John Reynald P. Simon of Claveria, Cagayan lives with his parents, both vegetable vendors, and two younger siblings. Due to poverty, he stopped studying in college for four years. As the eldest child in the family, he needed to help his parents with their financial needs.

Venturing into mushroom production

Simon started H&K Mushroom Products Manufacturing in 2015 as an experiment. To fund his mushroom production, he worked as a dishwasher in a school canteen in the morning and street food vendor in the afternoon. He saved his earnings through buying and raising piglets, which he then sold to buy equipment for his mushroom production. He spent his nights making fruiting bags. It was hard for him because his parents did not support his venture.

He experienced losses during his operation. About 60% to 70% of his mushrooms were contaminated, though it did not stop him from pursuing his passion for agriculture.  He attended seminars and training on mushroom production conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Agricultural Training Institute’s (ATI) “4-H Agripreneur: Embracing Innovations and Productivity” to enhance his knowledge and skills in mushroom production.

In 2020, he faced another adversity. His hard-earned equipment was swept by a typhoon, damaging around 80% of his produce, yet this did not dissuade him to be at his best. He borrowed Php 250,000 with 50% interest in five years from an informal lender. He transferred his production area to a safer place and rented a land near the public market.

His time to rise

After a series of unfortunate events comes another door for him. The DA, through the Young Farmers Challenge Fund (YFCF) Program, opened an opportunity to the Filipino youth who will engage in agri-fishery enterprises. Driven by his determination, Simon was one of the 100 Provincial Level awardees of Cagayan, even making it through as a Regional Level awardee in the Cagayan Valley Region.

The Php 50,000 financial grant enabled him to continue his mushroom production. Through his project, he was also able to finance the schooling of his siblings and finish his college degree as well. He finished his college degree with the help of his mushroom production project.

The results of his hard work

His enterprise is generating a monthly net income of Php 30,000 through his markets in Sta. Praxedes, Claveria, Sanchez Mira, Pamplona, and Abulug. He employs five youths in his enterprise and supports four scholars. He also donates some of his profits to the church.

Indeed, success does not come easily. But no matter how difficult the challenges that life throws, people should take adversaries as opportunities to hustle more. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again—this time, more intelligently. ###