Who says old age is weak and dull? Mr. Pancrasio E. Cascas, 72, still has exceptional farming skills and strength.
At an early age, Tatay Lolong started helping his father in their farm in Libagon, Southern Leyte. Now a widower, he supports himself through his income from the production of rice, coconuts, and vegetables.
Tatay Lolong is a hardworking man. For him, as long as he is healthy and able, he will never get tired from working on his inherited 1-hectare (ha) farm despite the constant encouragement of his only son in Manila to retire at his age.
Swine Fattening Project
Tatay Lolong is a member of the United Farmers Association of Pangi (UFAP) which is composed of 22 vegetable farmers. In 2018, the Department of Agriculture-Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program chose the association for its Swine Fattening Project.
On October 16, 2018, the SAAD Program delivered 30 piglets and 150 bags of feeds amounting to Php 495,000.
A hogstel building, which is a communal facility for swine, worth Php 1.2 million was also funded by the program. With Tatay Lolong’s initiative, the pig pen was built on his ¼ha vacant lot. He also volunteered so UFAP would not lose the livelihood opportunity from the government.
The association applied the principles taught during the Swine Fattening Training conducted by SAAD Southern Leyte in managing the project. They eagerly follow the feeding and cleaning schedules, ensuring health of the swine and sanitation of the area.
The local government unit (LGU) and feed companies supplying to the association also provide technical assistance to the farmers.
Every UFAP member receives fixed sharing of Php 1,000 per cycle and this is being given after every 3 cycles. This fixed amount was agreed by all the members so that the association will have available money for the expansion project.
Mallard Duck Production Project
Because Tatay Lolong is not just an ordinary farmer and loves to enhance his knowledge on technical know-how and agricultural advancement, he attends several training sessions whenever he can.
To name a few, he participated in training for Competency Assessment, Financial Management, Jackfruit Production, Duck Raising, and Bangus Production conducted by Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), and the LGU.
Tatay Lolong applied his learnings from the said training when he received 30 ready-to-lay ducks, three bags of layer feeds, and polynet under SAAD’s FY 2019 Mallard Duck Production Project worth Php 44,800.
Results and Challenges
As a UFAP member, Tatay Lolong received Php 8,000 from the Swine Raising Project as a fixed share per cycle. Also, out of the associations’ savings, they built a kiosk where they can handle meetings and a place to convene.
As of September 2021, UFAP will be on its 9th production cycle (Table 1). However, they suspended the raising of another batch of swine since Nahulid, Libagon, the barangay next to the hostel area, is confirmed to have a positive case of African Swine Fever (ASF). UFAP’s production area is still within 500-kilometer radius to the said barangay. Moreover, from 2019 to 2021, the association have a net income of Php 197,193.12 with members share distribution of Php 132,000.00 and the associations available cash of Php 65,193.12.
They will be raising piglets again once it is safer to do so even with the presence of ASF threat. Intact amount for next cycle’s fund to be used in buying piglets and feeds is safely kept to ensure that the project will continue and be sustained.
Table 1. UFAP Income from SAAD Swine Fattening Project
In the presence of ASF, UFAP members are focusing on planting vegetables as another source of income. They are optimistic that ASF is only a temporary occurrence, and they need to venture on fast growing vegetables as a cash crop as an alternative.
For the mallard duck production, Tatay Lolong multiplied the 30 ducks to 102. He harvested three trays per day sold at Php 7/piece. He earns Php 630/daily from selling the duck eggs to bulk buyers in the local market, and to the balut and salted egg makers in the neighboring towns of Sogod and Liloan.
From September 2019 to August 2021 Tatay Lolong has reached a total income of Php 54,600 (Table 2).
Table 2. Pancrasio E. Cascas’ income from SAAD Mallard Duck Production Project
“Never depend your life on others, we are responsible to our own self. It is your choice to be lazy and complacent but it is not an obligation of others to feed you because of your laziness,” said Tatay Lolong.
Indeed, farming is not only for young and strong people; it is for everyone who has passion to tilt the arid land, with much love and dedication.
For Tatay Lolong, age doesn’t matter because farming is his way of life. As long as he is happy in sharing his talent and resources, his duty will never be heavy. ###
Writer: Jocelyn Cabañas, SAAD Southern Leyte Provincial Coordinator
Editors: Myer Mula, Ulysses Lustria, Jr., Jhomai Canlas, and Natalianne Marie Delos Reyes