By ANTONIO G. PAPA, Ph.D.
Costales Nature Farms in Barangay Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna is a certified organic agriculture farm and a well-known farm tourism destination in the country. Would you believe that this farm has more than 4,000 visitors, both local guests and foreign tourists, per month prior to the onset of COVID-19 pandemic?
Costales Nature Farms (CNF) was recognized as the Most Outstanding Farm of the Philippines in 2012. In addition, in 2017, it was awarded Best Tourism Destination and in the following year as the Pillar of Tourism in the Philippines by the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT).
Moreover, its president, Mr. Reden Mark F. Costales, is a recipient of the Outstanding Young Agri-Entrepreneur award, also in 2018. He is currently serving as a Farmer-Scientist for the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in Laguna province.
Further, the Philippine Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Institute (DA- ATI) and the Regional Field Unit in Region IV-A (DA-RFU-IV-A), the DOT, and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), has accredited CNF as a private extension provider nationwide.
Costales Nature Farms, nestled at the foothills of mystical Mt. Banahaw, is a premiere agri-tourism destination in the Philippines. According to Reden, “Our farm tour packages cater to anyone who wants to relax and experience farm life for a day or two. Learn the basics of integrated organic farming and enjoy the amenities of the farm.”
At present, “we are now one of the major single producers of organic high value vegetables and herbs for the Bistro Group, Moment Group, Solaire Resort & Casino, Cibo, Dizon Organics, Dalcielo, Shangri-La Hotel, among others,” says Reden.
Reden added that “Our farm facility also produces organic chicken, eggs and pork available at Healthy Options, Shopwise, and Rustan’s for those who wish to lead a healthier lifestyle. Processed organic pork meat products were also recently launched and are available in major supermarkets and grocery stores nationwide.”
As an accredited private extension service provider for the DA-ATI, DAR, and DOT, “we provide workshops for those who wish to learn about sustainable organic farming and farm tourism. We wish to inspire more people to lead a healthy and sustainable future,” Reden concluded.
The Seven Ps for success
The CNF adopted the 7Ps as key factors for successful operations of the farm. The seven Ps are passion, proposition, partnership, promotion, profit, peace and order, and poverty reduction.
Two quotations are being followed in CNF: “Follow your Passion” and “Nothing great has ever been achieved without Enthusiasm.”
Passion. At CNF, two questions must be answered as far as farming is concerned: 1) How passionate are we in agriculture? Their answer is “Farming is a full-time job and needs to be hands-on”; and 2) Do we have what it takes to become a good hospitality practitioner? Answer: “All of us must learn how to smile.”
Accordingly, “passion leads to learning and learning leads to excellence then excellence leads to success.”
Proposition. Proposition means defining the farm’s unique selling point (USP). At CNF, USP is used to refer to any aspect that differentiates your tourism destination and tourism products from similar tourism farms. This is a concern for the unique experience, culture, environment, and information. CNF unique selling point is that “it is the only farm at the foot of the majestic Mount Banahaw that offers an unlimited all-you-can-eat certified organic green salad.”
Partnership. CNF has forged partnerships with the government and private sectors. The farm is DA-ATI, DAR and DOT’s Learning Site, School for Practical Agriculture and Farm Tourism Site; DA-RFUIV-A’s Technology Demonstration Site; and DOT’s Farm Tourism Accreditation Agency.
For private sector partnerships, CNF has collaborated with Overseas Filipino Workers for financial investments and joint ventures; with the Philippine Travel Agencies and Tour Operators to cater to the needs of local and foreign tourists; and with both the government and private schools, colleges and universities for their students’ On-the-Job Training program in agriculture, as well as educational tours and field exposures.
Promotion and publicity. CNF has a web page for promoting their agri-tourism packages, print advertisements regarding the farm and its activities, active social media presence, exposure in TV programs, mobile posters through their delivery trucks, billboards in strategic places, and road signs leading to the farm.
Profit. The policy of CNF regarding profits are as follows: 1) Without profit, a business cannot survive and eventually will collapse, 2) profitability is synonymous with sustainability, 3) profit is the reward derived from efficiently running a business, and 4) profit from farm tourism usually comes from entrance fees, sales of foods, stay and accommodation in the farm for a fee and farm activities are undertaken for a fee.
Peace and order. CNF is located in a place where peace and order are well-maintained. People in the place are industrious and peace-loving individuals.
Poverty reduction. CNF is instrumental for poverty alleviation in their area by providing
employment to rural dwellers and by creating business opportunities in the community through its livelihood program composed of the following: handicraft making, meat processing, vegetable and fruit picking, and small brother–big brother mentoring partnership.
Likewise, benefits from the farm business operations are shared with various stakeholders by offering educational scholarships to deserving residents of the community from primary to tertiary levels, and by sharing a percentage of the gross revenue to its employees through the employee benefits and housing program.
Costales Nature Farms, a certified organic agriculture farm and a famous farm tourism destination, truly lives-by its accolades as an outstanding farm and a pillar of the tourism industry in the country.
CNF’s practice of seven Ps as documented is exemplary proof to the above-mentioned accolades and worth sharing as guideposts to other aspiring agripreneurs in organic agriculture and farm tourism.
This paramount trademark of CNF is the legacy that was left behind by Ronald C. Costales (1966–2016), its founder and co-owner.
Photos courtesy of Costales Nature Farms