Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reaping the Fruits of Hard Work

The Story of Jose Mabaquiao

Magsasaka Siyentista (MS)

Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center

Hamtic, Antique

By Doris Paz Discaya, Regional Applied Communications Group Representative, La Granja and Rylan Mabaquiao, Information Services Specialist, FITS Center Hamtic

Photos by Rylan Mabaquiao

In life, hard work is key. Such is the story of Jose G. Mabaquiao, a 67-year-old farmer of Sitio Panoon, Buhang, Hamtic, Antique.

Nong Arce, as he is commonly called, harvests his string beans at 4 p.m.. After which he dips the produce in a container of water for a few minutes, puts them in bamboos that serve as hangers and leaves them there overnight. The next day when he brings the vegetables to the market some nine kilometers from his farm, they will still be as fresh as newly harvested.

For 40 years, farming has been Nong Arce's way of life. Starting only with rice and having 10 children, he thought of other means to provide for all of them. Thus, diversification became his option. With an area of 2 hectares, he started growing corn and vegetables including okra, string beans, tomato, eggplant, ampalaya, pepper and squash.

Because rice is a staple commodity, Nong Arce thought of growing it in the 0.75 hectares of his farm. As if these were not enough, he ventured in poultry production and planted calamansi, guyabano, banana and fruit-bearing trees. He did not leave an area in his farm untilled. He also started his own fishpond where he now breeds tilapia.

Mabaquiao did not have any formal education in agriculture. Having finished fourth grade, however, did not hamper his aspirations for his family. His love and dedication to farming coupled with hard work and willingness to learn have been his advantage.

All these efforts did not go unnoticed, however. In 1987, he was awarded Outstanding Farmer in Integrated Upland farming at the Malacanang Palace. Success did not come easy, though. There were always the problems on insect pests and diseases. There were also instances of crops being stolen in the farm. Before, his farm relied solely on the use of commercially made pesticides for crop protection. But now, Nong Arce has been gradually switching to farming practices that do not harm the environment.

Farming is in Nong Arce's blood. Among the siblings, Nong Arce was one of the four who made agriculture as their source of livelihood. And this love for farming didn't fail him. His income from the farm alone was able to support the education of his children. Seven of them have already finished in college and three are still in school. One of his daughters is now an Agricultural Technician at the Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) center of Hamtic, while two of his daughters are working abroad.

All his hard work has been paying off. In 2009, WESVARRDEC recognized him as Magsasaka Siyentista, one who can share his farming practices to other farmers. From his farm income he was able to buy a Kubota hand tractor and build a better house. He was also able to avail himself of access to Internet, through which he can further his knowledge in farming, which is his life's endeavor.

Things are looking up for Nong Arce. Through linkages with the local government unit and the FITS center, he continues to grow as a farmer. His daughter now serves as his agriculture teacher having been formally educated. Nong Arce also attends seminars and trainings to enhance his knowledge. He is also becoming more popular as people have been expressing interest in his farming practices.

In life and in farming, indeed, one only reaps what he sows.


This article was an output of the authors who attended the feature writing training led by the Regional Applied Communications Group on September 1-3, 2010 at UP Visayas, Iloilo City.

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