YAP Proposal #14: “Idle to Ideal” (Dax Olfindo, Philippines)

Idle to ideal Pic

The Philippines is at the forefront when we talk about biodiversity, as it is one of the Megadiverse Countries; countries that are inhabited by most of the earth’s species. Location, climate and topography are the key factors as to why this country is abundant with life; and we’re not talking about plants and animals alone. Ranked 9th (for countries with population exceeding 10 million) and 38th overall, this Southeast Asian nation is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. With great number of people, comes great responsibility; feeding them.

Blessed with conditions that are favorable to a wide host of species, this country has failed to take advantage of this fact; lagging behind in food production. Most of our farmers dream of moving closer to the city in order to find better paying jobs. This has resulted to untended lands, that otherwise could have been producing food. Some of these farmers have found success, most of them however fail. I know that this phenomenon is not unique to the Philippines and we need to reverse this trend soon. If we don’t do anything about it, there will be no more farmers left and we will all face a major crisis.

I am Dax Olfindo, 26 years old and founder of Dream Agritech Consultancy Services. Our group was formed because we saw the need for our country to turn its attention towards food production and food security. We are composed of graduates of Agriculture and its related fields. From plant breeding to swine production; soil scientists to horticulturists to environmental scientists; we are all under one roof. One of our missions is to turn unproductive lands into productive ones. Convince land owners to develop their land for farming, instead of selling it; seeing its value as a vital cog in society, as a job creator and a food producer. We also want to make farming attractive to the youth, make them see it as a viable career option while elevating the status of being a farmer.

We want to be able to lease highly viable agricultural lands that are left untended. A short lease, typically 1-2 years, to reshape the tract of land into something that will benefit the community at large.

We begin this project by finding a land owner. For the purposes of this proposal, we already have an agreement in principle on a 3,700 square meter plot. We will conduct all the necessary soil and water tests. This will serve as the basis of our fertilizer program and any other interventions that we may need to make before planting. Tests like these are estimated to cost around $350 for a comprehensive reading and result. The plot will be leased at a rate of $40-50 a month.

We plan to plant crops that are quick to harvest: Lettuce (45-60 days), Carrots (60-80 days), Potato (90-120 days), Chili Pepper (60-90 days), Cabbage (60-90 days) and Eggplant (75-90 days) are some of the vegetables we are considering. This is to ensure that we can sustain the farm throughout the year. We also plan to plant culinary herbs like Basil, Arugula, and Parsley.
Crop insurance is of utmost importance given our country’s propensity to adverse climactic conditions. This is estimated to cost around $100-$150 dollars, depending on the cost of inputs. Farming materials (seeds, tools, growing media, nursery shed and fertilizers) will cost us $1,500-2,000.

This project also aims to build the capacity of youth, teaching them farming methods that are Science-based and guided by the principles of Sustainable Agriculture. We will be employing two out-of-school youth and train them how to farm these vegetables and herbs. The main reason why we are picking the youth is because the world is in need of young farmers; to learn the skills and keep them abreast with the technologies that modern agriculture has to offer. Training them in the scientific way of farming will lead to less guesswork and help sharpen their minds to be critical thinkers. We want the next generation of farmers to harness the wisdom of the traditional methods and making it work alongside scientific methods of farming.

While they may not have the benefit of traditional schooling, this project can help educate them, giving them a skill that they can parlay into a rewarding career.

We also want to give them a livable wage in order for them to be encouraged to continue farming and at the same time, taking them off the streets; making it less likely for them to turn towards crime to make a living. This will cost us about $2,500 for the whole year.

Our goal is to maximize the earning potential of the plot by allotting the appropriate area per each crop while at the same time, taking into consideration their cropping cycles, so that we can continuously harvest from the plot almost every month. We hope that by earning, we will be able to pay for the salaries of our workers.

This grant, if ever we are selected, will help our group significantly. 3 years would be the time it would take for us to raise the same amount through our consultancy projects. We will be hitting one of our goals very early on, taking a huge step towards fulfilling one of our missions. We will also create awareness that this model can help solve the problem of food security. By turning these idle lands to productive ones, our country will take a step towards achieving self-sustainability.

Job creation, adding prestige to being a farmer and giving a chance for these out-of-school youth to learn a noble trade, are just some of the by-products of this endeavor.
We aim to be able to lease more of these lands across the country and encourage the land owners to see how a farm works with the hopes of turning the landowner towards agriculture. Our group will also help educate the landowner about the ins and outs of farming, giving an update through the blogposts we will be writing.

Our group is guided by our vision: To help anyone, plant, grow and harvest. This is our calling. We hope to help transform; not only lands, but lives as well. We are optimistic that this can be the start of something that will change the way people look at Agriculture.

Idle land to Ideal land.
Idle youth to Ideal youth.
These are transformations we can all root for.

Blogpost submitted by Dax Olfindo (Philippines) – josephcarlolfindo(at)gmail.com
Photo courtesy: Beni Jardinero

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #14 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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326 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #14: “Idle to Ideal” (Dax Olfindo, Philippines)

    1. I agree to this! Agriculture is one of the most important sectors that needs more focus because its the source of our basic need, FOOD. God bless on this project! smile emoticon

    2. I agree to this! Agriculture is one of the most important sectors that needs more focus because its the source of our basic need, FOOD. God bless on this project! 🙂

  1. Definitely an excellent idea. Well done, Dax!

    I hope you get all the needed funding, so that this pilot project can quickly be replicated throughout our country. We need an agricultural resurgence to offset the rapid urbanization we are experiencing, not only in the environmental context, but more importantly in the socio-cultural context.

