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Monday, November 23, 2009

From ‘goats’ to riches: Hardwork, self-help tricks in farm integration




A success story on productivity


Born a farmer's son, it is but natural for Benjamin R. Lao to be keen on farming.


"My first love is farming," said Benjamin, owner of the Lao Integrated Farms, one of the 10 winners in the 2009  Productivity Olympics.  Lao was named Best in Productivity Improvement Program in the Agribusiness Sector for using the formula of integration, research, and a lot of hard work. 


Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D.  Roque   said Lao Integrated Farms was cited for implementing the best agricultural practices that made them highly productive and profitable despite the economic slump. Lao Integrated

Farms also ventured on the production of coco sugar which is a budding industry in the agri-business sector.


Benjamin  Lao owns about 40 hectares of land, parts of which were   inherited from his parents. To transform the barren land into an agricultural haven, he  started reading agricultural magazines and other publications.  He also attended trainings conducted by government agencies like Department of Agriculture, Philippine Coconut Authority, and Department of Science and Technology to learn the basics of farming.


With basic agricultural   knowledge he gained from various trainings and from reading agricultural magazines, he adopted the Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT), a soil conservation technique. He planted his land with various nitrogen-fixing hedgerows like Flemingia macrophylla, Desmodium rensonii, and Indigofera anil, which are good sources of fertilizer being legumes.  Later on, he planted them all over his farm.


Since Lao wanted to practice the principle of organic farming, he thought of adding goats.  He planted all vacant space of the agricultural land and ensured that everything was productive, which is why it is called an integrated farm.


Today, he uses the hedgerows as additional feed for his goats.  He  started with only seven goats and the manure was used as organic fertilizer.  But, he found out there was money in goats, so he opted to increase the number.  Today, he has about 170 goats in his farm. The milk he gets from the goats  was used as ingredient for their homemade Donna Belle durian ice cream. 


Lao is also raising pigs in his farm – about 32 heads.   When he inherited the five-hectare farm, there were already coconut trees growing.  After every three months thereafter, he harvested 400-600 nuts.   And when he planted the nitrogen-fixing legumes, the coconut yield markedly increased to 15,000 nuts per quarter.


To meet the   demand  of the increasing number of customers particularly in Metro Manila, Benjamin adopted  several Productivity Improvement Program (PIP) strategies including  faithful compliance  with Good Agricultural  Practices (GAP) and adherence with  Good Manufacturing  Practices (GMP).  Because of these strategies, the sales of Lao Integrated Farm increased by 50%


"My success highly depends on the cooperation within my family members and my workers.  So I give them the best as  well as  benefits due them.  I always give them training capacity building.  So even though I am political science graduate, I was able to start and maintain this kind of business," said Benjamin.


Lao Integrated Farms was first introduced to the ISTIV (Industrious, Systematic, and Time-conscious Innovative and Value for work) productivity improvement program through the National Wages Productivity Commission and the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board XI.


"The training helped our workers a lot especially in   enhancing working relationships among workers and management," Benjamin explained.


He added that through the NWPC's ISTIV productivity improvement program,  the workers became more industrious   especially when the land was transferred to them and became their own.


"Ninety-seven percent (97%) of the products of the farm is for the income of individual members while only 7% was retained for management or administrative maintenance," Benjamin enthused.  "In the last three years, we have been able to increase our buyers because we have established good image and goodwill with everybody."


Lao  Integrated Farms  and the other Productivity  Olympics awardees   proved that  investments  in productivity programs   can lead to increased profits  and greater competitiveness.

Sec. Roque urged   local  firms  to invest  in  improving their efficiency and production  by enrolling in DOLE productivity programs such as the ISTIV PIP as this will enable  them to compete  and take advantage of the projected  global economic rebound in 2010.


This year's Productivity Olympics winners are:


 Agribusiness  Category :   Lao  Integrated  Farm  (Davao  del  Sur,  Region  XI)  and  Sultan  Kudarat  Muscovado  Farmers  Millers  Corp (Sultan Kudarat, Region XII)  for  Small  enterprises  and AMS  Employees  Fresh Fruitys  Producers  Cooperative  (Davao del Norte,  Region XI)  for   Medium  Enterprises.


Service Category:  New  Prestoza  Machine Works  (La  Union,  Region XI)  for Micro  Enterprises,   Gubat  St.  Anthony  Cooperative  (Sorsogon,  Region V)  for   Small Enterprises,  and  De Vera's  Medical  Center (Isabela,  Region II)  for  Medium  Enterprises)


Industry  Category:  Carlo's  Bamboocraft  and  Furnishing  (Abra,  Car)  and Maruth  Footwear  (Laguna,  Region IV-A)  for   Micro  Enterprises,   Wellmade  Motors  and Development Corp.  (Mandaue, Region VII)  for  Small  Enterprises and Vjandep Bakeshop (Cagayan de Oro,  Region X)  for  Medium Enterprises. 


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