2014 Ulirang Magsasaka awardee: Loving the land you till

manila bulletin blue logoCabadbaran City — Ruben Ragas, 43, wakes up each day with vigor and pride, raring to tend to his two-hectare farm that he has called his own since 2006.

Nong Ben, as he is fondly called, plants a variety of vegetables in his Barangay Sanghan farm, from eggplants to tomatoes, and fruits like papaya, bananas and mangoes.

“It’s all about hard work,” says the father of five.

But more than the hard work, Ragas has drawn immense pride from being his own boss, tilling the land that he received as recipient of the land distribution program of the Department of Agrarian Reform eight years ago.

Since then, he has proven that farming in the country, though not in large parcels of land, could mean big time.

Ragas has been able to care for his children well and sent all of them to school. On top of it all, he was finally able to provide his family a small but beautiful bungalow – a dream come true for the farmer and his 39-year-old wife Fe.

Such simple measures of success has not gone unnoticed after the couple was picked as the Land Bank of the Philippines’ 2014 Gawad Pitak Awards as “Ulirang Magsasaka (Model Farmer).”

“It’s about loving the land. Without DAR, I may not be able to own a land in my whole life,” Ragas said.

Using integrated diversified farming, Ragas was able to initially provide for the immediate needs of his family, planting the farm with fruits and vegetables that were more than enough for them.

“With that, I was able to feed my family with healthy foods. Then the rest go to the markets,” he said.

Ragas is a well-known supplier in the markets of this city as well as other parts of Agusan del Norte.

Then to maximize the area, Ragas also built a medium-sized pond where he was able to grow about 10,000 fresh fish.

“When we don’t have viand, my children just catch fishes in the pond”, Ragas revealed.

He also grew animals like goat, chicken, turkey, ducks and other fowls.

With all his perseverance, Ragas has been able to earn a monthly income comparable to that of a manager in a government office.

But the comparison stops there because his farm is his office and he is his own boss.

Despite all the success and good fortune that have come his way, the humble farmer never fails to thank DAR which he credits for transforming him into a “dignified farmer.”

“I grew up from a family of lowly farmers, but it was DAR who ignited my passion to make my life better,” he averred.

And he was quick to add:”A farmer can, indeed, make big money from small lands.”

That success story doesn’t stop with Ragas as DAR Region 13 announced that it will be able complete the distribution of 23,000 hectares of agricultural land before the end of this year.

Regional Director Faisar Mambuay said that this could be a record-breaking target, being the highest since 1996.

In 2013, DAR Caraga hit the national tally for the highest accomplishment in percentage with its 14,105 hectares accomplishment or 147 percent against its 9,588 hectares annual target, for which Mambuay thanked DAR’s partners in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“We are doing all our best to make land distribution meaningful in this region,” stressed Mambuay, in an exclusive interview with Manila Bulletin early this week.

He, further said that this is in support to the call of the President and Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes to finish land acquisition and distribution before the end of the PNoy administration.

Source: http://www.mb.com.ph/2014-ulirang-magsasaka-awardee-loving-the-land-you-till/