    Mahusay!!! The very best of luck.

    1. Ma’am, Thank you so much! It means a lot specially coming from a former teacher of mine. Your lessons have molded me into who I am today. Thank you for not giving up on me, Ma’am 🙂 I hope that I can continue this work. 🙂

    1. Great write-up! I’m proud to be part of Dream Agritech Team! Let’s continue in transforming Idle to Ideal!

  2. Great! These are the kinds of ideas from passionate young people that we need to support! Continue forwarding our cause for agriculture, bro!

    Cheers!

  3. I’ve been seeing posts about coffee and cocoa shortages. Is there any way the Philippines can be the next leading exporters of these products? How long will it take?

    1. It will be a huge undertaking, but something that the next President of our country should include as one of the top priorities of his/her administration. Cacao and Coffee plantations are usually productive after the 5th year.

  4. Great article! This is the new future. I hope that this endeavour will take new heights most esp. to our generation – where health is at risk due to our eating habits. Moreover, you’ve touched another opportunity, which is to export than import agri-goods. Let’s go green.

    1. Thank you, Rula! Yes, by planting vegetables, not only are we helping these farmers earn a living, we also take a step towards being healthy. Finding an alternative to rice is also a nice offshoot of this endeavor!

  5. We certainly need more people like you- passionate and driven for a cause that benefits a lot of people. The world has to see and appreciate the true value of agriculture in our daily lives. There’s a lot of heart in this content. Wishing you the best, Dax.

    1. Thanks, Julieane! I think that we, the youth, should care more about issues like food security and be aware about the plight of these farmers. We are the ones responsible for taking care of this planet and its people. We should start doing something now.

  6. Really cool to encourage the youth in to agriculture. This is a leap in removing the stigma surrounding agriculture. Good luck!

  7. This is what the Philippines need being an agricultural country. It does not only aim to address food security but also to inspire the youth to be involve in agriculture. It may also decrease the continuous conversion of agricultural lands into commercial areas. I really do hope for the success of the project. Cheers to Kuya Dax and team!

    1. I agree to this! Agriculture is one of the most important sectors that needs more focus because its the source of our basic need, FOOD. God bless on this project! 🙂

  8. While I commend your enthusiasm, I must point out a couple of serious inconsistencies. First you say the Phillippines is ‘megadiverse’ – well, increasing agriculture is one way to guarantee that megabiodiversity is lost for good.
    Second, your assumption that agriculture is the only way to feed people reliably is wrong. Climate change and global scarcities of both water and soil are making agriculture increasingly unreliable as a food source. By mid-century most grain-growing regions will be facing severe climate and water stress, so it is no good relying solely on a system that is bound to fall over.
    Instead I encourage you to look into the alternatives – urban agriculture (based on recycled water and nutrients, hydroponics, aquaponics, aquaculture, algae culture and bio cultures. These can all increase food production greatly and are resistant to climate shocks. Furthermore these will provide very large employment for millions of young people in high-tech industries in cities, where they actually live, instead of drafting them into the countryside (like Chairman Mao).
    If it recycled all its water and nutrients, even cities such as Manila (40 million by 2050) could produce a half or more of their food need locally, without depending on fragile global food chains, imports or an increasingly shock-prone agriculture.
    Julian Cribb

    1. Hello Julian, thank you for your insight.
      Greatly appreciated.

      The main reason for creating this project is the premise that we have failed to take advantage of our “home-court advantage”. Philippines has a lot of vacant lands that are unproductive. Let me clarify that we don’t intend to clear out nature reserves or sanctuaries, what this program aims to do is try and make the land that is untended and turn it into something productive. Yes, of course we would want to go into urban agriculture/horticulture. But that would also entail capital/funding, something that we don’t have. We figured that by starting this in the rural areas, we can slowly creep towards the urban areas with what we earn from our rural sites.

      Please note that our lease only lasts for a year or two. Meaning we don’t plan to stay long in a particular area, unless the land owner decides that he wants to maintain the farm. While it is idle, we make it productive.

      1. I agree with Julian with regards to conservation of diversity . The best way to conserve is of course to utilized them, nowhere in the proposal however has it been mentioned how it will be done. except for a few vegetable which is very common and of course no need to conserve. Well, to conserve the genetic diversity of Nicotiana tabacum is to utilized them by encouraging smoking, will you agree? (this is only a joke hahahahha)

    2. Urban agriculture is something we aim to do. However, it would need bigger capital. To set up a working farm like that like Growtainer and Freight Farms is something we dream of. But we have to make best of what we have today.

      1. Hi Dax! A part of what I know about our laws is that our government grant long term leases on lands of the public domain that are untitled. You may want to research on Certificate of Stewardship where government will grant a farmer/tiller of the land a 25 year lease renewable for another 25 years. That would lower your cost and will give you more opportunity. Once this is awarded by the government, all gains of the land is still yours.

      2. Thank you for this information! We will certainly take this under advisement. This will definitely help us employ more farmers to work on these idle lands.

    3. Hi Mr. Julian Cribb!

      Based on what I have read in this blog of Mr. Dax Olfindo, he was saying that the Philippines is considered to be one of the centers of biodiversity. Considering most of the literature that I have read, most of the time they are saying that Philippines has a very rich biogeography. And with that I can say that Mr. Olfindo is correct and I cannot see anything wrong with what he had stated.

