The Organic Youth Forum had a pre-tour before their actual conference at the 3rd Organic Asia Congress in Bislig City, Philippines. From September 11th – 15th, the youth leaders had a learning adventure from the different organic sites in Mindanao as they try to learn first-hand about the multi-functions of Organic Agriculture from the very best organic leaders in the area.

Arms to Farms Movement of Kauswagan. The Organic Youth Forum started their journey at the Municipality of Lanao del Norte. What was once a warzone, the municipality is a prime example of how organic agriculture can solve one of the world’s most pressing concerns – hunger.  The very same rebels who attacked and wreaked havoc in the area have now become the organic leaders of the community, trading their arms to farm tools in the process. They attacked the area before because they had no food on the table to feed their families. A decade later, through organic agriculture, the rebels are able to bring enough food on the table and send their children to school, something they never thought would happen. The youth leaders had the rare chance of meeting and interacting with the rebels who now have become champions of organic agriculture in the area.

Alomah’s Farm, Bukidnon. The Organic Youth Forum travelled to the mountainous area of Bukidnon, where they were able to visit a popular organic agriculture tourist spot – Alomah’s Farm. There the youth leaders had a chance to unwind, rest and discuss their visions as youth leaders in their respective countries.

The Farmer’s Market and an audience with the Governor. The youth went to the Farmer’s market, a program by the governor of the province where farmers can directly sell their products to consumers, thus increasing heir income significantly. Since its inception in early 2018, the farmer’s market has generated more than Php7.3M ($132,000), all of which went directly to the pockets of the farmers. To cap their visit, the youth leaders were welcomed by Governor Yevgeny Emano and the governor was so thrilled that the organic leaders have visited his province, as he is a young organic advocate himself.

Tagupa’s SAFEGCC Farm. 50 kilometers from the Farmer’s market is the ALGOA Ambassador’s Biodynamic Farm, Vic Tagupa. He welcomed the youth leaders to his 1.5-hectare farm in the middle of the rice fields. This size is the average farm size for Filipino farmers and other regions in South East Asia. The farm is being used as a family farm model to be replicated by organic mayors from all over the Philippines and is being used as a learning and training site for agriculturists, researchers and organic advocates.   From the organic vegetables to the organic rice and farm animal production, the farm showcased biodiversity at its best.

Talisayan Municipality. The youth then proceeded to the municipality of Talisayan where they were greeted by Mayor Rommel Maslog. There was a small welcome party hosted by the mayor and his team. The delegates went to a 15 hectare farm called VS project, where the owner has grown a variety of organic products such as kangkong and pepper. Not far from the VS project is another family farm were the youth delegates were to witness virgin coconut oil production.

Axelum Corportation’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program. The youth delegates then proceeded to Axelum Corporation, whose Corporates Social Responsibility (CSR) Program is centered towards giving back to the community through organic agriculture. The company, lead by Rodrigo Edyesca, CSR Manager, who also was a delegate of the IFOAM Asia Organic Foundation Course in Goesan South Korea in April 2018, provides organic agriculture training to its employees and provides assistance to augment their income. AXELUM has then expanded its dedication to help the poor and address hunger through Organic Agriculture by reaching out to other communities, to the rebel groups and even drug users who are undergoing rehabilitation.

San Francisco final stopover. For their last stop, the Organic Youth Forum visited the municipality of San Francisco where Mayor Jenny de Asis and her team welcomed them and talked about the various organic agriculture programs of the municipality.

To the 3rd OAC in Bislig. Armed with 5 days of fruitful and meaningful Organic Agiruclture journey, the delegates then proceeded to the 3rd Organic Asia Congress in Bislig City where they will lead more than 100 delegates of the 2018 Organic Youth Forum.