Palayan City is home to two of Nueva Ecija’s prime products—Blast (calamansi juice drink) and Palaman –C (calamansi jam). Apart from these citrus-based items, Palayan is also the home of a family members' whose interest in agriculture was embedded early on in their bloodline. Each one believes that farming is made easier when everyone in the family works together.
Most farmers are born while some are made. The Perlas family, from Brgy. Aulo, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, is a testament to the latter. Born in Rizal, Mr. Ernesto P. Perlas, Sr., or Jun to his friends, was a telecommunication technician before he became a farmer. His better half, Mrs. Josephie B. Perlas, a registered nurse turned farmer is now a proud member of the Volunteer Leaders Association of the Philippines (VLAP). They have successfully run their seven-hectare land by also giving each of their four sons a role to play. The second , Ernesto, Jr., is currently the president of Brgy. Aulo, Palayan City's 4-H club while his two younger brothers are members.
Upon returning to the Philippines after working as an OFW abroad, Sir Jun chose to venture into farming. He accepted this new challenge after attending various trainings offered by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Central Luzon.
“ I joined trainings on growing rice, corn, and vegetables as well as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) on corn, fruits and vegetables. I sincerely thank ATI for the learnings I acquired, which I gladly share to my co-barangay members. Likewise share what I’ve learned as a Local Farm Technician (LFT) to my fellow farmers here in Palayan City,” describers sir Jun.
"As a farmer, the impact of these trainings were clearly seen when my income increased. From 80 cavans, our fields now yield 120 cavans of rice per hectare per year . Moreover, my children were able to finish their studies thanks to agriculture, adds Sir Jun.
The family that plants together, learns together and wins awards together
Ernesto Jr., or simply J.R to his friends, was given a chance to learn about livestock production in Japan for 11 months last 2015. His goal was to apply everything he learned once he is back home.
“It is a joy to share my knowledge especially to kids who do nothing in the barangay so they won’t cause trouble in the neighborhood. In addition, I hope agriculture can help change people’s perception about the youth for the better, explains J.R.
Mrs. Josephine, on the other hand, has attended a number of trainings conducted by the center for women and VLAP members. She wishes to guide the youth, especially the 4-H in Brgy. Aulo, and to encourage them to take part in the activities of the club.
Furthermore, the Perlas family has also been chosen as this year’s Gawad Saka Regional Outstanding Farm Family awardee.
Due to various invitations from other agencies to serve as resource speaker on rice, corn, and fruits and vegetable production, Sir Jun’s time to manage their land has become limited. Nevertheless, he is still grateful for the opportunity to share his knowledge. In moments like these, he can rely on his son J.R. to take over and run the farm. As to funds needed to maintain operations, he submits proposals to the Municipal Agriculture Office for financial support. Also, his land is being used as a Farmer Field School site during Training of Trainers (TOTs) and other trainings.
Advocating for renewable source of energy
“As an electronic and telecommunication technician, I've found that using solar panels here at home is a big help in saving a lot of money on electricity. I hope that my fellow farmers, especially in places with no electric power can adopt this. Although the initial capital to install solar panel is quite expensive, the benefits are long-term," reveals Sir Jun.
His advocacy includes giving free consultations on the use of solar panels and gladly helping anyone who wishes to assemble their own.
In the near future, the Perlas family intends to expand their land so it can become a farm tourism site someday. At the moment, because of their participation in the projects of ATI, their farm was chosen as one of the new Learning Sites in Central Luzon.
Inspiring other farmers
“Always try to learn new things. Don’t look at the now, but look into the future. Always think long-term because today will pass. The future may still be far ahead but with the ingenuity of Filipinos, we can go and achieve more," encourages sir Jun.
Indeed, Palayan City is blessed to have the Perlas family around, for not all go beyond the call of duty, especially in the community. May their story inspire others to see opportunities, and not just challenges, in agriculture. SCODaquio