By: Trish, Miguel, Fred, Maxine, Theo, Matteo Atanacio.
The Batang Filipino Farmer (BFF) Movement is a movement of kids, by kids, for kids. It was founded by cousins, Trish and Miguel Atanacio. Their Dads, Eric and Emer Atanacio tagged them along to the Go Negosyo – Kapatid Young Entrepreneur Farmers Get Together held on December 10, 2016 at the RFM Corporate Center Penthouse. After listening to the roll of speakers during that event, most notably Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, former Agriculture Secretary Dr. William Dar, Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness, Dr. Ben Quinones, Jr. of Land Bank of the Philippines, Cherrie Atilano of AGREA, among other speakers telling about stories about the state of Philippine agriculture, about the aging Filipino farmers, opportunities and problems in agriculture and learning more about the diversity in agriculture.
Trish and Miguel, together with their younger siblings and cousins, Fred, Theo, Maxine , Matteo, Yanna, Yiggo, Ylodia, James and Jacob started talking about what they have learned and was alarmed that if the way things are going in the agriculture would continue, they got worried about where would they get the food to eat and feed their children and grandchildren if there are no youth who would want to be involved in agriculture. They also connected it with their experience, of being city kids growing up in their family farm where they get their exposure to farming at an early age. They want to share this experience with other children, both city kids and rural kids and they want to inspire other children to love and appreciate agriculture the same way they do. After that, just before Christmas they huddled together, exchange ideas and that huddle gave birth to BFF or Batang Filipino Farmers. On Christmas Day of 2016, they started pitching their ideas of BFF to the rural kids in Maragondon, Cavite who visited the family farm, the Terra Verde Ecofarm for the annual Christmas gift-giving. They were energized by the response and enthusiasm of the rural kids to the future activities of BFF.
On February 5, 2017, the first BFF activity was held in Terra Verde Ecofarm where the elementary pupils of Pantihan 2 Elementary School who are mostly children of farmers joined city kids that were invited in a rice planting activity. Not only did they plant rice, but they also created a bond with these children. As a token of gratitude to the children of farmers who are feeding us, the city kids gave them bags of rice, a symbol that both the city kids and farmers’ kids should not go hungry and should take care of one another.
On March 21, 2017, BFF was formally launched during the 1st National Small & Family Farmer: New and Beginning Farmers Conference held in SEARCA, UP Los Banos. BFF founders Trish, Miguel and Fred Atanacio of Terra Verde Ecofarm in Maragondon, Cavite were joined by co-convenors brothers Bobby and Robby Morris of MoCa Farm in Padre Garcia, Batangas and Marielle Loresto of Willy’s Integrated Farm in Mallig, Isabela talked to the various family farmers and presented and promoted the BFF movement, which received a hearty acceptance and support from the family farmers from all over the Philippines and their desires to let their kids be part of BFF too.
On May 21, 2017, the BFF started pilot testing of agricultural training for kids in Terra Verde Ecofarm, where they were taught about vermiculture, potting soil mixing, planting, the basics of chicken and swine raising and rice harvesting. The numbers of BFF are starting to grow, with the new members consisting of brothers Joseph and Angelo Montano, siblings Danielle, Sam, Gab and Renzo Pasia and Angelo Lopez.
On June 10, 2017, the BFF received CODE RED (Risk Reduction Resiliency Education on Disasters) training from CHEERS Corporation. Additional members started joining BFF.
As BFF, our main goal is to encourage the Filipino Youth to be involved in Agriculture by redefining and glamorizing farming. The first sub-goal is to integrate fun and play in farming. We want to make learning fun to be able show that agriculture is fun. We believe that the best way to teach agriculture is not just in schools, but to bring them in an actual farm and to show them how things are really like.
Third, We learned that you do not have to be working in agriculture to support agriculture. By consuming agricultural products, we support the upliftment of farmers’ lives. And beyond that, we can be anywhere in the world, and still support the Filipino farmers and their family.
We believe that it is time for us to give back. We, the kids, are here to help the kids and the families of those who take care and feed us. Our movement promotes farming to the Filipino Youth and we want to bring it nationwide.