Plowing on toward a better life:
ORGANICALLY-GROWN CAPSICUM ANNUUM AND SUSTAINABLE CROP PRODUCTION
Florencio Quintinita, Jr. is a 26-year-old certified young farmer from Central Visayas. He has been farming for almost ten years, developing his parents’ two-hectare land at Sitio Katiwihan, Tolosa, Malabuyoc, Cebu.
A life of perseverance
At a young age, Quintinita was already exposed to farming. He has been helping his parents in their farm as their only source of living. The situation has motivated Quintinita, fondly called ‘Bonjon’, to strive hard and earn his college degree despite all odds. He initially took up Bachelor of Science in Criminology, but later shifted to Bachelor of Science in Hotel Management at the Cebu Technological University – Malabuyoc Campus. He believed that it was the easiest course to find a job and maybe the solution to their financial situation.
After graduation, Quintinita worked at a beach resort in Luzon to practice his profession and to be able to support his family in the province. In a short period of time though, he returned to his hometown to be with his family.
Planting the seeds of success
Quintinita decided to cultivate their farmland, where he planted chili peppers, beans, sweet peppers, and other short-gestating crops. He later discovered that even though he encountered hardships in farming, it is still more profitable than working at a beach resort. Tilling the land was never easy, considering the absence of proper equipment, the presence of pests and diseases, the currently existing rough roads, and the delivery of produce being unnecessarily time-consuming; but these did not stop him as it is their means of survival.
He attended formal training and seminars to access assistance and other support from the government. He also became an active member of the farmers’ association in their barangay.
Joining the YFCF Program
Through his older brother, who is still studying in college, Quintinita came to know of the Young Farmers Challenge Fund (YFCF) Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA). He knew that he would qualify and that the grant would make a difference in his farm—a great help indeed when accessibility to financial assistance is difficult for him.
His YFCF journey was a big challenge as he had neither a laptop nor a stable internet connection. Compliance of eligibility requirements was more or less a struggle, considering the current COVID-19 pandemic situation. Surrounded by mountains, his remote location has been greatly affected by the imposition of borders due to the community lockdowns.
Luckily, he was among the Provincial Level awardees who made it to the top. The Php 50,000 grant that he received was used to expand the coverage area for his agribusiness venture, the production of organically-grown Capsicum annuum. Capsicum annuum is known as a “money maker,” noting a high return of investment as compared to other crops.
The presentation of the business model canvas was done in blended form—both face-to-face and virtual—due to the pandemic. At the time, the whole province of Cebu was under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine. The DA Regional Field Office VII posted the names of its awardees on the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division’s (AMAD) Facebook page; but due to accessibility concerns, Quintinita did not immediately know the results nor did he expect anything from the competition. For him, presenting his proposal was enough to showcase his agribusiness enterprise. That is why he was very happy and thankful to find out that he made it to the list and will receive another grant and a chance to compete at the National Level as one of the Central Visayas Region’s representatives.
Progressing steadily and surely
After receiving the grant, he was able to plant 5,000 seedlings, which yield an average of about eight tons. Watering plants, which is time-consuming if performed manually, is a big factor in his operations; hence, he installed a do-it-yourself sprinkler to save time and perform other activities in the farm.
Quintinita formulated his own concoction of foliar fertilizer (amino acid and molasses), vermicompost, and organic pesticides to lessen his expenses on fertilization and pest control. Apart from being economical, they are also environment-friendly and safe for consumption. He also practices crop rotation, relay cropping, and intercropping to ensure continuous production, preserve soil fertility, and control pests.
Marketing also plays a big role in making his agribusiness profitable. Quintinita believes that a farmer needs a market and income for the hard labor to compensate for his time and effort. He found regular bulk buyers who visit his farm during the harvesting period.
Quintinita’s 300-square-meter area for chili pepper production has earned him Php 56,000 on his fourth harvest. Although he is not yet capable of supplying the demand in the market, He sees this as an opportunity to expand his production using the Php 150, 000 financial grant assistance from the Regional Level Competition.
Quintinita is working on his farm’s certified organic accreditation. He believes that producing safe, healthy, and nutritious food will command higher prices, especially in high-end markets. Despite his achievements, he remains humble and open-minded to any criticism. No matter what happens in the future, he expressed that he will continue to plant crops and be a role model for the young generations to prove that there is money in the noble profession that is farming. ###