All over the world, there are many Filipinos who become successful in their chosen fields. After years of hard work and diligence, they are able to build houses for their families, start their own businesses, and save enough money for a comfortable retirement back home.
Likewise, many Pinoys find success in our native land as well. In the case of today’s featured overseas Filipino worker (OFW), he had spent many years abroad before returning to the Philippines, and then finding out that his success was right here all along… close to home!
Filipino Seafarer Becomes Successful Farmer
Hailing from the town of Hamtic in Antique province, Melbert Gabriel Fadrigo is the youngest among three siblings. Starting from an early age until high school, he helped his father plant rice and corn on their 12-hectare agricultural land.
Back then, everything was done manually. Melbert helped help in plowing the land, which took several days, even with a carabao. Sometimes, they used a kuliglig or an improvised tractor, but this required crude oil and extra workers to operate, thus costing them more.
In 2010, Melbert decided to try his luck abroad, getting a job as a cook in a cargo ship. For seven years, he sailed the world’s seas and oceans. At the back of his mind, however, he knew that his father needed help in the farm. Eventually, he went home to be with his family once again.
Melbert took over as manager of his family’s farm in 2017. This time, he thought about using modern technology to increase productivity. “Kinausap ko yung father ko na kumuha kami ng isang tractor kasi napaghuhulihan talaga kami pag kuliglig ang gamit,” he said.
“Nung una nagbabayad pa kami sa isang co-op para maka-renta ng tractor,” he recalled. “Doon namin nakita na iba talaga kapag may tractor ka dahil mas mabilis at maayos and pagtatanim sa lupa.”
But tractors can be quite expensive. To buy a tractor, Melbert availed of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), a program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in coordination with LANDBANK. It provides financial assistance to farmers, fishermen, cooperatives, and small enterprises — helping them to increase productivity.
Fortunately, Melbert’s application was approved. With the help of LANDBANK, he was able to purchase a tractor worth PHP 900,000. Using the tractor, their farm productivity increased. What used to take 2-3 days of manual preparation now took only 2 hours per hectare of land. He also earns extra income by using the tractor to service farms in nearby towns. What’s more, he was able to employ six regular farm workers, further boosting farm productivity.
“Sa una ang tingin mo sa farming, parang mahina ang kita,” he explained. “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?”
Melbert attributes his success to the program. “Ang laking tulong talaga ng ACEF dahil dito nabili namin yung tractor, gumaan yung trabaho namin, at higit sa lahat lumaki ang kita namin,” he said. “Kaya malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa LANDBANK sa tulong na nabigay nila sa amin.”
Congratulations, Melbert, on the success of your farm! Indeed, your story is a good example of finding success, right here in our native land. As for those who are interested to learn more about ACEF, you may contact LANDBANK at telephone number 8 522 0000 (local 7450, 2992, or 2804). You can also visit the bank’s official website for more details. (link)