From sweet pome­los, sa­vory durian fruits of dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties and beau­ti­fully-shaped dragon fruits to raw wild honey and na­tive choco­lates, Gatty’s Fruit Farm truly en­er­gizes not just one’s quar­an­tined body but also of­fers cheer to hun­gry minds await­ing

Daily Tribune (Philippines) - - FRONT PAGE - BY FRANCINE M. MAR­QUEZ

The coro­n­avirus cri­sis is lit­er­ally turn­ing out to be a test of one’s strength. And this is not just in con­duct­ing busi­ness but es­pe­cially on the per­sonal front as well. With months of quar­an­tine and prac­tic­ing safety pro­to­cols at home and out­doors, the key to sur­viv­ing is also eat­ing healthy, ex­er­cis­ing and do­ing all we can to stay men­tally steady.

With the eased quar­an­tine in the metro and the ef­forts of gov­ern­ment agen­cies like the Depart­ment of Tourism and the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try, agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and ar­ti­sanal food items are made more avail­able through pop-up phys­i­cal bazaars in malls and through on­line stores. This is such a boost for our small and medium-sized en­ter­prises (SME).

The Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture con­tin­ues to re­port that our Filipino farm­ers are age­ing, with the av­er­age age as 57 and with the as­sump­tion that the av­er­age life span of Pi­noys is 70 years old.

This means that in a few years, we’ll have a short­age of farm­ers as the younger gen­er­a­tion are mi­grat­ing in ur­ban cen­ters to reach dream jobs in of­fices, com­mer­cial cen­ters, or fac­to­ries.

But there’s some good sun­shine that’s some­how light­en­ing up this pan­demic — one that’s a quan­tum leap above the sweet

plan­tita and plan­tito phe­nom­e­non. On so­cial me­dia feeds, the farm-fresh items that have be­come in­ac­ces­si­ble due to var­i­ous stages of lock­downs have been made within reach by pas­sion­ate mil­len­nial en­trepreneur­s who bring in a new face to agri­cul­ture with their savvi­ness in tech­nol­ogy and dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion.

Hope­fully, this could fi­nally be a shift in ev­ery­one’s mind­set as this gen­er­a­tion of en­trepreneur­s know the im­por­tance of nur­tur­ing com­mu­ni­ties who need to con­nect with their food and of tak­ing good care of their farm­ers as fel­low stake­hold­ers to truly make the farm busi­ness thrive. Af­ter all, agri­cul­ture is the foun­da­tion of our econ­omy. Our rich nat­u­ral re­sources are es­sen­tial in in­fus­ing cap­i­tal for in­dus­tries.

How re­fresh­ing, for in­stance, to see en­trepreneur­s like Justin Gat­mai­tan of Gatty’s Fruit Farm feed­ing our In­sta­gram with en­tic­ing pho­tos of happy har­vests from his fam­ily’s farm in Davao and Que­zon.

From sweet pome­los, durian fruits of all kinds and beau­ti­fully shaped dragon fruits to raw wild honey and na­tive choco­lates, Gatty’s Fruit Farm truly en­er­gizes not just one’s quar­an­tined body

but also of­fers cheer to hun­gry minds await­ing the end of this pan­demic.

In a phone in­ter­view, 32-year-old Justin ex­presses that sense of pos­i­tiv­ity and verve so im­por­tant in grow­ing busi­nesses. A self-con­fessed peo­ple kind of per­son, Justin says his busi­ness has also been chal­lenged, of course, but he was able to bounce back with the help of e-com­merce, study­ing the mar­ket, “a lot of hard work” and, of course, sin­cer­ity.

On start­ing young, his other hus­tles and ad­vice to new­bie en­trepreneur­s, here’s our in­ter­view with Justin.

How did you get into this kind of en­ter­prise?

I started sell­ing the fruits of my dad in the vil­lage Satur­day mar­ket in high school. My first ever work ex­pe­ri­ence. Started my first busi­ness af­ter I grad­u­ated as an in­de­pen­dent dis­trib­u­tor of Nu Skin En­ter­prises, a skin care and health care com­pany. Learned lots of my busi­ness skillset from that one and ap­plied it to the farm to adapt to the dig­i­tal trend.

How has the farm been since the pan­demic? What chal­lenges did you face dur­ing this pe­riod?

The farm, growth wise, has been stan­dard. The crops in sea­son are bloom­ing and fruit­ing as sched­uled. Ma­jor chal­lenge for us is def­i­nitely lo­gis­tics as we opted to sell our fruits in nearby mar­kets in­stead of bring­ing them in to

Manila. The dif­fer­ent rules of quar­an­tine across area bor­ders is too risky and was too much of a has­sle for us to push a ship­ment to Manila. Flights from Davao to Manila are hard too mak­ing cargo queues long with a higher risk of spoilage.

What har­vests have you been pro­duc­ing and are sell­ing now?

We’ve been sell­ing our Longkong

Lan­zones and Durian in Davao and our pa­payas in Que­zon prov­ince. We sell our packed goods here in Manila, our ca­cao prod­ucts and honey which we ship na­tion­wide.

What prepa­ra­tions did you go through to run Gatty’s Fruit Farm?

I’ve been in busi­ness for 10 years now since I started dis­tribut­ing Nu Skin in 2010. The busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence, dis­ci­pline and life lessons you learn along the way molds you to the per­son you are now. The big­gest help would be the busi­ness, peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills I learned through my 10 years part­ner­ing with Nu Skin along­side the dis­ci­pline I got from be­ing a stu­dent ath­lete (in De La Salle Univer­sity) up un­til col­lege play­ing foot­ball.

What’s your ad­vice for those who want to start an en­ter­prise like Gatty’s Fruit Farm?

Just do it. Start a busi­ness. Get out of your com­fort zone. Take that risk and take ac­tion.

Dur­ing this pan­demic, what are you learn­ing about the busi­ness and about your­self as a busi­ness leader?

All chal­lenges are op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow. Learn how to pivot and adapt be­cause if there’s a will, there’s a way.

And as an en­tre­pre­neur: Stay pos­i­tive at all times. Stick with the pos­i­tive and stay away from the neg­a­tive. Been ap­ply­ing this for most of my life and amidst these trou­ble­some times its a good re­minder to keep at it.

What makes get­ting into a farm busi­ness ful­fill­ing? And how can you in­spire other peo­ple of your gen­er­a­tion to get into the farm­ing busi­ness?

Per­son­ally, I just love con­nect­ing peo­ple. I find joy in that. Even if there is no profit to gain, I do it all the time, shar­ing good in­for­ma­tion about what I en­joy or dis­cover. Like shar­ing your fa­vorite restau­rant or movie or fa­vorite video game. I would prob­a­bly say en­trepreneur­ship as a whole is ful­fill­ing. It’s an en­abler and an equal­izer. You can do a lot of great things if you put your mind to it. You can take con­trol of your life. You can make an im­pact. You can lead oth­ers by lead­ing your­self first.


DAVAO’S best. Durian (left) and Langkong Lan­zones (right).

JUSTIN with Gatty’s Fruit Farm’s har­vest of sweet pome­los.

BUKIDNON Wild For­est Honey.

SAT­IS­FY­ING cup of Tab­leya de Davao.

Francine M. Mar­quez

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