      Next, I guess Mr. Olfindo pertains to the idle lands “in” urbanized areas or semi-urban, and because he is clever and very passionate in terms of farming he wants to turn these idle lots to something useful and ideal. Whereas if he and his team will use the said idle lands then I guess there will be a decrease in land conversion in the Philippines. In addition to that he is also an environmentalist because he doesn’t want to turn forested lands into agricultural areas where in the near future will be converted to commercial lots again since it is already leveled out after it has been turned into an agricultural land.

      Based on your comment sir, with all due respect, I guess you have to re-read the article again because you misunderstood what Mr. Olfindo’s blog wants to convey as a message to the people of the Philippines and to the world.

    1. Hi Kevin!

      Yes, you are right! We can change the future of the Philippines if many will participate and appreciate the beauty in agriculture. 🙂 I hope you, yourself is also an advocate of boosting up the agriculture sector in the Philippines.

  9. That’s very inspiring, Dax! The purpose is phenominal, and with a lot of prayers and faith, everything you do will surely be blessed!

    1. Thanks Carlo! I firmly believe that everything is intertwined. Agriculture is the industry that can affect lives the most because it provides a basic necessity. Food. 🙂

  10. I commend your group for such effort to increase awareness.i suggest you tap on small-holdings if you want to spread your ideals especially to the community you are in.

  11. Apart from some details on the state of diversity in the Philippines that could be compromised if agriculture continues to develop to mega scales, as well as the assumption in this blog post that agriculture is one of the few — if not the only way, to feed the ever-growing population of the Philippines; the idea behind the creation of Dream Agritech Consultancy Services captured my interest. It seems to be a promising way to increase the production and diversity of high-value crops locally, while keeping sustainability and rural development in mind.

    I strongly agree in your approach to encourage the youth to engage in farming. The Philippines, like many other countries in the world, has an aging farmer population. It will be a good opportunity to be able to give technical education to the underprivileged youth, however with your permission I would like to suggest involving women and the handicapped to be included in this skills development program.

    Kudos to your group, Dax. I wish you all the best in this contest!

    PS: I am also open with whatever service I could offer in the future. 🙂

    1. Hello Julla! Thanks for this insight! Like I mentioned in my reply earlier to a similar comment, what we plan to do is find untended lands; focused on the rural areas but we really won’t mind if it’s a vacant lot in a village or a suburb, as long as meets our criteria:
      1. Viable agricultural land
      2. Untended
      3. Not a nature reserve or sanctuary
      4. Owner doesn’t know what to do with it

      Ruining the ecological balance is the farthest thing from our minds. We just want to take advantage of our climate, topography and location which allows so many plants and animals to thrive.

      We want to be able to provide jobs for the community and teach them the skill of growing their own food, so that they can do it in their own backyard or even inside their homes.

      P.S. We need you. Come home. Haha!

  12. Excellent points Dax,
    Having read through, I am good with what I read but I will like you to see how possibly you and your team can help not only youth on agric training but also extend it to the farmers. To clarify contemplation, will your training only directed towards the highlighted crops or go beyond?

    Thanks

    1. Hello John! Some portion of the profit can be used as fund to organize farmer trainings on different marketable and in demand crops. In line with our vision, we want to be able to equip them with the latest production techniques and strategies. Getting the seed money is great, but we are also looking forward to the mentoring aspect with GFAR and YPARD. The linkage between our group and experts (Scientists, Businessmen, Practitioners) will be invaluable to our cause.

  13. Nice Idea. In my opinion, set reward goals for your students who finish the course. Monetary rewards work really well for the millennials.

    If the youth/out-of-school youth is really your target, then you would really be in a pinch. More than education, you would need to address their motivations, especially if it is highly affected by their current situations .

    Hope you help them in anyway you can.

    1. Thank you, Derek! We do hope to make this project profitable since there will be many stakeholders involved and in order to make Agriculture attractive to the youth as well. We see the need to reward the people we will be getting for this project, but aside from monetary gain, one of the main goals is to equip these youth. Build their capacity to be modern farmers and make them see the benefits of farming technologies present today.

  14. Awesome! Praying for the success of your group because this proposal is a great help for our country. Also to mention the help that this will give to our farmers who’ve been struggling to serve their purpose.

    1. Thank you, Kuya Renzo. Enhancing nutrition by providing healthier food choices and producing alternatives for rice can help improve the quality of health of the Filipino.
      I haven’t thought about that before. Haha!
      Thanks again, Kuya!

  15. Food security is a critical driver for improving population health. As a public health physician, I support Dax Olfindo’s project which presents a huge potential to not just turn idle lands to ideal, uplift farmers’ lives and preserve ecosystem integrity, but also enhance nutrition for our generation and those yet to come.

  16. Love the idea of engaging youth in Agriculture. I hope through this project, Philippine Agriculture will not just be seen as cool, but as a viable option for young professionals. Good luck, Dax.

  17. As a nutritionist, I am aware of how food security affects nutrition security,that is why I am keen on having project proposals like these operationalized. As a consumer, I sometimes feel I do not have enough access to quality vegetables, that is why I am looking forward to being able to purchase and enjoy those mentioned veggies on my plate!! 🙂 Great initiative! All the best!!

  18. Kudos to you Dax and Dream Agritech Consultancy Services! Indeed, this is an awesome project: science and technology-based; initiated and to be run by enthusiastic and passionate individuals; active learning process; food security; farming-as-a-viable-enterprise. Perfect! Budget na lang 😉

    Yes, there’s a lot of risks in farming business, but with the right information, appropriate technologies, proper mindset, and sufficient working capital we can minimize these risks and have profitable smallhold farming enterprises. I just hope your team will get the necessary funding and support not only from GCARD but as well from other agencies here in the Philippines.

