Cherrie Atilano, a multi-awarded Filipina agriculture changemaker, 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.
Cherrie is a SUN Movement Lead Group member effective this year, until the year 2021. The SUN Movement is successfully catalyzing the fight against malnutrition in 60 countries, including the Philippines. Cherrie leads together with 26 ambassadors across the globe.
Secretary-General Antonió Guterres appointed Cherrie in recognition of her strong commitment to the fight against malnutrition, as evidenced by her grassroots work towards rural development through sustainable agriculture in AGREA. Cherrie 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.
“I make my commitment to secure nutrition by securing food sufficiency and security. Always make farming sexy by mentoring a lot of young people to venture in agriculture, empower women in agriculture to make sure proper nutrition starts from home, work on multi stakeholder partnerships on making sure nutrition will be a serious business to lower stunted growth and boost our human capital productivity, and invests in impactful agri-foods,” Cherrie Atilano shared in a statement.
The principle of Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement is that “everyone has the right to food and nutrition”, and these 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. Cherrie’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.
With this role of providing strategic oversight and scaling nutrition across the globe, Cherrie is championing and anchoring on AGREA’s core programs and best practices. AGREA’s programs such as The Garden Classroom, Farm School, Women in Agriculture,and Family Farming,are value-adding holistic approaches that can be scalable in SUN Movement’s 60 participating countries.
The Garden Classroom (TGC): learning from the ground up
From idle lands, to ideal living classrooms of learning - The Garden Classroom (TGC) 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.
Cherrie Atilano teaching elementary students in one of the TGC 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.
AGREA Farm School: always learning, always discovering
Cherrie and the AGREA Team have a dream of scaling and replicating the AGREA Farm School wherever AGREA is present. Cherrie believes that education can be a sustainable development multiplier. The AGREA Team maximizes their holistic farm school approaches to train and enable farmer-leaders, farmer-scientists, and farmer-agripreneurs. Empowered and enabled food producers, offer good and nutritious food for the people.
FARMER SCHOLARS. Wave 9 graduates of the AGREA Farm School were all beneficiaries of the TESDA and AGREA partnership in Marinduque
Since November 2017, the AGREA Farm School and Assessment Center has already trained 267 students and assessed 376 applicants in Organic Agriculture Production NCII. As of 30 September 2019, AGREA Farm School has an overall certification passing rate of 98.76% in Organic Agriculture Production NCII.
The vision of the AGREA Farm School is to cultivate a safe, well-rounded, inclusive learning environment that encourages learners and educators to explore their talents, and achieve their potentials in a manner that is always growing, always discovering. With this, the AGREA Farm School is preparing and empowering each learner with agricultural competency, and technical-vocational ability to lead productive and sustainable futures, and develop character to lead fulfilling and healthy lives.
Women in Agriculture
Cherrie is a staunch advocate of empowering women in agriculture. She believes that good nutrition starts at home, and women play a key role in achieving this. Globally, women produce over 50% of the world’s food and comprise about 43% of the agricultural labor force. Additionally, women invest as much as 10 times more of their earnings than men do in their family’s well-being in areas including child health, education and nutrition. Thus, empowering women in agriculture will create a good impact on: child health and nutrition, and education.
AGREA through Cherrie’s leadership is taking the lead in the creation of the “Magna Carta of Women in Agriculture”. Last September 17, 2019, thirty advocates of gender equity and empowerment from across the Philippines gathered at the Savoy Hotel in Pasay City to evaluate the current status of women and girls in rural areas, and to put forth measures to improve the lives and livelihoods of Filipina women in agriculture. These women advocates brought a diverse range of experiences and insights as farmers, policymakers, scholars, entrepreneurs, and leaders of indigenous communities.
WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE. Participants during the round-table discussion include: farmers, policymakers, scholars, entrepreneurs, and leaders of indigenous communities
The round table discussions were implemented by AGREA in partnership, with the Philippine Commission on Women, the Office of Congressman Bingo Matugas, and Corteva Agriscience. Expanding upon the 2018 UN Commission on the Status of Women and the 2010 Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710), the output of these talks are a set of key issues and proposed solution that will be forwarded to the Philippine House of Representatives, in order to create a new “Magna Carta of Women in Agriculture.”
Focusing on Family Farmers
Farming is a family activity that provides decent work and economic growth. AGREA works closely with smallholder family farmers – in their 60-hectare coconut-turmeric intercrop farm in Marinduque (the biggest in the Philippines). AGREA enables these farmers to be climate-smart, and diversify their economic base through agripreneurship and farm tourism approaches.
An AGREA community in Kulilis, Torrijos - had their first solar water pump.
“When you enable and empower family farmers, you will create a ripple effect: they will produce good food that will nourish not just their families, but the whole community”, Cherrie shared in a statement.
With Cherrie’s new mission of being a SUN Movement ambassador, she cited the AGREA Team, and AGREA partner-farmers as her inspiration.
The SUN Movement was launched in 2010 by the UN Secretary-General. Led by governments, driven by evidence, SUN has already rallied 61 countries and 4 Indian States - supported by over 4,000 civil society organizations, some 500 businesses, 5 UN agencies and a group of international donors and foundations (the SUN networks).