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Maitum welcomes Singaporean urban farmer Christopher Leow

Singaporean urban farmer and TV host Christopher Leow visits Maitum, Sarangani, on October 2 to learn about the town's agri-fishery industry and to exchange ideas and best practices with the farmers he met and engaged with. (Photo: Maitum Municipal Information Office)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY --Singaporean urban farmer and TV host Christopher Leow, along with his team from MMG College of General Santos City, Inc., visited Maitum, Sarangani, on Monday, exploring the town's thriving agri-fishery industry. 

Municipal Vice Mayor Tito Balazon Sr., who is the town's OIC mayor, welcomed Leow and his team during their courtesy visit at the municipal hall.

The official said the purpose of their visit was to facilitate an exchange of agricultural knowledge and to underscore the crucial role that agriculture plays in rural development.

Aside from meeting the officials and employees, Leow and his team also had the opportunity to see the replicas of the anthropomorphic jars associated with the Metal Age of the Philippines on display at the municipal building.

Maitum officials and employees headed by Vice Mayor Tito Balazon Sr., the OIC mayor (in blue-sleeved shirt), welcome Singaporean urban farmer and TV host Christopher Leow and his team from MMG College, who paid a courtesy visit at the Municipal Hall on October 2, 2023. (Photo: Maitum Municipal Information Office)

Leow, who shared valuable insights on the best practices for urban farming in Singapore along with his innovative agricultural initiatives, was invited by MMG College to deliver a talk titled "Redefining Green Living with Chris Leow" on September 30.

MMG College Vice President Norman Diagan explained why they invited Leow to speak at their school. "The main intention was to inspire the students to get in touch with agriculture. Many people often look down on farmers. Having Chris come over is instrumental in inspiring the youth to do the same and reconnect with nature.” 

"I believe it was a meaningful project. Not only did I share about agriculture, but there was also an opportunity for MMG College and its hospital to utilize some of the experiences I've gone through. Using agriculture as a way to improve the well-being of their patients and the community seemed like a good fit, so I decided to collaborate with them," said Leow.

Maitum's vanilla farmer Melvin Awid (in white), shares his experiences in the vanilla farming business with Singaporean urban farmer and TV host Christopher Leow, who also shares his farming practices and techniques he employs in Singapore. (Photo: MMG College of General Santos City)

The team's visit in Maitum began at Melvin Awid's vanilla demonstration farm in Barangay Kalaneg, where they delved into the benefits and substantial economic potential of vanilla cultivation.

Christopher Leow visits the Upo Valley Farmers Association (UVFA) in Barangay Upo, Maitum. The UVFA is known for its meticulous agricultural practices, as shown in its production of quality coffee. (Photo: Maitum Municipal Information Office)

They then proceeded to the Upo Valley Farmers Association (UVFA) in Barangay Upo to check its coffee production, and their journey continued to Diomrie Farm in Barangay Sison to observe the cacao processing methods employed by the farm.

Christopher Leow and his team visit the Bangsi (flying fish) processing site in Barangay Old Poblacion in Maitum. (Photo: Maitum Municipal Information Office)

Their tour of Maitum came to an end at the Bangsi (flying fish) processing facility of the Women in Development of Sarangani (WINDS) Association in Barangay Old Poblacion.

"Coming to Maitum was one of his [Leow] ideas. We explored what the province has to offer and also visited farms from which we could learn. It's an opportunity for everyone to become more informed about agriculture in Sarangani or the region," said Diagan.

The team also went to a few other agricultural farms in the area and was moved by their stories. Leow learned that Singapore and the Philippines have similar ideas on agriculture, particularly organic farming.

He also emphasized the importance of inspiring the younger generation to explore opportunities in agriculture, viewing it as a vital step towards sustainable development.

"We need to inspire them in a way that is both practical and financially viable, so they will want to do it. It needs to be part of their lifestyle so they won't dread it. Finding the right product, having business knowledge, and having the whole ecosystem—from government, schools, and the community—every part of that contributes to success," said Leow.

Meanwhile, Leow and his team expressed appreciation to the Maitum Municipal Tourism Office and the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist, who gave him and his team a tour of the town's agricultural landscape.

Leow is a prominent figure in Singapore's urban farming scene. He has been involved in several significant agricultural initiatives in his country, such as Edible Garden City, Urban Rooftop Farm, and NUTOPIA Community Garden. He is also an author, lecturer, and TV host of the farming documentary series "Growing Wild" on Channel News Asia (CNA).

He is the CEO of FPS, an innovative startup that produces insect proteins. Leow is described as the "Farm to Table guy" with a long history that spans more than a decade.

Christopher Leow and his team enjoy a "sikwate" break during their visit to Diomrie Farm processing area in barangay Sison in Maitum, Sarangani, as they explored other agricultural sites that the town offers. (Photo: Maitum Municipal Information Office)

With all these initiatives, Leow has undoubtedly made significant contributions to promoting sustainable agriculture practices and food resilience in Singapore.

“We have to focus more on appreciating where our food comes from. It's not just about eating for the sake of it, but we need to appreciate the entire process - from how it's processed until it reaches consumers. And eventually, this understanding should inspire them to produce their food in the future," said Diagan, echoing Leow's advocacy on the food value chain. (Genory Vanz Alfasain/Voice of the Youth Network/PIA SarGen)

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