Desiree “Daisy” Duran, aka the Seedling Queen of Bulacan, shares the inspiring story of how she made the move from street fishball vendor to a multi-award winning Filipino agripreneur.
Education as a catalyst for change
Starting out as a housewife selling fishballs and samalamig on the streets, a training session held by the Department of Agriculture in 2001 changed Daisy’s future for the better.
“I started to plant tomatoes in 1000 square meters. And then I expanded it into planting more pinakbet vegetables: tomatoes, chili, and bitter gourd.”
Part of the training program also discussed financial support, which Daisy used to start her seedling business. “I was the first farmer to start this in our community. Other farmers started to buy from me. My seedling nursery was made of bamboo, and I started small. Now my nursery is big, and is the main business of Duran Farms. This seedling business helped us to send our children to school, and at the same time they have seen the value of agriculture,” Daisy shared.
Accelerating the agriculture industry in the Philippines
In 2010, Daisy saw the opportunity to further accelerate the agriculture industry in the Philippines. “I started the Duran Farms Agricultural Learning Center. Now, we offer 11 qualifications in our training center: organic agriculture production, in-bred rice production, farm mechanization, rice machinery operations. Our main goal is to train and share these skills with more farmers.”
However, undertaking agriculture in the Philippines is challenging, farmers often deal with erratic weather, unstable prices of goods and oftentimes, negative treatment and perception from others. Despite this, Daisy remained inspired and dedicated to the industry.
“I never gave up in spite of these challenges. The beauty in agriculture is that you provide food, and that you are helping people grow.”
Continuing education in agriculture
To manage these challenges effectively, Daisy continuously attends and provides training sessions to farmers – upskilling herself and those around her.
At Duran Farms Agricultural Learning Center, Daisy and her team motivate and uplift farmer-learners and students, providing farmers with education and financial assistance, especially those who might be keen in pursuing farm tourism.
In addition to the work that she does on-ground, Daisy is also the Founder and Chairperson of Bulacan Farmers Agriculture Cooperative, which enable continuous production, supply and deliveries for farmers – ensuring that they can continue growing and producing vegetables.
Advice for women farmers
“I am proud to be a farmer. Most people think that farming is for men, but the perseverance of women and our knowledge to market products - these are the skills that are important to be successful in the agriculture sector. To women in agriculture, diligence and focus are key. Start small, and be open to learning new things. Let’s find our passion – it is not easy, but with perseverance, you will harvest good results.”