    Looking forward seeing your project replicated in numerous untended lands, including those planted to perennial crops. Congratulations in advance and God bless!

    1. Wow Sir! I am so humbled and touched by this comment! Thank you so much for believing in us! We learned from the best, namely you! Almost all of us became your students before! We will do our best for this project to become a reality, hopefully we get the support that we need! We really hope to make a difference in the lives of farmers around the world. This project can be done globally! 🙂

  19. This is great bro. Making the young professionals involved by giving their stake on achieving food security. Hope that your entry wins the Youth Agripreneur project contest. 🙂

  20. What will be the criteria for choosing the idle lands? And, how long do you think can this project live on considering the increasing population of the country and the need to intentional land use conversion?

    1. Criteria:

      1. Viable in the Agriculture context (Size doesn’t matter, we don’t need acres of land to convert, as long as it can host crops. One idea is a community garden for urban areas. A place where people who live in gated communities can get fresh produce; they get to pick it themselves!)

      2. Currently Idle (Not nature reserves or sanctuaries; Idle in the sense that it is accessible to vehicles, near a market, adjacent to other farms but no production is taking place. In order for it to be viable economically and at the same time ecologically sound. We don’t want to ruin the earth.)

      3. Near a community (So that people around the converted land can see the changes taking place. How something that was useless before will be turned into something that can feed them.)

      I think the project can live on as long as people will need food and jobs. Our group should be able to demonstrate the importance of food security. In fact, communities can also grow around the converted land. Instead of trying their luck in the city, a lofty goal for this project would be to reverse that trend, make them go back to their provinces because they see that farming can now be a viable career option. Back to basics.

      1. Also, since you are planning to focus the project on the youth sector, especially those who are out of school; are you looking at having an intervention to improve their educational status? Say, teaching them the basics which can, of course help them with dealing in a market set-up?

  21. I support all the ideas in this blog. I understand some people might have different opinions, but the overall the vision presented here agrees with one of the factors that can improve agriculture and agricultural growth in the Philippines. I understand that there are a lot of other blogs here showing a lot of promise and have great vision/ideas, but I really hope that this will be one of the entries that will be ultimately considered for the contest.

    1. Thank you, Jasper! Indeed, all great entries! All of them can help the world.

      The vision here is simple, we need food and there are lots of available lands, with grass just growing on it. It means two things:

      1. It is viable agriculturally (evidenced by the prolific growth of grass, interventions will still be needed to properly condition the soil but more or less halfway there)

      2. It is land that is waiting to be sold for something other than farming. (Most land owners are selling their lands to real estate developers, just waiting on the increase in land value.)

      While I have nothing against the second point, the best we can do is while the owner is waiting for the sale, why don’t we make that land useful in the meantime? The owner will make a little bit too, from the rent. We just have to do a great job with the hopes of convincing the owner to let it just remain a farm. A farm the land owner can call his own.

  22. The mission of the project and the consultancy was a big step forward to have an agricultural and economic growth. I hope that this project can lead to an innovation in the field where we are all working and may have an opportunity to expand to help more out of school youth to learn and idle lands be developed. Great job!

    1. Thank you, Dyan! We also want people to be encouraged to go into agriculture. We want Agriculturists to be employed in the same field, not having to look for jobs anywhere else. We have a lot of Agriculture grads working at industries that isn’t related to Agriculture becauae of lack of jobs and low compensation. Hopefully, this can be an eye opener for our country.

  23. Your project has a clear purpose and, if funded, will benefit the Filipinos at large! If you can make this work, then this can be tested further at a larger scale to cover farm lands across the country. Well done Dax Olfindo!

    1. Thank you, Ma’am! We just want to show that it can be done. A small start which will hopefully turn into something that will be adapted across the country. We want to show that we are more than capable of feeding ourselves, a back to basics approach.

  24. With noble minds comes nobles initiatives. Way to go Dream Agritech Consultancy Services! Looking forward working with you in the next few years. Maximizing the potentials of our country’s land and the potentials of the youth by engaging them into farming. This is something that is worth to invest. =D

    1. We look forward to working with you too! That’s two people who want to work with us now! Thank you for your support. Hopefully we are able to do what we want to do, which is help anyone plant, grow and harvest 🙂

  25. That’s great to know from you. Moreover, it’s fascinating to know that you’re group is composed of people with the technical knowledge, but has a big heart for agriculture and rural development of our country. No doubt that your group embodies the virtue of Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD). Since, I think most of the members of your group are also part of YPARD. Way to go!

    1. Some of our members belong to YPARD too. I personally believe it should be at the heart of every agriculturist, to look out for the farmers and equip them with the latest practices and technologies. Being an agriculturist isn’t just a title, it should be something that comes with a responsibility; a responsibility of helping bolster the marginalized sector that is agriculture and erase the stigma of being a farmer.

  26. This is indeed the future only a few bright minds like you forsee. I hope more of you, of us, will eventually rise up to the challenge of uplifting Philippine agriculture. Today’s generation may not be able to grasp the importance of agriculture, totally, for most of them sees the value of food but not on how it is produced. But everything begins in a single step, i do hope that this is the begginning of the road to agriculture’s proliferation.

    I wish all the best for the firm. In God’s will, all will be well….

      1. Of course we shall. What’s the point of our education if we don’t use it to help our farmers, and ultimately, our country? 🙂 Let’s put our education to good use!

  27. Hello Dax,

    It’s great to know about your project. It’s nice that you have already started activities for your project. Just some compliments:
    You seems to plant vegetables in your land, It will be better if you focus on high valued crops which have high market demand and requires less initial investment..

