By Vina Medenilla
Mothers only want the best life for their children. In the case of Lilibeth Belito-Beduya, InPhase EcoFarm co-owner, seeking a stable source of income is one of her tools to express love and support to her firstborn who’s about to enter college.
“I realized that my income as an employee is not enough to support the needs of my children.” To make ends meet, she had three options in mind and one of them was farming. Having been born in an agricultural province like Calbayog City in Samar, Beduya believes that farming is a reliable livelihood that can provide her a steady profit. Owing to this belief, she started planting cacao in 2016.
Living in harmony with nature
Beduya confessed that she is a hands-on farmer of cacao trees. Not long after the establishment of her 4.2-hectare farm, it became a TESDA-accredited farm school due to her hard work.
The development of InPhase EcoFarm was not a piece of cake. The farm gained its name ‘InPhase’ because the farm was built phase by phase based on the availability of Beduya’s budget. She also believes that choosing cacao as their main crop keeps them on the right track, therefore, ‘in phase’ with many things.
Work fueled by love and genuine passion
Farming, in a way, is a passion and a dream come true for this 46-year-old farmer. Recalling her childhood where her love for farming stems from, she said: “I used to accompany my grandmother on her farm and since then, I enjoyed nature. I enhance my very little knowledge in farming by attending different training and seminars.” She expounded, “training and hands-on implementation of the knowledge acquired as well as keen observation, true passion, and love” were the driving forces that led her into farming.
At present, InPhase EcoFarm produces cacao, banana, coconut, and some vegetables like lettuce. Cacao, the main crop, is harvested weekly alongside other crops like bananas. Some of the cacao varieties that they grow are W10, UF18, and BR25. With regards to maintaining cacao trees, they allot a certain schedule in applying natural fertilizers and concoctions that they also produce using farm output. They harvest most of the leafy vegetables every month except for the kinds of veggies that require collection every three days. Most importantly, Beduya ensures that their products are chemical-free.
Earning a living from farm products and training
InPhase EcoFarm supplies fresh produce to local restaurants. They sell the lettuce at P250 per kilo, while other vegetables are priced from P30 to P60 per kilo. Fermented cacao beans are available at P210 per kilo. For value-added goods, they have tablea chocolates that they either supply to restaurants and resellers or add to their pasalubong or souvenir packages offered to farm guests.
Today, Beduya earns a net income of P40,000 from the farm products, excluding the profit from their farm training. Since they also consume some of the harvests, they save P8,000 a month in food expenses.
The farm’s major problem is typhoons. Thankfully, cacao, according to Beduya, is one resilient crop. With the help of TESDA’s Organic Agriculture Production NC II training, Beduya and her farmhands know the process of creating natural fertilizers, concoctions, and livestock feeds, which they apply on the farm regularly.
Speaking of farmhands, the majority of their employees are among the graduates of their Cacao Production and Organic Farming training. Other help also comes from scholars who need financial support to continue their studies.
In cacao farming, Beduya shared that being hands-on is necessary to understand this type of business, livelihood, or hobby. Since cacao takes years to bear fruit, she suggests planting other fast-growing crops like leafy vegetables to generate an income while waiting for the cacao trees to ripen. Most of all, she emphasized that one must be passionate enough to pursue cacao farming, whether as a business or a hobby, to overcome the challenges that it entails.
Just like how Mother Earth gives life to many living things, a mother’s love can conquer any hurdles as long as it’s for their children. And stories like Beduya’s are great examples in doing what is right: protect lives, communities, and space we’re inhabiting.
Photos courtesy of InPhase EcoFarm.
For more information, Visit InPhase EcoFarm.