IT ALL starts with a piece of land, a passion for farming, and a dream of living a comfortable life. But for most small Filipino farmers, the land and the passion have always been there as staples but the comfortable life that they long for remains a dream.
But in the case of Tatay Samuel Ejan, a 56-year-old palay farmer from Barangay Taposo in Candelaria, Zambales, he has learned to explore the available opportunities that life has to offer and use it to his advantage in order to give his family a steady course in life. He has four children—two boys and two girls—and lives next to his two-hectare farmland with his wife, Nanay Lucena.
When he was made aware of the lending opportunities of Tulay sa Pag-unlad, Inc. (TSPI), a gospel-driven, microfinance NGO, he immediately grabbed the chance to borrow some money from TSPI’s Masinloc branch so he could use it for his farming activities.
“The first loan I got from TSPI was in 2013, and I was able to borrow P30,000,” Tatay Samuel said in Filipino. “Now on my 3rd loan cycle, I was able to borrow the same amount.”
Tatay Samuel said that he used the money from his recent loan mainly to fund his land preparation activities. “I used the money for direct seeding and for the rental cost and fuel consumption of the tractors. I also used a portion for the educational needs of my children who are still in school.”
He expressed his gratitude for the help that TSPI is giving his family. “We are really thankful for the loans that TSPI is giving us because of the friendly payment terms and lower interest rates. With other lending institutions, the payment arrangements and conditions are stiffer, unlike in TSPI that we even receive a premium for making advance payments. It greatly helps sustain our daily needs and it has definitely improved our way of living.”
But what Tatay Samuel is greatly thankful for is the fact that TSPI not only gives farmers like him the financial assistance that they need. More than the money that they are able to borrow, they also receive assistance from TSPI in the form of talks or seminars related to farming, land preparation, and micro-entrepreneurship.
A concrete example of this non-financial assistance from TSPI is the campaign to expose the farmers to the Soil Analysis Program and the Minus-one Element Technique (MOET). This technique gives farmers an opportunity to examine the nutrient deficiency of their land in order to give them an idea of the right amount and appropriate kind of fertilizers to utilize. This pre-farming process entails taking soil samples and mixing them with formulations based on the soil elements that are deficient. As of July 2014, the number of participants for the program already reached 1,105 farmers.
A testament to the benefits of Soil Analysis is the improvement in yield or returns for Tatay Samuel as well as increased income from the savings of his fertilizer use. Tatay Samuel initially tested the soil analysis technique on one hectare of his farmland.
“Before using MOET, I harvest around 115 to 120 cavans per hectare. But after soil analysis, I was able to harvest 150 to 180 cavans,” Tatay Samuel shared.
This increase in yield resulted in an additional income of around P40,000 to P50,000 for the Ejan family. He has sold his produce to traders within the vicinity like Solomon, Vidal, Julian Rice Mill, and other buyers from the nearby area of Sta. Cruz. This increase in income is very instrumental in Tatay Samuel’s dream to give his family a comfortable life as proceeds are being used for the improvement and renovation of their home.
Tatay Samuel believes in the advantages of the Soil Analysis Program and commits to put the learning of the technique to good use. He is out to prove that with a piece of land and a passion for farming, a small farmer like him can make the dream of living a comfortable life a reality.
This article was written by Ms. Joanne G. Fajardo, Marketing Communications Supervisor