Welcome to the first newsletter of OFW para sa Magsasaka (OPM)!
What was a tiny idea created on February 14, 2016 is now a live, breathing social enterprise! Thanks to many of you, we’ve already exceeded the 10-hectare minimum we have set in the beginning, though our seed is still open to accepting participants until May 15, 2016. With more hectares to farm, it just means more profits for investors like you and simply many more farmers we can help. All these happened because we were blessed to have YOUR support. If you still have not committed, don’t wait too long! Whether you are keen to help, or keen to earn, or both, OPM is the right platform.
We chatted with many of you through Facebook.com/ofwparasamagsasaka but we saw your smiles and shook hands in the roadshow; in “Successful Pinoy Ako” where we got the vote of Philippine Agricultural Attaché to the UAE Gil Herrico, in the AUH Bayanihan Council held in the Philippine Embassy, in our coffee meetings in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in offices and over breakfasts, and recently a webinar that saw us taking in questions from Singapore, USA and UK. Our recorded webinar can be viewed at OPM’s youtube channel at: https://youtu.be/7bdoNPonUUY if you were unable to attend.
Now to jumpstart the program, Iman will be in Mindanao for two weeks to hold our first “Bayanihan” in our target farms -- Brgy. Magkiangkang, Bayugan, Agusan Del Sur. It’s the final dialogue before awarding and aims to manage expectations of farmers, to pin down specific details of assistance that the Dept. of Agriculture (DA) and Dept. of Trade & Industry (DTI) will extend, and to finalize with mayor’s office points of our contract in order to protect our investment. Then this trip also marks the preliminary cacao production training Iman, and other OPM cacao doctors, will give our farmers. It will briefly tackle cacao farming protocols, use of chemicals and fertilizers, integrated pest & disease management, as well as the financial aspect of cacao farming.
On this trip, Iman will also be visiting farmer-cooperative-owned Chokolate de San Isidro (CSI) in Davao Del Norte to learn from expert producers and understand more about post-production. There is a possibility to cooperate in marketing efforts between OPM and CSI because they found out that OPM is extending marketing support to farmers. Incidentally Iman is a friend to ex-DTI Davao head Nenita Nazareno who is one of the forces behind CSI when she was still in government. She also is an advocate of equitable farming.
Many more things need to be done but with the strength of OFWs and our unyielding belief that what we do here is good so Our Creator will just bless us, we know that they can all be achieved! We thank Trish Jabines and Kristine Abante, two of our signed-up investors, who have volunteered to helping in research, marketing and press release. We truly feel the BAYANIHAN spirit!
After May 15, 2016 seed closure, we will begin planning for the sowing season (rainy season) but we will also roll out something for our INVESTORS who have existing farms they wish to convert to cacao. So please stay tuned for that.
If free on April 28, Thursday after office-hours, we’d be happy to hang out with our OPM team and share pics and videos of what happened to Iman’s April trip to Mindanao and take in your ideas for the future. Venue TBA.
Luchie & Iman