“Agree to Agri: The Game Changer Agripreneurs”

September 28th, 2017

GNSR Web Header Sept 27

On September 27, Go Negosyo Radio hosts Sen. Bam Aquino & DJ Cheska San Diego-Bobadilla were joined by Josephine Costales of Costales Nature Farms and Ranilo Madlangbayan Maderazo of Halaman ng Buhay to discuss integrated farming and the culture of sustainability that investing in agriculture creates.

With the ASEAN Agriculture Summit fast approaching, the spotlight has been turned to many agripreneurs who are revolutionizing the industry and its image. One of these agri gamechangers is Josephine Costales and her business, Costales Nature Farms. Costales Nature Farms was established by Josephine and her husband Rolan when they decided to leave their high-level corporate jobs in the city and move to Majayjay, Laguna. They purchased a 1,500 sqm property by the foothills of Mount Banahaw where they began planting organic vegetables. Five years later, their farm has grown to 8 hectares, is a consistent supplier for the likes of Healthy Options and Shangri-La, and is the first agri-tourism destination recognized by the Department of Tourism.

“We went to Japan and Korea to study organic farming because we wondered why their farmers were rich. We found out that there are things to be improved in the local system,” Josephine said. The Costales couple’s dedication to growing organic and sustainable food led them to innovative practices such as vermicompsting—allowing the couple to make their farm as integrated (zero-waste) as possible.

Our second guest, Ranilo Madlangbayan Maderazo, was inspired by the Costales couple and shared that Rolan worked with them in establishing Halaman ng Buhay. Halaman ng Buhay is a high value crop program of Anawin Lay Missions Foundation Inc. that is working towards establishing an integrated farm in Montalban, Rizal where Ranilo works as its Project Coordinator and Implementer. At the heart of the farm however, is the community of abandoned elderly who have now found a place of refuge to live happily in a beautiful environment surrounded by nature and love.

“We have 68 abandoned senior citizens. They used to work around the farm but when they age, they simply appreciate the place and feed the fishes we have integrated in the farm,” Ranilo said. The success of Halaman ng Buhay is a collaborative effort of the foundation and the government who helped out during the earlier phases of the farm’s development.

Collaboration is definitely a key lesson in agripreneurship and is reinforced by Josephine. Costales Farms has grown to its large size today and is able to produce 20 tons of produce a month thanks to the investment of OFWs who fund their greenhouses. The Costales staff is then responsible for operations and administration, with the investors getting their share of the sales.

Furthermore, Josephine emphasizes on the business aspect of farming “We must have an entrepreneurial mindset in farming; it is not enough to only know and study the technical aspect.” Studying marketing is just as important as studying the soil and irrigation in agribusiness. For example, opening up your farm to agri-tourism will not only give you additional income but will boost awareness of your farm and business.

When entering into agri, Josephine advises people to start with what they actually like eating. For her, she loves the vegetables in pinakbet and shares that they started in organic farming because of their love of the vegetables in pinakbet and wanting to improve them. For those in the city, she advises them to look into urban gardening and the six-inch gardening method or take their families to visit farms regularly.

Involving the youth in agriculture will be the biggest gamechanger of all. With an aging farmer population, it is people like Josephine and Ranilo who are making the agriculture sector’s image alive and thriving. Afterall, Costales Farms has paved the way in making agriculture a destination to enjoy and Halaman ng Buhay is continually uplifting many lives through agribusiness. It is no question that the agriculture sector is proving itself to be the gamechanger towards prosperity for all.