From a street fishball vendor to a multi-award winning Filipino agripreneur, hear from Desiree “Daisy” Duran, the Seedling Queen of Bulacan on how she continues to encourage, inspire and seek opportunities in agriculture.
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 across 1000 square meters. And then I expanded 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.
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.”
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.
Daisy’s final piece of 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.”
Hailed the “Seedling Queen” of Bulacan, Desiree “Daisy” Duran was once a street vendor selling fishballs on the sidewalk. But after learning how to plant off-season vegetables and raise seedlings on a one-hectare plot, she found out that there was more to dirt than meets the eye. With support from Department of Agrarian Reform, and the Bulacan Provincial Government, Daisy is now a full-fledged agripreneur whose expanded vegetable farm serves as an official Lakbay-Aral tourism site. For her pioneering venture since 2003, Daisy was awarded Most Outstanding Community Enterprise in 2015 by Villar SIPAG, and Most Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur in 2017 by the Office of the President of the Philippines.