05312024.Web.Banner Fr Mars P Tan SJ

(Jollibee Group Foundation and Xavier University Partnership)

Good afternoon everyone!  Welcome to this graduation ceremony! Congratulations to the 97 graduates (94%) who completed the course on Agro-entrepreneurship for Inclusive Value Chains: An Introduction Course.

I am happy that finally, you've finished the Agro Entrepreneurship online course despite the usual teaching & learning difficulties. The online technology itself is new to many of you and could have repeatedly given you doubts and stresses. Some participants may have lacked a stable internet connection, while others struggled to keep up with the course's asynchronous requirements. Moreover, the online platform itself keeping you glued to your laptop or phone is another unfamiliar and could be an exhausting exercise. But you have surmounted the challenges. In fact, I was told that you found the course design interactive, even if it's online. You also provided quality inputs, much to the delight of your facilitators. Aside from the online platform challenges, you were also subjected to weekly quizzes, assignments, and discussion boards on eLearn, which were capped with the final requirement to submit an Action Plan to be applied in your respective communities. All these you were able to triumph over, and here you are now, graduates!

I am sure your success was motivated by various reasons, your family, your loved ones, your passion for achieving, your love for continuous learning, and others. They are all right and important, But I would like to bring you back to the very aim of why we have this joint partnership between JGF and XU. That is to capacitate a pool of select educators and agri-extension facilitators who can help smallholder farmers as entrepreneurs empowered to work with institutional buyers. We aim at developing them from merely being farmer producers to becoming farmer entrepreneurs; and, hopefully, slowly, contribute to agriculture transformation. So there is a much greater call ahead, an essential work that we have to take on. So we say as we graduate, we also commence to do the work we have prepared ourselves to do.

I hope that the online course has prepared you to be teachers/trainers in two ways: first, teach the small farmers the right ways and methods; second, share with them the hope and confidence they need.  On the one hand, if we share only the technical part, no matter how correct and accurate it is, then we fail to connect with the persons who are the objects of our capacitating/training. But, on the other hand, with only hope and confidence, the farmers would always feel not equipped to be part of transforming agriculture and their lives.  So the two should go together: the technical knowledge and skills part and the collective confidence and commitment of the farmers to make a change in agriculture.

Lastly, Xavier University is grateful to JGF for this outstanding partnership and to all the facilitators for generously working hard to teach/train our graduates.  The XU College of Agriculture felt honored to have contributed to this endeavor for our small farmers as this concretizes the Jesuit education mission of becoming men and women for others. Congratulations to everyone, and keep up the good work until the next online course. Again welcome everyone! May God bless us all!