May 29, 2016



Ka Rudy and me by Bayani Bro X

Not a few have wondered where we find our partner farmers. It’s a long-ish funny story. But your best bet is to just ask DAR, cos there are tons of agrarian reform beneficiaries that need market access.

When Bayani Brew reached out to other farmer groups in 2013 outside of GK Enchanted Farm, we cluelessly sought the help of DAR(RIII) which had a database of agrarian reform beneficiaries (subsistence farmers they had distributed land to) in the region. We were then introduced to farmer groups of Dona Remedios Trinidad (DRT), Bulacan.

Equipped only with our messianic complex, we assumed they’d be over the moon to supply us–

But, instead of being excited at the prospect of hundreds of kilos of tanglad and talbos ng camote bought from them at above-market rates, one chairman of agrarian reform beneficiaries, Rudy Enteria of Brgy. Camachile (which has more than 100++ susistence farmers in their brgy alone), spoke up, skeptical than ever, as if I were a nut job.

Chairman Rudy

He said they had no reason to trust this “kid” they didn’t know from Adam, much less a brand they’ve never even heard of that was making these big promises, since “nadal at pinaasa na dati” (promises were broken before)—no less by a famous conglomerate who went there with a full complement of vans asking them to plant cassava for their <bleep>. So all the farmers were ecstatic and hurriedly planted cassava on hundreds of hectares. 6 months had passed, and another, but the conglomerate’s representatives never returned. And all the families in DRT literally ate only cassava for a year.

So when we asked what we could do to gain their trust,  the idea was broached of maybe guaranteeing the first harvest and subsidizing the farm implements (“para magtiwala sila na di namin sila lolokohin o iiwan”), and they would just name the price (since we’ve never done this before and I only had P100 in my pocket). After much rumination, KaRudy looking a bit frazzled (and at this point I was thinking we were completely doomed and I’d have to sell my left kidney)–nervously proposed perhaps P1,000? And with a sigh of relief that this was far from highway robbery, I said ‘heck, we’d quadruple it the next meeting,’ We actually quintupled it feeling oh so generous while breaking a sweat, but I had no idea how to say quintuple dramatically in Filipino and my vocab was limited to “quaquadruplehin ko pa po!” <sabay taas ng hintuturo> (FYI, we likewise included very generous interest-free payment terms— eg 24 month instalments  payable only after the first harvest in 3 months, and if at any moment we discover it’s used for booze, gambling or vices, it would be due and demandable at once—yes, a virtually unenforceable contract we knowingly entered into).

But that small risk paid off, since after only 4 harvests (in less than 5 months), that micro-loan was fully paid, and we were pleasantly surprised to find out he used it to fund a sidecar so he can deliver the hundreds of kilos of tanglad we source from their community.  They now wholly trust Bayani Brew and have been likewise provided organic farming training, the benefits therefrom have also have redounded to their other produce.

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We’ve managed to at least triple the annual income of Ka Rudy and these other agrarian reform beneficiaries which we later on discovered was a measly P2,000 average monthly from their annual harvest of palay and from selling traditional low-value crops (eg ampalaya, talong, sitaw) to Balintawak and/or menacing middlemen for a pittance. But what makes our heart skip a beat is that every time we visit, his hut is noticeably renovated, which he proudly says was built from BB income. Much to our surprise last year during a community visit, the farmers were building a dam sourced from surplus BB income (without them even asking for financing), because they wanted to make sure that they can supply during the summer season and anticipated more demand. More importantly, they said they no longer had to wait for government funding for irrigation promised to them eons ago.

Just recently they were expressing profuse gratitude because this El Nino season, their lone source of income is the indigenous, climate-resilient, perennially-grown crops they supply to us that grow like weed but have so much value, while all their other usual crops and palay have already succumbed to drought.

Ka Rudy’s group is still a far cry from Bayani Brew’s goal of augmenting the income of 1,500 farmers by at least 100% in 5 years and finally making subsistence farmers and their kin’s hand-to-mouth existence a thing of the past. (Segue to  this is where you guys start buying tons and tons of BB so we can hit that target;)

***Ka Rudy still keeps this “contract” in his wallet

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