The women of Myriad Farms
The endless greens are a sight to see in Myriad Farms in Barangay Triala, Guimba, Nueva Ecija. The harvest season is looming, and finally, farmers will be able to reap the benefits of the land.
Myriad Farms started as a family farm in the 1980s. Today, Myriad Farms is successful because of the passion and dedication of two women leaders: Viola Fern Sebastian and Frianina “Nina” Resplandor.
“I wanted to continue the legacy of my mother, who worked hard to build and develop this farm,” Fern said. It was her mother who managed the farm until 2017.
Despite having little knowledge and experience in farming, Fern ventured into farming, taking numerous training courses in agriculture with different public and private organizations.
“Before managing the farm, we had different occupations. Fern was into interior design and construction, while I’m into management consultancy,” Nina said.
Myriad Farms saw a string of successes from partnerships with government agencies. In 2019, it became a learning site by the Agricultural Training Institute. It was then accredited as a farm field school by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and then as an agri-tourism site by the Department of Tourism. It also became a Philippine Good Agricultural Practices (PhilGAP)-certified farm.
Equipping farmers with relevant knowledge and skills
With its reputation as a hands-on and in-depth farm school, Myriad Farms has attracted students from Guimba and nearby towns. Currently, it provides three certifications with TESDA: 1) production of high-quality inbred rice, 2) pest and nutrient management, and 3) digital agriculture course.
“The last two are new, and these are short courses we offer for eight days. We also added lessons on entrepreneurship for farmers to learn business management skills,” Nina said.
In the digital agriculture course, which was co-developed with the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), farmers were introduced to the use of smartphones and applications to boost productivity, and the use of social media to market their produce.
Nina and Fern revealed that forty percent (40%) of their students are women, who were very eager to demonstrate what they have learned in their farms.
“Women are playing a very active role in agriculture. Gone are the days when men were the ones dominating the sector. They are willing to learn the modern ways of farming and innovate when needed,” Fern said.
Partnership with PEF and CENTER
Nina and Fern have partnered with the Cooperative Enterprise for True Economic Reform (CENTER) while setting up their farm school.
“They have rented their machinery to us and they were very receptive to programs we have proposed with them,” Nina said.
Myriad Farms is also an active participant in the field trial that is testing the viability of several hybrid rice varieties to boost production, with support from Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) and PhiRice.
As the harvest season approaches, Nina and Fern look forward to a brighter future for Myriad Farms.
Fern and Nina, partners in life and even work, have taken care of the farm and its workers for years, and they have been sharing their recipe for success with other farmers, including some eager women farmers.
“This is the reason why this farm continues to grow,” Nina concluded.