The Small Rice Farmer Who Grew Rich (A Reprint)

(This is a reprint from our first book titled “Successful Agri-People And Their Practical Ideas That Work.” The book is now out of print after one reprinting. That was published in 1992, 20 years ago, but we believe the ideas of Anastacio “Amang” Lopez could inspire other farmers to be more enterprising and businesslike.)

NOT ALL small rice farmers remain poor and small. Some also grow rich, yet remain hard working and simple. One such farmer is Anastacio “Amang” Lopez of Barangay Baquero, Cabanatuan City.

Amang, who was born in 1950, only reached fifth grade. When he got married at the age of 20, his father was only able to bequeath to him less than a hectare of rice land to till. Only 8,500 square meters, to be exact.

At that time, he did not even have enough money to cultivate his farm. He had to borrow from a local rice miller so he could buy some seed, fertilizer and other inputs, and then paid his debt with his palay harvest.

As of this writing (May 1992), he is the owner and tiller of 14 hectares of irrigated rice land and also tills another 10 hectares mortgaged to him by other farm owners. His small bamboo and wooden house which was blown down by Typhoon Saling a few years back has now been replaced with a spacious concrete house complete with the amenities of modern living like a refrigerator, fine furniture, stereo, color TV and even an encyclopedia set.

But he has retained his humble ways. When we interviewed him, he was personally doing the bagging of his newly threshed palay in his farm not farm from his home.

He Does The Final Land Prep

While he owns three power tillers for preparing his land for planting, he still keeps a carabao for the final leveling of his rice fields before planting. And he himself does the final chore. He would not entrust to anyone else the final leveling because to him, that is very important for high yields.

In 1990, he also bought a P300,000 rice mill that is now installed in a warehouse near his home. He also owns a jeep or the family’s use. And in October 1991, he ย borrowed some money from a rural bank to buy a P450,000 truck for transporting farm products.

Amang has also now become a financier. Other cash-strapped rice farmers go to him for money which they pay back in kind after harvest.

How come Amang has become so prosperous? Aside from hard work, he has business sense. He and his wife are very keen on other money-making opportunities, like a backyard piggery. Since they got married, they have always raised a few pigs. At the time of our visit, they had 12 breeders and eight fatteners in their pig pen.

In their early years of marriage, Amang also remembers that he used to go out to fish when there was nothing to do on the rice fields. And his wife would sell his catch in the market. He was always looking for income opportunities other than rice.

Blower For Rent

In those early years, mechanical threshers were still unknown. The palay was threshed by the “hampas” method that required blowers to winnow the harvest. Amang saw an opportunity to augment his income by buying a blower which he rented out to the other farmers. He sold a couple of pigs to buy the blower.

The blower had proved to be a good money maker. The other farmers who rented the blower paid two kilos of palay for every sack winnowed. Since one blower could winnow 200 cavans daily, that meant 400 kilos of palay rental for the couple every day.

When the mechanical thresher arrived, Amang sold some more of their pigs and bought their own thresher. This was even a bigger earner for the couple. In one harvest season, the thresher could earn for them more than 500 cavans of palay.

Meanwhile, the couple started to provide the necesssary financing for the farmers who were short of cash. Since payment was made in kind, the Lopezes had to learn to trade in rice to dispose not only their own harvests but also the payments-in-kind made by the farmer-borrowers.

Soon they had saved enough cash to buy more rice fields. And then the rice mill, the truck and as if that is not enough, the couple also put up a small grocery in Cabanatuan City, managed by Mrs. Lopez.

The story of Amang and his wife, no doubt, should inspire other small farmers to have more business sense and be more enterprising. If the Lopezes were able to do it, why can’t others?

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