Ronald was a poor but talented boy. He came from a farm family which could not afford to send him to college after he graduated from high school at the top of his class. But he was determined to go to college.
He stopped studying for two years so he could save enough to go to Manila. In those two years, he was a jeepney driver, sometimes acting as a barker at the terminal.
He was able to save enough money so that he could go to Manila, but it was not enough to keep him in school. So that he could enroll in college, he worked as security guard during the day and studied at night at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
After five years of great sacrifice, Ronald finished Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering, Magna Cum Laude.
His degree was his passport to a much more comfortable living. He was hired by a big telecommunications company, first as a computer specialist, then after three years, he was promoted to a managerial position, climbing the corporate ladder until he was Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Company when he chose to retire at a very young age of 39 after almost 20 years of service.
He then ventured into organic farming, initially, for family consumption.
What started as a hobby and in pursuit of his main belief that an all-Natural and Chemical-Free Food is the cornerstone for a Healthy Lifestyle has given rise to the 5-hectare Costales Nature Farm – an Integrated Certified Organic Farm.
With this as a mission, the farm started producing safe, fresh and tasty products that contain optimum nutrient without a trace of synthetic fertilizers or pesticide.
They take pride in their farm produce that has been lovingly planted, grown and harvested by hand. Top-of-the line post-harvest facilities and properly trained personnel are employed in the handling of products to ensure the highest standards in food handling, food packaging, and in general food hygiene.
His adoption of organic farming has made the food that reaches the tables of every Filipino families safer, tastier, and healthier!
As a staunch advocate of organic agriculture, he and his wife Josie Costales established the Costales Nature Farms in 2005 utilizing integrated organic farming system for the production of high value organic vegetable, culinary herbs, fresh water fish, free range poultry and odorless livestock.
The farm was recognized as the Most Outstanding Organic Farm of the Philippines for the year 2012 by His Excellency President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and was accredited as the first Agri-tourism destination in the Philippines by the Department of Tourism.
As an agri - technology innovator and a self-sacrificing extension service provider, he holds the position of President of the Magsasakang Siyentista (MS) in Organic Agriculture for the island of Luzon and was accredited as the first and only Private Extension Service Provider - National Level for Organic Agriculture giving him the privilege to conduct trainings in organic agriculture in the entire archipelago.
Recognizing his agricultural breakthroughs in organic farming, he was invited as resource speaker on organic agriculture and agritourism development during the 2013 APO International Convention in Bali, Indonesia and again just recently (Feb 2014) in Kuala Lumpur and Sri Lanka.
In 2012, he introduced the innovative agri-entrepreneurial approach through Joint-Venture (JV) Programs among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). This program aimed to address the need for additional capital investments for the expansion requirement of the farm.
The scheme provided OFWs the opportunity for additional earnings from their invested savings. At present, it provides a 140% - ROI for the JV Build-a-greenhouse Program and a 40% - for the JV on Agri-tourism Development Program and JV on Farm Accommodation Program. This is way above the 1% annual interest rates offered by commercial banks.
Also at the same year, Costales Nature Farms partnered with top-of-mind organic processed food distributor and number one wellness store in the country, Healthy Options, in the production of organic eggs, organic free-range chickens, and pigs.
Healthy Options, also helped-out in the establishment of top-of-the line post-harvest facilities to ensure the highest standard of food hygiene.
Their other long-term market partners are Cibo, Raffles Hotel, Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Solaire Resort & Casino, Dalcielo, El Nido and Dizon Farms.
By 3rd quarter of 2012, the biggest chain of high-end restaurant concepts, Bistro Holdings who owns the well known restaurant brands Italiannis, TGI Fridays, Krazy Garlik, Tonkatsu and Modern Shanghai, ventured with the Costaleses’ for the production of high value vegetables and culinary herbs.
These high-value veggies and herbs are served in the company’s chain of restaurant with the label “I Love Organic”.
Acknowledging his expertise and noble contributions in the advancement of organic agriculture in the Philippines, he was adjudged as 2011 Most Outstanding Organic Agriculturist of the Philippines by the Rotary Club.
In 2012, he was also awarded the National Gawad Saka Most Outstanding Organic Farmer of the Philippines by the Department of Agriculture and the 2012 Gawad Saka - Outstanding Farm Family by the Department of Agriculture - Region IV-A.
For the year 2014, he was unanimously voted as the Most Outstanding Pangasinense by the provincial government of Pangasinan and very recently awarded as The 2014 Most Outstanding Professional for Agriculture Category by Superbrand Marketing International (SMI).
The latest award that Ronald received was the 2014 Most Inspiring Agri-Entrepreneur of the Philippines given by Go Negosyo for inspiring billions of people local and abroad to engage into progressive Agriculture by proving to everyone that Agriculture is the best job in the 21st century where down in the farm, incomes are up.
This is through the introduction of innovative business ideas like Agritourism as a means to supplement farm income.
His unselfish sharing of expertise created new niches in organic integrated farming like the Rancho Domingo in Isabela, Gardenscape Philippines in Bulacan and Our Farm Republic located in Barangay Torre 2nd, Mangatarem, Pangasinan, which now serve as a new avenue for technology replication on organic farming. And just recently, The Farm Republic has been accredited as a Technology Demonstration Farm on Organic Agriculture by the Department of Agriculture – Regional Office I. These joint ventures with different farming industries has confirmed Mr. Costales’ selflessness in considering other farm industries as partners not as competitors for the common pursuit of a safe and healthy food for every Filipino family and in support to the Food Staple Sufficiency Program of the country.
Awards and recognitions bestowed on Mr. Ronald Costales have confirmed the magnificence of his works, however these are but secondary, for he remains humble as he avers, “It is not the number of awards that counts, but it is the number of people’s lives that you have touched and inspired that matters.”
Alleviating Farmer’s lives through Organic Agriculture and Farm Tourism
* Graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1989 with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering in PUP;
* Former Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer of PhilCom Corp* Retired in 2004 at the age of 39 to enjoy life in Organic Agriculture & Agritourism;
* National President, Association of Certified Trainers for National Organic Agriculture Welfare (ACT-NOW)* President MAGSASAKA-SIYENTISTA – Luzon Island;
* Executive Vice President and Chairman of the Speakers Bureau of GO ORGANIC FARMERS CLUB, INC;* Vice President, Farm Tourism Movers Association of the Philippines
* National awardee as the 2011 Most Outstanding Organic Agriculturist of the Philippines(TOPOA) given by Rotary International;* 2012, PRESIDENTIAL AWARDEE, - Most Outstanding Organic Agriculture Farmer of the Philipines;
* 2014 Most Outstanding Pangasinense given by Pangasinan Provincial Govt; •
* 2014 Most Outstanding Professional of the Philippines given by SMI Intl;
* 2014 Most Inspiring Agri-Entrepreneur of the Philippines give by Go Negosyo;
* Chairman and co-founder of COSTALES NATURE FARMS
Acknowledgement: Photo and story provided by Mr. Ronald Costales. For more information about his company, you can visit his company's website at http://www.costalesnaturefarms.com/