After farm destination buys palay in high prices, grateful Palawan farmers give away free rice

Published: November 28, 2019 01:25pm | PUERTO PRINCESA CITY


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Paying it forward.

Farmers in a rice-producing village in Narra, Palawan have expressed gratitude to a farm tourism destination here for fulfilling their vow to buy palay from them at higher gate price by giving away rice to neighbors.

Photo by JM ZAP

At least 21 farmers from the village of Burirao benefitted the palay buyout scheme by Yamang Bukid Farm which highlighted its campaign to help impoverished farmers in Palawan, which palay bought at double the current buying prices, according to Bro. George Maria, Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan (YBFP) vice president for community relations.

Photo by JM ZAP

“We were able to gather some 21 farmers and each of them brought with them five sacks of palay,” said Brother Maria, adding they coordinated with the local government of Narra and the Department of Agriculture in identifying small-time farmers who may want to sell their harvest.

The buyout scheme, Maria said, was the culmination of the farm attraction’s advocacy to help palay farmers adversely affected following the steep lowering of palay prices since late this year. Last month, YBFP kickstarted its campaign by launching a fun run with the aim of generating awareness and support towards the plight of palay farmers across the country.

That campaign dubbed “Run for the Farmers” generated massive support and a significant amount of money which was used for the palay-buying project.

In buying the palay, Maria said they ensured those who can benefit were really poor, lowly farmers.

“We challenged them to work hard and not view our initiative as a sort of dole-out,” said Maria.

In a simple ceremony, YBFP’s chief farmer, Totong Arceo, gave the farmer-traders inputs on organic farming “which they received overwhelmingly,” according to Maria.

“They even requested if we could come back in another time and share them more knowledge on natural way of growing crops, which we promised to do,”said the YBFP executive.

The Farm bought a total of 105 sacks of palay at P20/kilo, double the current buying price, with the milled rice given back to the farmers.

A mill owner in Narra, Norile Enriquez, agreed to give a 50-centavo/kilo discount to the farmers to have their palay husked and milled, which “helped significantly the farmers,” said Hope Alas, YBFP vice president for tourism affairs.

Upon learning of Yamang Bukid Farm’s generous offer, the farmers were ecstatic that one of them, Felix Gonzales, even gave away portions of the milled rice to his non-farming neighbors, shocking even the Yamang Bukid personnel.

“Mang Felix asked us to accompany him to his house where he repacked his milled rice and give these away to his neighbors, particularly those who do not own a farm,” recounted Maria.

Other farmers also expressed intention to share their harvest to their community, in an apparent case of “paying it forward,” said Maria.

“We are thankful to all who supported us when we started this endeavor months ago, particularly to the hundreds of individuals who ran with us and believed in our advocacy of helping raise awareness about the sorry state of Filipino farmers,” said the YBFP executive. “We are grateful that by doing business with a heart by living a life for others, we are now able to not just bring a message but enlist people who are willing to do the same mission as we’re in now, even if they come from diverse backgrounds,” Maria said.

“Our farmers now are inspired that they have us who are their allies in their effort to improve their lives through agriculture,” added Maria, a former seminarian.

(Juan Lim)

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Japanese farms offer lucrative jobs to poor Pinoy farmers

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY——A group of Japanese farmowners is inviting farmers from the Philippines to work in Japan, promising attractive compensation to mostly impoverished land tillers in the agriculture-based Southeast Asian country and help prop up Japan’s technologically-advanced farming sector now being threatened due to an aging population of farmers.

    (photo by Jennifer Milante)

    Filipino farmers are offered upwards to 100,000 yen (P48,000) as net monthly salaries by working as farm hands in agriculture-rich rural Japan, with free living and other accommodations given by employer-farmowners as additional incentives, said Sandra Moriso, a Filipino-Japanese who has been in the Land of the Rising Sun for 22 years now.
    “They are in need of young farm workers as their farming population is aging,” said Moriso.
    Rapid industrialization after rising from the rubbles of World War II brought unprecedented growth to Japan, with technology-based methods pervading even into the traditionally labor-intensive farming sector, causing a growth in productivity. Japan’s farming sector however, suffered as many well-educated youth of later generations opted to corporate and blue-collar jobs in Tokyo, Nagoya and other megacities of the island-nation, instead of becoming farmers. Moriso said Japanese have known Filipino farmers as hardworking even with limited and oftentimes obsolete farming technologies.

    The compensation offer of the Japanese to the Filipinos is significantly higher and even surpasses the monthly salaries of mid-level executives in a country where there are still people who survive with below 2 dollars (P100) as daily income.
    “Our farmers are in demand in Japan,” said Moriso, who on Sept. 21 toured with a group of farm owners and members of an agriculture cooperative in eastern Japan’s Iwate Prefecture to Yamang Bukid Farm, an emerging farm tourism destination here. At least 208 Filipinos are known to work in farms under the Agriculture Cooperative Society in Iwate alone, said Moriso.

    “They usually work in three-year contracts although they may extend it up to ten years, depending on their agreement with the farm owner,” said Moriso. “What they earn there is certainly way, way many times over than what they could have gotten as workers here.”
    The Japanese flew in from Manila and motored to Barangay Bacungan, a 30-minute drive from the city proper, to visit the 20-plus hectare Yamang Bukid Farm. They were enamored by the beautiful and fresh music and enjoyed the sights around the sprawling farm tourism site, which recently has been accredited by the governments’s Department of Agriculture—Agriculture Training Institute (DA-ATI) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

    “This place is so beautiful. The plants and the rolling hills are beautiful,” Takeshi Sasaki, chief executive officer of a vegetable farm in Iwate, said through an interpreter. The Japanese also enjoyed interacting with some of Yamang Bukid Farm’s farmer-workers and dined on local dishes.

