Rural development is increasingly linked to entrepreneurship, which is seen as an intervention that could promote and speed up the development process.
To meet the challenges of becoming agricultural entrepreneurs, farmers – particularly smallholder farmers and farmer–groups – need to expand their understanding of markets and economic opportunities. The main idea is to get the farmers to think, learn, and perform like entrepreneurs.
One notable example of an agripreneur in the making is Diolito Dolorzo, or Freddie to his close friends and acquaintances, of Brgy. Nenita, Mondragon, Northern Samar.
Just like his fellow farmers in his barangay, Freddie used to practice subsistence farming, and most of his grown crops were exclusively for household consumption. He was limited to planting rice and vegetables in small areas to sustain his household needs. Raising of swine and broiler chicken were mostly motivated by upcoming holidays, such as fiestas, birthdays, yuletide seasons, and other major family gatherings, when demand for lechon and other meat-based menu are usually at its peak.
But thanks to several engagements and exposure to programs of the Provincial Agriculture Office and the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program, the once subsistence farmer realized that farming can be a very successful business venture when good agronomic and financial practices are employed.
In 2017, Freddie was lucky to be included as one of the beneficiaries of the Corn Production Enhancement Project of SAAD Program in Mondragon, Northern Samar. He was provided by the project with certified seeds and fertilizers, along with technical training conducted by the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP).
He rented a half-hectare idle land for his corn production. After three months, he was able to earn Php 2,850.00 net profit from his produce, after deducting all his expenses from land rental to farm labor. Not bad for a start, he thought.
In 2018, he received one unit rice cutter from the program’s Rice Production Enhancement Project, which, according to him, significantly lessened the drudgery of manual land clearing and rice harvesting while reducing his labor expenses.
As luck would have it, the Nenita Farmers Association, of which he is the President, was also chosen as a group beneficiary of one unit power tiller from the 2019 Corn Production Enhancement Project. The group had also been a recipient of one unit hand tractor from the FY 2016 SAAD Program, which was implemented by the Provincial Government of Northern Samar.
With the arrival of these farm equipment, Freddie was able to leverage his income partly due to reduced labor costs and shortened farm activities. With increased profit, he was able to slowly diversify his farming business.
Aside from rice farming and swine fattening, Freddie was able to expand into other farm activities, such as constructing a small tilapia pond, mallard duck raising, and cassava farming, which afforded him a steady income. He also offers the services of his rice cutter to other farmers in his area for a small fee. As for the power tiller and hand tractor, his group fully benefitted from the mechanized land preparation, while generating additional income for the group from the rental fee of Php 200.00 per day.
To encourage his fellow farmers to seriously consider farming as a business, he shares his knowledge and expertise with anyone interested through a series of training sessions on various crops and livestock production technologies. His farm currently serves as a techno–demo site for these training programs, while lectures and class discussions are held at the office of Nenita Farmers Association.
Though still small by today’s standards, and for the years he has benefited from government interventions, Freddie has increased his average annual income from Php 42,000 to Php 61,200. Freddie’s farming business has the potential to be successful in the long run. With SAAD Program just around the corner, he is confident that he has the backing of the whole team, particularly on the conduct of a market study and implementation strategies, as well as market linkages.
Perhaps his experience and training have supported him to reach success for his farming enterprise, but Freddie does not see it that way. “Ada la iton sa tawo. Basta magduruto ka la magtanom ngan mag–ataman, diri ka magugutom. Ada na ha pag–uma an ngatanan. Wala ka nang hahanapin pa.” (It all depends on the person concerned. If one is resourceful in his/her agricultural pursuit, he/she will never go hungry.
Everything is already found in farming. A person cannot ask for more.)
With his booming farming business, Freddie certainly proves to everyone that indeed there is money in farming. ###
Writer: Engr. Dennis C. Hermosa, Provincial Coordinator, PPMSO–Northern Samar