SMC builds urban farm at its head office

Published March 3, 2021, 10:43 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) wants its staff to become food self-sufficient and is even willing to convert certain spaces in its head office to small urban farms.

In a statement, SMC said it is building its first urban farm within its head office complex in Ortigas to help build self-sufficiency among its support staff.

Under the program, interested employees and workers doing support jobs will be given a plot of land in what will be dubbed as SMC’s “Malasakit Garden”, for them to use as a space to grow whatever produce they like.

They can then choose to either bring home their harvest or to sell these for a profit at a small Malasakit Garden Farmers market stall to be set up at the complex.

SMC president Ramon S. Ang said the company has partnered with a non-profit organization, SEED Philippines, which will be the one teaching the staff how to succeed at urban farming. SEED will also be serving as mentors during the early stages of SMC’s project.

On this site will rise SMC’s Malasakit Garden. It is an urban agriculture project SMC will mount with the help of SEED Philippines. Employees and support staff will be given plots of land to plant and grow produce which they can bring home to their families or sell at a profit. SMC and SEED will be providing technical expertise and financial support to ensure the project’s success.

SEED’s advocacy is to help eradicate poverty in low-income families through specialized programs on agri-entrepreneurship. 
The organization teaches organic vegetable production, soil management, planting materials production, and pest and disease management.

“With this, we hope the Malasakit Garden can augment healthy food supply for some of our workers, or serve as an additional source of income,” Ang said.

“Our hope is that they can really grow to like planting, they can hone their skills, and it becomes a practical life skill for them,” he said, adding that many support workers actually grew up in the province and know how to plant, except, there is no land for them to do it here in the city.

Ang said the project will hopefully encourage more businesses to transform urban spaces into functioning ecological spaces and help agriculture flourish.

Early on in the pandemic, SMC committed to protect the jobs of all its employees and extended workforce and provide various support for their frontline staff, including free swab testing and access to bikes so they can move around safely.  

Recently, a bill promoting urban agriculture passed on third reading in the Congress. 

House Bill no. 8385, to be exact, intends to promote urban agriculture nationwide and help boost the country’s food security.