    As a token of gratitude, the visitors gave a box of unagi pie—a sweet delicacy from Iwate—to the farm officials. As a return gesture, the Filipinos also handed jars of Yamang Bukid turmeric 10-in-1 Tea, a turmeric-based hot beverage manufactured by the farm’s parent company, Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI). “Thank you for dropping by the farm and listening to some of the stories of our farmers,” said Bro. George Maria, Yamang Bukid Farm’s vice president for community relations, himself a farmer.

    Maria said the Japanese farm owners’ offer are generous to the Filipinos, particularly now that local farmers are suffering due to cheap prices of their produce.
    “We are with you in helping our respective farmers. We employ nearly 300 farmers, most of them former illegal loggers and slash-and-burn practitioners. We give them dignified salaries and a shot at redeeming themselves from their former reputation as nature destroyers,” Maria told the Japanese.
    (JL)
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Eco-friendly resort partners with Yamang Bukid Farm to help COVID-affected families in Palawan

  • By Brittny Lourde Trinidad

    Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, an internationally acclaimed, multi-award winning resort of Sabang, Palawan, which promotes eco-conscious business practices, partners with Yamang Bukid Farm in feeding heavily affected families of COVID-19 crisis.

    The only tourist stay in the Philippines that has garnered a Level 4 Anahaw certification, an award recognized by the Department of Tourism as the first national green certification in the Philippines, Daluyon Resort, through YB, has sponsored 200 bottles of Buffalo milk to the seafaring communities in Sabang. This community consists of over 300 families with 1000 individuals. They were denied access to DOLE’s 5k assistance program, according to Teresita Austria, the BOD Chairperson of the Sabang Sea Ferry Service Multipurpose Cooperative.

    Daluyon wanted to do their part to provide relief for these localities. So, Sir Bruce Tan, CEO of Daluyon, and his people convened with Br. George Maria, VP of Public Affairs at YB Farm-Palawan, on how to further help Sabang gain food security by reaching out to those communities affected by the tourism industry’s decline.

    This establishment is a world-renowned resort part of the European Union’s project for more sustainable tourism in the Philippines. They offer various ways of clean-and-green methods, like those as simple as using refillable bottles instead of disposable sachets for their guest rooms, to state-of-the-art technology and interior design. They are situated a 15-minute boat ride away from the UNESCO world-heritage tourist destination, Puerto Princesa Underground River.

    Daluyon also conducted a meeting with Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan’s Chief Agriculturist, Sir Totong Arceo, along with their three young agriculturists, on how to develop a sustainable organic farm right within their premises by the beautiful Sabang Beach. In adapting to this pandemic and keeping their people sustained, Daluyon also hopes to help support the surrounding communities of Sabang Village, Puerto Princesa to rise from this pandemic together.

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Yamang Bukid Farm rules in Subaraw Float parade

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—-After nearly making it last year, Yamang Bukid Farm finally bagged the grand prize in the floral float parade of this year’s Subaraw Biodiversity Festival. The entry of the farm tourism destination in Barangay Bacungan was adjudged winner of the Grand Float parade that highlighted the anniversary honoring Puerto Princesa Underground River as a world heritage site for biodiversity.

    Designed by the Farm’s architects and artists using indigenous materials, the colorful and jaw-dropping eight-meter float virtually represented Palawan as a haven of biodiversity, according to Bro. George Maria, YBFP vice president for community relations. .

    “Yamang Bukid is proud of Palawan’s biodiversity. Our float embodies our call to all to help protect and preserve Mother Nature and its rich biodiversity,” Brother Maria said.

    Sitting on a Isuzu light truck, the four-by-eleven-meter float is adorned with replicas of Palawan’s natural landmarks as well as endemic and threatened species of plants and animals.

    “Our inspiration in making the float is the richness of Palawan,” said Benjie Monasque, YBFP resident architect who conceptualized and designed the contraption.

    Forming as centrepiece of the float was a huge tree from which all organisms emanated, from the black ants and honey bees to the balintong or Palawan pangolin (Manis culionensis) and tandikan or the Palawan peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis).

    “We designed the tree as the very foundation of the float so once it is disturbed or destroyed the entire contraption will fall. Much like what is in real life, when our (forests are ravaged), there will be an imbalance in biodiversity,” said Monasque, adding YBFP’s scientist-consultants provided input on the float’s overall concept and design.

    Helping put color on the float are the Farm’s resident artists J-joy Umambong and brothers Julio and Adonis Opiala.
    The float also made use of ornamental plants cultivated at the Farm such as sunflowers, amaranths, among others.

    It was bedecked with species of dapo fern (Asplenium nidus), manaog ka irog (Dischidia oiantha)—a type of hanging vine—-as well as bonsai balete (Ficus variegata) and magkuno or ironwood (Xanthosthemon verdugonianus).

    Among the Palawan landmark replicas on the float are the PPUR with several monkeys and bayawak (water monitors) guarding its mouth, and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park with butanding or whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) and sea turtles basking.

    To represent Palawan’s natural wonders as realistically as possible without violating environmental laws, Monasque said farmers who took part in building the float used painted sawdust as sands in the PPUR and Tubbataha replicas.

    “For us, winning the competition is only secondary. What is important is really about bringing the message of protecting biodiversity, that taking care of our environment is really a duty of all,” Maria, the YBFP official said.

    He said portion of the P500,000-prize will be used for medical outreach missions to indigenous people (IP) communities in Palawan during the Christmas holidays.
    Astoria Palawan resort won the second prize while BPO (business process outsourcing) firm Sitel Palawan was awarded third prize.

    Yamang Bukid Farm last year was the second prize winner, getting P300,000 cash.
    (Juan Lim)
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