By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Farming doesn’t always require a degree in the same field. At most, it requires the passion for growing plants and caring for livestock, as well as the patience and determination to see it all through.
Gabby Retuya, 38, from Alcala, Pangasinan is one example of how farming can be for everyone who puts the right time and effort into it.
Born in Bautista, Pangasinan, Retuya finished a Bachelor’s degree in criminology at the University of Pangasinan. But he didn’t pursue his dream of becoming a full-time policeman. Instead, he became an agripreneur who grows and sells farm-ready seedlings from his farm, Gab Farm.
“My mother, Teresita, and father, Eduardo, are farmers. My whole family as well. I initially did not want to go into farming but after I finished my college degree, I saw potential in agriculture when I am helping my family in managing our farm,” Retuya shared.
Retuya is married to Cynthia Retuya, a pediatrician with whom he has children, Gabriel, 11, Sofia, 5, and Seed, 4.
Hailed as a Farmer Hero
At the time Retuya decided to pursue a career in agriculture, he and his family were planting corn, rice, and some vegetables like ampalaya, upo, tomatoes, siling panigang, and siling labuyo.
But due to his lack of knowledge of farming, they experienced low harvests. Retuya addressed this by attending seminars offered by some companies like East-West Seeds Philippines and Farmready GG Seedlings, Inc.
“They offered me to plant the grafted Mestisa F1 [ampalaya]. Their agricultural field technicians and representatives guided me in our plantation causing our harvest to triple,” he said.
Back then, Retuya was the first person in their area to grow such a variety and who also had access to the right information, thus making him a pioneer. He later shared his techniques and experiences with his fellow farmers so they too can succeed.
“I believe that in farming, you should have the knowledge, experience, perseverance, and love for farming. The profit or money will come along the way,” he said.
His choice to lead a different life eventually led him to be hailed as one of East-West Seed Philippines’ Farmer Heroes.
Growing farm-ready seedlings
Retuya is now the proud owner of Gab Farm, a demo field site for the products in their agricultural supply business which sells seedlings and all farm essentials that are offered by different brands.
“It was established in 2013 when a farmer came to me asking to buy seedlings from my greenhouse. I told him I cannot sell them because I will plant them soon. However, because of the demand for seedlings, I started to become a distributor of a company and at the same time producing my own,” Retuya said.
The criminology graduate turned agripreneur then invested in producing farm-ready seedlings because, in his experience, these are easy to plant and easy to maintain since they are more resistant to pests and unpredictable weather.
Gab Farm offers the “pinakbet” package seedlings which offer different varieties of ampalaya, siling panigang and labuyo tomatoes, upo, okra, patola, onions, squash, cabbage, lettuce, papaya, and some herbs.
“We sell our products to different trading posts in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, Divisoria, and to different malls in the country,” Retuya said.
Apart from the farm-ready seedlings, Retuya also sells farm essentials like fertilizers, soil media, pesticides, certified seeds, farm equipment, and more. They even offer free consultations for the different plant pests and farm management.
Helping others succeed
To help other farmers like him succeed in their farming endeavors, Retuya also offers free seminars and workshops to those who want to start farming.
“We can assist them from soil preparation to product marketing. Farming is a trial-and-error process and we should always be open to changes. Farming brings happiness and when I see my farmers succeed, I feel content,” he said.
One tip that Retuya recommends when growing farm-ready seedlings is using only certified seeds available in the market since these can produce a better yield which leads to quality produce and higher profit.
But most importantly, he advises aspiring farmers to love what they’re doing and treat their plants as they would their children, meaning the right amount of care and supervision for them to turn out well.
In the future, Retuya is hoping to turn Gab Farm into a farm tourism destination so that others can enjoy the feeling of being on a farm, even for a day, and that he can extend his services to a larger number of people.
Even though he didn’t pursue a career as a policeman, Retuya found a career as an agripreneur to be just as fulfilling and profitable since he is in the position to help others start their own agricultural dream, earn a profit, and put food on their customers’ tables.
For more information, visit GAB Farm on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of Gabby Retuya