The ATI Influence

One of the products of Margeuries House of Goodies. (Photo grabbed from Margeuries House of Goodies FB page)

I was an entrepreneur, profit-oriented, meeting due dates and finding additional projects to add to the income of our small business. I have been focused on our food processing shop, taking pleasure from the clients’ satisfactions and still feel I am lacking something.

Everything changed when I experienced the ATI influence. My first experience with Agricultural Training Institute was during the conduct of the Training in Proposal Making sometime September 2013, at Crystal Inn, Iligan City, although I was not a participant, my mother, Erlinda Halibas, has long been appreciating the trainings and services of ATI. She asked me to join her on the last day so I can observe how they do the trainings. She introduced me to then OIC – Center Director, Angelito Y. Quirog, and she was all praises to the agency, albeit my scepticism about the agency since she has been long active with the City Agriculture Office of the Department of Agriculture and we have seen her frustrations through their lack of effort in helping the farmers. So I was a little bit unenthusiastic with ATI as she was very happy to experience the Agency’s services.

After the said training, she was invited to join the National Organic Agriculture Congress in PICC Manila, she was unable to join the team since she will be going out of the country that time, instead asked me to take her place. It was during that time that I learned about the Agency, their advocacies and heard a lot of positive things from the farmers who were with us on that trip. I realized then that my perception about the Agency have been clouded from the frustrations we felt from my mother with the other agricultural agencies.

After that, I was invited to witness the graduation of the Season Long Training on Palay Check Production in Veranda, Casisang, Malaybalay City, my first time to visit the place and enjoy the company of some ATI – RTC X staff. I was then invited to participate in the Resource Person Development Course Training conducted by ATI – RTC X in the same venue. It was the start of my positive conversion, with the trainings conducted by ATI, I learned a lot and slowly gained confidence that I, too, can become an agent for change.

Although I was invited by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and City Development and Livelihood Office (CDLO) as trainer for food processing entrepreneurship in different barangays in Iligan City, it was my first to conduct training outside my comfort zone. I was invited to train food processors in Baliangao, Misamis Occidental, and it was that time that I felt the sincerity of the participants who are willing to learn, and it seems that I have found what have been lacking in my life, to serve the less privileged and to share what I learned as entrepreneur and as food processor.

I tried to be an effective resource person, instilling the mandate and advocacy of ATI Director, Dir. Asterio P. Saliot, to reach out and change lives. With my little amount of knowledge, I strive to become efficient and be a source of information to the farmer-processors, what I learned as an entrepreneur, I enhanced through research, seminars and trainings. With additional trainings from ATI, I developed more skills and knowledge, arousing my interest not just on the value-adding concept but also on the production side of agriculture. I may not be a practicing farmer but I try to develop new technologies in using our kitchen wastes as soil medium, thus developing our own CRH version, the Carbonized Sapal (copra meal), yielding better products.

Agricultural Training Institute have been an instrument of my transformation. I have developed my love for training, looking forward to provide skills and knowledge, disseminate information that are relevant and useful to the practicing micro-entrepreneurs. I made it my advocacy to help starting entrepreneurs to avoid the same mistakes I have made during our early stages in business, struggling so much because of lack of business orientation and preparation, no proper training in entrepreneurship and most of all, failing to access the local government offices who are more than willing to train and assist struggling entrepreneurs like us.

Because of ATI, my services is now extended to the Department of Agrarian Reform at Ozamis City, since they have heard about my trainings with ATI and they asked me to train their food processor communities and assist them in establishing their income-generating projects.

Now, I am an enthusiastic advocate for change, promoting the entrepreneurial mind-set especially in the concept of value-adding of agricultural products.

(This was a testimony from Marie Grace N. Halibas, one of ATI's training participants.)