on stage, shared their vision of agri-youth as the agri-movers and gave everything they have brought with them all the way from the Siargao Islands. And so history happened—they have become one of two recipients of the PHP 50,000.00 seed fund from the New Zealand Embassy and a Mentorship Program with no other than AGREA Philippines.
The journey is yet over
‘A chance to remember,’ this is how Team ALAB summarizes their venture with the events that have come to pass in less a year.
“There are still more to come, and we are going to conquer them, still as a team. And now that we are growing, with the presence of Nina who is an Agricultural Engineering graduate, we can have a better understanding of how agriculture works in the eyes of a ‘legit’ agriculturist,” says by a member of the team.
“More so, we would look into details on how we can maximize the resources we have to further implement and sustain the Agri-Youth Program not only in Siargao, but hopefully, in other partner agricultural LGUs in the future,” claims Elaine.
With the seed of passion, watered with hope and cultivated by action, Team ALAB has rooted their beginnings with the support of their communities and now, some tiny leaves are shooting out of their stem. It’s still a long process for these young, promising leaders to fully bloom their tree of hope for their fellow-youth, but for now, they will continue to nourish their soil of platform by establishing strong partnerships to organizations that serve the same purpose. One of which is the Empower Advocacy Camps led by Ms. Alyannah Lagasca whose aim is to provide platforms for the youth in making their advocacies a reality.
The Winning Pitch
Agri-Youth Program is currently the youth arm of the Municipal Agriculture and Fishery Office of the Local Government Unit of Del Carmen which aims to provide an inclusive agricultural program to the youth through continuous and sustainable Developmental Leadership Sessions with focus on Leadership, Agriculture, Community and Entrepreneurship (LACE). Currently, college students from the Surigao State College of Technology (SSCT) and the Sangguniang Kabataan members are the key role players in this program.
Students that come from wide range of courses like agriculture, HRM, IT and Education were gathered together to be a community of agri-movers that are equipped with leadership, technical, and entrepreneurial skills which they could utilize to inspire and lead other youth to be involved in agriculture.
It has three key strands that were knitted together to develop the agri-leaders in the agri-youth:
- Agri-Youth Sessions composed of Regular on-campus LACE sessions with the SSCT students, Continuous Youth-led and Community-Based Agricultural projects, Strong and sustainable partnerships and opportunities to strength the LACE skills of the Agri-Youth and farm trips and exposures;
- Agri-Youth Model Farm that focuses on Model Farm creation of 1.846 hectare land provided by a private partner, Develop the Model Farm into an Agri-Tourism Farm, Generate fund for the Agri-Youth and the and Community Provide excellent agricultural trainings to the community; lastly,
- Agri-Community that aims to Organize Agricultural Research Symposium, Camps and Sessions that would widen the Agri-Youth influence, Send the youth to leadership and agricultural opportunities that would even strengthen their agri-moves, Develop an agricultural facility that would aid the Agri-Youth in their technical, scientific, research-based and practical skills.
Chances and challenges accepted
“‘Marami pa kaming kakaining bigas,’ this is what people would usually say to young risk takers like us. And yes, they are right. With all the rice that we need to eat, we dedicate to our students, agri-youth, fellow-youth, family, friends and self for us not to forget that what we do is more than just an advocacy but rather a commitment to better ourselves as we want our communities to be,” says Krizelle.
Right now, Team ALAB is taking on their next chances of creating partnerships that would help them stay on-ground with their purpose as the main true north on making ripples of changes in their target participants.
“The challenge now is to make Agri-Youth take on the small steps that will lead it to big ones and the big steps to giant ones,” says the Team ALAB.
With all the walls and rubbles that blocked their way, with all the stumbles and uncertainties, Team ALAB never veered away from their objective: help youth leaders grow to their fullest potential: one leaf at a time.
Young Filipino agritechs win P50k seed fund
POWERHOUSE PITCH PANEL. Our Young Agripreneurs Pitch contestants presented their agri projects to a global panel of judges: Johan Janssens, web architect and tech entrepreneur; Dr. William Dar, President of InangLupa Movement; Indradi Soemardjan, Director of Anapana Pte Ltd (Singapore and Indonesia); and Ivy Almario, AGREA Board of Director.
Young Agripreneurs Pitch
Team ALAB is one of two winning teams with an innovative project for agriculture at the Young Agripreneurs Pitch Competition during the inaugural Leaders and Entrepreneurs in Agriculture Forum (LEAF) 2018 in Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay from 29-30 September 2018. The team won Fifty Thousand Pesos (Php 50,000) as agro-enterprise seed fund courtesy of the New Zealand Embassy.
LEAF2018 is presented by AGREA, in partnership with ASEAN Agriculture Summit, Go Negosyo, Forest Foundation Philippines, Corteva Agriscience, New Zealand Embassy, TAEL Partners, Jollibee Group Foundation, San Miguel Corporation, Globe CSR, Landbank, Philippine Airlines, and When in Manila.
WIN FOR THE YOUTH. (Front L-R) Cherrie Atilano, AGREA President, Founding Farmer, and CEO; Team ALAB members Ma. Elaine Joy P. Quidato, Nina Mae Talaro, and mentor Einstein Rojas. (Back L-R) AGREA intern Lorenzo Almario; His Excellency David Strachan, New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines; Indradi Soemardjan, Director of Anapana Pte Ltd (Singapore and Indonesia), Ivy Almario, AGREA Board of Director; Johan Janssens, web architect and tech entrepreneur; and Dr. William Dar, President of InangLupa Movement.