A Model for Rural Development
In the Philippines, where millions of people depend on farming for their food and income, sustainable agriculture is key to a healthy future. And yet, the future of the sector itself is at risk. At Don Bosco Agro-Mechanical Technology Center in Legazpi City, a new generation of Salesian-trained students promises to lead the charge toward transformation.
Legazpi City is one of the poorest regions in the Philippines, which is precisely why our missionaries chose to establish a vocational training center there. Since its beginnings in 2001, the Don Bosco Center has helped more than 170 rural impoverished students each year develop the skills they need to achieve self-sufficiency.
Instructors combine theory with hands-on practice at the school’s demonstration farm. Aided by the latest equipment, students apply their classroom lessons toward growing vegetables and other crops; raising livestock and veterinary sciences; and milk, cheese and other dairy production. The Don Bosco Center in Legazpi City also helps local farmers establish small cooperatives on its farm, including offering microloans, technical support, and marketing assistance for their products.
“With an average age of 57, many current farmers in the Philippines will soon age out of their work,” explains Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Others lack the knowledge, equipment or financial resources they need to grow the sector and drive it forward. Graduates of the Don Bosco Center have an amazing opportunity—not only to earn a good living, but to give back to their communities and become key players in their country’s development.”
Recognizing this, a core group of alumni organized themselves into the Bosconian Young Farmers Club in 2017. Last year, existing industry professionals trained 10 volunteers on how the club should be run. Led by Father Ronilo Javines, it now includes these initial volunteers and five honorary club members. The hope is that this club will sow the seeds for future farmers, who will feed and nourish this poor region.
While the club represents a small step forward in the sector’s revitalization, it is also a significant one. “This is a seed that could bear much fruit and inspire other Salesians and past pupils to follow this agricultural path,” says Fr. Ronilo.
We are grateful to our many Salesian Missions donors, who have helped fund these training initiatives over the years and improve the lives of so many.
Our mission fights poverty and hunger through over 40 Agricultural Training Centers around the globe. What’s your mission?
Learn more about our work in the Philippines.