SAN AGUSTIN, PILI, CAMARINES SUR –  Joining the whole world and the nation in the celebration of the World Food Day (WFD) on October 16, 2020,  the Department of Agriculture in Bicol staged a simple yet meaningful celebration at the 3rd Floor, Training Hall of Field Operations building.

21 year – old Louise Emmanuelle DG. Mabulo, an award-winning chef, entrepreneur, agriculture advocate and global youth ambassador personally graced the event and shared her thoughts on agriculture in the Philippines.

Her advocacy for farmers started in 2016 when typhoon Nock-ten (known in the Phils. as typhoon Nina) has damaged 80% of agricultural area in San Fernando overnight on December 25, 2016. Over thousand people also lost their homes in said town where her father Hon. Fermin Mabulo was the municipal mayor.

Louise  saw the urgency to build disaster resilient  livelihood which was also environment friendly for the farmers who produce our food.

Thus, she initiated The Cacao Project which won for  Louise the Young Champion of the Earth 2019 prize from the United Nations Environment Program.  She helped farmers in San Fernando maximize their land areas by planting cacao – a high demand crop with high prospect in the global market. Cacao is also an emerging crop in building climate smart and resilient livelihood across the world, she added. Louise provided seedlings and training program to 200 farmers who planted over 85,000 productive cacao trees in 85 hectares of land in San Fernando. According to her, by diversifying their crops farmers the farmers can earn P154,000/hectare per year  from dried cacao beans alone. If they will process them into fermented cacao beans, the farmers  can earn P176,800.00/hectare/year.

She added that every year more farmers were affected by typhoons and drought brought upon by climate change. And all these are blamed on agriculture communities whose carbon footprint is so large. By incorporating agro-forestry and regenerative farming methods, Louise was able to help reestablish livelihood and build resiliency for the farmers and at the same time help the environment. She found out that planting a single cacao tree can offset carbon (source: Accordingly, a single cacao tree can offset 5.5 kilograms of CO2 per year, 55 kg CO2 in 10 years, 4,400 kg CO2 in a year per hectare and 44,000 kilograms in a span of 10 years per hectare of land.

She is also worried that “the average age of farmers in the Philippines is 57 and worldwide it goes up to 60.  If this will continue, our country will suffer food security crisis in the next 15 years.

She thanked the DA for inviting her. “This shows that young people now have a say and are empowered in the agriculture industry,” she enthused. She saw the “stigma in the Philippines, where farming is associated to poverty and vulnerability

That mindset keeps people in that cycle and it is time to deconstruct that mindset from the minds of young people. Now is an unparalleled opportunity for the industry of agriculture and food because young people can actually make a difference.”

One thing that inspired her to be called a farmer which her father taught her was that Biblically, agriculture is the direct indicator of God’s blessings for people and the nation. In the bible, all the most successful people are farmers, she added.

She ended her discourse with a passage from Deuteronomy 28:12… “The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but borrow from none.”  Louise wants to accept this promise for the country that it will lend to many nations but borrow from none. “We can accept prosperity for the Philippines,” she quipped.

Mabulo is currently the Ambassador of Operation Smile Philippines, Breville Phils., and the Department of Tourism’s Flavours of the Philippines. She is also the founder of The Culinary Lounge, and the Camarines Food and Tourism Society. She finished Economic Development and Social Entrepreneurship at Brown University in the United States.

Recently, Louise was honored by Forbes Asia as one of the three innovative and talented Filipino youth leaders. She has won numerous internal recognition such as winning a lifetime Fellowship from the Resolution Project for Cacao Project; Best Dessert in Asia Award at the Disciples des Escoffier; Young Talent Trophy at the Restaurant and Bar Show in Hongkong; and Outstanding Young Farmer of the Philippines by JCI International in 2018. She was also a mentor at Farleigh Dickinson University and New York University to delegates from over 116 different countries for the Youth Assembly.

Meanwhile, Luz Razal Marcelino, Regional Technical Director for Operations in her welcome remarks acknowledged the important contributions of our “food heroes” – the farmers who produce our food. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought negative impact to the economy in general bringing most of the industries to a stand still, the agriculture sector managed to grow by 0.50% in the second quarter of 2020. This is a testament that agriculture sector can lead  economic recovery.”

Meanwhile, Arlene R. Reario, Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator of Regional Nutrition Council Region V talked on COVID-19 Nutrition Advisories particularly the 10 “Kumainments of Department of Health.” She reported that involuntary hunger tripled in the country from 8.8% in December 2019 to 30.7% in September 2020.  To combat COVID-19, Reario cited the NNC Covid-19 Advisories which can be found in the NNC website, which include drinking 8-10 glass of water daily, eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and avoidance of fatty and salty foods.

Dr. Edgar R. Madrid, Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations in his closing remarks urged the DA employees to sustain the gains they have achieved through the years. As aptly stated in this year’s WFD theme: Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our actions today  will determine our future.

The WFD celebration was capped by the awarding of P1 M working capital loan each under Agri-Negosyo (ANYO) Loan Program for MSE to two entrepreneurs namely, COP Pili Sweets and Pastries based in Bañag, Daraga, Albay and BYC Egg Dealer based in New Moriones, Ocampo, Cam. Sur. Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division Chief Adelina A. Losa, Michael Jordan Roquid of Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) awarded the check from the Producers Savings Bank Corporation – the lending conduit in Albay for ANYO.

Also present were Vimildo Avanceña, President of Mauswag Agribusiness Corporation, Division chiefs of the DA Bicol and selected DA employees. The WFD celebration 2020 was spearheaded by the Field Operations Division (FOD) headed by RTD Marcelino and OIC Chief of FOD, Dr. Mary Grace DP. Rodriguez. (Lovella P. Guarin / DA RAFIS 5) Photo credit: RAFIS 5