Who am I? I am Cherry Ann Dumahin-Tapec, 26, a Science Research Specialist I and Business Development Division Coordinator of Philippine Rice Research Institute (Isabela Branch). I belong to the Ifugao tribe of the famous 2000-year old Ifugao Rice Terraces. My parents migrated to another province for better opportunities, leaving behind the terraces. I aspire to be an entrepreneur since I am an Agribusiness graduate. I have more than 4 years experience in Agricultural Research, Development, and production. I believe in agripreneurship for long term development and sustainability of the community. I believe that if monetary incentive will be realized in tending the rice terraces, the Ifugaos will not abandon or migrate to urban areas, leaving the aging farmers behind.
When I went to Ifugao–in my parents’ hometown — I was happy to see improvement on roads and abundance of materials needed to be processed, but there is no financial capital. The remittances of overseas Filipino workers’, net income of farmers go to their children who study outside the province. Majority of the farmers cannot buy machines for the advancement of their rice production, they wait patiently for their turn to hire the limited number of machines in the locality or do their activities painstakingly manual-like foot trampling.
I am moved; I asked myself how many people think about the aging Ifugao farmers? How many researchers want to seek for their advancement? How many entrepreneurs would like to invest in Ifugao without exploiting the environment? What can I do to help them or do they really need my help?
That’s who I am.
What is my project idea? I want to buy 1 microtiller and 1 micromill to establish an enterprise for Rice Terraces Mechanization Services as soon as possible. I want to organize farmer-beneficiaries with officers to operate, take care of the machines’ repair and maintenance, collect and keep payment, recording the activities, and growing the net income time-deposited in a cooperative bank as savings for future bigger projects.
The target families will be around 100 who use an average of 10 liters of gasoline to prepare their rice paddies. The rental rate will be Php200/L used (baseline data). The equivalent US dollar rate is $42 or Php2,000. Currently, the number of microtillers in the area cannot serve efficiently the need of the farmers added by the long travel time from one column of terraces to another, steep terrain, and physical condition of operators and carriers. The farmer with small area needs to wait until all the bigger area owners are served- a very heart wrenching reality.
If only there are more machines for land preparation, the small terrace farmers’ seedlings will not wait for one month to be planted, and be late for the timing of planting rice. Their yield will not be reduced for their families’ needs, and they will not be discouraged–motivating their children to work outside the province or abroad.
From the target 100 beneficiaries, the projected Gross Income from the operation of the two machines will be Php200,000 in a cropping season of 6 months. Fifty percent of it (Php100,000) will be paid to operators and manual carriers, thirty percent (Php60,000) will be for fuel, repair, and maintenance expense. The twenty percent (Php40,000) will be projected as the Net Income from the services and will be saved in a cooperative bank, which offers 3% quarterly time-deposit interest rate. The projected Php40,000 saved money will become Php126,220.35 after 2 cropping season (based on Appendix 1 computations).
The farmers’ productivity and skills are expected to increase, as well as their confidence and reliance with each other as encouraged by the monitoring team (proponent, assigned Local Government Unit-Agricultural Technician) to do bigger projects. The proponent believes that within a year, the member-beneficiaries will believe in her that they can start processing local materials (uncontaminated) such as fallen forest tree leaves, banana leaves, weeds, among others into organic fertilizer for the growing demand in the Philippines. They will be motivated to build dryers fitted in the area and gravity ropeways to haul their machine, products or their selves from the main road to their terraces and vice versa.
What motivates me? I believe this is the best gift I could do to my parents’ hometown and as an Ifugao for the meantime, because I don’t have the huge financial capacity needed to build an enterprise there. I have my youth, creative ideas, and faith that someone will help me help them. I will gain more confidence and passion through this project to continue seek ways in enterprise building for the under priority areas like Ifugao.
What will the community gain? The publication of this proposal alone has a positive impact to the indigenous community. Aside from the easier land preparation of farmers, shorter waiting time, increase in productivity, and saving money for other projects, this is a story of an agripreneur who wants to serve the needs of the Ifugao community. Someone cares for the Ifugao farmers who are now aging and irk as they lift the stone pestle to de-hull rice for consumption. This will awaken the younger generation to act on profitable ideas that could encourage them to stay, nurture the culture, maintain the rice terraces that WE Filipinos have been and will always be known globally.
What actions have I taken for the realization of the goal? After conceptualizing what I want as a researcher, I made a personal journey to Ifugao province and conducted preliminary research. When I went home, I made my first blog (cadtapec.blogspot.com), and drafted proposals for future funding. While searching for related literatures about my ideas, I stumbled to the blog.gfar.net, which really made me excited.
If given the prize, I will instantly call my contact person to initially organize the beneficiaries, prepare the documents needed, procure and deliver the machines, conduct training to the beneficiaries then start the operation of the enterprise. Monitoring, documenting, and reports will be submitted to the funding organization. The assigned officers will be accompanied by me to open their savings account. I will avail myself for the technical assistance they need until other projects will be realized. I want to live in Ifugao to realize the enterprises I want to establish. I know it will be hard but I am preparing for it.
Our measurement of success? The actual measurable success factors are a.) Php 40, 000 and above net income for one cropping season, b.) Increase farmers’ productivity versus baseline information, c.) Increase service area with outstanding farmers’ feedback from service provided, and d.) Other projects ventured from the seed capital.
Proposed line-item budget? Given the $5000 prize money I will spend it as follows:
Procurement of machine and delivery. The machines are estimated to cost Php 80,000 or $1,680. The machines will be bought from Philippine Rice Research Institute.
Mobilization of project coordinator. This will cost Php 50,000 or $1,050 to cover expenses of the project coordinator and assistant who lives in another province that will conduct briefing, training, monitoring and technical assistance during the initial establishment of the project.
Representation expense. The amount is Php 50,000 or $1,050. This includes snacks, meals, others during briefing, training, and meetings.
Organizing an Enterprise. The amount is Php 20,000 or $420. This includes taxes, licenses, and other fees to be paid.
Fuel, repair and maintenance. The amount is Php 20,000 or $420. This will be an operating expense for the initial start up of the enterprise.
Other services/supplies. The amount needed is Php 18,000 or $380. This will be agreed upon the members on what are the other things urgently needed in the operation of the enterprise. This will also serve as contingency to cover unexpected expenses.
In this part of the Philippines, mechanization will not replace human effort. It will aid, enhance, and empower the limited number of willing hands and hearts to continue tending and preserving the rice terraces.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Cherry Ann Dumahin-Tapec (Philippines) – cadtapec[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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