October 28, 2019
An organic agri-tourism farm village stretching over 8.8 hectares in Malvar, Batangas has been put up for aspiring farm entrepreneurs and hobbyists who may now run their small farms and be part of the bigger, more profitable agriculture value chain.
Agriculture Economist Pablito M. Villegas has established four separate, non-contiguous farms that operate as one agro-ecological and natural farming complex under the brand name Villegas OrganiKs.
The farm village maximizes productivity and profit opportunities for small farmer-entrepreneurs or agripreneurs.
Four farms form part of the Villegas. Organic & Hobby Farm Complex (VOHO) that are being sold to individual entrepreneurs.
They receive a package of assistance in organic inputs supplies, agriculture technology, and marketing from VOHO and Malvar Organic Farmers Agriculture Cooperative (MOFAC).
The farm lots have been sold to farmer-entrepreneurs who may be taking the risk for the first time in agriculture business.
But fortunately, they face higher profit opportunities and enjoy better risk management because of VOHO’s package of aids and services even to newbies.
“We help amateur entrepreneurs to enjoy hobby and wellness farming and achieve economies of scale through consolidation of their produce together with other small farm lots owners,” said Villegas.
He is an agriculture economist who was a retired vice-president of Landbank at the age of 40 and has been a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) consultant on agricultural and rural development.
By operating as one the farm lots in the four farms divided into units with 1,000 to 5,000 square meter (SQM) area, farm investors can produce or buy cheaper inputs and have full access to natural farming technology.
They are able to negotiate with local buyers and direct consumers for a higher price for their produce with their combined bigger volume that enables them to sell to consolidators and institutional markets.
Likewise, they are also able to obtain first and second party certification as organic producer or secure Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification through VOHO’s assistance.
The farm complex consists of the following farms that are all within Malvar township:
- San Pedro Uno Farm, 3.0 hectares with 12 farm lots duly sold out with remaining 0.583 ha of available lots for sale. It is located right adjacent to STAR Expressway. A total of 12 farm lots are now owned by individual entrepreneurs while 2 lots are run by VOHO itself. There is a whole block of 5,830 square meters (SQM) that will be sub-divided into 4 to 8 eco-farmville lots.
- Villegas has also put up an 8,000 SQM amenities area and technology demonstration site for organic farming. The amenities area has air-conditioned three-door inn with outdoor kitchen for lodging of agricultural tourists. There is a sauna facility, swimming pool, and gazebo. A water pump is available for irrigation and domestic waster use.
- San Pioquinto Farm, 3.2 hectares, with 4 farm lots now owned by individual farm-entrepreneurs while 12 more lots cut into 2,000 m2 and 3,000 m2, are still available for lot purchasers.
- San Gregorio Agro-forest, located in the watershed and protected area of Taal Volcano and its Lakes, is a 0.9 hectare property, with 7 agro-forest farm lots still available. With its sloping, hilly land area, it will be developed with a trekking pathway and a Glamping (Glamorous Camping) area on the riverbed of Balete River that drains to Taal Lakes. Continuous planting is on-going in the agro-forest area (rambutan, Thai mango, Taiwan atis and guyabano, Malaysian Langka, a dwarf productive breed).
- Poblacion Eco Tourism & Agro-industrial Farm, 1.73 hectares. It will be subdivided into 8 lots for eco-tourism and multi-use purposes (as events place, pension or retirement homes , warehouse and logistics, and trucking and storage). It is right within the midst of the Metro Turf Racing Track in Malvar, and the nearby Summit Point Golf Course in Lipa City.
Through Villegas OrganiKs, farmers are able to access nearby markets in the booming economy of Batangas (Sto. Tomas, Tanauan and Lipa Cities) where the Malvar town is at the center of the province.
At the same time, the farm lots have an easy access to Metro Manila as Malvar is just 60 kilometers away from Magallanes, Makati.
That’s only a 40-minute travel (without traffic) via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR).
Their markets include the Malvar Organic Trading Post, the Lima Land Industrial Park, also in Malvar, the Lima Hotel, SM-Lipa, and Robinson-Lipa, and Ayala Mall.
The farmer-entrepreneurs automatically get aid on agriculture technology, organic farming in particular, through the Malvar Organic Agriculture Cooperative once they hold membership.
Even before an aspiring farm-owner gets to own a farm lot at VOHO, farm produce are already waiting for him to harvest as the farms are already planted with different organically-maintained crops or fruit-bearing trees that command high value (higher price) in the market.
The San Pioquinto Farm is planted to all-organic banana, dragonfruit, guyabano, malunggay, kalamansi, pomelo, cacao, coffee, durian, mangoes, chico and pili. There are also areas for organic vegetables (empalaya, okra, sitao), winged and lima beans, yam, turmeric and ginger with non-sting bees as pollinators.
The San Pedro Uno Farm is also an orchard planted to varied fruit trees coconut, mango, avocado, rambutan, chico, lanzones.
The San Gregorio Agroforest is planted to more than 150 fruit bearing trees including lanzones, langka, mangoes, avocado, coconuts and indigenous forest trees (bamboo and gmelina.)
Villegas said he has put up VOHO with a concept he has carried all along since childhood in the farm and when he was part of a think tank and execution group in the University of the Philippines, Department of Agriculture and Land Bank and as an agriculture economist (with FAO/UN, ADB, World Bank and his consulting firm, Meganomics).
As an employee or consultant then, he crafted value chain master plans programs and projects for agriculture and fisheries development in Africa, Pacific Islands and Asian economies including Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
He has long conceptualized the Nucleus & Satellite Organic Farm Cluster (NUSOFAC).
It was long ago just a concept that aims to optimize farm productivity and give small farmers the benefit of being connected to the bigger, even international supply chain.
But now he has made this concept into a reality in his own VOHO Farm model.
In this case, the nucleus is the VOHO Farm Complex, and it is the link that connects small farmers to the value chain. The satellites are the small farms connected via membership with MOFAC.
The Villegas OrganiKs also has the SAGE, a Learning Center in its Amenities Area that also makes it an accredited learning site of DA/ATI for organic agriculture that has 3 training rooms and 28-people bamboo dormitory. Now, it has transformed into an agri-tourism destination.
The Learning Center lodging has a 3-room Inn that may accommodate 10-15 persons. The Amenities Area also has a swimming pool, a spa within and gazebo in front of a wide veranda.
As an agri-tourism site, the bonus it offers is the barriotic, refreshing panoramic view of four mountains– Mt. Makiling, Tagaytay Higlands, Malarayat Mountain ranges, and Mt.
Makulot. The town is also surrounded by three rivers– Balete River, Alulod River, and San Juan River.
The San Pedro 1 Farm is powered by solar panels, aside from power from the national grid, enjoying an environment-friendly, stable and hybrid source of electricity.
Villegas encourages young and senior citizen investors to try farming initially as a hobby for health and wellness and eventually as a profitable and rewarding experience Villegas Organiks also contributes to the country’s food security and poverty reduction with 3 farmer laborers now transformed into farm family agripreneurs engaging on-farm, off-farm and non-farm enterprises.
“While one is young, he should invest in agriculture, so that he will see his investment’s opportunity grow through the years,” he said.
After all, even if one does not engage in farming in the farm village but just enjoy its provincial surroundings just a little outside of Metro Manila, he gets to own a fast-appreciating value for money property just nearby the nearest expressways from Metro Manila. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)