    Thanks and good luck !

    Best,
    Madan
    From Nepal

    1. The crops in the proposal are just some we have in mind. We were hoping that with the mentoring program, experts can give us insight on what plants or maybe even to include in this program. The plan here is to turn idle lands to productive ones, so anything that is productive and will help food security is definitely welcome.

  28. Our country needs to spend more time and effort in developing our Agriculture sector. Way to go, Sir Dax!

  29. GREAT proposal Dax! maybe you can also apply this in vacant lots inside the campus. I know CVM had been utilizing their vacant land (within CVM) by planting naturally grown produce and even a couple of chickens. My uncle also started an NGO in LB (it is now based in CDO) check out: http://greenmindsinc.com/. They promote innovative and appropriate ecological farming technologies to marginalized farmers and indigenous communities. Do hit me up if you’re interested. maybe we can arrange for your team to check out the practices in Mindanao. Good luck!

    1. Yes we are interested, Rei! Thank you for letting us know about this organization who works with the indigenous communities. Looking forward to working with them!

  30. this is such a great idea most especially in planning urban agriculture. this can promote community sustainability and at the same time healthy living!

  31. GREAT proposal Dax! Maybe you can also apply this to small vacant lots in the campus. I know CVM had been utilizing their vacant lots for naturally grown produce and even a couple of chickens. My uncle also started an NGO in LB before (it is now based in CDO) check out: http://greenmindsinc.com/. They promote innovative and appropriate ecological farming technologies and aims to improve and uplift the lives of the marginalized farmers and indigenous communities. Do hit me up if you need anything, maybe we can arrange for your team to visit farms of indigenous people in Mindanao and their model farm: https://www.facebook.com/Umanika-Eco-Cultural-Farm-1477420262520833/ in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

  32. It is really nice to see young people dreaming big for the country’s development, particularly for the agriculture sector. I look forward to seeing those noble visions come into actuality. Kudos to you and your team! 😁

    P. S. It must feel great to know that you guys get to be catalysts for social change while doing something you’re passionate about!

    1. Thank you so much! When you work on something you love..it’s not work at all! We want to be the change the we want to see. We are trying to do our part 🙂 Hopefully we will be given the opportunity to do this!

  33. A promising project for the Agriculture in the Philippines. Have faith! In due season you will reap the precious fruit. God bless you and your team!

  34. I think you should include bitter gourd or ampalaya in your list of possible vegetable crops. It’s a vegetable that a lot of Filipinos have in their diet, and it’s becoming more and more popular. It’s quick to grow and can be used for many purposes.

    1. Noted, Rex. Thanks for this input. We actually are very much open to sensible ideas on this project. The more people contribute, we feel that it can create a greater impact. Thanks!

    2. Thanks Rex! For some reason, my reply to you isn’t posting. Haha! Anyway, all inputs and suggestions are much appreciated. The more people that gives us feedback and input, the more it will feel like it’s everyone’s project not just our group’s 🙂

  35. I highly commend this project, not only will it provide food sustainability, it will also create jobs for the community. And who knows, these out-of-school youths you’d be training might get too invested and be professionals like you too someday.

    Thank you for being the change you want this country to be. Hope Philippines would become more ideal and less idle. Hope you’ll get the grant. Kudos!

    1. Thanks Abby! More than the grant, what I really want is the mentoring program that they are offering. The connection to senior scientists, agribusiness practitioners and experts is invaluable and worth more than the seed money.

      Hopefully, even if we don’t win as one of the top projects..we will still have a shot at the mentoring program, because we need that more than the money 🙂

  36. Great article! It is so sad that there is only so little attention that the government and Filipino people as a whole give to projects like this when in fact, as you’ve mentioned, Philippines got every key aspect to make it big in this area. Good luck in your project! I truly hope for the best!

    1. Yes Leah. It is indeed disheartening. But there is hope for our country. One Filipino entry here is in the top 10 so it means that people are starting to care about Agriculture in the Philippines. We hope that through this project proposals, people’s eyes will be opened that there we Agriculturists are here and that we want to help the Filipino farmer.

  37. Great job! Truly there is so much potential in farming. Hopefully with initiatives like yours, our government would take notice and give priority to agriculture.

    1. Thank you Sir Ian! Farming is a sector that our government has neglected. We hope that through the efforts of our group, along with the other Filipinos in this competition, the government will be able to see the potential in this industry.

  38. Hi Dax! I’m very proud of you! Keep on dreaming and it will be in your hands one day. I am happy to see that you are doing a great step by step project on reaching your dream. I believe that you and your team can do it! I hope you can raise all the funds that you’ll be needing in this project. Best of luck! ☺️

  39. I agree with you kuya dax. Making idle lands productive should be one of the priorities of the government for it is one way for poverty alleviation. I hope your proposal be implemented. Godbless

    1. It will be implemented! It’s just a matter of when. Thanks, Lyndon for your support! My heart breaks every time I see a person have to dig through a garbage can or sleep hungry just because we can’t afford to feed them. This idea can help that.

  40. Hi Dax! I can see that both of you and Jorge know each other and you belong to the same group? The Philippines needs more passionate agri persons like you. Maybe they (our fellow countrymen) cannot see what you are doing and what you aim for our country, but this is it! You are indeed a catalyst of change. I hope our fellow Filipinos realize that we do not need to have a very large area for agriculture, that we just need to make every parcel of it useful as much as possible, and an idle land is really a good site/location for this kind of project regardless whether if it is located in a rural or urban area. It is sad though that many people say that we are overpopulated, somehow what they don’t know is that, people choose to settle in those areas which they perceived can change the status of their lives,the cities, however it did not happen and it’s the other way around. Hope this one gets in the semi-finals, so that you/ your group can share what you know to the people, men, women, children, educated or not, rich or poor, well it doesn’t matter anyway. BE SIGNIFICANT to ensure your success!

