MAVERICK’S STORY: How Harbest Agribusiness was born

Toto Barcelona talking to visitors in his roofdeck garden in Taytay, Rizal.

About 20 years ago, many people, including us, thought “Harbest” in Harbest Agribusiness Corporation was a typographical error. The company was started by a La Salle graduate who confessed he did not know much about agriculture in the beginning.

ASKED TO GUIDE – Because Toto Barcelona knew how to speak Chinese, he was asked to guide a group of Negros big time farmers in Taiwan where he previously worked for several years. The group visited Known-You Seed in Kaohsiung and that’s how he met the president of the company. The seed company chief suggested to Toto that he sell hybrid seeds of vegetables and other high-value crops in the Philippines.

NO ONE WOULD NOTICE – Although reluctant to accept the proposition, Toto finally acceded and put up Harbest Agribusiness. When asked why the misspelling, he answered that no one would notice if he used the correct word. And he thinks he has been right after all.

NOW FAMOUS – Today Harbest Agribusiness is a well known name in the agriculture sector. The seeds proved to be a very good entry point in the business of farming. He took pains in convincing the farmers to plant hybrid seeds. Of course, the ordinary farmers, even the educated ones, did not accept the hybrids right away for a number of reasons. First, the seeds were much more expensive than the ordinary ones. Also, they didn’t have the experience to go all out for them.

HYBRIDS NOW WELL ACCEPTED – Today, the hybrids are well accepted, and Toto is not only making good income from the sale of seeds but also the other inputs such as plastic mulch, seedling trays, farm tools and equipment, including mini tractors for rotavation, plant protection products, fertilizers, biostimulants and many more.

BEING MAVERICK PAYS  – Now you see, daring to be different can mean a lot in agribusiness, and maybe in other businesses too. Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness is a very good example..

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