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San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is building its first urban farm within its sprawling head office complex in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City to help build food self-sufficiency among its support staff and help put agriculture back in the spotlight.
Under the program, interested employees and workers doing support jobs will be given a plot of land in what will be dubbed as SMC’s “Malasakit Garden” for them to use as a space to grow whatever produce they like. They can then choose to either bring home their harvest or sell these for a profit at a small Malasakit Garden Farmers market stall to be set up at the complex.
“In this time of pandemic, many Filipinos are looking for ways to earn extra income, or at the very least, make sure they have sufficient supply of food. Realizing the importance of food security, many are also exploring growing their own food. That is why we thought of this simple project to help our maintenance workers, as well as our own employees,” SMC President Ramon Ang said in a statement.
“The land is available and good for planting. It doesn’t take so much to try and help people, especially those who help us do our work every day. We partnered with a non-profit SEED Philippines, and they will be the ones teaching our people how to succeed at urban farming.
With this, we hope the Malasakit Garden can augment healthy food supply for some of our workers or serve as an additional source of income,” he added.
Ang said SMC is hopeful that participants of the program can really grow to like planting, “[so] they can hone their skills, and it becomes a practical life skill for them…many support workers actually grew up in the province and know how to plant, except, there is no land for them to do it here in the city.”
Furthermore, the company is looking forward for the project to encourage more businesses to transform urban spaces into functioning ecological spaces and help agriculture flourish.
SEED’s advocacy is to help eradicate poverty in low-income families through specialized programs on agripreneurship. They teach organic vegetable production, soil management, planting materials production, and pest and disease management.
SEED’s representatives will also be serving as mentors during the early stages of the project.
“We are excited to see how our participants will make this project their own. They will have freedom to decide what they want to plant, and how they will make the garden thrive. Our role ultimately is to provide them support so they can make the most of the lot,” Ang noted.
Notably, House Bill 8385, which promotes urban agriculture, was recently passed on third reading in Congress. It intends to promote urban agriculture nationwide and help boost the country’s food security.
For its part, SMC, has been doing what it can to help boost the country’s food supply and support farmers and entrepreneurs. It has launched various livelihood training programs for communities in Bulacan and Quezon province.
It has also recently opened the SMC-Better World Diliman community center that aims to boost farm incomes by providing a ready-market for farmers’ excess produce.
SMC also purchases directly from local farmers for a number of its raw material requirements. At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the company reported its highest purchase of corn and cassava, among others.
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