    Goodluck!

    1. YES. Exactly what I want people to realize. You do not need hectares of land to convert. Just convert those small patches that are agriculturally viable but idle. We have seen how tall grass can grow in our country, so we know that these lands are fertile. It’s just a matter of conditioning it to be productive. Like I said, seed money is now secondary, what we need is the connection to the experts and the recognition that will come with winning this competition. If we are recognized globally, the government will have no choice but to recognize us as well.

  41. Hi Dax, this is a great initiative. I currently try to plant a vegetable in my house but seems to be unsuccessful. I realize farming needs a special skill! Keep up with the project and please teach me to grow veggies someday! (I’m a food technologist)

  42. So much passion. Kudos to you and your team! I hope that you continue to develop idle lands and pursue your efforts in making agriculture closer to the new generation. We need more people like you to help achieve inclusive economic growth in the Philippines. Best wishes!

    1. Inclusive growth. The poorest Filipino should feel the effects of economic growth, and one of the best ways to do it is through being able to feed the hungry. 🙂 Thank you so much!

  43. You, guys, are really stepping it up! It’s not everyday we see people act on their vision and I’m glad (and proud!) you are paving the way for young leaders to focus on our country’s food sustainability and food security. With climate change getting very real and alarming, what we need is something that can transform our natural resources into a viable source of income while reviving them to their good condition. 😊

    1. Thank you, Julie! We are united by our vision: Plant, Grow and Harvest. We want to be able to do this while maintaining ecological balance. Applying what we have learned at UP Los Banos will play a key role, we know what we need to do in order to maintain that delicate balance. 🙂

  44. I like the idea that it will also tap the youth for the conservation and protection of the environment. I believe that what we need right now is not just tourism but ecotourism; giving back to mother earth by being a responsible member of the community. Cheers for ecotourism!

    1. Ecotourism and Agritourism! We imagine someday to create Leisure Farms wherein kids can go around and explore the farm. See what these fruits look like, what it’s like to live in a farm, what it’s like to harvest produce to make them appreciate the hardwork that goes into everything that they see on their dining room table. Thank you, Macky!

  45. Hi Dax, keep the faith! The land is a source of great wealth if used properly. I’m glad you have recognized the importance of youth participation in agriculture and how they can help revive and promote it.

    1. Our farmers are aging, in order to be sustainable, we need to train the next generation of farmers. The difference is, now we can train them to approach farming scientifically. That will indeed usher in a new era in Agriculture.

    1. Plant, Grow and Harvest. We made it easy to memorize so that we won’t ever forget. It’s not a tagline, it’s our guiding principle 🙂 Thanks, wei wei!

  46. Well this is a good start! Starting from a small scope to bigger ones! Be an inspiration to more youths and Filipinos. By the way i’m an Agricultural Technologist student! Thanks for representing PH agriculture and our country.

  47. It takes a certain kind of courage to take up agriculture as a primary source of livelihood. The uncertainties in weather (add to that the changing climate), the variability in the prices of seeds and fertilizers, the unavailability of good land, and infrastructure issues in agriculture will almost guarantee failure to the inexperienced farmer. But you, young man, is tough enough to take up this challenge. I admire you for this. That you think the youth is key to enliven PH agriculture is also worthy of praise. I hope you succeed in this endeavor and i promise you my support…. It will not be an easy task, but as a group of young people who believes that PH agriculture deserves notice and a chance to be competitive again, will make this challenge all worthwhile. One suggestion is to adapt a framework that does not only see agriculture as a business model, but also as a developmental one that ensures that the integrity of the environment is kept intact as you produce more food. Contemporary PH agriculture, as I see it, tends to be destructive. Directly or otherwise, it reduces biodiversity to promote “sustainability”–but sustainability is impossible to define. At the very least, we define sustainability in economic terms; it is only in the recent years that we have integrated an environmental perspective and a socio-cultural dimension in the sustainability framework. Please keep it mind that agriculture must do service to man, but in so doing must not compromise the environment and all others that depend on it… Keep pushing. 🙂

    1. Thanks Kuya Emman! Great insight! We really are in need of people like you. Yes, we are very much concerned about maintaining the balance of our fragile ecosystem that is why we are very careful about the selection of the idle lands we will convert. We also keep in mind the principles that we learned at the University. We know what is destructive and we know how to be productive without being destructive. I think it’s doable. But of course, if we get to learn more from global experts thru #GCARD3 that would be huge for this project.

  48. Great Idea! It really needs a lot of support and funding so I hope this project gets the attention of the government’s department of agriculture.

  49. This is what we need! People with initiative on putting words into action! Let your voice be heard. Mabuhay!

  50. Totally in favor of this. Give it to the farmers to cultivate their land and be their own employers. Enough with the condominiums and other real estate development. Good job!

    1. Aren’t there enough condos already? Plus with this, we can hope for a reversal, a movement of people from the densely populated urban areas to the rural areas. Movement that can also stimulate economic growth in these rural areas!

    1. Our farmers are aging, we need to train the next generation of farmers, and now we get the opportunity to train them and orient them in the scientific method of farming. Thanks, Tash!

