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From shore to soil: Former OFW plants success in mechanized farming

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.

From shore to soil: Former OFW plants success in mechanized farming
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 the 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) for the acquisition of his brand-new four-wheeled tractor with a rotavator.

“Sa una ang tingin mo sa farming, parang mahina ang kita. Pero habang tumatagal na, makikita mo na basta may tamang diskarte at equipment, malaki rin talaga ang kikitain. Bakit ka pa magbabarko kung yung kikitain mo dun, kikitain mo rin dito sa lupa?” Fadrigo explained.

The youngest among three siblings, Fadrigo learned of the hardships that come with the manual tilling of land at an early age, accompanying his father plant 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 their land took two to three days using their trusted carabao. It also cost them more as their kuliglig or improvised tractors required more crude oil to run, more workers to operate, and more time needed to cultivate their land as compared to modern tractors.

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

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

“Kinausap ko yung father ko na kumuha kami ng isang tractor kasi napaghuhulihan talaga kami kapag kuliglig ang gamit. Nung una nagbabayad pa kami sa isang co-op para maka-renta ng tractor. Doon namin nakita na iba talaga kapag may tractor ka dahil mas mabilis at maayos ang pagtatanim sa lupa,” Fadrigo explained.

LANDBANK assisted Fadrigo in reaching for his aspiration to mechanize 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. This enabled him to procure the Php900,000-priced tractor.

Since Fadrigo acquired the tractor, their productivity and income significantly increased. From spending two to three days for land preparation, they can now complete the job in just two hours for one hectare of land.

Using his tractor, he was also able to earn extra income by servicing neighbouring farms in the localities of Hamtic, San Jose, Sibalom, and Tobias Fornier, which he charges for Php3,000 to Php6,000 depending on the land size.

And since availing of the ACEF program, he has employed six regular farmworkers to man their farm and operate their equipment.

“Ang laking tulong talaga ng ACEF dahil dito nabili namin yung tractor, gumaan 'yung trabaho namin, at higit sa lahat lumaki ang kita namin. Kaya malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa LANDBANK sa tulong na nabigay nila sa amin,” Fadrigo shared.

Moving forward, Fadrigo 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.

Topics: Land Bank of the Philippines , Melbert Gabriel Fadrigo , Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund
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