Written by Mervalyn Oplas-Tomas


He saw the need for change. And he had to start it.

Bernardino Nuñez, National Gawad Saka 2012 awardee, thought that he will forever be magsasaka (farmer) not a magsasako (farm entrepreneur).

Now, his farm is a proof that farmers can harvest enough or even more than enough from a hectare.

The beginning

Nuñez admitted that he did not have any interest in farming although he was raised in a family of farmers. He wanted to finish a degree that is not related to agriculture but his parents did not support him.

His interest in farming was piqued when he got married and had a child. His wife is a farmer’s daughter, and he saw the difficulties his wife had gone through. He thought then that he has to work hard for his family.

Because he did not have enough knowledge in farming, he had to attend every seminar in agriculture he heard about. He considered the seminars as avenue for him to be equipped to become a better farmer.

“I started with using modern varieties, and using better fertilizers,” he said.

Becoming more of him

“Richer farmers are known magsasako,” Nuñez narrated.

Nuñez thought that if he did not change his attitude, he will forever be magsasaka. With his knowledge, through the seminars he attended, he allotted 1,000 m2 with ampalaya (bitter gourd) aside from the rice plants in his 2.5-hectare land.

He borrowed PhP 15,000 from another farmer. From that 1,000 m2, he gained P 48,000 despite the storm that hit his farm. This proved that vegetable farming is a big plus in his rice farm.

“Over time, I learned the right time to plant,” he says. He started planting ampalaya on April so that when June comes, he will harvest it. From his income, he buys what he needed to plant rice.

He decided to make his vegetable farm wider. He planted 4,000 m2 of his land with vegetables. Aside from ampalaya, he added tomatoes, pepper, okra and other vegetables depending on the season.

He also bought a carabao and a cow. The number increased to six when his livestock gave birth.

“I use the manure of these animals as fertilizer; cutting down on my expenses” he said. He was able to save P18,000/ha/cropping by producing his own fertilizers.

Planning and targets

“Knowing the right time, planning, and setting the target income is a good start if we want to have a good income in farming,” Nuñez said.

If there is one thing he hopes for every Filipino farmer, “it is for them to get out of poverty. Because farming does not really mean being poor, or being in debt.”

Today, Nuñez harvests an average of 110 cavans of palay (unmilled rice) per hectare and he has an average net income of P 160,000/ha every 4 months.

There may be a lot of things to do, but the need to be patient, taking one step at a time, is needed if one is to attain success in farming.

There is a process for the grain to be ripened, there is a process until a rice field reaches the time of harvest, and there is a more tedious process for a farmer to earn a lot. But with determination, like Bernardino Nuñez, the average income of farmers in the country can be increased.

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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