Why Hot Pepper and Bitter Gourd are “gold” for this farmer
Like many other farmers, Gabby, 38, grew up with his whole family depending on farming. His parents are farmers and all his siblings helped them, along with Gabby. However, Gabby didn’t plan to depend on farming all his life. He took a degree in Criminology during college. When he graduated, he applied to all sorts of jobs—from being a salesman at a shopping mall to becoming a service crew at a fast food chain. He realized that he could not earn enough with the jobs he entered to. Few years had passed, and he needed to earn more because he was already starting to build his own family. With a child coming, he realized that he could not support his wife and child’s needs with his minimal salary. He decided to go back to farming.
Gabby helped his parents in planting rice and corn at a one-hectare land that they were renting in 2005. In 2008, when a friend introduced him to vegetable farming, he was eager to try them because he realized that rice and corn didn’t sell well in the market. He tried to plant sitaw and ampalaya first, but he mentioned that they didn’t yield much. Because of this, he exhausted his savings and borrowed money from friends and family members. He knew that he needed to find other means of income—he has a wife and child to feed, with additional expenses for the child’s necessities.
At this desperate moment of Gabby’s life, East West Seed came in. The company offered him seeds. During that time, he had already tried a lot of seeds offered by technicians from other companies, but he was surprised with the yield of his East-West Seed varieties: Galaxy F1 and Mestisa F1 ampalaya, and Django F1 and Red Hot F1 hot peppers.
“Maraming bunga at makikintab kaya gusto talaga ng market (The yield was high and the fruits looked very good that’s why it’s preferred by the market),” said Gabby.
With a strong market demand for his ampalaya and hot peppers, Gabby has gradually increased his income. He has continued using the East-West Seed varieties. He also benefited from the technical seminars provided by East-West Seed. From these seminars, he learned about sustainable and profitable farming practices.
From one hectare that his parents rented in 2005, he is now cultivating 8 hectares of land that he owns. He has also put up his own agricultural supply selling seeds from East-West Seed. With the combined income from his agricultural supply business and farming, he was able to build a house, buy 3 vehicles for his business and for personal use and put up a greenhouse. More importantly, he was able to support his growing family—he now has three children.
Empowering more farmers
“Lahat ng natutunan ko, ibinabahagi ko sa mga magsasaka sa amin (I share all of my learnings to the farmers in our area), Gabby shared.
Through his agricultural supply business, he promotes tried-and-tested seed varieties from East-West Seed. He also allows farmers-in-need to borrow seeds from him and just pay him after harvest season. He transfers his knowledge through free seminars provided to farmers around his area in partnership with East-West Seed.
Because of his success, most of his neighbors tease him that he found gold in his backyard.
He answered them, “Ang ginto ay yung mga bunga ng Django at Red Hot na sili at Galaxy at Mestisa na ampalaya (The gold are the fruits of Django and Red Hot peppers and Galaxy and Mestisa bitter gourd),” said Gabby.
He also feels fulfillment because he’s able to help farmers around his area, not only by providing high-quality products but also by inspiring and sharing his knowledge to them. He’s happy that from being the lone vegetable farmer in their area before, he was able to influence other farmers to try vegetable farming—now, around half of the farmer population in their barangay are into vegetable farming, according to him.