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Inspired to inspire

Joselito ‘Joel’  Cabanayan, a Farmer Led Extensionist of Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya, was inspired by his father-in-law to engage in farming. “Na-challenge ako sa biyenan ko dahil outstanding corn farmer siya,” Joel revealed. As newlyweds with limited resources, Joel and his wife, Elizabeth, cultivated a hectare of land through tenancy in 1995. There, they grew eggplant and bittergourd and did backyard hog raising.

After a decade the landowner decided to mortgage the farm to Joel for P 60,000. As the new temporary owner, Joel shifted from vegetable growing to corn farming. The following year, he was able to acquire the property.  “Dahil may kaunting pera mula sa gulayan at babuyan, nakabili rin ako ng sarili kong lupa,” he proudly shared.

Corn farming was new to Joel because he was raised in Nueva Ecija where he was exposed to rice and onion farming. “Lumapit ako sa Municipal Agriculture Office at nagtanong-tanong ako ng mga seminar,” Joel recalled.

In 2006, he was chosen by the municipal agriculture office to become a farmer extensionist because of his active participation in different activities and trainings of the office.

Learn and teach

“Kung anong technology ang ibinigay ng Department of Agriculture (DA), yun din ang ipapasa ko sa mga kapwa ko farmers. Hindi ko rin ipinagdadamot ang mga grasya galing sa DA,” Joel described.

The Farmer Led Extension program is a strategy of the Department of Agriculture for technology transfer. According to Joel, his major task as FLE partner is to offer his farm to become a technology demonstration site. He is also a learning site partner of the Agricultural Training Institute – Regional Training Center 02 (ATI- RTC II).

“Kapag production season na ng mais, madalas marming tao dito. Napupuno ang kubo lalo ng kapag may training at Farmers’ Field School ang ATI,” he said.
“Hindi ako humuhinto sa pagpapalaganap… Hindi ko ipinagdadamot ‘yung kaalaman ko para mapataas din ang ani ng kapwa ko magsasaka.  Kasi noon, napakababa talaga ng ani dito, pero noong may mga makabagong technology na dito, tumaas na rin,” he happily added. “Kapag nagtagal nga ako sa kwentuhan, ikinukumpara ako ni misis sa isang kandidato,” he quipped.
 
According to Joel, becoming an effective farmer extensionist means testing first the technology before deciding if it is worth sharing or not. Even private companies are partnering with Joel for the demonstration of their new products.

“As farmer leader, tumulong ka rin sa kapwa mo magsasaka na maiangat ang pamumuhay nila,” he proudly said.

Harvest season  

Joel usually yields an average of 180-200 bags of corn per hectare but also experienced harvesting 302 bags from his one-hectare farm once. “Nalulungkot na ako kapag bumaba sa 150 ang aking inani,” he shared.

Through corn farming, Joel and Elizabeth managed to build their own house, buy farm machines, and send their three children to school. Their eldest, Jolly Beth, is now a licensed veterinarian, and their middle child, Jozelito, is an Information Technology graduate, while their youngest, Jury Jubet, is currently in highschool.

At present, Joel is renovating their house to include a second floor which will serve as a view deck to his cornfields. “Dati inaakyat ko yung puno ng ilang-ilang para makita ang mga mais na kulang sa tubig at abono. Ngayon, hindi na ako mahihirapan dahil may second floor na ang bahay ko,” he merrily shared.

According to him, his secret to success as a corn farmer is the use of the latest technologies. “Kapag may makita akong bangong technology, ina-adopt ko kaagad,” the 50-year old farmer revealed.

At present, the latest innovation in his farm is the double raw planting technique. This technology optimizes land-use efficiency and productivity and is being applied to the 11-hectare corn field he manages for different owners. He now applies this technology to the 11-hectare corn field he manages from different owners.

Unending inspiration

“Minsan ibinububukas ko ang aking gulayan sa mga tao rito. Inaalok ko silang pumitas ng gulay. Ang gusto ko ma-realize nila na kung kaya kong magtanim at umani ng gulay ay kaya rin nila.”

“Maging inspirasyon ka sa kapwa mo. Para makatanggap din sila ng mga pagkilala gaya ko,” Joel emphasized.

Joel is a recipient of numerous awards in corn farming and extension works. Recently, he received the Gawad Saka Award for being the Outstanding Corn Farmer nationwide.

At this time, it’s Joel’s turn to inspire the next outstanding farmer.