At 25, Denver Biang of Kapangan, Benguet is slowly shaping a future in agriculture and food production, a dream he had as a child.
In an interview by the Philippine News Agency, Denver said he plans to further hone his skills for his family’s future while helping produce food for the country.
“I am happy with what I do. That is the most important (thing) aside from seeing good economic prospects in being a farmer,” he said in Ilocano.
Denver, who owns “Saymayat Farm” in Barangay Bineng in La Trinidad, Benguet, produces seedlings of leafy vegetables planted in seedling trays ready for transplanting upon delivery to farmer-buyers.
Denver said he had always seen farming as a good source of livelihood, especially growing up having a neighbor who enjoys life by growing agricultural products.
“I told myself, I want to become a farmer also so that I can have a good life,” he shared.
Denver went on to pursue a degree in agriculture at Benguet State University.
While completing his thesis, Denver opted to look for a job to sustain the remaining months of his studies. But he wanted to land a job that was aligned with his course to gain experience and training.
For five months in 2018, he worked at a farm in La Trinidad, Benguet that produces seedlings of cut flowers and exports these to Japan.
“My experience there taught me a lot in addition to what I learned in school,” he added.
Denver said he did not renew his work contract to be able to go back to school and finish his requirements, which will allow him to graduate.
“I saw an announcement about the Young Farmers’ Challenge and I told myself that I would join, thinking of the prize money,” he shared.
Armed with the experience and the PHP50,000 prize he won at the provincial level in 2019, Denver set up a rooftop seedling production business.
Denver’s business venture allowed him to work on the salient part of a farmer’s job, which is lowering the mortality rate of seedlings to increase yields.
“We deliver seedlings that have roots that already cover the soil of the seedling tray hole to ensure survival. A root-covered soil will also make it easier for the farmer to take the seedling out of the tray and straight to the ground where it will be grown and harvested,” he said.
Denver said the concept of his business is based on his experience from the five-month job prior to graduating from college.
He said seedling production is a complicated job since it requires a lot of patience –transferring four-day-old small sprouts in seedling trays and then transferring these again in a bigger tray after 14 days, and another bigger tray after several days where it will stay until the day of the delivery.
He has about 10 regular clients on top of the walk-in clients who buy the seedlings.
From rooftop to farm
After his rooftop seedling production business got stronger in 2019, Denver transferred to a relative’s house that has a bigger area to accommodate increasing demand.
But the growing demand required him to have a larger space.
In 2022, he rented a 2,000-square-meter land area where he grows hundreds of thousands of leafy vegetable seedlings.
He also employs three people and accepts agriculture students for a weekend job, especially those who want to learn.
At 25 years old, Denver is now an agripreneur, a teacher at his agriculture learning site farm, and an advocate for youth to go into agriculture and food production.
“It is important to know what you want, want what you dream of, and work on it. You have to exert effort to learn the trade, learn the system through education and experience,” he said.
His dream is to have his own land for business expansion to eventually grow the final product. (PNA)