Class of 2021
“Eco over ego” is Cherrie Atilano’s mantra. Her career as an empowering agricultural educator started at the age of 12, when a book on sustainable farming inspired her to head to the fields and pass her learnings on to local producers. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the Visayas State University, she developed her ‘Ecology of Dignity’ ideology, which she puts into practice as the founding farmer, CEO and president of Agrea.
Founded in 2014 in the island province of Marinduque in the Philippines, Agrea is an inclusive enterprise on a mission to build a replicable model for island economies with zero hunger, zero waste and zero insufficiency. “We believe that Filipino farmers are world class” is the company’s premise. Through community and organisation-based programmes, Cherrie created a project that puts people at the centre of its activities, empowering all players in the food chain to be sustainably supported and nurtured. Eradicating poverty for farming and fishing families, community-based tourism, alleviating the effects of climate change, quality education and food security are the pillars on which Agrea stands.
“We teach them how to cultivate their dreams beyond cultivating the land.” Attuned to women’s struggles, Cherrie implemented the Forward initiative, which puts women at the centre of the movement for better agriculture and rural development. As co-founder of Hatienda holdings, she is putting Filipino products front and centre on the local and international market. And as the Philippine food security ambassador and a UN Global Food Systems Champion, she is on a mission to prove that farming can be humane, smart, cool and sexy.
“Empowering unheard voices, unsung heroes and invisible workers in the sector makes us unique.” – Cherrie Atilano