Motivation. The story of Ailene Labastida
Mindanao-a land of abundance, a land of opportunity. Yet most of its people are in extreme poverty. In a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority released in January 28, 2020, 17 out 100 households in Region 10, which includes the provinces of Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Camiguin, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental, are poor. The region’s poverty incidence is 17.2% although this is lower than the national poverty incidence of 21.9%. Among the most vulnerable sector is agriculture. With limited entrepreneurial capacity, farmers always fell victim to unfair trading practices, and from the groups of people who profit from the ignorance of others.
There are farmers, however, that despite the odds, wanted to change their lives and make it better. The story Ailene Labastida from Misamis Oriental is an example.
Ailene is not new to adlai farming. She and her family planted adlai because of the promise of a better income. Adlai was introduced to her by an organization from Bukidnon. The municipality of Claveria in Misamis Oriental is about 4 hour drive from Bukidnon where Ailene’s buyer was based. She used to deliver all her produce in Bukidnon. Although she was paid a better price, she needs to shoulder all the delivery expenses and has to wait for 6 months before she got paid. Ailene wanted to give up because of this unfair trading practices, but because there is no other crop that provides her with better income, she continuously plant adlai.
Mature Adlai Ready for Harvest
When the Municipal Agriculture’s Office of Claveria learned of Ailene’s problems, they referred her to T2G in the hope that the corporation will absorb Ailene’s produce. The introduction was timely because GlowCorp during that time was looking for adlai. This gives T2G an idea to venture into adlai trading and marketing.
After T2G examined the quality of Ailene’s adlai, they decided to visit the community where Ailene resides. Going to the community is never easy. Claveria and its barangays are located in one of the highest elevations in Misamis Oriental. Barangay roads are paved with sand and gravel, some are unpassable during rainy season.
Ailene’s available well dried adlai was bought by T2G. She received the Php200,000 payment on the spot. This outright payment transaction caught her unprepared because she never expected that her adlai will be paid without spending for delivery expenses, compared to her previous transactions that she has deliver it to Bukidnon and has to wait for another 6 months before getting paid. With only Php30,000 expenses for her 1.5 hectares adlai farm, Ailene generated a net income of Php170,000 for one cropping. Translated to an annual income, she would earn at least Phpp340,000 net income for 2 croppings in a year.
“To see is to believe”. Most people will not believe in anything unless they see or experience it. This mental attitude is common to all, including farmers in Claveria. The story of Ailene receiving Php200,000 right at her doorstep caught the attention of other farmers in the community. According to Joel Zamayla, President of T2G, Ailene receiving such amount for her produce was the first time for any farmer in the community. Motivated by the success of Ailene, 10 farmers from the community who availed of the ACPC Agri-Negosyo Loan Program ventured into adlai production. In August 2020, Ailene again sold Php200,000 worth of adlai grains to T2G, providing her a net income of Php175,000 since she only spend Php25,000 as production cost for her 1.5 hectares. The news spread in the whole community and as a result, more farmers are now engaged in adlai production. The promise of a better income has changed their regards to the lowly and unknown adlai.
Adlai Grains Ready for Harvest
Prime Organics Adlai, a rice and corn substitute.
Access to better markets
Trunk to Gold (T2G) is responsible in consolidating the adlai of farmers in Claveria. Seeing the growing appetite of Filipinos on healthy products, T2G encouraged farmers to plant more adlai. According to Mr. Zamayla, the production of adlai is an opportunity for T2G to diversify their sources of income. But this also encourage farmers to eat healthier foods while offering them alternative sources of better income compared to corn and rice.
T2G is supported by the Global Organic and Wellness Corporation (GlowCorp) in promoting adlai in the mainstream markets. GlowCorp buys most of T2G’s adlai and packed it into 1kg and 500grams using its Prime Organics brand. Prime Organics adlai is already available in selected outlets of Puregold, Rustans, Waltermart and in GlowCorp’s online stores in Lazada and Shopee.