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As I promised in my last column, write about the successful launch last March 5, of Go Negosyoâ€™s 8th book. Go Negosyo 50 Inspiring Stories of Agri-Entrepreneurs is our latest offering which will surely inspire Filipinos that progress is possible, even in the agriculture sector. God has blessed our country with rich agricultural resources, but more and more of us are trying to get away from it. We want to bring back the peopleâ€™s interest, especially the youth in agriculture. The book presents various business models in agri-entrepreneurship that can work. One simply has to know his or her passion as to which type of agribusiness interests them, study how can it be done, and immerse oneself to it.
The agri-entrepreneurs that we featured are Arsenio Barcelona (Harbest Agricultural Corp.), Senen Bacani (La Frutera), Salvacion Leuenberger (SUL Orchids), Martin & Pilamar Ozaeta (Gemsun Marketing), Rob Crisostomo & Bea Misa (Ritual), Ronald Costales (Costales Nature Farms), Philip Cruz (Herbanext), Joel Magsaysay (Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm), Ricardo Tolentino (LRE Enterprises), Jose Mercado (Merlo Agricultural Corp.), Ferdinand MaraÃ±on (Sagrex Group of Companies), Vincent Garcia (Palm View Trade), Monastery Farms, Tennyson Chen (Bounty Fresh/Bounty Agro Ventures Inc.), Justin Arboleda (Coco Technologies Corp. & Juboken Enterprises), Henry Lim Bon Liong (SL Agritech), Rene Tayag (TGA Foods Corp.), Dustin Andaya (Island Rose), Jacqueline Alleje & Antonio Alleje (Rizal Dairy Farms), Edna Viterbo (Talon Integrated Farm), Danilo Fausto (DVF Dairy Farm), Charita Puentespina (Puentespina Orchids and Tropical Plants), Avelino & Consolacion Lomboy (Lomboy Farms), Antuza Refada (Kalinga Brew), Tony & Beth De Castro (Earthworm Sanctuary), Putlih Kumalah Sug-Elardo (Sulu Royal Coffee & Peopleâ€™s Alliance for Progress Multipurpose Cooperative), Ernest Escaler (Gourmet Farms), Lyndon Tan (Basic Necessity), GreenEarth Heritage Foundation, Edith Dacuycuy (Refmad Farms), Rosalind Wee (Marine Resources Development Corp.), Armanda Battad (Amandaâ€™s Marine Products), Michael Escaler (All Asian Countertrade), Philippine Biochar Association, Lito Arenas (LA Trading), Jeffrey Lim (JSJ Goat Farm), EcoAgri Foundation, Ramon Uy Jr. (Fresh Start Organics), Johnny Que (Orchard Valley Inc.), Justin Uy (Profood International Corp.), Pecuaria Development Cooperative, Cagangohan Womens Association, Kalasag Farmers Producers Cooperative, Allan Uy (Asian Hybrid Seed Technologies), Pedro Roxas (Roxas Holdings), Maoi Arroyo (Hybridigm Consulting Inc.), Peter Petisme (MLGS Herb Products), Francis Ching (John Kenny Farms), Jun Castillo (Coconut House), Winston Uy (Universal Leaf Philippines), and Arestina Morados-Papillon (Pamora Farm).
Let me share a story of one of the featured agri-entrepreneurs in the book.
Salvacion Leuenberger was one of Go Negosyoâ€™s Most Inspiring DavaoeÃ±o Entrepreneurs back in 2009. Sallyâ€™s father was a Chinese restaurant owner, while her mother runs a store in the local market. She took up accounting at the University of the Philippines, and for more than 20 years she immersed herself in that field. She was first exposed to orchids when she handled the account of the Davao Orchidsâ€™ Society in early 1980s, where she was drawn by its beauty. She began to be so passionate about orchids that she read more books about orchid growing and bought a potted orchid herself. When her 200-square meter backyard was filled with orchids, she began buying nearby lots to house her plants.
In 1985, she attended a basic orchid-growing seminar where she found out that 90 percent of what she was doing was right. Encouraged by this discovery, Sally continued until she realized in 1988 that she cannot do it as a sideline anymore. Orchids needed constant care and attention, so she decided to drop her accounting and teaching jobs to start SUL Orchids. She was relatively new in the agriculture industry, but her background in management and accounting helped her overcome obstacles along the way. Today, what began as a four-hectare farm in 1993 has grown to 12 hectares.
While we were at the planning stage, we looked for individuals who could help us turn this book into reality. And we were happy to have found one who deeply understands the needs of this sector: Sen. Francis â€œKikoâ€ Pangilinan. Go Negosyo and Sen. Kikoâ€™s Sagip Saka program are now exploring more joint effort towards a common objective of promoting agri-entrepreneurship. Basically, Sagip Saka aims to help improve the agriculture sector to achieve sustainable, modern agriculture and food security by transforming agricultural communities to reach their full potential. Sen. Kiko was there during the book launch. He shared his vision to help increase the income of farmers and fisherfolks, uplift their standard of living, and attract future generations in the agriculture sector which would help food security in the end.
Go Negosyo would also like to extend its appreciation to publishing icon Esther Vibal, Profoodâ€™s Justin Uy, and Mang Inasalâ€™s Injap Sia for helping us out with the book. As we all work together to do our share in nation-building, Go Negosyo invites you to be inspired by the stories of our agri-entrepreneurs, and to take part by considering an agri-negosyo of your own. Success is not always found in the city; sometimes, it is deeply planted along the countryside, waiting for us to unearth it.