By Zac B. Sarian
If you are going to start your own farm, you should make a well studied plan. Clearly spell out your vision. What kind of farm would you like your farm to become? What is your mission? Is it to produce the best quality harvest at affordable prices that end-users will keep on buying? And which will give you decent profit?
Well, you have to plan your strategies in order to achieve your vision and mission. You can attend seminars and also visit farms. But don’t just copy what the farms you visit are doing. That’s one sage advice of Jess Domingo, an innovative farmer who now practices natural farming in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. He was the speaker at the Agribiz Kapihan at the Harbest Events Center in Taytay, Rizal recently.
After retiring from his top corporate job when he reached 55, he attended his first seminar on organic farming at the Costales Nature Farms in Laguna. He loved what he learned. He was sold to the idea of organic agriculture. But he immediately made what he considered his first big mistake. What’s that? He saw the beautiful lettuce that Costales produced. And so he also planted lettuce that he fertilized with well decomposed chicken manure. The plants grew robust and healthy. But he considered that a mistake because he had no buyers in Ifugao. They would not even pay P3 per kilo whereas he saw Costales selling the same at P200 per kilo.
The next seminar that he attended was growing off-season vegetables at the East-West Seed. Again, he made another big mistake. Domingo was so impressed with the Diamante-Max tomato of East-West that he planted the variety in January. By March, he had a bountiful harvest and brought 21 crates to a market in Isabela. You know what? The vendors offered only P3 per kilo! That was because it was no longer off-season for tomato.
But he learned from his mistakes. He stresses that one should not copy everything he sees in other farms. Just adopt the viable concepts.
Domingo is a CPA and is an expert in money matters. How do you finance your farm project? He says that it is best to fully finance your project with your own money. If you have to borrow, borrow from relatives or friends who trust you. They will not be as demanding as a bank in getting back your loan.
In the event that you need to borrow from the bank, don’t borrow 100% of what you need. Just borrow 30%.
Borrow Long, Invest Short. That’s another sage advice from Domingo. What does that mean? Don’t make a loan that is payable within a year if you are just starting your farm. Better make the loan payable in 5 years or longer. And what does he mean by Invest Short? It means that you use the borrowed money to produce crops or animals that will turn in revenue in just a few months so you can amortize your loan on time.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s December 2018 issue.