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Feature: Hardworking ARB tells tale of his blessings

piaISULAN, SULTAN KUDARAT, July16 (PIA) – “Blessings from God,” Enriqueto “Onyok” Leysa, Jr. said as he attributed his success in life to God.

But people around Onyok said that his strong faith to God coupled with hard work and his risk-taker attitude is what puts him in the ranks of successful agrarian reform beneficiaries all throughout the country.

Onyok started farming when he was 14 years old. Being the eldest in the 16 siblings, he was the constant companion of his father when they till rented lands to support their family. Onyok attended classes in the morning and cultivated the land in the evening.

When he finished high school in 1988, Onyok stopped schooling to give way for his sisters to finish college. He continued to work in the farm and at age 24 he decided not to anymore pursue a college degree. However, this decision did not cause him to waver in reaching his dream of becoming a successful person.

In 1992, Onyok got married to Annabel and started to support his own family. With a rented land of 20 hectares, he worked hard to reach his dreams. He planted 10 hectares with rice and the other half with corn.

“We lived a miserable life since 1992 until 2002, we have no other source of income. Oftentimes my harvest (palay) is a “failure” because we have no irrigation here. I really did try so hard, but poverty never left us,” Onyok recalled.

In 2002, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) distributed lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform program (CARP) to the residents of Barangay Mapantig in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat thru the Mapantig Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MAPARBEMPCO). Onyok was among the beneficiaries of the said program. He received a total area of 1.75 hectares.

Becoming an agrarian reform beneficiary (ARB) was the break Onyok has been waiting for. From then on, he inched his way to success and break free from the bondage of poverty.

Before the land was awarded to the ARBs through  MAPARBEMPCO, the area was planted with oil palm trees by a big private company.

With the awarding of land, Onyok and the other ARBs started to receive dividends and benefits from the cooperative due to its very good business operation.  It was during this time that Onyok started to turn around his fortune for the better.

 “We earned huge dividends, because when the lands were turned-over to us, the oil palm trees planted by a private company in the oil palm industry were ready for harvest. We received almost P80,000 every year. Added to it, I am also receiving honorarium as BOD of the coop.” Onyok disclosed.

In 2006, he was elected as board of director (BOD) of the coop. Furthermore, he also became the chairman of the coop from 2009-2011. Today, he continues to serve the coop as BOD.

In May 2011, Onyok got the big break he needed that eventually changed his life forever. An agent of Kubota offered Onyok to get one unit of combined rice harvester to be paid in installlments with no interest. The offer was a marketing strategy of the company to introduce and to show to the farmers the advantages of using machineries in farming. He also acquired a 6-wheeler truck to transport the harvester to the areas where it is needed.

“I gambled taking the company’s offer. I used my savings in paying the downpayment with Kubota. I also loaned a truck to transport the harvester. With God’s grace my decision gave good results.” Onyok said.

The idea of using machineries in harvesting rice clicked to the farmers and Onyok found himself contracting farmers from one place to another with large areas of land all throughout the region. The return of investment was so good that Onyok was already buying additional units of machineries within a short span of time.

In 2011, just a year later, Onyok bought another two units of combined rice harvester and two units of 6-wheeler truck to transport the two harvesters in the areas where the units are needed. Another year later, he again bought two additional units of combined rice harvester and another two units of 6-wheeler truck to cope with the demand of the expanding areas his harvester operated. And in 2013, he again bought one unit of combined rice harvester and one unit of 6-wheeler truck.

Although Onyok refused to discuss how much he really is earning, but his acquired assets and machineries showed it all. Although he did not purchase additional agricultural lands, he invested more on equipment and vehicles which he believed have important use in his present business.

Onyok acknowledged that DAR projects implemented in their barangay played a big part in his success.

“The road rehabilitation and the construction of the bridge here in Mapantig is one big help from DAR from the lands they distributed to us. We use this project everyday. Thousands of residents and passers-by benefited from this projects.” Onyok said.

Sometime in 2004, DAR under the Support to Agrarian Reform Comm unities in Central Mindanao (STARCM) extended support services to Mapantig agrarian reform community (ARC) by constructing a deck girder bridge that connected the barangay from the rest of the municipality. The project made the transport of stocks, fertilizers, and other farm inputs and market products in and out of the community a lot easier.

“Before, only tricycles and motorcycles could use the wooden bridge here.  There was even an incident that a tricycle fell from the bridge because it has to give way to an oncoming one, it was forced to take the sideline, causing the barrier to break and the trike fell.” Onyok recalled.

The community progressed even more in some degree in 2006 when the 4.6-kilometer feeder road that joined Mapantig to the rest of Isulan was rehabilitated. The rehab project amounted to P4,400,000.00 under STARCM which further spurred economic activity in the community.

“Big changes came to our barangay when DAR rehabilitated our road. Before, big trucks coming in to load our produce get stack to the muddy road. It was hard then, transporting out our harvest, the labor cost is exorbitant.” Onyok said.

Onyok also said that he used the solar dryer constructed by DAR to dry his 13% share of sacks of palay in the harvest. “Drying fee with the solar dryer is just minimal. Its only P2 per sack. I saved more. I only pay P14,400.00 for drying my palay everyday for three months,” Onyok said with a smile.

Onyok was referring to the multi-purpose building with solar dryer constructed by DAR sometime in 2005 which amounted to P1,091,963.95. The project was still a part of the DAR support services extended to the ARC of Mapantig under the STARCM program. 

To date, Onyok has one unit of hand tractor, two units of (rotavator) tractors, one unit of rice thresher, one unit of susuki motorcycle, one unit of an XRM motorcycle, one unit of Nissan pick-up truck. Just recently, he purchased one unit of the latest all-new Ford Ranger and he also constructed a bodega that can accommodate up to 2,000 bags of palay.

“I’m wishing to construct next year, my own solar dryer that could dry 400 sacks of palay. I also hope to expand my warehouse to accommodate 5,000 sacks,” he quipped (ACAgad- PIA 12 with report from  JJBDael-DAR-SK)

Source: http://news.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=1621405564430

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