  51. Great idea and delicate design.
    Land tenure, farming diversity, crop insurance, ag training and extension, youth engagement, ag entrepreneurship in a piece of 3,700 square meter plot, a good pilot.

  52. Admittedly there are a lot of risks involved, but any business has that. If we get the support and access to global experts thru #GCARD3; I believe that they can point out all the weak spots in this concept and improve it dramatically. That’s why we want to win!

  53. Hi! This sounds like a great project for our country and our increasing needs. It may be even better if this gets support from both government and non-government organizations.
    Good luck!

    1. Thank you, Ma’am Grace! We hope that people will support this initiative, we already have several land owners volunteering their areas without rent! We are thankful for the attention it has brought to a pressing issue 🙂

  54. Congratulations to you and your friends… we are happy to see young people who also want to make a difference especially in the lives of the underserved youth and the youth-at-risk!… I guess we can work together through our Organic Agriculture Program at UP Los Baños! We have been promoting organic vegetable production to smallholder farmers and agricultural technicians in CALABARZON since 2007. Currently, we want to focus on the youth, our next generation farmers. Initially, through the National Service Training Program (NSTP)- Literacy Training Service, we are involving UPLB students in garden-based teaching of Science, Math, English and Filipino for elementary schools. We are also collaborating with other institutions to establish school edible gardens and to integrate garden-based learning in the elementary school curricula.

    1. Hello Ma’am! Thank you for your kind words! We are excited to work with you! Admittedly, my knowledge on organic vegetable production is not enough, the opportunity to learn from you and your program will be such an honor for me and the rest of the team. We are looking forward to this collaboration! 🙂

  55. This proposal is very relevant. It’s nice that there are still young people who see the value of maximizing our agricultural lands and not turning them into subdivisions or commercial land.

    1. Thank you Sir Koy! Yes, it is a trend we want to reverse. Land conversion leads to less lands for farming, we want to make farming profitable enough to encourage more people to invest.

  56. As a former BS Nutrition student, I am aware that malnutrition and undernutrition are just around the corner. Food production is closely link with health and nutrition and can serve as “window of opportunity” to prevent the said health problems. Hope this project will push through and make a difference in the lives of hungry children.

    1. Improved food production will lead to improved health for the citizenry which will lead to better quality of life for the Filipino. It can also reduce the over reliance on Government welfare. Thanks, Ryah!

    1. Yes! State -owned farms is something that the government should give a hard look at. It can provide jobs for the masses and alleviate hunger for the poorest Filipinos.

  57. As a former BS Nutrition student, I am aware that malnutrition and undernutrition are just around the corner. Food production is closely link with health and nutrition and can serve as “window of opportunity” to prevent the said health problems. Hope this project will push through and make a difference in the lives of hungry children.

  58. In the advent of our youth relegated as industrial workers due to lack of education, this could well be a fresh alternative in luring them back to the true richness of our lands.

    1. The reason why other parts of the Philippines is underdeveloped is the migration of the Filipinos towards the megacities. If farming communities blossom in the provinces, this will force the government’s hand to improve infrastructure, health care and other government services in those areas. Thank you, Dr. Rubio!

  59. Such a noble idea with a great vision coming from a young aspirant! Dax you seem to be full of zeal and enthusiasm for such an endeavor that only a few young dreamers like you would venture into. I just wish this project proposal of yours be given the support it needs for you to be able to see and learn more of the realities of agriculture in practice while sharing blessings at the same time.

    1. Thank you Tita Fe! Indeed, our group has big dreams, but we are limited in number. We hope that through this project, more contemporaries of ours will be encouraged to invest in Agriculture and see it’s vast potential. It’s an industry where our country can excel in.

  60. There are so many available land out there and I hope we can help out in your project. Good Luck!

    1. We have been blessed to find people who are willing to fund this initiative. The main reasons why we want to win this competition is the network of experts that will be made available to us, the YPARD mentoring program plus international recognition. If recognized, we hope that the Philippine Government can step up as well. Thanks, Kat!

  61. Better opportunities for our newly graduate students are in the provinces…in agriculture or any sector that will promote the locally produce products. Kudos to your team for inspiring us to go back to basics. All the best!

  62. This sounds viable and promising! Good luck on this endeavour, Dax! Just curious if this is already being practiced elsewhere in the country? And if so, how has it panned out?

  63. I really like the idea that you are involving the capacities of the youth. The youth will become the adults of tomorrow, and more informed and less guessing youths of today will help us ensure a future founded on a better premise and equipped with more knowledge. Great!

    1. We are the next stewards of this earth. It’s creating a new generation of farmers. Farmers that are more inclined to scientific methods and techniques and more welcoming of technology. If we have more farmers who are critical thinkers as well, I think this can be the genesis of a drastic change in the way we look at farmers, not only in the Philippines, but around the world!

  64. Kudos to the the team! The country’s agriculture sector really needs a drastic improvement and your proposal is a big step forward. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lawrence! 47% of the Filipino workforce is in Agriculture and yet we only contribute 12% to the GDP. Something is horribly wrong don’t you think?

  65. Kudos to the team! The country’s agriculture sector really needs a drastic improvement and your proposal should be a very big step forward.

  66. Goodluck with this you guys. Hope you’d convince a lot of landowners of turning their lands into farms rather than selling it. I think this part would be the trickiest since there are people who just thinks mostly about money, easy money. Kudos to you and your team!

    1. I think that once we present a viable and sustainable plan to the land owners, convincing them won’t be so hard, especially if it can also help them economically.

  67. Philippines needs to have more ideas like this and minds like yours Dax! Let be this an igniter for young souls to dream better for our country.

