Farmer who started from scratch now owns a tourist destination

Ruben Ragas, 50, didn’t have everything planned out for him. According to him, he started out with nothing, and was unable to finish his studies when he was younger.

Hailing from Cabadbaran City, Agusan Del Norte in Mindanao, he now has a wife and five children; two of them are college students studying marketing and agriculture.

It’s hard to imagine raising a whole family—but Ruben knows that no man is an island; everybody needs to start somewhere and get all the support that they need.

He started planting corn and root crop after acquiring land from the Department of Agrarian Reform more than twenty years ago. Just a couple of years later, he explored unfamiliar territory and started planting vegetables.

Ruben credits his knowledge to trainings he attended under the Department of Agriculture and East-West Seed.

Combined with his innovation and resilience, he practiced multiple cropping for his favorite East-West Seed varieties including Macho F1 sweet corn and Fortuner F1 eggplant, Emperor F1 , and Diamante Max F1 tomato.

He also planted Pia F1 pumpkin, Mestisa F1 and Galaxy F1 bitter gourds,Orange Delight F1 and Red Delight F1 watermelons, Mega C F1 cucumber, as well as Kangkong Tsina LP.

Ruben says he uses East-west Seed varieties because they’re quality products and makes production much easier.

One of his unique practices is applying the Pick and Pay system where customers could pick the fresh crops they wanted to buy from his farm.

Like many success stories, Ruben was put into the spotlight with the help of social media. In 2017, his place was made into a 1500-square meter demo farm where other farmers were invited to see his labor of love. There, he now conducts trainings for farmers who want to use modern technology for planting crops.

Ruben’s farm was recognized as the first family-based agritourism farm in the entire region of CARAGA, proudly endorsed by Cabadbaran’s City Tourism Office. After the harvest festival, people would flock to his farm which is open to the enthusiastic public.

In the past decade, Ruben has won several awards for his excellence in farming. In 2013, he won the Gawad Saka Regional Level from the Department of Agriculture. A year later, he was a runner-up for Landbank of the Philippines’ Ulirang Magsasaka Awards and DAR’s Most Outstanding Agrarian Reform Beneficiary.

His success didn’t stop there. In 2015, he was the Landbank of the Philippines’ Ulirang Magsasaka Grand Winner. He was able to upgrade his house which was originally made out of bamboo. Now, it’s made out of concrete and in bungalow-style complete with air-conditioning for when he’s tired from the heat of the sun.

His more recent awards were the East-West Seed Farmer-Hero in 2017 (1 of 35 awardees), and again this year (1 of 15 awardees). He’s expanded his land from 2 to 3 hectares where he also now sells vegetables and flowers.

Ruben says he just wants to continue what he’s doing, and hopes that other farmers will take his lead to the path of success. He gives out to the community in small ways, by hiring workers for his ever-growing farm.

Amidst all challenges, Ruben says that the only thing that truly worries him now is the unpredictable climate. But after hearing Ruben’s story, it would appear that “unpredictable” may also come in big blessings.