‘There is money in agriculture’

FARMERS can make money in agriculture if they go beyond rice farming, according to Ma. Elna T. Romero, owner of Crisel Integrated Farm in Barangay Magancina, Sta. Barbara, Iloilo. (Ednalyn Belonio-Diamante)

By: Ednalyn Belonio-Diamante

FARMERS nowadays feel abandoned, neglected, and doomed.

“We bit the hands that fed us.”

This was the common sentiment and cry of majority of Filipino farmers following the drop of palay (unhusked rice) prices due to the large volume of rice imports after the passage of the Rice Tariffication Law.

But amid this crisis, someone saw a solution – embarking on multiple crop production particularly vegetables.

“Farmers need to be taught to engage in multiple crop production and not solely on palay because there is money in agriculture. As long as there are available lands to till one can never go wrong in agriculture. As long as they are not lazy no one will go hungry,” according to Ma. Elna T. Romero, owner of Crisel Integrated Farm in Barangay Magancina, Sta. Barbara, Iloilo.

Romero was born to a poor family from San Joaquin, Iloilo. She graduated BS Agricultural Economics at Central Philippine University (CPU) but never had the chance to pursue college as she landed in the corporate world.

After retirement, Romero and husband Cris, a retired officer of the Philippine Army, ventured into agriculture a year ago.

She took up several courses at Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) – crop production, hydroponics, massage, beauty care, etc.

Armed with the knowledge, she put up a TESDA-accredited training school that specialized in community based trainings.

Recently, the Romeros conducted a harvest festival at their 1.3 acre property in Brgy. Magancina, Sta. Barbara.

She utilized a portion of her property, about 600 square meters for multiple crop production, mostly vegetables from eggplant, tomatoes, cucumber, corn and ampalaya.

Romero also partnered with the Allied Botanical Corporation who was responsible for seeds and crop monitoring.

After 68 days and with P5,000 capital, they were able to raise for one day P30,000 during the harvest festival alone.

“The 600 square meters if you go into grain production will not give you that much, because you still have to invest in pesticides and fertilizers, but this one is organic, chemical free no need for huge financial investments, it may be quite laborious but the rewards are fulfilling,” Romero stressed.

She added “the vegetation could last for four months maybe even more and it means more money are coming in for us, unlike that of palay which is a one-time harvest only.”

Romero encouraged the farmers to go into multiple crop production and equip themselves with the proper knowledge and soil compatibility in growing plants in order to sustain their financial aspects.

“We are the backbone of our economy and even though technology grows and evolve but because of the climate change we will still go back to the basic of agriculture, because it is our past, our present and our future,” Romero concluded.

With their success story she hoped to awaken the interests of the people in agriculture and not allow the present crisis pull them down.