Farming may not be as attractive as the corporate world for the young generation. However, for these two engineers, there is so much in it that roused their interest. 

Some families must be concerned about who will take over in tilling their land because their children are not interested. This is not the case for the family of Engr. Jerrah Maeh C. Mindoro. 

The 35-year-old Civil Engineer opted to leave the jobs she worked hard for to take care of her family’s 2.65-hectare land in the City of Mati, Davao Oriental. According to her, this has been her best decision by far. 

Mindoro stayed in the central business district of Davao City from 2018 until March 2020 to earn her keep. But in January 2022, she decided to finally settle at their farm. 

“My father is already sickly which makes it impossible for him to take care of our farm,” she shared.  

Being an only child of already senior parents, Mindoro says that she must, therefore, take on the responsibility. When she took over the farm, she had to equip herself in order to become effective and efficient at the same time. 

Her father’s expertise is in growing banana, coconut, and jackfruit. But their land is not filled with these. Instead, two hectares of it are planted with cacao. Hence, Mindoro attended several training programs to prepare herself further.  

With the help of her partner, Jo-Anne Gacer, a 34-year-old software engineer, their farm’s productivity has improved, particularly that of cacao. 

“Since I took over, nag-increase ang good beans by 20 percent,” she shares about the production of their cacao, which ranges from three to five years old. 

The Mi-Ga Cacao Farm is slowly reaping the fruits of Mindoro and Gacer’s efforts and commitment. 

With the Department of Trade and Industry’s marketing assistance, agripreneurs are optimistic about uncovering more advantages that farming can provide them with. 

“We may have the farm and the production but without the market, our efforts would be futile,” Mindoro says. 

The duo has partnered with local cooperatives in the processing of their tablea. Nonetheless, they consistently ensure that their products’ quality is maintained.  

This partnership with Davao Oriental Cacao-Coco Industry Development Coalition (DOCCIDEC) and Mati Davao Oriental Upland Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MADOUMPCO) has resulted in a win-win situation: the groups generate additional income for their members while Mi-Ga has a steady supply of products for different marketing and trade promotion venues that DTI-Davao Oriental assisted them with. Last June, the enterprise already participated in the widely visited World Food Expo (WOFEX) despite being new in the cacao industry. It was part of the annual Mindanao Trade Expo (MTE) and some other local trade fairs in August. 

“Before we approached DTI, which immediately responded to our concern, we were only selling to our friends and neighbors. But now, we have regular outlets already,” Gacer notes, adding that the Mi-Ga tablea and cacao nibs are regular staples at the Davao Oriental One Town One Product (OTOP) Hub in Mati City. 

For these two engineers-turned-agripreneurs, farming has several opportunities that the youth must realize. According to them, it is a legacy that the next generations must continue to embrace. 

“With farming, there is self-fulfillment because I know that I am contributing something towards our country’s food sufficiency,” Mindoro shares. “Pahalagahan natin ang farming.” 

For Gacer, farming has helped her achieve self-growth, aside from the health benefits she gets from the natural food she consumes daily. 

In the meantime, both of them agreed that farming brings peace of mind as they have the chance to enjoy their own time sans the pressure that comes from being an employee. 

“The business opportunities are endless and your income is not static. If you are hardworking enough, you can earn more,” Gacer says. 

As of now, Mindoro and Gacer are committed to maximizing and optimizing the farm by going into hydroponics for lettuce and by building a greenhouse. And when things fall into place, their dream refreshments nook that will serve hot chocolate drink (sikwate) with Filipino rice cake puto-maya and vegan food, such as green vegetable salad, can be anyone’s destination when in Mati City. 

“As engineers, we want to do everything we can to make things work and for us to help more people,” they say in unison. 

They encourage agripreneurs to continuously innovate and adopt modern farming to take advantage of its benefits. By doing so, this becomes a competitive advantage that will surely redound to high profits. 

“Let us make modern farming the legacy we leave to the upcoming generations of agripreneurs,” Mindoro concludes. ♦

Date of Release: 23 September 2022