Agriculture is currently faced with the diminishing number of farmers because most of the farmers are already old. It is an endangered occupation as only very few of the young generations would want engage into farming because of the perception that farming as a backbreaking work , a tedious job without much economic reward and it the option left for those who failed or not interested in school.
Millenials are more enticed to take courses that they believe pay better and give them leverage.
But twenty-two-year-old Dhen Angelo N. Navera thinks otherwise. He was into farming in their farm in Barangay Malobago, Guinobatan, Albay when he was around 18 years old.
He learned farming early on while helping his father Ricardo in their half-a-hectare rice field. He felt a certain kind of contentment when he was in the farm. So even in his youth, he was already sure that farming will be his future.
He took up Bachelor in Agricultural Technology major in Agricultural Technology Education at Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry (BUCAF) where his knowledge and skills were honed.
“Inapply ko su mga turo kan maestro ko habang nagaeskwela ako duman sa natatada na 3.5 na ektarya na daga kan magurang ko,” he shared.
However, it was during this time that his parents discouraged him to develop the remaining vacant farm area—“wara ka man mapapala kina maaabot dyan.”
But he was determined to prove his parents wrong.
He compared his passion for farming to relationships with this ‘hugot’ lines: —“Ipaglalaban ko siya kahit nahihirapan , kasi mahal mo siya.”
He juggled his college studies and developing the farm. His time management skills were developed from trainings conducted by the Agricultural Training Institute and the Department of Agriculture- for members of the 4-H Club of which he was part of.
He initially started planting dragon fruits, sour sops, pili trees, coconuts, other fruit bearing crops and narra trees while his father tilled the rice field.
When his trees started to grow, his parents had a change of heart. They started to support Dhen in his farming activities.
“Pagmati ko, ka-successful na akong maray nung nakumbinsi ko an magurang ko na maray an buhay sa pag-uma.”
It was during his graduating year that he shifted to a symbiotic farming system which is anchored on the belief that every organism affects or influences other organisms in the ecosystem.
That is why he named his farm Navera Symbiotic Farm (NSF).
At NSF, they have a stingless bee farm, an area planted with dragon fruits, grapes, vegetables, medicinal and culinary herbs, and strawberries. He also has free-range chicken, and a cattle. He uses the manure of these animals and the vermicast from his own vermiculture to produce organic fertilizers for his plants.
NSF is located in a hilly slope like the Chocolate Hills of Bohol with a picturesque view of Mayon Volcano.
Aside from the magnificent view that their farm offers, their farm sells different kinds of farm products like blue ternate, insulin plants, herbs, stingless bee honey, bee pollen, African Night Crawlers, vermicast, dragon fruit cuttings, grape seedlings, citronella and many others.
Dhen also expressed his happiness in sharing his knowledge and skills to interested farmers and visitors as a resource speaker and trainer.
On May 6, 2020, his farm was issued an accreditation certificate as a learning site by the ATI-Regional Training Center. As a learning site, his farm will serve as a hub for knowledge sharing and technology-demonstration for present and future farmers.
Dhen is currently an instructor at a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) institution in Castilla, Sorsogon. He encourages his students to venture into agriculture and farming because of the support and initiatives coming from the government especially the Department of Agriculture such —scholarships, financing opportunities, start-up grants, free farm inputs, and others.
With “Farmillennials” (millennial farmers) like Dhen, agriculture will be youthful, dynamic, promising and sustainable. (jaysonmgonzales with photos from FB of Dhen Navera)