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SMC ramps up urban farming initiative

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San Miguel Corporation’s Backyard Bukid, initiated in 2021 to assist its service personnel during the pandemic, has grown into a vibrant urban farm at the company’s head office complex, now cultivating 39 varieties of flowering plants and vegetables.

The urban farm, which now includes a plant nursery and 80 garden plots, also functions as a center for employee wellness, volunteerism, and training.

Replicated in several SMC facilities by the San Miguel Foundation, the project has recently been expanded through a partnership with Urban Farmers PH, enhancing the farm’s diversity and variety of produce.

Apart from farmyard staples such as tomatoes, okra, and ampalaya, the farm also produces kale, romaine lettuce and other salad greens.

“I am proud to see the progress of our Backyard Bukid project. Apart from promoting urban agriculture, it has also become a space for our support staff to collaborate and learn life-long skills that will help them become more resilient and self-sufficient. I’m grateful to our partner, Urban Farmers PH, for helping us expand this project. Our goal is to extend this initiative to even more facilities, involve more employees, and encourage other companies to do the same,” said SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang.  

Louie Gutierrez, Urban Farmers PH founder and farmer-in-chief, said: “We’re really happy and excited to be connecting with companies like San Miguel. The pandemic showed us that we need to have growing vegetables in idle lands in the city. We hope this project inspires SMC employees and other companies to get into agriculture because this is the future of our food.”    

Urban Farmers PH was established in 2021 with the aim of converting underutilized public spaces into thriving urban farms. It has several ongoing projects, including urban farms in Taguig and Makati cities. It is also a grand prize winner of the Copenhagen Business School’s ImpaktWISE Awards, which recognizes organizations that offer solutions to social, environmental, and economic challenges.

Currently, SMC’s Backyard Bukid follows a harvest cycle of 20 to 35 days. Once the produce is harvested, it is distributed among members who then sell it to employees.  

Some of the harvest is also bought by SMC and donated to its Better World Tondo community center for its daily feeding program. The company also has plans to buy the vegetables for the office canteen.

Support staff involved in the project dedicate an hour every morning and afternoon to tend to the farm. They also attend weekly plant care sessions with Urban Farmers PH.

“Masayang masaya po ako sa Backyard Bukid. Maliban sa madami akong nakilalang bagong mga kaibigan, natuto po ako dito magtanim at mag-alaga ng mga halaman. Maraming, maraming salamat po kay Boss RSA at sa San Miguel at binigyan po kami ng project na ganito na napapakinabangan po namin,” shares Backyard Bukid member Je-An Layva.    

As one of the biggest and most diversified conglomerates in the country, SMC has launched various initiatives that aim to promote agriculture and assist local farmers.  

In July 2020, the company opened Better World Diliman, a community center that serves as a ready market for excess produce from all over Luzon. To date, Better World Diliman has rescued over 950,000 kilograms of produce and helped some 4,500 farmers–and in the process, has helped reduce food waste from local farms.

Furthermore, the company’s food group recently launched an Agripreneurship Scholarship program in Davao and Bicol, which benefits scholars from SEED Philippines. The program’s ultimate goal is to employ graduates in the company’s farms in both provinces.  

Earlier, SEED Philippines also helped SMC’s packaging division to create urban farms in their facilities in Manila and Cavite.

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