At 28, John Raymund Jurada is now one of the elected key leaders of a growing network of organized organic farmers in the county today, Agroecology for Sustainable Community Economic Development in the Philippines (ACED Philippines), Inc.
This young farmer has an inspiring story to tell the world. He left a promising job in the city and decided to continue the legacy established by his father, Arthur. This father and son tandem from Buayan, Mlang, North Cotabato found more fulfilment from working in their 1 ½ hectare diversified farm, motivating people, and producing nutritious and good-eating quality organic rice.
It wasn’t surprising at all that during the General Assembly of ACED Philippines held last June 12, these proud father and son were both elected to the National Coordinating Council (NCC), the supreme unifying body of the network tasked to lead in its strategic direction.
John Raymund or “Bobet” as he is more known in the community 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 and already had his passport and working documents ready. But when asked what made him decided to return to his community and to be a full-time farmer. He proudly said: “there’s a brighter future with 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 (Jose Ben, Liza and Nida) are organic farmers also. As a young boy, Bobet was already exposed to discussions of the members of BUSAFO, a farmer’s organization led by his father and other farmers’ organizations in Mindanao. 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 ACED Philippines (then using the previous name of our network) in North Cotabato.
Since 2019, Bobet has already been at the frontline of promoting organic farming by organizing the children and young people in their community into an organization called Organic Garden of Sto. Nino Youth Organization (OGOSYO) which already bagged recognitions from the provincial government of North Cotabato.
He continue training the members about rice breeding and productions, vegetables gardening, processing, marketing, and organizational strengthening also. The group has already established a 400-square meter garden planted with 10 kinds of vegetables in front of Sto. Nino 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 the series of earthquakes that badly hit their neighbouring town of Tulunan in the last quarter of 2019, Bobet and members of OGOSYO and BUSAFO packed their organic produce and distributed it to the victims.
It’s not a surprise that Bobet, his parents, and the members of their organizations are not affected by the impacts of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. They are food secured and resilient – and always will be. BUSAFO and OGOSYO are one of the top providers of organic rice in Davao City and North Cotabato through the Social Enterprise Program of ACED Philippines which will become online soon through with website www.mallingkawaz.ph.
Recent statistics from the Department of Agriculture alarmed us all – that the average age of Filipino farmer is 60. They are the frontliners to our survival and sustainability but they are having a serious problem now. This concern continues to alarm the farming sector yet less seriously talked about and systematically addressed. Obviously, this is not the case of Arthur who turned 61 few months ago, and the members of ACED Philippines with Bobet and his fellow young farmer Teresa Sariana at the top organizational body of the network.