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Originally from Manila Bulletin’s Opinion-Editorial section; article written by Yvette Tan

Last Oct. 26, 2022, we celebrated two events: the third AgriMovers honors and Agriculture Magazine’s 25th anniversary.

Agriculture Magazine has been inspiring and informing Filipinos about the importance of agriculture and how, with proper planning and strategic sales and marketing, it can be a viable business, since its first issue hit newsstands in 1997.

It is now the longest running and most widely read magazine of its kind in the country, and its website ranks in the Top 10 in its category.

AgriMovers is Agriculture Magazine’s way of honoring individuals and organizations who have made a significant positive impact on the Philippine agriculture industry.

This year’s celebration was extra special as the honorees were expanded from two to five, including a new youth category where universities, organizations, and individuals were asked to nominate a youth practitioner who they thought embodied the future of Philippine agriculture.

2022’s honorees are:

For the business category, Francisco “Paco” Magsaysay of Real Fresh Dairy Farms, Inc., and Rex Puentespina of Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation.

Real Fresh Dairy Farms, Inc. started in 2007 when Magsaysay’s father, former senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., realized that the Philippines imports 99.6 percent of its dairy. Upon his father’s request, Paco established Carmen’s Best Dairy Products to help increase the sales of the dairy farm. He diversified the dairy farm’s product line under the brand Holly’s Milk and Farm Fresh Dairy Produce, but it was with Carmen’s Best Ice Cream that he really made his mark.

Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation farms cacao to make artisanal chocolate, raises goats to make artisanal cheeses, produces and sell cut flowers and cut foliage, and runs a nature-themed resort that includes the first chocolate museum in the country, all within Davao City.

Malagos Chocolate has won numerous local and international awards in various categories and is recognized as one of the brands that helped pave the way for Philippine cacao’s international recognition.

For the community category, Princess Kumalah Sug-Elardo of Sulu Royal Coffee and Bae Inatlawan of Inhanding Tribal Multi-purpose Cooperative.

Princess Kumalah Sug-Elardo organized The People’s Alliance for Progress Multi-Purpose Cooperative in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 2010, producing fine coffee under the Sulu Royal Coffee brand.

The coop members’ lives have changed for the better. They have been able to send their children to school, put up houses, and now have a better water system. There is peace and order in the area, and government workers have set up health centers and the like.

Sulu Royal Coffee’s efforts to engage farmers in coffee farming has brought peace in the rural war-torn areas of Mindanao, with many former insurgents laying down their guns in exchange for farming.

Princess Lalah of Sulu Royal Coffee

The Inhandig Tribal Multipurpose Cooperative was organized in 1998 with chieftain Bae Inatlawan as one of its founders. The cooperative focused on coffee and abaca as these high-value crops were deemed friendly to the forest environment that the tribes lived in at the foot of Mt. Kitanglad.

In 2017, the cooperative took home the prize for the Arabica category in the Kape Pilipino Green Coffee Quality Competition, a nationwide cupping competition organized by the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc. ITMPC was one of two winners from Bukidnon, and would go on to represent the Philippines in the Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle, Washington that same year.

The author with Princess Lalah

For the youth category, Dayang Iman Sahali and Alyssa Tan Sahali of Mangan by Iman, a Tawi-Tawi-based social enterprise that produces seaweed chips. The company partners with local seaweed farmers, buying their harvests at competitive prices. Most of the profit goes to the rebuilding of the Tongbangkaw Elementary School, where a lot of the kids of the seaweed farmers study.

The sisters are proud that their small enterprise has not only helped the local community, but also helped show Tawi-Tawi in a positive light. The Youth honorees were given a ₱30,000 grant to further their operations.

This year’s winners were decided on by an esteemed group of judges, all of them from the agriculture industry: National Scientist Dr. Emil Q. Javier, Southeast Asian Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) Senior Fellow Dr. William G. Padolina, and former AgriMovers honoree Raymund Aaron, Banana Chief of Villa Socorro Farm.

Former AgriMovers honoree Carlo Sumaoang of MNL Growkits and Ragsak Family Farm was also in attendance.

Also introduced was the Zac Sarian Lifetime Achievement Award, to be given to a personality whose lifelong efforts have vastly changed their area of agriculture for the better. In this way, Sarian’s legacy of highlighting exceptional farmers, fishers, and agribusiness owners continues to live on.

The honorees and judges expressed their appreciation at being recognized for their contributions to the agriculture industry. Sumaong told me that it was a wonderful reminder of why he went into agriculture.

All AgriMovers honorees are examples of individuals and organizations whose perseverance and success serve as inspiration to those who want or continue to thrive in the Philippine agriculture industry.

As the spotlight shines on these remarkable individuals and their profound impact on Philippine agriculture, it also underscores the ongoing need for talent and innovation within the industry. Recognizing the crucial role of human capital in agricultural advancement, efforts to attract and retain skilled professionals become increasingly vital.

For organizations seeking to navigate this landscape, specialized recruitment firms dedicated to ag jobs Australia offer a strategic avenue for sourcing top-tier talent. By connecting aspiring professionals with opportunities that align with their passion for agriculture, these firms play a pivotal role in nurturing the next generation of leaders and innovators in the field.

As the legacy of pioneers like Carlo Sumaoang and the recipients of the Zac Sarian Lifetime Achievement Award continues to inspire and motivate, the collaboration between industry leaders and recruitment specialists remains instrumental in shaping the future of agriculture in Australia and beyond.
Look forward to the next honorees in 2025!

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