“I thought my life would suddenly improve after the land was awarded to me in 1997. I learned later that patience, persistence and improvisation were still needed after my initial failures in my attempts to increase production.”- Ruben
Ruben Ragas, 43 years old, a native of Sanghan, Cabadbaran City in the province of Agusan del Norte, married to Fe Eligeno and has 5 children, a resident of Cumagascas, Cabadbaran City, is such a classic rag.
Ruben says, “Life is difficult but he is seasoned with trials!” Proud to have risen above the many big challenges he encountered to make the CARP awarded land more productive and profitable.
Today, he is one of the successful vegetable growers in Sanghan, Cabadbaran City.
In 1990, after he finished High School, he wanted to pursue a college education, but because of their economic status he had to work part-time as a helper at Sanchez Rice Mill in Cabadbaran City. Working long hours as a cheap wage earner competed with his desire to pursue college degree, his earning was not even enough to provide him basic school needs.
In 1993, the landholding of Antonio Avanceña was covered by Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Ruben, was one of the farm workers who was awarded with two-hectare land which he initially planted with corn. With his aspiration to have a college degree he decided to abandon his job at Sanchez Rice Mill to focus the more profitable work of tilling the awarded land.
In 1997, the two-hectare Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) was finally awarded to him. Failures were repeatedly made leaving him with insufficient income. Their house continued to drip with ruin nipa and bamboo slats. Pest and diseases, natural calamities and trader-controlled prices were among the challenges he faced. But Ruben never gave-up, every challenge was a lesson learned.
With DAR’s provision through capability building seminar, Ruben developed his confidence until he came up with a brilliant idea that will solve his problems. In the year 2000, he sought the help to learn more techniques on integrated and diversified farming system.
He planted his farm with vegetables, like eggplant, ampalaya, tomatoes, and pepper then intercropped the vegetables with papaya. With an initial capital of P 87,300 for eggplant alone he earned a net income of P 355,043.00.
According to Ruben, “An estimated area of 700 square meter plot is also planted with tomato at a cost of P 12,870 and made a gross income of P 31,740 or a net income of P 18,780.00.”
Vegetable farming doubled Ruben’s income that he estimated annual gross earnings of P400 thousand. Ruben said, “Our best production comes from eggplant, which we harvested regularly two times a week.”
When Ruben was asked why he chose vegetable farming over corn, he promptly answered that vegetables have shorter gestation period and much more profitable than corn.
Ruben is now a popular and successful off-season vegetable grower in barangay Sanghan. Sometimes, he always has farmer-visitors asking some help about his practices and techniques to which he always answered – “Right technology, coupled with perseverance and hard work.”
Ruben also participated in many civic works. Giving back to the community, he is willing to become an advisor to those who want to try their hand about becoming an entrepreneur.
“You don’t need a large piece of land to cultivate, what is even more important is you have the skill how to maximize and use your resources,” Ruben said.
“My determination to adopt innovative growing techniques on Integrated and Diversified farming system eventually become an inspiration to other farmers in my community. I am very much thankful to Department Agrarian Reform (DAR) for its continuing intervention to improve the lives of farmer-beneficiaries. In return I am now their success story. They are now proud of me as I am a proud of being a farmer.” Ruben further said.