Celebrating our everyday heroes

Eli Espinas (EWS)

In celebration of Farmers and Fisherfolks Month, East-West Seed shines a spotlight on its three outstanding farmer-heroes by showcasing their stories of hard work and dedication in making a difference and shaping the landscape of vegetable farming in the Philippines.

Join us as we walk you through their journey and their secrets in becoming the successful farmers they are today. It is East-West Seed’s hope that these stories will ignite your interest to learn more about the field and inspire more people into taking action towards building a sustainable future through farming.

Cultivating the love of farming from childhood

The love for farming came naturally for Albert Rosillo, a 46-year-old farmer from Sitio Tab-ang, Brgy. Kilim, Baybay City, Leyte. At an early age, he learned the importance of farming through his father, who worked as an agriculture professor at the Visayas State University.

“Unlike kids my age, I usually spent weekends waking up early and going to our rice farm with my father. There, I appreciate the hard work that our farmers are putting in to produce food,” he recalls.

Moved by the farmers’ passion, he took a course in agribusiness and worked as a farm technician in private and government entities. Years later, his experience and knowledge as a farm technician came into hand as he took over his family’s 9,000sqm farm, which he turned into a vegetable farm and named after his first son, Basti.

Fast forward to 2023, Basti’s farm simultaneously grows East-West Seed’s Jackson cucumber, Mayumi bottle gourd, Macho corn, Galaxy ampalaya, Bongga sitaw, and Makisig sitaw. “Multicropping offers multiple streams of income and it is where farming can become sustainable in the long run,” he shares.

While each crop is sold at different prices, Albert estimates earnings of approximately 200%-300% where most are spent to further improve and expand his plantation. Throughout the years, he has added farm structures like greenhouse tunnels to protect his vegetables from pests, soil diseases, and disasters which are frequent in his area.

Because of his good practices in farming, he was recognized by the Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Training Institute, Visayas State University, and Leyte’s Local Government Unit as an outstanding vegetable farmer.

Soon, he plans to venture into hydroponics, yet in the meantime, he makes sure to give back to the community by helping his fellow farmers understand the right seeds, fertilizers, and technologies they can use to grow their crops. He also opens his farm as a learning site for students and other farmers from neighboring provinces who want to visit and learn from him.

Like his father, he trains his three children in farming. “Food is a basic necessity and we have no food if we do not farm. As a father, I would like to cultivate my children’s passion for farming, just like how my father planted a seed in me,” he shares.

Inspiring other women to take action

At the age of 63, there is no stopping Carmen Lumahang Paredo from planting vegetables and inspiring other women in Brgy. Pagatpat, Cagayan de Oro City to grow their own food.

“It is my happiness to produce clean and fresh food for my family and this is why I encourage a lot of women and mothers to start by planting in containers and gardens if they have little or no land at all,” she explains.

Apart from taking care of her six children and four grandchildren, she leads a busy life as a farmer. She tends her one-hectare vegetable farm, which she normally plants with East-West Seeds’ tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, eggplants, and corn varieties.

On the side, she produces compost and other organic fertilizers for her farm’s consumption and as another product that she sells for Php200 per sack to other farmers and gardeners. By efficiently utilizing organic and non-organic fertilizers for her farm, the Department of Agriculture has awarded a Good Agricultural Practice certificate to her and her farm.

But not only does she is recognized as an experienced farmer, she is also a constant farmer leader in her town. In 2015, she actively participated in the formation of a farmers’ market where women farmers like her can sell their produce every time they harvest. At the same time, she has served as a farmers’ coordinator in a local agricultural and fisheries council for several years.

During and post-pandemic, she found online selling as another viable way of marketing her vegetables. Through time, she was able to build her online network and help other women farmers’ sell their vegetables.

“I cannot and will never stop farming as long as I live. It is my dream that everyone – be it men, women, and children will be able to grow their own food and sustain their needs through vegetable farming,” she shares.

As a result of her dedication and willingness to help other farmers, Carmen and members of the women’s group in their community are granted by the Mindanao University of Science and Technology with the special project of starting a hydroponics farm in their village.

Rekindling his passion for farming

A professional seaman, 39-year-old Eliasar Espinas, decided to leave his prestigious career to become a farmer. His dream of becoming a vegetable farmer stems from his desire to follow his parents’ path.

“In high school, I planted lettuce in a small portion of my parent’s farm and I was so happy to see that they have grown. Since then, I knew that I will always get back to farming whatever happens,” he shares.

True enough, he used his profession as a stepping stone to reach his dream. After working as a seaman for six years, he was able to plant 5,000 hills of Diamante Max tomatoes within his 10-hectare land at Sitio Sap-ak, Brgy. Sudlon 1, Cebu City.

His first harvest gave him huge returns, which he used to diversify into other crops such as Emperor sweet pepper, Vulcan hot pepper, Lava hot pepper, Lega C cucumber, Mestisa bitter gourd, and Galaxy Max bitter gourd, all of which were grown using East-West Seed’s quality seeds.

But like most farmers, he was not exempt from experiencing struggles and losses. In 2021, Typhoon Odette hit Cebu City, leaving him with no crops for sale or consumption. Despite feeling devastated, he chose to plant again. This time, he formed a sturdy trellis on which his vegetable plants can anchor.

“You cannot be called a farmer if you give in to problems in farming. A farmer suffers losses, yet he continues because it is only through planting that he can regain what was lost,” he explains.

His vegetables are distributed in the wet market and grocery stores of mainland Cebu and other neighboring towns and provinces. At the same time, he established an agricultural supply store where he also provides free assistance and consultation for other farmers.

In the future, he dreams of becoming more sustainable and efficient by converting his farm into an integrated one. In the meantime, he is contented with what he has achieved and for a happy life together with his wife and kid — dreams that would not be possible if not because of farming.

Albert, Carmen, and Eli are among East-West Seed’s Top 100 Farmer-Heroes who were recognized for their successes in the field of vegetable farming.

For over 40 years, East-West Seed Philippines continues to empower Filipino farmers gain better yields and income by providing high-quality vegetables seeds and imparting knowledge in better farming practices. It is the company’s pride to support these successful farmers in continuing their journey and inspiring more people in choosing vegetable farming for their career and livelihood.

Together, they constitute the backbone of a healthy and sustainable Philippines!

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Yvette Tan
Yvette Tan is Agriculture magazine's managing editor’s web editor. She is an award-winning writer who likes to eat, travel, and listen to stories about the strange and supernatural. She is dedicated to encouraging people to push for sustainable food sources and is an advocate of food security, food sovereignty, and the preservation of community foodways.

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