Going over the list of 35 vegetable farmers who will be honored as Farmer Heroes during the 35th anniversary celebration of East-West Seed, we are convinced that even people with very limited education can be champion farmers.
The only requirement is that they should have the willingness to learn the new techniques of the trade. And that is by attending government and private seminars, trainings, farm visits, field days and trade shows. Another excellent opportunity is when technicians of seed companies take time to contact prospective farmers. They can provide practical advice on the business of growing and selling vegetables.
One fellow who only finished elementary school but who is a very successful farmer and trader is Danny Mateo, 59, of Sulucan, Angat, Bulacan. He was a jeepney driver when he got married. When he realized that he could not make do with driving a jeepney to support a family, he decided to borrow 2,500 square meters from his father so he could start planting vegetables.
That was in 1982. And that was also the year when East-West Seed was put up by Simon N. Groot of the Netherlands and Benito M. Domingo, a successful seed distributor with some other businesses in Manila.
Danny’s decision was perfect. By planting his own vegetables on rented and on purchased land, and by buying and selling other farmers’ produce like sweet corn, he has achieved his dream of a financially- secure life. He was able to send his children to college who are now professionals. One is a teacher, a civil engineer, a medical doctor and an electronic engineer. He was also able to buy farm lands, vehicles for personal and business use. He has bought farm machinery and equipment to mechanize his farming and has also built a beautiful home.
We have met Danny a number of times. One was in a building where the harvests are sorted and packed for the market. At that time he was helping the other workers to sort the newly harvested okra from his farm. That’s how hands-on he is in his farming business.
FROM ZAMBOANGA – Another fellow who only finished an elementary education who will be honored as an East-West Farmer Hero is 46-year-old Larry Lomosad of New Barili Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte. When he was 19, he decided to go into vegetable farming, attending seminars on vegetable production and livelihood programs to equip himself with the necessary skills. He plants ampalaya and other varieties from East-West. One of them is the Mayumi upo which is very prolific. Earlier this year, he planted Mayumi on 2,500 square meters and which earned him P180,000.
LADY FARMER HERO – Helen Cullo is one of four lady Farmer Heroes to be honored by East-West Seed. She is from Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan, a high school graduate who loves to plant watermelon, hot pepper and ampalaya. From two hectares she planted to watermelon earlier this year, she was able to make P600,000. Proof that farming pays for Helen? Well she has put up her own house with her earnings from farming, bought farm equipment, trucks and cars for the business and family use.
BIG MONEY IN SWEET CORN – One fellow who makes a lot of money from sweet corn is 35-year-old Rubisper Udal of Kulasihan, Lantapan, Bukidnon. Before planting sweet corn on his own, he was an employee of a big time sweet corn farmer. Much earlier he worked as laborer in other farms receiving very meager pay. Although he did not have his own farm, he soon became a big time grower of Macho sweet corn and waxy corn by renting land that is near a source of water. One time he was renting as many as 30 hectares for his sweet corn operation. Proof of his financial success? He has bought two cars, a delivery truck and a new house.