Nestled within the heart of La Trinidad valley are acres of land that is devoted mostly to agriculture. The locality’s means of livelihood here are mostly vested on agriculture. And inside this vast agricultural land is Benguet State University’s Agribased Technology Business Incubator/ Innovation Center that was erected envisioning to contribute a more prosperous and productive Cordillera Region through agriculture-based technology business incubation.
On its first three years following its implementation through the BSU Board resolution no. 1936, BSU ATBI/IC through the supervision of Dr. Ruth Diego, from September 2011 to August 2014, have managed and trained 46 young farmers comprised of 19 students, 12 experienced farmers, two farmer-traders, three graduate-traders, one OFW, and nine fresh graduates.
BSU ATBI/IC has three program components namely; Smallholder Farming incubation, Food processing incubation, and Marketing Incubation. This is a non-profit, educational & service program that follows the form of an economic enterprise with a social mission. It is a multi-stakeholder program that encourages convergence of services for the entrepreneur, encourages innovation and the development of innovation systems, and public-private partnership in support of entrepreneurship.
Dubbed as incubatees, said young farmers are now equipped with the knowledge to more innovative farming practices coupled with modern and mature technological influence as their tools in realizing BSU ATBI/IC vision as they will about to exit its walls as the first graduates of the institution.
But before they graduate and impart their knowledge to the less-privileged farming sector in the locality as a true educated individual would do, keeping true to the Cordillera culture of collectivism, they must first mentor their successor incubatees of the same wisdom they attained inside BSU ATBI/IC.
More to the agricultural lessons, trainings and hands-on coaching being employed in BSU ATBI/IC towards its incubatees, is also the development of one’s character and mind-set in appreciating our indigenous culture of collective advancement. Collective in way that senior incubatees are obligated to carry with them their younger incubatees steps forward to fill in their shoes and carry on BSU ATBI/IC’s vision as they prepare themselves to be unleashed to the outside world. In essence, senior incubatee’s development should emanate from their younger successor incubatees and hopefully towards BSU’s patrons, the less privileged farming sector of the region. This mind-set of collective development will be held by them as they will about to face the ills plaguing our farming sector.
Aside from introducing to local farmers more innovative farming practices and more mature technological influences to boost their agricultural production, BSU ATBI/IC through their graduates, hope to sway conventional farmers to lean towards Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and help heal our region’s agricultural land that has long endured the harms of the predominated conventional type of farming.
Also, BSU ATBI/IC through their graduates, yearn to empower exploited farmers within the business aspects of agricultural entrepreneurship from production to marketing.
BSU ATBI/IC aimsare to increase the income and improve the standard of living of innovative smallholder farmers, food processors and vendors; provide a venue (incubator farm, food processing center) for the development of their technical & entrepreneurial skills; consolidate and provide access to a network of available public and private sector programs needed to develop their business; enhance the links between universities, colleges, research institutions and industry; encourage the generation of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in support of government and private sector initiatives; nurture and grow 50 smallholder start-up companies every end of 5-7 years cycle; and help bring about quality products and services.
The human capacity training program offered by BSU ATBI/IC varies from organizational, technical, entrepreneurial and social aspects. Interaction with students, community, and established practitioners is encouraged and facilitated. Additional seminars and training sponsored by various government agencies and the local government units is included as part of the training package.
Slowly but definitely with a guarantee, BSU ATBI/IC will be deploying not only skilfully equipped farmers but also critically minded altruistic new breed of farmers to the outside world and aid our less privileged farming sector.
By Rocky Ngolob