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Friday, April 19, 2024

Landbank aids seaman turned farmer

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Hamtic, Antique—Melbert Gabriel Fadrigo sailed oceans and seas for seven years before deciding to retire and return to his family’s rice and corn farm in this town.

Landbank aids seaman turned farmer
Former seaman Melbert Fadrigo, 30, gave up his job to manage their family’s rice and corn farm in Antique. Through the Department of Agriculture and Landbank’s ACEF loan program, he was able to improve their farm’s productivity through mechanized farming.

With the help of Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), Fadrigo availed of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) to acquire his brand-new four-wheeled tractor with rotavator.

“At first, when you look at farming, it seems you won’t earn much, but in time, you’ll see that the with right actions and equipment, you can earn much from this. Why would you go back to seafaring if what you earn there, you can earn on land?” Fadrigo explained.

The youngest among three siblings, Fadrigo learned the hardships of manually tilling the land at an early age, accompanying his father in planting rice and corn seeds in their 12-hectare agricultural land while he was still in high school.

Back then, farming was laborious. Plowing a hectare of land took two to three days using their trusted carabao and plow. It also cost them more as their “kuliglig” or hand tractors required more crude oil to run, more workers to operate, and more time needed to cultivate their land, compared to modern tractors.

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Before turning full time to farming, Fadrigo first tried his luck as a cook in a cargo ship in 2010. Even then, he knew his father needed someone who could continue their family’s farming legacy.

Fadrigo finally decided to take over the family’s farm from his father in 2017. But he knew that he needed to adopt modern technology to increase their farm’s productivity.

He asked his father to acquire a tractor and replace their “kuliglig,” even renting one from a local cooperative. “That’s when we saw that a tractor made a difference because we could plant faster and more efficiently,” Fadrigo explained.

LANDBANK assisted Fadrigo in mechanizing their farming methods. A year after he decided to become a full-time farmer, Fadrigo’s application for the ACEF program was approved by LANDBANK Antique Satellite Office, making him the first-ever ACEF availer in the province to procure the P900,000 tractor.

Since acquiring the tractor, the Fadrigos’ productivity and income increased significantly. From spending two to three days for land preparation, they can now till one hectare of land in just two hours.

Using his tractor, he was also able to earn extra income by servicing neighboring farms in the towns of Hamtic, San Jose, Sibalom, and Tobias Fornier, which he charges for P3,000 to P6,000 depending on the land size.

Since availing of the ACEF program, he has employed six regular farm workers to man their farm and operate their equipment.

“I truly thank Landbank for the help it extended to us through this tractor,” Fadrigo shared.

Moving forward, he hopes to expand his business to rice trading by acquiring his own solar and mechanical dryers and warehouse, also with the help of LANDBANK.

The ACEF Lending Program is a joint program of the Department of Agriculture and LANDBANK, which aims to provide necessary credit to farmers and fishers, their cooperatives and associations, and micro and small enterprises to increase their productivity, and to enhance the competitiveness of agricultural players.

Interested borrowers may contact LANDBANK’s Programs Management Department I (PMD I) at tel. nos. 8-522-0000 locals 7450, 2992, 2804 or go to the nearest LANDBANK Lending Center for more information. 

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