Yamang Bukid Farm to join Asean agri-biz workshop

Published: February 17, 2020 01:25pm | PUERTO PRINCESA CITY


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Yamang Bukid Farm will represent the Philippines in an international young leaders’ workshop on agriculture in Laos next month.

Photo by JM ZAP

Hope Alas, Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan vice president for tourism, is among the six Filipinos participating in the YSEALI Agri-Business Incubator Workshop in the southwestern Laotian province of Champasak.

Funded by the US State Department, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) seeks to engage with emerging young leaders in Asean who could cooperate across borders to solve common problems in agriculture, among others.

The five-day workshop which starts March 2 will gather 50 young leaders from the 10-member Asean states and Timor-Leste focused on identifying and developing sustainable agri-business opportunities in the region.

“The incubator-style workshop will teach participants how to apply Design Thinking, Lean Startup methodologies and disciplined entrepreneurship through rigorous evidence-based, action-oriented learning to help them recognize opportunities and learn how to build sustainable enterprises than can deliver innovative value in the agriculture sector,” the Yseali said on its website.

This event, according to Alas will be an opportunity to showcase not only Yamang Bukid Farm, but the province of Palawan as well as the entire Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) region.

Photo by JM ZAP

“I’m grateful for getting in this fellowship. It will give me an opportunity and a wider audience to share about agri-tourism and how we do it here in Yamang Bukid,” said the 27-year old former instructor at Palawan State University.

In her nearly a year with Yamang Bukid Farm, Alas said she realized that “farming is never easy and we should highly value them.”

“I value my food more because I now realize the huge sacrifices our farmers are doing to produce the food that I eat,” she said.

“I’m more fuelled to work harder and advocate more on helping the farmers in our country,” she added.

Alas has been known as among the faces of the sprawling farm tourism destination in Barangay Bacungan, among Palawan’s most-visited.

The former educator who now considers herself a farmer is Yamang Bukid Farm’s chief advocate, especially on the Farm’s efforts on sustainable agriculture and biodiversity protection and conservation.

Photo by JM ZAP

“Without agriculture, tourism is also nothing. One of the reasons why people visit places is about food, specialty delicacies and like that. That’s agriculture,” Alas stressed.

“If there’s no agriculture when you visit an area, you have nothing to eat. Tourism is therefore affected. Tourism and agriculture are a team,” she added.

The amiable farm tourism advocate is among the principal movers of various advocacy campaigns by Yamang Bukid Farm, including last year’s Subaraw Biodiversity Festival in which the Farm bagged the grand prize of the float parade.

Alas also spearheaded the holding of various campaigns for the benefit of farmers and the environment.

(Juan Lim)

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Yamang Bukid Farm draws over 254,000 visitors in 2019

  • Yamang Bukid Farm is among the most visited tourism destinations in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, drawing over a quarter of a million guests last year, government data released recently revealed.

    At least 254, 449 local and foreign tourists visited the 20-hectare farm tourism destination in Barangay Bacungan in 2019, according to a report Friday by online Palawan News.

    Citing data released by the city government, the report said Yamang Bukid Farm placed fourth in the list of the most popular destinations for tourists in tourism-magnet Puerto Princesa.

    Topping the list is Baker’s Hill, a privately-run hilltop destination in Sta. Monica village where popular Palawan delicacies and other pasalubong (souvenir) are sold. It attracted some 630, 455 visitors last year.

    The UNESCO-heritage site Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) came in second with 331, 356 visitors. Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center was third, logging in 272, 881 guests.

    Rounding up the top five is Luli Island resort off Honday Bay, drawing at least 144,965 tourists.
    Yamang Bukid, a two-year old sprawling farm has been popular among tourists for its well-manicured flower gardens and delicacies such as sumbulo—a saccharine glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo and flavored with health and wellness herbs—among others.

    The Farm has some 300 employees, more than 90 percent of whom are former illegal loggers and tree poachers.

    It is also an advocate of sustainable and organic agriculture. Last year, Yamang Bukid Farm, has embarked in a partnership with Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in teaching modern farming methods and technology to the grassroots in Bacungan and nearby communities.
    (JL)
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Working mom strives to send husband to school

  • She symbolizes the changing role of a modern woman. Like most mothers, Arlyn Villawala prioritizes her family above else. That’s why it was painful to her to leave home for months, away from her husband and their baby daughter to prepare for the licensure exams for agriculturists.

    “I could not help but cry when I hear her voice over the mobile phone every time I call home. I terribly miss them,” Arlyn said, holding back tears during an interview at the University of the Philippines Los Banos recently.

    Arlyn, an employee of farm-tourism destination Yamang Bukid Farm in Puerto Princesa City Palawan, and fellow employee Daniel John Zabala, are sent by their employer to the UPLB for the rigorous months-long review, preparing them for the biggest day of their careers yet.

    A graduate of agricultural economics at Palawan State University (PSU) in Puerto Princesa, Arlyn is a young aspiring agriculturist who used to work for the city government.

    Among her tasks was to conduct surveys in the city’s villages in relation to the local government’s programs. During one of those trips, she dropped by the Farm, observed and learned how the former community of illegal loggers there was transformed into nature lovers with the introduction of the farm.

    Before long, Arlyn joined her colleagues at the city government who worked at the farm. “I was given an offer I could not resist,” she said in Filipino. “The pay was good and the working environment was perfect for me who loves farming.”

    At the farm, Arlyn is assigned in helping oversee the sprawling estate’s vegetable, herbal and ornamental gardens. She is among the farm’s young agriculture experts who teach former illegal loggers the scientific way of farming and of conserving nature. Her good pay is not only helping meet her family’s basic needs but it afforded her the luxury of paying for her husband’s school.

    Working as a mall security guard during the day, Arlyn’s husband goes to school at night, taking up criminology at one of the city’s private colleges. “I’m working for them. Even if it’s hard to be away from my little girl, I’ll just bear it,” Arlyn said.

    Due to their tight review schedule, she can only call her husband and daughter at least once a week.

    She said she would persevere so her husband can finish his schooling, adding she was very proud and happy when he told her of his desire to go to college. Arlyn was grateful to Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI), parent company of Yamang Bukid Farm, for the support it extended for their review. Aside from review fees, the wellness products manufacturer also shouldered their food, board and lodging and other expenses.

    She said she would try to make most of the time in the review to learn as much as she could and get herself well-prepared for the board exams. “I will give my best to pass in the board exams. This is for my family. They are my inspiration,” she said.
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YB Farm’s Evolution

  • The Yamang Bukid farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan was initially intended to be a turmeric plantation, but later it evolved into a place for relaxation for eager tourists and weary travelers, and a habitat to wild, endemic species of animals and insects and flowering plants in the area.

    Baguio City-based Yamang Bukid Healthy Products, Inc. started the farm in Barangay Bacungan Princesa a little over two years ago to produce turmeric. It was an initially 1.2-hectare tract of unproductive land that was supposed to be dedicated to turmeric farm.

    But it has since evolved into a diverse habitat of local fauna and flora, even as it began to be known as a farm-tourism destination, especially after the Tourism Department granted it an accreditation.

    As it burst into a cool idyllic sight, the farm soon caught the attention of everyone – from curious passers-by to wide-eyed tourists and travelers -- as it transformed into an agro-forestry showcase, an ideal place for people, families, and friends to be in commune with nature —free of any charge.

    With this exciting development, the farm's initiators saw another opportunity not only to expand their venture but also broaden the help they are giving back to the community and the environment.
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