John Raymund Jurada, 27, left a promising job in the city and decided to continue the legacy established by his father, Arthur. This proud father and son tandem from Mlang, North Cotabato found more fulfilment from working in their 1 ½ hectare diversified farm, organizing young organic farmers, and producing nutritious and good-eating quality organic rice.
John Raymund or “Bobet” as he is more known finished electronics in college. He had worked in big companies that could provide him with a stable source of income which many employees desired. He had also been offered to work abroad. But when asked what made him decided to return to his community and to be a full-time farmer. He proudly said: “I can also get a good future from organic farming.”
Organic farming is not new to Bobet. He was taught about rice breeding when he was 12 years old by his father who is a successful rice breeder. His mother, Betty, and his uncles and aunts are organic farmers also. As a young boy, Bobet was exposed to discussions by members of BUSAFO and other farmer’s organizations. Their house which has evolved from a simple bamboo hut into a fully concrete one is a result of their entrepreneurial skills, has long been the de-facto office of Agro-Eco Philippines in North Cotabato.
Since last year, Bobet has been at the frontline of promoting organic farming by forming a group of Young Organic Farmers in their community and training its members (some are as young as 7 years old) about rice breeding and vegetable gardening. The group has already established a 400-square meter garden planted with 10 kinds of vegetables in front of the Chapel where Arthur functions as a Lay Minister. From this initiative the group gets about 6,000 income a month, not to mention the regular food supply that their families are getting.
During last year’s earthquake that hit their neighbouring town of Tulunan, Bobet and his group packed their organic produce and distributed it to the victims.
It’s not a surprise that Bobet, his parents, and the members of their organization are not affected by the impacts of COVID-19. They are food secured and resilient – and always will be. BUSAFO is one of the top providers of organic rice (comes in white, red and black) in Davao City through the Social Enterprise Program of Agro-Eco Philippines. The regular operations of this will most likely resume in less than two weeks from now.
It’s alarming to know that the average age of Filipino farmer is 60, according to the Department of Agriculture. They are the frontliners to our survival. But they are having a serious problem now of who will be their second-liners. Obviously this is not the case of Arthur who turned 60 last March 30. Just recently, Pres. Duterte, Sen. Bong Go and some Cabinet members have discussed the idea of creating “Balik Probinsya Program” to entice the people in the urban centers to go back to the province and to embrace farming, by giving more incentives to agriculture. We all know that it’s closer to a dream than to reality. But if they need models who can provide them with concrete pictures of it, it’s certainly Bobet, Arthur, and thousands of organic farmers out there who are already doing the right steps but lacking with right supports from the government.