MUtrition: Sustainable agriculture in urban poor areas? It's possible!

Las Pinas City, PhilippinesManila City, Philippines
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Nurtured on the vision of promoting health and wellness in urban poor communities, the Aquaponics farm established under Project MUtrition is dedicated towards addressing the pervasive issue of food security and the malnutrition it breeds.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if urban communities could sustain profitable agriculture?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Conducting an initial survey last January, the Fraternity identified the top three health-related problems of this particular urban community – underweight children, frequent cough and colds, as well as limited income to avail of nutritious food. Moreover, these were coupled with the longstanding prevalence of unhealthy, instant cook food as well as limited space in the area of the community.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

MUtrition Day, an event which featured a public health lecture on proper nutrition, a cooking demonstration by a decorated chef, and the launch of a community-managed Aquaponics Farm consequently forging a partnership with the community, was seen as the solution. The Fraternity built a 25-square meter Aquaponics unit within the community that would allow residents to have a sustainable source of fruits, vegetables, and freshwater fish. Furthermore, it also designed with a food distribution system that would allocate the produce of the farm to different families on a schedule basis, as well as allocate such produce for the financial gain of the community.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The Aquaponics technology, designed to accommodate space-limited areas, is a zero-waste, artificial fertilizer-free farming system which was utilized for its sustainability by implementing with it a social business model to maintain upkeep and propagate the funds of the community. Priced lower compared to the local market, produce are sold to the residents or used as ingredients for the community-established canteens. Select community members have been elected to oversee the progress of the farm. Management of the system will rotate among the volunteer households as agreed upon by the community. These crucial steps will give the residents a sense of ownership for the project ensuring continuity of the program.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Although it has only been a few months since the Aquaponics unit was installed, the community has been providing good feedback about the program. The farm has already undergone its first harvest, the volunteers have created their own system of management rotation, and the officers are very eager to organize new activities for their community. The site has also been visited by many interested parties both local and foreign. Within a year or so, we expect that the system will gain equilibrium as the growth of the fish would eventually maintain the nutrient balance needed by the crops.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Upon achieving a regular harvest cycle, the business model would take effect as the means of the community to propagate their funds. The success of the program will be assessed by the amount of harvest per cycle as well as income, with the goal of replicating this model elsewhere. Simultaneously, health and medical seminars are currently being planned based on the needs of the community. In coordination with the local health office, programs are being designed to complement rather than to compete with current government projects, with the aim of reforming health policy on nutrition.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

MUtrition aims to be financially sustainable by implementing a continuous cycle of cash inflow and investment. After the initial investment for capital and seedlings. the system aims to create a good productive produce that will sell and use the profit to fund more invested seedlings until such a time that cost and profit breaks even. When this happens, any further profit is aimed to be utilized for community development.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Similarities with this project is based primarily on its main component, the Aquaponics farm by Bahay Kubo Organics, a social entrepreneurial collaboration, as well as addressing malnutrition. This project differs in its use of this relatively new Aquaponics system not only for addressing food security and nutrition, but also in its system of distribution and fund flow for it to be financially sustainable, with profits dedicated to community development. It further differs in delivering health and nutrition lectures, cooking shows, and establishing a continuing partnership with the community.

Founding Story

After a successful rabies vaccination program which was awarded by the Global Alliance on Rabies Control in December, the Fraternity conducted partnership meetings with the GK Sta. Rita Community, leading to a survey of its underlying problem, malnutrition. This, coupled with the discovery of the Aquaponics technology at Dream Expo Philippines (a social entrepreneurship exhibition) as well as the past experience of community nutrition graduate Martin Ilustre in conducting nutrition lectures and dealing with urban agriculture, gave the members their "Aha!" moment, deciding to give MUtrition the green light.


Founders: Rey Benjamin I. Joson B.S. Sports Science Medical Student Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine John Paul Y. Reyes B.S. Biology Medical Student Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity UP College of Medicine Gabriel Martin S. Ilustre B.S. Community Nutrition Member, Philippine Association of Nutrition Alpha Chapter Medical Student Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity UP College of Medicine
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, Manila City

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Las Pinas City

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Businesses, Regional government, Customers, Other.


Health and Hygiene, Improving Nutrition, Sustainable Sourcing, Smallholder Farmers.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

We have identified the Gawad Kalinga Village community (a government-sponsored village) of Sta. Rita, Las Pinas City, as our recipient group who values MUtrition for the following reasons: a) to address their need for a sustainable and affordable source of nutritive food b) to maximize use of their limited land area and c) to give the residents a sense of ownership of this endeavor. We engage our customers to deliver by delegating maintainance of the farm to residents and giving seminars to inspire them.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

We believe that the being awarded the prize money and the consequent publicity gained from this competition would help our endeavor be made known and have a wider network, especially for those interested to replicate this model for other communities outside the country. Furthermore, having additional funding entails scaling up of our model for use of other communities in the same town, or to a larger scale, of all Gawad Kalinga Villages nationwide, in collaboration with various agencies of the government and non-profit organizzations we are currently partnered with and future partnerships to be forged in the future as well.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

Some of our past entrepreneurial initiatives aside from MUtrition include Games Night, a drinking party which featured a variety of games, including board games, casino games, video games and drinking games, catering to Fraternity and Sorority members, as well as iHarana Mu (Serenade), a Valentine's Day event where members accepted requests to serenade whomever they choose and provide them with gifts such as flowers and chocolates.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?


Will you require a visa to enter the UK?


Are you are a current Unilever employee?