Young Filipino social entrepreneur bats for shift in mindset about agriculture in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2) — A dominant agricultural country should consider farming as an essential and esteemed activity to help citizens survive, and to reinvigorate local and national economy.

Such is not the case in the Philippines, where agriculture is seen only as a poor man's job and not a lucrative career path for today's youth.

This mindset is what 22-year-old Filipino social entrepreneur Louise Mabulo wants to change especially in this time of pandemic, when people became more concerned with the country's agricultural supply.

Mabulo emphasized agriculture is an important aspect that every Filipino should focus on because it plays a vital role in shaping the country's future, especially in its food security.

"In schools, we are taught that green jobs, environmental jobs, and agricultural jobs don't pay well or don't pay enough. Then we need to actually do our part to support them. We need to change the language in the school curriculums surrounding farming and agriculture," Mabulo said.

The 2020 National Geographic Society Young Explorer awardee shared that people are starting to realize the potential of agriculture in every household, as some engaged in backyard farming to produce their own food at a time when food chain supply becomes almost scarce due to the pandemic that forced everyone to stay inside their homes.

"I hope even after the pandemic eases off, people will still remember that importance that farmers were there for them when food supply chains were starting to break down in the middle of the pandemic," she said.

Mabulo founded The Cacao Project in 2016, after a super typhoon hit her hometown in San Fernando, Camarines Sur. It is a social venture that convinced her to stay for good in the Philippines and continue empowering farmers to be sustainable and resilient while working in the fields.

"When you're so deep into your community and you see all these farmers who are struggling to get by, it's almost such ignorance to not do anything about it. I knew we needed to make a lasting change for our farmers, especially at a time where our climate is changing," she explained.

Regenerative farming is the core of The Cacao Project, where building "climate-smart" livelihoods make farmers more competitive and innovative amid the changing global climate in a tropical country like the Philippines. This motivated Mabulo to build an economic agri-forest that will entice farmers to produce cocoa and chocolates.

"We hope that through the agri-forest we're building, they can see that they can work together with nature, that it's a biodiverse ecosystem that can create food that is profitable, that is dignified and respectable and cool and that they can easily use that and integrate that into their livelihoods to become stewards of creation," Mabulo said.

Mabulo hopes that with her feat as one of National Geographic Society's Young Explorers, she can elevate the Philippine agricultural sector worldwide — a big step from its ironic humiliating outlook in an agricultural-dominant country.