OFW Saved His Dollars To Buy His 18-Hectare Farm

OFW Saved His Dollars To Buy His 18-Hectare Farm
Rolando Acain poses with his palay stored in his bodega, waiting for better price. His bodega can store 3,000 cavans.

People who know how to save become economically well-off much faster than those who don’t save at all.  Much more so, if they know how to invest what they save.

One former Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who knew how to save is 72-year-old Rolando Acain who now grows hybrid rice on 18 hectares in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija. He bought those 18 hectares, a few hectares at a time, with the dollars he earned while working overseas.
Rolando is a chemical engineer who worked for more than 10 years for foreign companies that were engaged in road construction. For six years, he was in Indonesia as materials engineer for an Italian construction company. He saved all his $1,800 monthly salary and spent only his housing and living allowances while abroad with his wife.
  
For two years he was next stationed in Uganda and then another year in Tanzania, doing the same job but with a higher salary. Just the same, he saved his monthly income for a farming project he had always dreamed of.
 
His last stop was a five-year stint with an American construction company in India. He also saved his dollar earnings so he could buy more farm land. At last in 2003, he felt it was time to give up working abroad so he can pursue his dream of rice farming in Aliaga, the hometown of his wife, the former Jovita Go.
 
He quipped that he was born in the little known town of Abutaya, Palawan where there was very little rice production. And so he married someone from the country’s rice granary so he can have all the rice he cared to have.
 
Today, Rolando is a very happy gentleman farmer who plants nothing but the hybrid rice from SL Agritech during the dry season. The hybrid rice varieties developed by the company headed by Henry Lim Bon Liong are not only high-yielding, they also have superior eating quality. They are considered fancy rice so they command a higher price than the ordinary varieties.
 
In 2007 Rolando started planting SL-8H, the first commercial hybrid rice developed by SL Agritech. Since then, he has always planted SL-8H or the other hybrids from the same company. On the average, he gets 180 cavans or about 9 tons of grains from one hectare.
 
One technique he does is to store his harvest in his bodega, waiting for the price to go up when most of the harvest of other farmers have been sold. For this purpose, he has a bodega that can accommodate 3,000 sacks. When the supply of palay is plentiful, the price could be P17 per kilo. At the time of our visit, however, he was selling his palay at P18.50 per kilo. So it pays to wait for the right time to dispose of his harvest.
 
As a gentleman farmer, Rolando does not have to do the dirty work in the field. He has workers called “Baki” to do the hands-on operations. He has three hand tractors to plow the land. He only supervises the farming, seeing to it that the recommended protocol in growing hybrid rice is followed to the letter. He also does his own research on proper water management, use of sticker in applying pesticide, proper land preparation (the field should be level before planting), and the like.
 
Rolando has allocated his 18 hectares to different workers or Baki. Some take care of one or two hectares but there are others who are given bigger areas to manage. Just like Nestor Roxas who takes care of 5.5 hectares. Nestor sees to it that the plants under him are fertilized or irrigated at the right time. He sprays pesticide if necessary, and controls the weeds. He also does other chores to ensure a good harvest. In return, he gets a share of the harvest. If they harvest 180 cavans of 50 kilos each, he gets 18 cavans, plus one cavan if it is more than 180 cavans. Last dry season cropping, Nestor got a share of 98 cavans.
 
During the past wet seasons, Rolando has been planting inbred rice instead of hybrid because no available hybrid rice is suitable for the rainy months. Inbreds, although they yield less, are also profitable to raise. In fact Nestor got a share of 89 cavans from the inbred rice they planted in the last wet season.
 
Nevertheless, SL Agritech is continuing to develop a hybrid that will perform equally well during the rainy months. In fact, Rolando is trying this season one variety from SL Agritech that is supposed to be suitable for the rainy season. He is trying it in a small area though, just to observe its performance.
 
Overall, growing hybrid rice is profitable. Rolando said that he spends P50,000 to P52,000 to grow hybrid rice on one hectare. The costs include the seeds (P4,800), land preparation, pulling of seedlings, transplanting, fertilizers, pesticide, irrigation water, harvesting, threshing, drying and hauling. After deducting the palay given as share of the Baki, the net per hectare could still be easily more than P120,000.
OFW Saved His Dollars To Buy His 18-Hectare Farm
Rolando loves to grow green onion and other vegetables in pots for home consumption.
OFW Saved His Dollars To Buy His 18-Hectare Farm
Rolando Acain (second from left) during a hybrid rice festival in Talavera, Nueva Ecija. With him are Dr. Frisco Malabanan SL Agritech chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong, Dr. Santiago R. Obien and Ricardo Buenaventura, chairman of a cooperative in Tabacao, Talavera, Nueva Ecija.
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