“He eyed a farmland in Nueva Ecija where we could plant vegetable crops alongside fruit and forest trees. A man of wisdom and vision, Dr. Tan believes that the good earth will always bring food to everyone’s table, rich or poor,” he added.
Sing, who has been with the Foundation for more than 20 years, manages the group’s farms in Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Palawan, which have yielded tons of various agricultural crops. “We are now in full swing of planting and harvesting various Bahay Kubo crops like tomatoes, eggplant, okra, ampalaya, patola, kalabasa as well as pechay, kamote tops and kangkong. We have also included rice as this is the people’s staple food, and several fruit and root crops,” Sing said.
He revealed that Eton Properties Inc. (Phils.), a sister company of the Group, partnered last year with the Foundation to help farmers of Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya produce premium rice under a joint CSR project called Masaganang Palayan.
“With the donation of hybrid palay seeds and farm inputs, the project saw its bountiful harvest with 214 tons of palay or an estimate of more than 100 tons of rice from around 20 hectares of farm land,” he said.
The Foundation, he added, also helped the farmers sell their produce to the market. “We want to assist rice farmers in getting the highest yield per hectare of their land,” he said.
There are three distribution outlets for the produce, depending on the volume of the TYKFI farm harvests: local market or the nearby public markets, corporate buyers who buy in bulk and individual employees from companies owned by Dr. Tan.
“Since we sell them at affordable prices, the employees always look forward to our weekly market day. This is part of Dr. Tan’s total employee care where his people enjoy extra fringe benefits,” Sing said.
He added that over the last four years, the farms have produced and distributed more than 45 tons of various vegetable crops among employees at discounted prices.
TYK farms serve as a sustainable source of livelihood for poor farmers and indigenous peoples in the communities served by the Foundation.
Families of hundreds of farmers who have worked at the LCT Legacy Forest Project and the agro-forestry farmers have improved their living standards tremendously since 2015.
Many of them have constructed or renovated their own permanent houses, acquired motorcycles they use to go to work, sent children to college, started their own small businesses or have brought their family members to work under the project.
“Dr. Tan hires professional agriculturists, foresters and skilled farm workers to look after the optimal utilization and protection of the different farms. He also sees to it that the Foundation trains local farmers in the correct way of land preparation, maintenance and nurturing of farms which they can adopt in their own backyard gardens,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Foundation’s model farm in Nueva Ecija has been a frequent host to many local and international institutions from Asia and the United States that wish to observe the development and success of its agro-forestry projects.
Most recent visitors included agriculture and environmental protection experts from the government of Bhutan, the University of Tokyo and the University of California-Davis, which ranks number one in the world in terms of programs in plant science and agriculture.
During the visit, Dean Helene Dillard of the UC Davis College of Agriculture noted how well the local farmers have handled farm challenges through sustainable disease and pest management.
Last year, the Foundation also received international recognition when World CSR conferred on TYKFI the 2019 NGO Leadership Award in Mumbai, India for its sustainable social responsibility programs, particularly its agro-forestry activities through its flagship Dr. Lucio C. Tan Legacy Forest Project.