Following a devastating accident that not only cost him his arm but also tragically claimed his son’s life, Zaldy C. Salvacion of La Fortuna, Veruela, Agusan del Sur, showcased an inspiring display of resilience. He returned to rice farming, becoming a beacon of strength for his community. 

Through his unwavering determination and with the support of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Seed Program, he not only led his community but also helped them elevate their lives.

RCEF partnered with the Abutanon Irrigators Association (AIA), in which Zaldy is its president, in distributing certified inbred rice seeds.

“I want to ensure that my fellow farmers, especially those with disabilities, are provided with equitable access and opportunities in government programs,” he said.

Under RCEF’s PalaySikatan, a technology demonstration initiative, Zaldy and his fellow rice farmers were introduced to yield-increasing and cost-reducing production technologies including certified seeds of modern inbred rice varieties, pest and nutrient management practices, and farm machinery. 

“I am thankful for the free certified seeds and farm machinery introduced to us as our planting costs were reduced by 70%. I used to hire at least 10 farm laborers to manually transplant. From around P8,000, I only spent P2,500 when I used a walk-behind mechanical transplanter from the techno demo,” he said. 

He was also able to reduce his seeding rate to 40kg/ha after learning about its science, and hopes that all farmers in their community will follow the recommended practice.  

Under his leadership, AIA received the Most Outstanding Irrigators Association award in 2022 from the National Irrigation Administration in Caraga. They received a P1.3- million livelihood project and P50,000 cash.

They were also recognized for maintaining the cleanest irrigation canal, improving their fixed assets, and maintaining a board of trustees with 100% attendance and approval.

With RCEF, the 58-year-old farmer-leader believes he has found new strength in farming despite his limitations.

“In the ambulance, I remembered holding my injured son with my right hand while enduring the pain in my left arm. He died four days after the accident. I attended his funeral even when I wasn’t fully healed…. The association, and these programs helped me recover. Most importantly, it made me believe in myself again,” he said.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute