By: Vic Thor Palarca
Bukidnon-based Nick Jay Arr Engallado is making a name for himself in their hometown’s farming community as a next generation farmer.
A next generation farmer is someone who carries on the farming activity and legacy of one’s farmer parents (or at least from an immediate family member). Next generation farming is a farming approach which aims to attain sustainability, with the “farm-to-plate” end in mind.
As the eldest son of rice king and award-winning farmer, the late Nicasio F. Engallado, this passionate agripreneur from Valencia City, Bukidnon, shares his venture in rice value-adding, his early beginnings, his already established food joint and one-stop shop, as well as tips for up-and-coming agripreneurs.
A graduate of Development Communication (DevCom) at Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, Nick Jay Arr’s savvy communication skills and eye for design prompted him to gain work experience, as well as share his expertise in Progressive Farm Development with GreenHouse Homestay, a non-government organization in Cambodia from 2016 to 2020.
As an organic practitioner, some of the farming technologies Nick Jay Arr has adopted include sustainable agriculture, value-adding, business planning, and solid waste management. The practice of organic farming led him to sustain the family’s farm, which serves as their food and income source, as well as the source of ingredients for their processed food products.
At present, Nick Jay Arr is an active member of the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities and Cities of the Philippines (LOAMC-PH) where he serves as their Project Manager. The organization holds various meetings and conventions in different parts of key cities/municipalities across the country promoting organic agriculture through safe farming methods and technologies.
Sometime in November 2013, Rescuer’s Stop by Engallado’s was launched in Valencia City. Rescuer’s Stop is a food hub that caters healthy food items ranging from snacks, combo meals, comfort food, and rice-based products to patrons. Inspired by his travels abroad especially in Cambodia, Rescuer’s Stop was conceptualized and established with the idea in mind that it will offer respite to tired and hungry backpackers.
Rescuer’s Stop’s house specialties include traditional Ilonggo comfort food such as batchoy and arroz caldo. Their tasty pork batchoy is one of the best sellers because of its fresh ingredients and cooked without MSG. The arroz caldo is prepared from multi-colored rice or a mixture of available rice varieties with various colors, making it vibrant and appealing to hungry customers.
Nick Jay Arr strives to provide quality rice-based products and mouthwatering house specialties by using their farm produce since he aims for quality and sustainability.
Striving for quality and affordable rice-based products, Nick confided that he intends to maintain the productivity of their farm where all, if not most, of Rescuer’s Stop’s ingredients and value-added products come from. The said food hub opens from 10:00 AM and closes at 8:00PM.
Another component under Engallado’s Farm & Natural Food Products is Greentag, which serves as a one-stop shop for its organically grown rice-based delicacies.
The organically-grown rice delicacies are a popular choice among local and foreign tourists alike that visit their farm and their shop. Among the rice-based bestsellers are barquirice and rice coffee, which were developed with the help of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). For those who are health conscious and on a strict diet, be sure to book for an advance reservation to avail of the farm’s brown, red, and black rice.
Farming Advocacy in the Time of Pandemic
Nick Jay Arr remained unfazed in pursuing his love for farming. In fact, the pandemic brought him the opportunity to reach out more, albeit virtually, using various means of video conferencing platforms such as zoom meetings, google meet, as well as attending a series of teleradyo guestings.
Most notable of all was his sharing of family farm entrepreneurial experiences at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul on Organic Farming and Agri-enterprise, Organic Agriculture Foundational Course of IFOAM-Asia, RCEF-RESP-FFS with TESDA, a series of ATI training on Agri-enterprise, and guesting at DZRH Teleradyo.
“The sharing focused on our approach that is from farm to shelves and later on highlighted our way to sustain the different initiatives upon Tatay’s passing. The challenge was not totally with the impact of the pandemic but how we had to continue-on with the plans Tatay had left us that is not entirely for the family but for the farming community to continue to learn from our family’s experience in sustainable agriculture so small-scale farmers will take pride of themselves and grow in understanding, skills, and the ability to sustain the needs of their respective families”, Nick Jay Arr stressed.
Before the pandemic, Nick Jay Arr was earring at least 20 thousand pesos a month from his rice-based products. This went down to 13 thousand pesos during the pandemic (and is slowly coping as of writing).
Meanwhile, Rescuer’s Stop fetches 60 thousand pesos a month.
His Father’s Legacy: A million for a hectare of organic rice
According to Nick Jay Arr, a million for a hectare of rice was a documented experience and at the same time a farmer’s study of his late father Nicasio, whose aim was to transform farmers’ mindset from production-oriented to product-oriented in order to command the price of his or her farm produce that small-scale farmers are deprived of in the value chain.
The whole experience focused on the ability of a hectare of rice farm to generate or earn a million pesos that was made possible through value-addition. The computation was based on the preparation of rice blend wherein an average 4T of rice when processed and sold at 8.00 per 15 grams will earn 1,200,000.00 pesos.
Tips for budding agripreneurs
While there is no magic formula for success in whatever value-adding business one pursues, Nick Jay Arr shared some tips and pointers below for up-and-coming entrepreneurs:
- Invest in quality – Take the time to check for competitors and compare their products. Check on the qualities in terms of ingredients used and decide what will be the edge of your product.
- Innovate – Upscale your product creatively to keep up with the competition, and to keep your business afloat.
- Fair pricing – Although I always use the best ingredients on my rice-based products, I also make sure that it is affordable since the ingredients are locally-sourced. This makes patrons and consumers embrace your products at an affordable price for the same good quality.
- Continue learning – Continue learning since learning is dynamic and make sure to apply such learning. Learn from experience and always aspire for self-improvement.
- Hard work pays off – The business plan you have in mind, or that awesome product/service you want to cater to will not transpire if you do not work for it.
Photos courtesy of ATI-X
For more of Engallado’s Nature Farm &Natural Food Products, check out their official Facebook business page here: https://www.facebook.com/engalladosnaturefarms
You may also watch Agristoryahay sa ATI Special Episode on Rice Talks: Journey To Success
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TmjNhfdY_w
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWjLCFmPoqk
This article was first published in https://ati.da.gov.ph/ati-main/
This article appeared in Agriculture Magazine’s July 2022 issue.