Ariel Agapay a rice farmer and trader from Libmanan, Camarines Sur narrates how he overcame various obstacles in order to succeed in eking out a living from the soil. He shares five lessons from his wealth of experience, the most notable of which is to go beyond farming into activities less seasonal and unpredictable.
Love the earth; recognize its possibilities
“How you see things around you depends on your mindset. To some people, this soil looks like plain dirt; to a farmer like me, this soil brims with possibilities.”
Don’t depend on farming alone
“Farming income is seasonal. It takes six months to harvest, mill and sell rice at a good profit. Farmers must find alternative sources of income while the crops are in growth stage. I chose to go into small-scale rice trading like my grandmother. She was my model for resourcefulness and industry. To keep the family from going hungry, she would sell rice from town to town. She always returns from her selling trips laden with food and some money to provide for the other needs of the family.
“Going into the rice trading business requires a good social network of farmers, millers, and retailers. It helps that I am friendly and flexible. I gain the trust of my friends and business contacts by being open to situations and coming up with compromises that are mutually beneficial and fair to all parties concerned. I do not always have to earn well. What I prioritize is to expand and strengthen my business relationships.”
Look for business assistance
Ariel obtains working capital from Simbag sa Pagasenso, Inc. (SEDP), a micro-finance institution, to increase his trading volume and make improvements in his farm land. On a loan of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (PhP200,000), he bought a water pump for farm irrigation. This led to an increase in his rice production from 100 sacks to 300 sacks. In addition to production gains, Ariel also values non-financial benefits that SEDP offers its members. One of his three children was lucky to be selected as SEDP college scholar. Ariel, with wife, Emilinda, need only finance the college education of their two other children.
Accept the challenges
“There is no business without its set of challenges,” says Ariel. ” In farming, there will be times of zero harvest due to typhoons, for example. But there will also be an opportunity to replant and recover what has been lost. Persevere, take courage, and develop a network of support who can be your allies in recovery and growth.”
Image credt: http://naseem-traders.com