Her eyes seem tired but they are gleaming with energy. Her face appears world weary, but she’s active and hardworking. Her lined and calloused hands speak volumes about life in the countryside.
Carolina Grande or “Lola Carolina”, 76 years old, is a massage therapist and also a farmer. She lives at Barangay Lipata, Allen, Northern Samar. Her hands are good at applying gentle pressure, subtle rub, pounding and squeezing on aging limbs of sick and rehabilitating patients. She earns an amount of 350 – 500 pesos every session done. It made her obtain an estimated monthly income of 4,000 pesos. Her prowess reaches as far as Catarman by mere word of mouth.
Grande talked about his late husband when they were still cultivating a four-hectare rice plantation. Their production always remained at 20 cavans because they don’t have money to buy fertilizers. If lucky enough and they have extra money, they could apply 1 – 2 bags only for the entire field.
When her husband died, she became a tenant of a one-hectare rice field. It was then that time when she was chosen as a beneficiary of the Rice Production Enhancement Project by the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program in her area. She received 1 sack rice seeds, 6 bags organic fertilizer, 3 bags complete fertilizer, 2 bags urea and 1 bag muriate of potash.
From these inputs, she was able to harvest 78 sacks of “palay” during regular cropping. In June 2018, she was also the recipient of the same interventions. She then reaped a total of 86 sacks of palay.
As an occupant of the land, she has an obligation to give the owner atleast one-fourth of her total harvest. She gave the landlord 24 sacks of palay per cropping and sold the remaining to the local wholesalers in Allen for 600 pesos each.
With SAAD, she was profusely grateful as one of the beneficiaries because aside from the increase volume of rice production, she was also trained on the value of full fertilization and its effect on rice productivity conducted by the farmers’ field school of the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP).
Writer: Jennifer Valcobero, SAAD NPMO PR & Communications Officer