The best thing that has ever happened:
BEST-JOC INTEGRATED FARM
Farming is one of the primary sources of income in Asturias, Cebu. Its flat lands, good soil quality, and even rainfall distribution make the place ideal for raising crops and other agricultural products.
Julian O. Cumad, a 29-year-old agripreneur from Poblacion, Asturias, Cebu, established his integrated farm with crops like eggplant (Solanum melongena), chili (Capsicum sp.), bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), swamp water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica), citrus (Citrus sp.), and papaya (Carica papaya). Cumad may not have land of his own, but his passion for farming urged him to find ways to make his dream a reality.
Building knowledge and experience
As a farmer’s son, Cumad experienced the traditional way of farming at a young age. Believing that it is ineffective in attaining higher yield and profit, his passion and eagerness to learn more about agriculture pushed him to pursue an agriculture degree and graduate as a Magna Cum Laude at the Cebu Technological University (CTU).
After graduation, he worked as a part-time instructor while reviewing for the board exam. Cumad passed the Licensure Examination for Agriculture in 2016, ranking second among all examinees.
He pursued his Master’s Degree in Soil Science at the Visayas State University (VSU) under a scholarship from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Afterwards, he was hired by CTU as one of its regular instructors. But despite his achievements, his dream of becoming a modern farmer remained in his heart.
Cumad had the opportunity of establishing and developing his uncle’s land. He took the risk of investing, but his drive, knowledge, and expertise in agriculture were his tools in pursuing the agribusiness venture that he has always been dreaming of.
The estimated monthly production of his farm, from spices to lowland vegetables, is about 3.5 tons. He also shares 10% of his income to the farm owner. Cumad also has regular buyers signifying interest to purchase in bulk for less transportation costs. He saw high demand for agricultural products in Cebu City, being the center of trade and distribution to other nearby provinces and regions. However, he needed to determine how to sustain it without enough capital.
The best thing ever
While browsing his social media account, Cumad came across a post about the Young Farmers Challenge Fund (YFCF) Competitive Grant Assistance Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA). He prepared and submitted the necessary requirements, including the conceptualization of his business model canvas (BMC).
Best-JOC Integrated Farm was named after the abbreviation of his name, coupled with the word ‘best’ to signify that the farm is the best thing that has ever happened in his life. Cumad is grateful to the DA for giving him the opportunity to be in the top five Provincial Level awardees and, fortunately, top one at the Regional Level Competition to represent the Central Visayas Region.
His YFCF grants were dedicated to buying farm tools, seeds, fertilizers, and labor. They will also be used to fulfill his dream of delving into poultry layer production, constructing a permanent nursery for his seedlings, and investing machinery to address the high costs of land preparation. Cumad hopes that using new technologies will encourage the younger generation to venture into agriculture upon seeing that tilling lands is now easier.
The Best-JOC Integrated Farm practices integrated pest management (IPM), multiple cropping, and relay cropping to control pests, to form a sustainable and continuous supply of produce, and to hold his buyers from transferring to other producers.
Cumad has improved production in his farm by installing plastic mulch, which has minimized the water requirement of plants in terms of retaining soil moisture and controlling the growth of weeds. During rainy days, water is also retained in between plots; thus, he also maximizes the use of the area by planting miscellaneous crops like citrus and banana to serve as fences, giving him additional income.
Keeping up the good work
Despite all of his achievements, he remains humble, sharing and offering free consultations to other farmers in their locality who seek help, advice, and guidance in managing their farms. He educates farmers on new farming technologies. Helping and seeing farmers succeed in their endeavors is a great accomplishment of his, which makes him much more grateful for the many blessings that he has received.
Cumad hopes that the younger generation will see and appreciate the importance of the agriculture sector, along with the big role that the young farmers have to play to be a competitive entrepreneur and to make the Philippines a food-secure country. ###