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The poor farmer who became rich.

By Zac B. Sarian

In May 1992, the late Abraham Tadeja who produced organic fertilizer brought me to Cabanatuan so I could interview his customer who started very poor but had become rich, a millionaire in his own right after 22 years of farming with a business sense.

The fellow is Anastacio "Amang" Lopez of Brgy. Baquero, Cabanatuan City who only finished elementary schooling. When he got married at 20, in 1970, all he had was 8,500 square meters of rice land given to him by his father. At that time, he did not even have money to cultivate the farm. He had to borrow from a local rice miller so he could buy some seeds, fertilizer and other inputs, and then paid his debt with his palay harvest.

When I interviewed him 22 years after he got married, he already owned 14 hectares of irrigated rice land and also tilled another 10 hectares mortgaged to him by other land owners. His small bamboo and wooden house which was blown down by Typhoon Saling a few years back had been replaced with a spacious concrete house complete with the amenities of modern living like a refrigerator, fine furniture, stereo, color TV and even an encyclopedia set.

He also owned three power tillers, a rice mill he bought for R300,000 and a truck worth R450,000 for transporting his produce. The cash-strapped farmers also depended on hom for loans. He had become a financier whose borrowers paid in the form of palay.

How did Amang become so rich? The answer is hard work and common business sense. He could spot a money-making opportunity whenever he could see one. Like in those early years when threshing machines were still unknown and threshing was done by the "hampas" method that required blowers to winnow the threshed palay.

Amang readily saw an opportunity to make money. He sold a couple of his pigs so he could buy a blower which he rented out to farmers. The farmers who rented his blower paid him two kilos of palay for every sack winnowed. Since one blower can winnow 200 cavans daily, that meant 400 kilos of palay rental every day, equivalent to eight cavans.

Later, when the mechanical thresher arrived into the farming scene, Amang saw another money-making opportunity. He sold some more of his pigs so he could buy his own thresher. This was even a bigger earner for Amang. In one harvest season, his thresher could earn for him 500 cavans of palay.

With the palay that borrowers paid him, the couple had to put up a small store in Cabanatuan where they could sell the rice from their own harvest and from the payments-in-kind by farmer-borrowers.

The story of Amang could inspire other small farmers to have more business sense and be more enterprising.


MONEY OPPORTUNITY In the 'hampas' method of threshing, the harvested palay is the trashed against a frame of wooden slats to separate the grains, after which a blower is needed to clean the grains. That's where Amang Lopez made money with his blower.

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Title Annotation:Panorama
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Mar 18, 2018
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