Balikbayan Magazine—The Global Business & Travel Briefing

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Cherrie Atilano teaches students about farm tools. (AGREA Photo)

Multi-awarded Filipina agriculture changemaker – Cherrie Atilano, was recently appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, to be a high-level ambassador of the UN Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. Atilano is a SUN Movement Lead Group member effective this year, until the year 2021. The SUN Movement is successfully catalysing the fight against malnutrition in 60 countries, including the Philippines.

Secretary-General Antonió Guterres appointed Atilano, in recognition of her strong commitment to the fight against malnutrition, as evidenced by her grassroots work towards rural development through sustainable agriculture. Atilano is the Founding Farmer, CEO and President of AGREA – an innovative and inclusive enterprise founded on fair trade and sustainable agriculture, and is based in the island province of Marinduque. AGREA is creating the first replicable model of a one-island economy that is zero hunger, zero waste, and zero insufficiency.

The principle of Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement is that “everyone has the right to food and nutrition”, and this two should go hand in hand. SUN movement is a renewed effort to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms, and ensure a world free from malnutrition by 2030. The movement addresses the problem of 149 million children, who are suffering from malnutrition – which has devastating consequences for health, learning, future earning potential, economic development, resilience and security.

Nutrition is a maker and marker of sustainable development. Ending malnutrition in all its forms is essential to unlocking the full potential of current and future generations, and for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Atilano’s role is to support the 60 member countries, as they pursue their goals to scale up nutrition. She will also provide strategic oversight of the Movement: encouraging coherence and collective accountability for results.

One program of Atilano that is manifesting the fight against malnutrition is “The Garden Classroom” (TGC). From idle lands, to ideal living classrooms of learning – The Garden Classroom program’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for elementary students, by turning barren and forgotten school gardens in elementary schools into blooming centers for learning. TGC is currently being implemented in 31 public elementary schools in Marinduque, and 15 public elementary schools in Siargao.

Through TGC, students learn food cultivation for healthy eating and nutrition, explore wildlife, participate in inter-school farming collaborations, and develop a passion for taking care of plants and the environment. The program also provides a high-quality learning environment, through collaboration with local leaders, community partners, and Parent’s Teachers Association (PTA). These groups share the same goals in mind: scholastic achievement, health and wellness, and real-life connections for students.

Atilano shared in a statement on why The Garden Classroom should be integrated in educational institutions: “investing in the future of the younger generation for their garden classrooms as venue for education, mindset change towards agriculture, and cultivating love for the land and healthy food – is a gamechanger for a food secure and healthy communities.”

Atilano is on a mission to make Filipino farmers world-class, and make farming “sexy” especially to the younger generation. She is lauded for her 21 years of vast experience in promoting food security and sustainable agriculture programs. For this, she has received numerous honors and awards, including: The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service Award in 2016, Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur in 2017, The Outstanding Young Men and Women (TOYM) 2018, and first Awardee of Women of the Future Social Entrepreneur in SouthEast Asia. Atilano is also an Advisory Board Member of the World Bank Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE).


For more information, visit AGREA’s website at http://www.agreaph.com.

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