Twenty-eight-year-old Kabataang Agribiz national finalist Sandino M. Guinto of Daet, Camarines Norte was a young college student when he started to find his niche and realized that what he actually wanted to do in life was to uphold his family’s advocacies on environmental conservation. 

“Sa dinami-dami po ng problema sa Pilipinas, I decided na i-build up ‘yung advocacies namin sa family and ‘yung business namin dito sa family para ‘yung business ay hindi lang para sa kumikitang kabuhayan kundi nakakatulong din siya sa maka-Kalikasang adbokasiya para may sense po,” Guinto said. 

With strong influence from his father who worked in several non-government organizations prior to teaching Agriculture in Camarines Norte State College, Guinto has found his purpose: To make a positive impact to his community and to the environment. This inspired him to establish Bahay Teknik: A Garden to Kitchen Social Enterprise in a 1,000 square meter area in Brgy. Mancruz Daet, Camarines Norte. 

After graduating from the University of the Philippines with a degree in Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Guinto, a licensed landscape architect, worked as a permaculture designer and trainer at the Philippine Permaculture Association in Marikina City, Metro Manila where he immersed in integrating permaculture to various farms nationwide. Equipped with skills in participative design workshops, community-based planning and permaculture training, he decided to develop the business model for Bahay Teknik Product Development Services when he moved back to his home province before the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was imposed. Having a family who has diverse gifts but mutual advocacies worked to his advantage as they shared ideas and strategies on building the agribusiness during family dinners. 

“Habang namimili sa palengke napansin namin na napakaraming basura, mula sa prutas, sa gulay, maski sa isda, sa iba’t ibang materyales pa na itinatapon lang. Nakita namin na ang laking sayang at ang laki ng impact nito sa ating kalikasan,” Guinto said. 

Bahay Teknik, which Guinto personally manages, is a social enterprise that aims to provide practical solutions to issues confronting Filipino families. Registered with the Department of Trade and Industry in March 2020, the enterprise has three business components: Organic gardening, brick stoves and ovens, and waste recycling. Kitchen waste from cooking are recycled. Vermicast and compost are harvested and added to the garden to increase soil fertility. Garden produce are then harvested and cooked using brick rocket stove and oven. Currently, the social enterprise offers easy to use products to help farming and gardening enthusiasts start their own organic gardening journey. It also promotes efficient cooking using cheap fuel and clean rocket stoves as well as woodfire brick ovens. Bahay Teknik also produces efficient tools for waste to resource production. 

Its existing product lines include pocket garden or multi-storey garden available for P1,500, vermibucket to make vermicast using kitchen scraps for P850, potting mix which costs P210 per 30 kilogram sack, and briquette press designed to turn scratch paper into fuel or seedling pods which they sell for P6,500. They also sell pizza hex oven (P8,000), a portable firebrick oven for pizza making and rocket stove for efficient, non-charcoal cooking worth P4,500, 13 diameter pizza stone for P500, double deck oven for P10,000, and large dome oven for P35,000. Among Bahay Teknik’s new income streams are vermicast for P25 per kilogram, black soldier fly box for P1,500 per unit and dried BSF larvae for chicken feed available at P300 per 500 gram. 

Currently, Bahay Teknik’s product markets include middle to high income households with access to the Internet and are connected to their social media accounts. They plan to engage in Farm School on Wheels to promote its advocacies on organic farming to more rural communities in the province and establish its social capital. The Farm School on Wheels also intend to serve as a marketing strategy by introducing Bahay Teknik’s innovations and products to more markets and building more networks. 

“Yun ‘yung target namin sa business na hindi lang kami mag-function para maging sustenable sa usapin ng pera kundi makatulong din kami. Yung maka-integrate yung waste recycling and waste reusing mula sa ibang industriya magagamit namin tapos pagkakakitaan pa,” he said. 

With the P50,000 cash grant he received as provincial awardee of the Kabataang Agribiz competitive grant assistance program, he was able to start the construction of a small warehouse, develop a garden, fabricate his own compost tumbler/sieve, and pay for professional product shots of his existing product lines. 

“Napakagandang inisyatibo ito ng DA para ma-push ‘yung mga like-minded youth para sa food sustainability at mga adbokasiya natin sa agrikultura… Malaking tulong ‘yung grant kasi napabilis at napaayos ‘yung operations namin,” he related.

Guinto shared that it reduced their product losses and provided a better and healthier working environment for his co-workers. Currently, Bahay Teknik employs four full-time workers and one part-time laborer. 

As a young agripreneur, Guinto hopes to achieve his social and environmental goals of reducing improperly disposed kitchen waste in the municipality while increasing urban gardens. By doing this, he also aims to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of Zero Hunger, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production and Climate Action. 

“Magkakaibang sistema pero magkaka-konekta, ‘yun ‘yung Bahay-Teknik! Teknolohiya mula sa sa Kalikasan para sa bayan, patungo sa kinabukasan,” he added. 

Guinto advised his fellow youth to be diligent and seize the opportunities being offered by the government to develop their potentials. He also encouraged them to use their energy, time, and skills to make a difference in the community. 

“Ang dami-daming problema ng Pilipinas na nakikita natin sa news, sa Facebook. Hindi sapat na mag-comment, hindi sapat na mag-share, hindi sapat na simply mag-like sa Facebook posts para mabago ang Pilipinas. Maliban sa pagboto sa darating na eleksyon, hanapin natin kung saan tayo magaling at gamitin natin ‘yung skills na ‘yun…. Hanapin natin kung saan swak ‘yung ating skill set para makatulong sa kapwa. Hindi tayo nabubuhay para sa ating sarili. Gamitin natin kasi, nakaka-fulfill sya emotionally, spiritually tapos dahil ginagawa nating enterprise or business, hopefully, financially nakaka-fulfill din,” he added. 

Guinto was among the top 15 finalists nationwide of the DA, through the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service’s (AMAS) Young Farmers Challenge: Kabataang Agribiz. He received a cash grant worth P150,000 plus certificate during the 1st National Young Farmers Summit and Young Farmers Challenge: Kabataang Agribiz Awarding Ceremony held on December 17, 2021 in Calasiao, Pangasinan. The two other regional winners from Bicol are Mark Andrew Cano of Bagamanoc, Catanduanes for his proposed agri-enterprise Pap’s Cassava Chips Processing and Monalisa G. Balon of Daet, Camarines Norte for her agribusiness proposal J&M Free Range Chicken.

The Young Farmers Challenge: Kabataang Agribiz is a competitive financial grant assistance program launched by the DA in April 2021 aimed at encouraging the youth to engage in agriculture as well as in profitable and sustainable agri-fishery based business ventures. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)