Meet Concepcion Carillo, an agriprenuer champ based in Bingawan, Iloilo, who found purpose and inspiration through integrated organic farming.
At the tender age of 15, the young Connie, as she is fondly called, realized the life of arduous toiling and the value of farming. She was
no stranger to hard labor since then. Married at such a young age, she had to learn the ropes on her own.
“Diri sa uma tuod nga forest ini pero kadamo sang mga resources nga pwede ko i-proseso kag pwede ma-convert into money. Tama kabudlay kag the only way to survive sa amon pangabuhi is through farming (The farm is a forested area but there are so many resources that can be processed and be converted into money. It is difficult and the only way to survive our lives is through farming),”she explained.
Things were different back then. Connie pursued a humbling career in the academe while taking care of her growing family. This avenue honed her craft in nurturing young minds, particularly in technical skills and livelihood education. With much grit, such innate talents transformed as survival strengths.
This lady of strong will, who was once a tenant farmer, thought of hitting two birds with a single stone. Her agri business was
registered through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2002. This backyard venture gave birth to forging robust partnerships with several government agencies.
The convergence of various government programs and services flourished as time passed by.
Connie’s farm dubbed as Concepcion Carillo Agricultural Farm (CFARM) was accredited by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) as a learning site and extension service provider for organic agriculture and aquaculture in Western Visayas.
For instance, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) became the keyplayer as the accreditor of CFARM’s training programs delved on organic production, driving, and welding, to name a few. And here’s another interesting catch. The trainees were provided with a daily allowance worth P160. Assessments were also done to receive a national certificate.
Equally important, the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has trained rice farmers enrolled under the Registry System for the Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA). Connie beamed with pride and joy as the farm school has produced 400 graduates since 2019.
“Ginatudluan naton sila sang lain-lain kag bag-o nga pamaagi from land preparation, sa pagtanom, harvest (We are teaching them the various approaches -- from land preparation, to planting, and harvesting),” she shared.
Life is not a bed of roses, neither it is full of thorns.
It was in 2013 when deadly Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged several areas in the country, leaving disheartened individuals, lost lives and properties. CFARM was one of the badly-hit farmlands in Western Visayas. Those damages entailed heavy pocket expenses. But just when life sucked Connie with lemons, she turned it into lemonades. The lady farmer sought help with the town’s agricultural office for the farm’s restoration. This eventually led her to avail of a DA-based package of assistance ranging from sloping agricultural land technology to integrated organic farming system, among others.
According to Connie, the sloping land technology was a much needed
innovation of the farm. It comprised of a package of technology of soil conservation and food production, integrating differing soil conservation measures in just one setting.
“We started with the training on sloping agricultural land technology. Ang amon nga lugar is tama ka banglid (Our place is filled with slopes.)” Connie said.
Little by little, the restoration of CFARM became a huge success.
With agriculture being her crusade, she gathered small farmers and organized them into a farmer’s group namely KCARSI Farmer’s association. For her, this was an effective means to give back to the community. The community which also became her refuge and solace.
“The reason why I am here, nagbutang ako diri sang farm school para makabulig sa mag tawo kag maka-income sila. I want to give them sang trabaho nga nagatuon pa gid sila sa akon at the same time ma-apply nila ila skills sa ila panimalay (I have established a farm school to help people gain income. I want to give them jobs at the same time apply those skills in their households.),” Connie pointed out.
Connie’s steadfast love for agriculture reaped overflowing blessings. She was recognized as an outstanding woman in the countryside. TESDA also awarded her as Career Ambassador for Region VI. Loud and proud, Connie even represented the country in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in 2017 in Taiwan. All that and more rewards marked her dedication forged with the support of government programs and services.
Fast forward to 2020, the threat of pandemic did not dampen the strength and spirit of Connie. She considered it as the right time to learn and innovate more.
What was regarded as a “once-in-a-century” pandemic to many, led to fruitful endeavors in the case of Connie.
Thus, such season gave birth to CFARM’s new product lines - moringa turmeric oil, mayana, labigan oregano, citronella turmeric, body
massage rub, pellet feeds.
Connie also went from one province to another to conduct training to aspiring agripreneurs, bearing her advocacy to translate farm wastes into money. More so, participating in various trade fairs and expos became one of her playgrounds.
“I want to inspire especially the women nga dapat indi gid sila madulaan sang paglaum. Kadamo sang resources sa palibot nga pwede naton ma-proseso kag ma-convert into money. (I want to inspire especially the women not to lose hope. We have plenty of resources around that can be processed and convert into money),” she stressed.
Connie Carillo worked smarter. From her humble origins, she created her own mark in the field of agriculture. Through time, she eventually enjoyed the best that life has to offer. (JBG/PIA Iloilo-LML)