Get to discover what the seeds in store for the people and the factors why it has a miracle in it.

By Arsenio Barcelona

“Go ye forth and multiply.” These words of God may as well be applied to plants in order to
feed the people of the world, beautify the planet, maintain biodiversity, and balance the life-giving oxygen and carbon dioxide among the many important functions of plants to life on earth.

As a person very much involved with farming, I have come to realize the great importance of good seed as the beginning of a productive and meaningful agriculture. God created the seed
as a well-kept secret that man through the thousands of years of his existence can only propagate and multiply seeds. But man cannot create one single seed of rice or petchay. Breeders and scientists can only improve the variety of a crop and even reconfigure the genes as demonstrated by the controversial Genetically Modifed Organism (GMO) seeds, but they have never achieved cloning a seed out of materials available in the
laboratory.

In this photo circa 2012, farmers at the Known-You demo farm in Rosales, Pangasinan are shown with Ever Happiness F1-hybrid upo from Known-You Seed.

In my talks with farmers, I often inspire them with this statement. “Farmers are the most privileged humans on earth, because they witness a miracle daily: The miracle of seeds germinating, growing, flowering and bearing fruit. Each fruit or flower provides a lot more viable seeds that can continue to feed the earth.” “Bawat magsasaka ay saksi sa himala galing sa isang maliit na binhi [“Each farmer is a witness to the miracle from  ach tiny seed].”

Seeds of hope – Pag-asa, Paglaum, Namnama, Esperanza: Ten years ago, after investing much time and effort in establishing the market for Known-You Seed Co. of Taiwan, our loyal partner for twenty years today, we found an opportunity to start a house brand of seeds for Harbest’s involvement in the home garden market and Gulayan sa Paaralan program of the government. The name ‘Seeds of Hope’ just came as an inspiration as planting seeds always brings hope to families with a home garden.

The first step was to design a logo. After giving the idea of what I want to my nephew, Shane Rudolf, he concretized the now famous logo for good seeds: A sun with twelve rays shaped like water drops and a sprouted seed in the center. The twelve rays show that in the Philippines, we can sow good seeds twelve months, or year-round. The water drops and the sun represent the
most essential element of growing crops – water and sunlight. The seedling represent that with tender loving care, a plant will grow to be productive.

As a basic principle of a Harbest product, it should represent quality. We strive our best to provide a viable seed that will give much fruit. “Give a farmer good seeds to sow, empower him with the farming skills and he will feed the world.” At Harbest, we nurture farmers to have that tender loving care in addition to proper knowledge on basic agronomic technologies. Throughout our twenty years of existence as a friend of farmers, we strive  to improve on our training programs with government agencies, extension work with farmers and with SM Foundation’s Farmers Training Program Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan. All our
feld agricultural technicians are passionate to provide hope to farmers, along with competent advice and guidance, in the field or through text.

Taiwan’s best seed company, Known-You Seed Co., our longtime partner, has provided Harbest with the basic foundation of making the best seeds for watermelon, melon, honeydew, Red
Lady Papaya and many vegetable varieties available to Filipino farmers without “reinventing the wheel.” With this foundation in the seed industry, Harbest prepared to undertake the branding and distribution of Seeds of Hope throughout the country ten years ago. We included the Open-Pollinated Varieties (OPV) of vegetable seeds that are produced by local farmers.

We made sure that the packaging and printed label are of the best quality. San Miguel Corporation’s Yamamura Packaging of Japan is our supplier for the insulated foil pouch with high-quality material and printing. It is absolutely water-proof. The label is four-color printed in-house for custom-made designs. The printing ink used is totally water-proof too.

At ten years in the market, we are happy to see this local brand available in SM Hypermart, SM Supermarket, Unimart, Pioneer Center Supermarket and Harbest Agricultural Store dealers
nationwide. We look forward to more outlets in the next few years. Seeds of Hope seeds is also a welcome brand for DA, LGU and UN-FAO seed distribution program after calamities and rural
farm support programs.

Developing an unexpected market: Our good friends from Bohol, the late Governor Aumentado and the former ViceGovernor Julius Herrera, discovered the beneft of giving seeds to farmers during their barrio visits. Friends supported their vegetable production program by ordering Seeds of Hope from Harbest and providing the two government offcials with an effective weapon to eradicate hunger in the rural homes.

Morrison Lin, manager of the International Department of Known-You Seed Co., Taiwan, guided Harbest in its early years as it developed its seed markets in the Philippines. In the background is KnownYou founder Chen Wen-Yi, the company’s inspiration to pursue the development of its seed business.

In fact, the late governor was inspired by the happiness he gave to the barrio folks as they greeted him with gratitude when he visited them, thanking him for the vegetables he gave. At first, he wondered why, since he did not give them vegetables. Then he remembered that he gave away good seeds. Harbest implemented an island-wide Vegetable Farming Training Program initiated by the then Secretary of Agriculture, our good friend Arthur Yap. Boholano farmers are very well aware of the basic agronomic technology with the feld extension work done by the Bohol Agricultural Productivity Center (APC) headed by then-Center Director, Eugene Cahiles, to sustain the program of the Department of Agriculture.

Soon, we had politicians benefiting from donations of Seeds of Hope by friends and supporters. Every time I have a chance to talk with a politician friend, I whisper to them that the best way to win votes is by giving good seeds. Give hope by giving Seeds of Hope. The moment a politician sits down as an elected official, he should have a resolve that none of his constituents should go hungry. Vegetable gardening will make that resolution a reality. It only takes one to three months to harvest, which means a sitting official is harvesting votes every day of his term
if he distributes Seeds of Hope, through well-nourished children and families.

Those interested in beneftting from the Gulayan sa Barangay and Gulayan sa Paaralan Mentoring Program of Harbest Edible Garden Club may get in touch through harbest@harbest.com.ph or harbestsales@gmail.com. Customer hotlines: 0917.850.7888,
0922.852.1843, 0988.982.5058. MyHome Edible Garden Nursery invites you to join them Saturday mornings from 9 to 11 AM for a free edible gardening hands-on session. Like us
on Facebook: MyHome Edible Garden Nursery and First We Farm. Join the Organic Agriculture Society of the Philippines and Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Facebook Groups, and visit theHarbest Agribusiness Corporation FB homepage.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s September 2017 issue.