Iloilo farm resort reaps the fruits of the soil
Ephrathah Farms, a brainchild of Eddie Canuto, is a thriving resort in Sariri, Badiangan, Iloilo. But it has become a venue for small vegetable farmers whose produce now occupy the vegetable section of SM Supermarket and Hypermarket in Iloilo.
The farm is on a piece of land Canuto acquired that once belonged to his grandfather. A successful civil engineer, Canuto ventured into farming to help fund a camp for the Sariri Baptist Church Youth. The venture was not as successful as he had hoped.
Opting for an early retirement, Canuto decided to concentrate on farming that brought into fruition Ephrathah Farms, the first farm resort in Iloilo where guests can tour around the property and buy chemical-free vegetables, farm products, seeds, and other agricultural goods.
That the farm produces quality chemical-free vegetables is not surprising. Having been the site of SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers’ Training in the summer of 2015, the participants were taught how to grow high-value vegetables without using pesticides and proper seed and soil preparation. Participants came from the towns of Badiangan, Januiay, Mina, Pototan, Lambunao, Barotac Nuevo and Sta. Barbara, all in Iloilo province.
Incidentally, the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers’ Training Program was launched in 2007 in Negros Occidental, just across the sea from Iloilo.
Unlike other training programs, the KSK also teaches the participants how to sell their produce to a bigger market. Farmers are not limited to town markets nor to neighbors wanting to purchase their crops. SM Foundation encourages the farmers to look for other buyers to make the program sustainable.
Canuto has enjoined the farmers to sell to buyers who can give them reasonable prices for their harvests, thereby helping the farmers lift their lives. From the 2015 Badiangan KSK graduates, 17 farmers are now regular suppliers of SM Supermarket and Hypermart through Ephrathah Farms. As SM Foundation continues to conduct more farmers’ training programs, their number is growing.
For Canuto, what he learned from SM Foundation’s KSK has reinforced his faith in the Lord, citing a verse from Deuteronomy: “God will bless the fruit of this land, the grain, the increase.”