DILIMAN, Quezon City—More agribusiness opportunities are now being recognized in the local corn industry.
In the seventh episode of the radio program “Agri Asenso”, agripreneur and community leader Jocelyn Ong-Perez from Basista, Pangasinan turned the spotlight on products that can be made using discarded cornhusks.
“Corn is second to palay as a major crop in Basista. In fact, there are 650 hectares of corn here… I took interest in pursuing a business using cornhusk because we have a lot of corn and cornhusks are usually just burned here,” Ong-Perez said in a live interview via Zoom.
Handicrafts such as bags, baskets, and plant containers are among the most popular items developed and sold by Crafter’s Joy Cornhusk Products which Ong-Perez owns. They also make flowers, leis, bottle holders, and Christmas ornaments.
“We started in 2006 and the first product we learned to make are flowers, until we discovered how to make ropes and braids… The materials needed are very basic. You can have plain products or colored ones where you can use fabric dyes. It only depends on how much you want to enhance your product and make the quality better,” she told the listeners.
Aside from handicrafts, “Crafter’s Joy” has also ventured into making salted eggs infused with herbs, incorporating cornhusk for packaging. Ong-Perez’s “Heart and Soil Farm” has also just been certified as a Learning Site for Agriculture of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI).
Being a long-time agripreneur has made Ong-Perez open to change but, according to her, running a business in the new normal remains a challenge.
“The impact of the pandemic has been really huge. Fortunately, we were given an opportunity by mall owners to hold trade fairs. Business is still a bit slow, but we are still fighting,” she said.
“[To other women agripreneurs], do not lose hope. Do not give up. There will always be opportunities amid the problems. We just have to keep our eyes open,” she added.
To people interested in putting up their own agribusiness, Ong-Perez’s advice is to “start small” and make sure to learn their craft.
“Even if we are already senior citizens, we also have to study how to use the internet. As they say, if you are not on the internet, you are not in business,” she stressed.
The ATI’s “Agri Asenso” program airs every Saturday, 5PM-6PM, on DZRH AM, TV, Facebook, and YouTube. Ong-Perez served as resource person on the March 20 episode which, as of this writing, has garnered over 250,000 views on Facebook.