Emerging as one of the young entrepreneurs in Ilocos Region is Ms. Geneva Gañalon, 24 of Purok 7, Sipulo in Bacnotan La Union with her G’s Duckery Food Production and Processing enterprise.

A licensed Bio-Systems Agricultural Engineer, Geneva finds her calling in duck production enterprise towards the end of pandemic in 2022 when she happened to watch a Tiktok video about a Chef cooking meat binagoongan.

Bagoong, a common condiment in the Ilokano dishes made of shrimp paste is abound in Ilocos. Inspired by the tiktok video, Geneva’s inquisitive mind then run and thought of using meat duck to be a perfect pair of the binagoongan that she watched in the Tiktok.

Inspired by the many health benefits of duck and the potential business enterprise that the duck binagoongan could provide for her family, Geneva started to plan how she will be able to start the business in mind.

Financially challenged at that time, the YFC or the Young Farmers Challenge program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) came around just in time for Geneva as she came across on the announcement about the program sometime in 2021 through the DA’s facebook account.

The DA’s YFC program is a project that provides financial grants to encourage young farmer entrepreneurs and business enthusiast to practice farming business, may it be into production, processing or agri technology innovations.

Without second thought, she immediately inquired about the program and passed the necessary documentary requirements.

However, Geneva faced failure on her first attempt to qualify for the program due to her incomplete documentary requirements.

But this did not dampen her spirit and took another chance to propose her agri-enterprise for the second time. This time, she succeeded and was qualified to present her business proposal on duck production and processing.

Armed with confidence and determination, the business plan that she presented paved the way for her to make it in the regional finals after topping the provincial level in 2022.

Here, she took home P50,000 under the provincial level and P150,000 in the regional level which she then used as start-up capital in her business.

From the initial two heads of duck that she bought from a farmer in her barangay, Geneva is now raising more than 300 heads nested in a 1,500 sq.m. production area.

In raising her ducks, Geneva employed various natural farming practices especially on feeding her ducks. Azolla, rice bran, golden snail or kuhol, now considered as destructive pest in rice plants are now being used as a good source of protein and other nutrients for her ducks. Black soldier flies were reared in her farm for their eggs as they are also good feed ingredients for her ducks.

True to her business plan, Geneva did not only venture into production but also in processing with her duck binagoongan.

Introducing her duck binagoongan in the community is quite challenging for Geneva. Ducks, unlike chicken is quite unfamiliar in the community as it is only known for “pulutan.”

However, with her patience and persistence to have a free taste of the product during trade fairs she attended, the consuming public got curious of the taste and learn to accept the product and continued on to patronize Geneva’s duck meat binagoongan.

Demands on her product became high and the famous hotel like Shangri-La also signified to order but Geneva could not yet meet the required volume demand with her current production.

In fact, Geneva is now producing 25-300 bottles of her duck binagoognan per month (equivalent to 40 heads of ducks slaughtered) while orders via online and big hotels and restaurants are also being accommodated. Sumago Philippines, one of the exporters of Filipino products and a key partner of the Department of Trade and Industry started ordering for her products for export, pending the issuance of the Food and Drug Authority’s (FDA) certification.

According to Geneva, the FDA certification can only be issued upon completion of the production and processing facilities which she has proposed under the Up-scale Program. With the proposed P3 million project cost, Geneva also sought funding requests to the LGU-La Union and initial discussions were made with regard to the proposal.

While waiting for the approval of the proposed project, Geneva is doing her processing activity at the Don Mariano Marcos State University’s FDA-certified shared facility for free located in Rosario, La Union, quite far from her place in Bacnotan.

To continually improve her products, Geneva busied herself in attending various training programs on product innovations while acquiring more knowledge and skills in business enterprising in the various seminars, workshop that the DA, Department of Trade and Industry, DMMMSU and the Department of Science & Technology are conducting.

In return, she shared these business skills and information for those aspiring entrepreneurs in La Union as she was often invited as presenter and Trainor in various fora and seminars locally.

Indeed, young entrepreneur Geneva has now come a long way in her journey of becoming a successful producer and processor of duck in La Union.

With all these triumphs that she is now reaping, she is most grateful to the DA, particularly the Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Division because through the YFC Program, she is now realizing her dream of being her own boss.