by Juan Paulo Legaspi
Coming across ideas and visions is the start of anyone’s dreams. Since the age of 12, upon reading a book, Cherrie Atilano had been dedicating her time for the name of agriculture so much that in her early 20s, she had already been to 81 provinces to share her advocacy. Atilano continued to pursue her passion when she graduated Magna Cum Laude on Visayas State University, being chosen as one of 10 Outstanding Students of the Philippines, a member of World Economic Forum up until being appointed as ambassador of UN Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN). You can never really know what a simple 12 year old girl can do who dreams of change.
As a woman with one vision, it is her calling to reach more farmers and leave an impact that brought her to her trophy. She founded her own company, AGREA, an enterprise with a purpose to provide educational programs not only to farmers but also to those interested in farming. In addition, it also teaches other franchises different modern and efficient agricultural methods to enhance their capabilities in farming, fishing, harvesting and many more. Truly, AGREA is the fruit of Atilano’s labor, reaching and helping farmers empowering them by reconstructing how the people think look at their profession, cementing her legacy on the agricultural sector.
Making Farming Great Again
One misconception, not only in the country but also on major parts of the world, is that farming remains to be seen as a small time agricultural venture resulting to farmers being disregarded with little appreciation. There is a must in changing the story of farming, that it is not associated in poverty and hardships. “Farmers are endangered species,” said Atilano on EAT Forum held on Jakarta last 2017, emphasizing the essence new farming image, that people should always see not the dirt but the gold in the soil.
In the Philippines, food scarcity is widespread ensuing high demand but with low productivity. The food production is not enough to feed 109 million population. In this matter, it is imperative that the society ,especially the farmers, should know how valuable their work is. By providing knowledge and education not only to the farmers but also to the aspiring people who wants to be a part of the agriculture sector.
Hero Behind Rosy Cheeks
Subsequent to the covid-19 pandemic, the government had implemented series of community quarantines which inflicted hurdles to the agriculture sector of the country. Thus, the farming industry come across a severe hit when the enhanced community quarantine halted transport operations, leaving the harvest hanging. As the farmers faced adversity, Cherrie Atilano and her AGREA saw this as an opportunity to prompt the Zero Food Waste agenda giving alternative solutions and extending help to the farm workers.
“Resilience is good but our individual actions will make the difference,” Atilano said as with her extensive efforts, launched the Move Food Initiative which focused on helping farmers transport their produce to the market, especially in Metro Manila, despite the hold on transport operations brought by the pandemic. The program also focused on supplying supermarket stalls affected by the first surge of lockdown. Moreover, the initiative also contributed to over 54,000 families and 7,400 families that feed more than 3,000 medical personnel and front liners as appreciation for their work during the pandemic.
Improving the country’s agriculture sector would be a boost to its economical status to higher levels, making Filipinos patronize certified pinoy produce that would even make Philippines a top exporter when time comes.
Cherrie dreams of making everyone see agriculture as a respectable profession, an occupation worthy of your life and that farming is not for the less educated. As one who believes on empowering your own people, Cherrie encourages the public to make agriculture sustainable and to endear the food of the future generation. For someone who adheres to that dream, more than anything, you know that she will always see agriculture as the noblest of them all.