    1. They always say: Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan. This roughly translates to: The youth is our nation’s hope.

      It’s time we step up and live up to that phrase.

  68. The current Philippine agriculture needs young people to increase and to boost every sector of agriculture from research to extension. This is great initiative to reach one of the goals of Philippines, sustainability. Kudos Dax!

    1. Thanks, IJ. Our current farmers can retire once they know that there are capable farmers who can take on the responsibility of feeding this nation. We hope to train the greatest wave of farmers in Philippine history.

  69. Nice idea for a nice next generation of agriculture! concise and concrete objectives to address benefits of the rural farmers. Good luck 🙂

  70. I really hope this proposal will get a chance to prove its effectiveness. We need more people like you and your team sir and we support you 🙂 God bless.

  71. Hey Dax! Nice to see a lot of comments with several of them giving ideas and suggestions. Hope this project win the grant and recognition.
    I would suggest that once this model farm is operational, the group aim to expand the scope and make it a model farm also for existing farms that are not reaching its potential in terms of productivity and farmer’s income. It would probably mean more crops (both high-value and agronomic) and livestocks, better farming techniques and new technologies.
    Goodluck and Godbless the group!

    1. Hi Beni! Definitely! Although not expressed here in this proposal, this Idle to Ideal initiative can cover the whole production spectrum of Agriculture. Plants, Animals, it can be done!

  72. The concept is solid and noble. I would call your group of young professionals as Food Security Warriors. We really need to engage the youth of today to be engaged in modern farming as a business. We need passionate and dedicated professionals like your group to really optimize the importance of agriculture in reducing poverty, hunger and malnutrition in a sustainable manner. Congratulations!

  73. This project will definitely upgrade our country. Hope this be approved.
    An excellent idea Sir Dax. God Bless.

  74. Hey Dax! In connection with the Philippines being a megadiverse country, you may want to concentrate on native varieties of plants (vegetables, trees, whatever) as this will also help the country in achieving our targets in implementing the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

    Anyway, you and team are off to a good start! All the best! 🙂

    1. Hey Kamille! Thanks for this input. We want to of course maintain biodiversity that is why we have selection criteria on the farms we will pick for conversion before it can be considered arable.

      For it to be economically viable, we have to plant crops that have high value and steady demand. We can incorporate native varieties of plants especially those that provide food.

  75. By converting idle lands into productive, profitable and sustainable (ideal) farms, the youth will see agriculture as a serious industry which they can actually venture in. This will help in attaining a more improved agriculture in Philippines in the future. I hope this pushes through, so you could encourage youth effectively.

    1. The youth needs to see that opportunities are there in Agriculture to encourage them to work in this industry. Any industry depends on availablity of opportunities, this drives interest and in turn increases output because of the availability of the labor force.

      We also want to create a new wave of farmers. Scientific in their approach and more willing to adapt new technologies.

  76. Agriculture has always been the backbone of the Philippines yet the number of those who believes so has put it out of their priority. I think it’s time for us, the young generation, to do what is expected from us and be the change our country needs. Feeding our families is natural, feeding the country is extra ordinary. I hope this project will not just inspire and motivate those who have read and understood but also give hope and opportunity to those who needs it most.
    Kudos to you Dax and friends!

    1. Thanks, mehustle. Like I mentioned to a teammate, it’s not enough that the government give out welfare, they should teach people how to farm. This way, overreliance on the government’s welfare system will be reduced because Filipinos will noe be able to feed themselves through farming.

  77. This is very inspiring. A lot of us depend on the government to ignite change. We blame the government for not giving enough support. We blame it for our current disposition as a nation. But the government, in itself, cannot revolutionize the country. The private sector plays a big part in the change we want to see.. Perhaps the private sector even plays the main role.

    I am rooting for the success of this project! The development of the agri sector will benefit the country tremendously. I hope as this project progresses, it could produce young farmer entrepreneurs. After all, food security is not just about having enough supply. It’s about having the capacity to buy enough safe and nutritious food. This could be one way to attain the inclusive growth we are aiming at. In the future, this initiative can change many lives and even lift some people out of poverty.

  78. Great idea, carl! I really agree with you. I can see the importance of this project and how it will greatly affect the country and the people. Continue to pursue your vision and im sure God’s favor is upon you.

  79. Hi Dax! Such a great concept. I hope you get the fund to make ‘idle to ideal’ happen. Thank you for investing on the youth. This project will not only capacitate young farmers but will definitely demonstrate the role of youth in the agricultural sector.

    I can see how your project will inspire LGUs on promoting multicropping and HVCs, schools on improving gulayan sa paaralan project, ALS (alternative learnjng system) to promote education on agriculture, entrepreneurs and even ordinary residents to utilize the ther pieces of land to grow crops for food security, nutrition and business.

    I am excited to see the project and the ways you would employ to make it sustainable.

    Good luck to your team, dax! 🙂

    1. We hope to see this implemented across the country and even on a bigger scale, internationally. It is a concept that can be adapted and can create a new generation of scientific farmers.

      Thanks for your support, Vina!

  80. Nowadays “Ideal” seems impossible to be achieved because of tons of factors that we have or deem lacking. Having the right attitude, clear perspective and the “ideal” people to support this will contribute to its great success. Let’s pray for the best fit officials and people who will do their part in making this work for a better future, our future. 😊

  81. *this is grrreaat*

    I am looking forward to great things that you and your team will provide for future farmers like me.

    ALL THE BEST DAX!!

  82. Let’s move forward! connect and reconnect! this is very ideal! Sustainability and food security still has its fight especially with visions like this!

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