PROLIFIC MILLENNIAL FARMER FINDS FURTHER SUCCESS IN INSPIRING VIEWERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Agriculture|January - February 2021
WE OFTEN HEAR that children of farmers don’t want to follow in their parents’ footsteps because there is no money in agriculture. In the case of Reden Mark F. Costales, not only does he manage the family farm, he’s also become an internet celebrity, instructing and encouraging Filipinos to go into agriculture via The Agrillenial, his YouTube channel whose videos are also available on Facebook.
YVETTE TAN

Costales is the son of Ronald and Josie Costales, the couple behind Costales Nature Farms, the first recognized agri-tourism site in the Philippines. Now 29, Costales admits that he considered working in other industries with the hope of earning money. However, he realized that he actually didn’t need to venture far to work in a job he loved and earn from it, too. “In agriculture, you produce food. Food is a necessity, and if your product is a necessity, the demand is always high, if the demand is high, that should earn more right?” he says.

He focused on learning the technical aspects of farming, as well as the intricacies of running a successful business. After graduating from college in 2011, he immediately began working on the family farm, which just started operations and was supplying vegetables to several restaurants in Manila. “Working alongside my mentor and my dad and the rest of my family is the best motivation I could get to be in this industry. Having your family support you really is one of the defining factors of success,” he says.

COSTALES NATURE FARMS

Costales Nature Farms was first featured in Agriculture magazine in 2015. It has kept its reputation as one of the most popular farm tourism sites in the country.

“(This was) thanks to the efforts of my late father Mr. Ronald Costales, who was also called the ´father of farm tourism in the Philippines.´ We are the first farm tourism destination in the Philippines. But to stay relevant after all those years since 2012, I would have to say that our ´secret sauce´ is our harmonious partnership with our regional Department of Tourism. With exemplary leadership, the DOT region 4-A have promoted us, assisted us and provided us with support in multiple ways,” Costales says.

“Aside from the government’s support, It is also important to keep track of trends, techniques and best practices. The perfect balance and implementation of these aspects would certainly alleviate any farm tourism destination.”

Another reason the farm has stayed on top of its game is because it places importance on expanding to suit its and its clients’ needs. Before the pandemic, the farm constructed a 300 sq.m. convention hall where it conducts training and seminars and holds special events. They acquired additional land to serve as parking space and a second entrance for buses, as their original entrance was too narrow. “All to support our growing tourism demand and influx of guests,” Costales says.

Alongside this, they expanded their farm tourism offerings to cater to different tourist types. “Whether you are a nature lover, athletic, chill, thrill seeker, adventurous, etc., we have tour packages for you,” he adds. Of course, they haven’t neglected what got them started in the first place: growing vegetables. “On the production side, the type of vegetables or crops are mostly the same, but the difference between then and now is the size. We have acquired an additional two hectares of production area due to an increase of demand,” Costales says.

FROM FARMER TO INFLUENCER

Costales is the man behind the YouTube channel The Agrillenial, where he talks about running a farm as a business. Videos include planting tips, how to make natural concoctions and fertilizers, and how to care for livestock.

He says that it was mainly frustration that made him decide to become a vlogger. Other reasons include, “the lack of quality instructional content on the agriculture industry, motivation for would-be farmers and inspiration for the younger generation (Millennials and Gen Z) to go into farming.”

He expounds: “I was frustrated due to the lack of free and high quality content on the internet that focuses on agriculture that is based in the Philippines. Whenever I want to learn something, research something, looking up anything agri-related, the ones that would pop up first are technologies from the states or from Europe. I don’t mean to discredit them but their technology is not applicable to us (mostly). So where are the great minds of the Philippine agriculture? And even if I do find an article in the Philippine setting, it would be too complicated and too technical that a simple farmer wouldn’t understand. I was fed up and I have to do something about this.”

In short, he took one of Costales Nature Farms’ greatest strengths, that of finding a problem and turning it into an opportunity, and applied it to information and social media. “I saw the need for these kinds of content so took up the challenge and started my channel on youtube. My approach would be a young millennial guy talking and teaching about farming techniques and technologies in Tagalog so that our marginalized farmers would be able to absorb what I am talking about, at the same time, motivating and inspiring other startups and younger generations to take up farming. Basically I am repackaging and reframing agriculture and giving it a ‘sexier’ look.”

He defines what he means by “agrillenial:” “By my definition, agrillenial refers to a person who belongs to the millennial generation or in general terms, the youth, who are involved or engaged in agriculture. Given that term, which is a mass noun, I want to be recognized as ‘the,’ as in the first, the one and only and the original agrillenial. Aside from that, it is (also) part of my repackaging and reframing techniques to give farming a new, cooler look.”

Created on July 31, 2019, the channel currently has 89,300 subscribers and is the fifth title to appear on YouTube when searching for the term “agri.” “It was an amazing growth. I cannot believe it myself. I am blown away at how this thing got big so fast,” he says.

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