San Miguel Corporation is building its first urban farm within its sprawling head office complex in Ortigas to help build self-sufficiency among its support staff and help put agriculture back into the spotlight.
Under the program, interested employees and workers doing support jobs will be given a plot of land in what will be dubbed as SMC’s “Malasakit Garden”, for them to use as a space to grow whatever produce they like.
They can then choose to either bring home their harvest or to sell these for a profit at a small Malasakit Garden Farmers market stall to be set up at the complex.
“In this time of pandemic, many Filipinos are looking for ways to earn extra income, or at the very least, make sure they have sufficient supply of food. Realizing the importance of food security, many are also exploring growing their own food. That is why we thought of this simple project to help our maintenance workers, as well as our own employees,” said SMC president Ramon S. Ang.
“The land is available and good for planting. It doesn’t take so much to try and help people, especially those who help us do our work everyday. We partnered with a non-profit, SEED Philippines, and they will be the ones teaching our people how to succeed at urban farming. With this, we hope the Malasakit Garden can augment healthy food supply for some of our workers, or serve as an additional source of income,” Ang added.
“Our hope is that they can really grow to like planting, they can hone their skills, and it becomes a practical life skill for them,” he said, adding that many support workers actually grew up in the province and know how to plant, except, there is no land for them to do it here in the city,” Ang said.
Early on in the pandemic, SMC committed to protect the jobs of all its employees and extended workforce and provide various support for their frontline staff, including free swab testing and access to bikes so they can move around safely.
SMC has tapped SEED Philippines to ensure the success of Malasakit Garden and serve as mentors during the early stages of the project. SEED’s advocacy is to help eradicate poverty in low-income families through specialized programs on agri-entrepreneurship. They teach organic vegetable production, soil management, planting materials production, and pest and disease management.
To date, the San Miguel Corporation has donated over P1 billion worth of food and other relief goods for COVID relief.