“I didn’t know that right there, in my own backyard, there are plants that are good food for the pigs I’m raising!”
So exclaimed Nanay Letty, a mother and agricultural-entrepreneur raising pigs in Don Salvador Benedicto, a pristine, rural municipality in the province of Negros Occidental, Philippines.
In this small town, our local network is serving over 300 small-scale farmers. Around 80% of the farmers are swine raisers.
Therefore, it wasn’t surprising that the first specialized workshop conducted by the Partners Worldwide Business Affiliate (BA) team was about swine nutrition.
Nanay Letty is one of the many participants who attended the workshop, led by BA team member and subject-matter expert, Dr. Rommel C. Sulabo.
Dr. Rommel holds a double Ph.D. in animal nutrition from Kansas State University and the University of Illinois, and today is a professor in the top agriculture university in the Philippines. His wife, Dr. Shayne Sulabo, leads the BA team. She holds a doctorate in food technology and is a professor at the same university as her husband.
Initially, the workshop was planned to be conducted in just one location. But because this specialized subject is both urgent and essential for the small-scale swine farmers, the workshop was held in two towns, Candoni and Don Salvador Benedicto.
A total of 59 farmers, seven staff from our local partner Katuwang, and one local government agricultural officer attended the swine training.
The workshop was so relevant and needed by the farmers that every person took diligent notes. The workshop also extended by an hour overtime as nearly every farmer had numerous questions.
As Rommel replied to each one, there was a buzz in the room, more follow-up questions, then exclamations of excitement, laughter, and shared realizations—those aha moments flooded the session hall!
“Wow! Today, I just found out that I don’t need to give a full body bath to my sow so that it won’t feel hot, but that pouring water on its head is sufficient,” shouted one female participant with a childlike glee on her face.
Another participant confidently blurted: “Ay, thank you Lord! Now I realize that I don’t need to spend more money on buying feed supplements that I see in advertisements and that feed supply stores owners force me to buy because the natural feeds that I’m giving my pigs are already sufficient.”
“When are we going to have our own feed mill so that we can save money and be freed from the hold of commercial feeds supply stores and ‘middlemen’?” an older male farmer asked.
Many more participants asked questions and shared their learnings, such that they didn’t mind eating lunch way past lunchtime.
On the long drive back to the city following the training, the BA team leader Dr. Shayne and her husband Rommel were exhausted—yet satisfied. Rommel later shared:
“Working with our swine farmers reminded me of why I started this journey in the first place. I’m happy to have partners to hopefully change lives and empower communities.”