Articles, Entrepreneurship, Food & Travel

Agribusiness: Food Insecurity’s Silver Lining


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#MUNIonthis: Even in the “information age”, where news from across the world can arrive to us in just a matter of seconds, we still know so little about the production of our society’s most basic commodity–food.

Despite being an agricultural country, with roughly 32% of our land still used as agricultural land, many of us don’t even know all of the vegetables mentioned in the song Bahay Kubo. Apparently, the new generations of rural Filipinos aren’t so different either. They are losing interest in agriculture and seeing it as a ‘dirty job’.

Good Food Community at the Muni Market Day
Good Food Community at Muni Market Day

As such, many of them are starting to look for employment in other sectors or in urban areas. The share of agriculture in total employment was on a steady decline. From 2011’s 33%, it went down to 31% by 2013. With the average Filipino farmer nearing the mandatory retirement age of 60, the lack of interest in agriculture poses a threat to the country’s food security. If the new generations choose not to go into farming, who will be left to feed the growing population?

Agribusiness: Change mindsets, Change lives

Ryan Aguas of BKO explaining the Hydroponics system
Ryan Aguas of Bahay Kubo Organics explaining the Aquaponics system at Muni Market Day

According to entrepreneurs, “Inside every problem, lies an opportunity”. If we change our mindset and follow this way of thinking, we could find profitable and sustainable solutions to societal problems. Because of the problems mentioned earlier, agriculture is seen as a dying venture. On the other hand, the lack of people to supply a constant and growing demand seems like a perfect opportunity to earn.

Contrary to popular belief, an agribusiness does not necessarily require loads of capital and years of agricultural training. Desiree Duran, a former fishball vendor and current owner of an agri-tourism farm in Bulacan, started her business with seeds and a garbage area behind her house. Bahay Kubo Organics (BKO) runs a less conventional urban and organic farm that runs on aquaponics systems–a food production method that combines aquaculture with hydroponics.

Tsaa Laya at the Muni Market Day
Tsaa Laya at Muni Market Day

While running a farm is a natural option for agribusiness, it isn’t the only one there. Good Food Community supports organic farmers by giving them access to the market through Community Shared Agriculture. Speakers for the upcoming July Muni Meetup, Rob & Jamir, are product-based agripreneurs. Jamir Ocampo, together with his community of mothers from Laguna, created Tsaa Laya’s collection of herbal teas. Rob Crisostomo also creates livelihood in the countryside, through the export of Philippine cacao to the largest supplier of high quality chocolate in the world, Barry Callebaut.

There is no clear-cut solution to the problem of food insecurity. So be creative, innovative, and get your feet wet in agribusiness.

Join the discussion with Rob and Jamir at the upcoming Muni Meetup: Cacao, Tea, & Community on July 4, 3:00-6:00PM at A Space Manila. Register for a slot here.

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