Through the years, Gilbert Villamonte, 53, has been farming vegetables and corn in his 2-hectare land. With his small earnings from his cropland, he managed to sustain the needs of his family.
However, in 2019, he encountered a grievous financial crisis due to his graduating daughters’ (Evelyn and Gredgelyn) tuition fees and allowances from taking up Bachelor of Science in Education.
Since then, he started to seek assistance for his endeavor from the Municipal Agriculture’s Office of Don Victoriano, Misamis Occidental.
Fortunately, he was chosen to be the recipient of the Department of Agriculture (DA) – Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program’s sweet corn production.
The livelihood is under the FY 2020 Integrated Agriculture Livelihood Intervention Project of SAAD.
Gilbert and 17 other farmers each received a kilogram (kg) of sweet corn seeds (1kg is to 100m2 ) which amounts to Php 32,400. After receiving the inputs, he gave his full dedication and focus in taking care of it.
During the production, he faced some challenges like attacks of fungus, cutworms, armyworms, and other corn pests. Thankfully, the production was managed through physical and biological pest control.
In November 2020, he harvested 4,000 sweet corncobs and sold them at Php 8/piece which allowed him to earn Php 32,000. His produce was sold in Oroquieta, Pagadian, and Dipolog City.
Mr. Villamonte said, “I am very much happy and grateful to be chosen as one of the SAAD Program beneficiary in our municipality thru the effort of the Municipal Agriculture Office, because it truly helped me a lot during hard times wherein the said standing crop could be served as my guarantee for lending money from my neighbor’s pocket for my daughter’s allowances and school fees”.
Consequently, Gilbert had his two daughters finish their degree in Education. He considered this as a greater milestone of his life and a fruit of his labor and sacrifices.
Through the SAAD Program, Gilbert was inspired to engage more in sweet corn production. However, due to the unfavorable weather in the first semester of 2021, he only cultivated an area of 200m2 in June and planted 2kg of sweet corn seeds which are expected to be harvested in September.
“With relentless perseverance and strong faith in God, nothing is impossible,” Gilbert said. ###
Writer: Ruth Esther Bermundo, SAAD Normin Information Officer