Right after graduating from high school, Andrew “Andoy” Pelomeo, going thirty one (31) years old this year, dreamt of seeking his future in the city to study Electronics Technology. But poverty stopped him from pursuing this dream. At the age of 17, he began work in the small farm of his father and worked as a caretaker of his uncle’s farm to earn a few bucks more. Andoy became a family man when he was 20 and raised his family through an average income of Php 1,000.00 to 1,500.00 per month until he became part of the AFOS Foundation’s OURFood Project in 2014.
Throughout those years, farming technology for Andoy was crude, copying only from the practices of other farmers in Canlaon- a vegetable growing area in Negros Oriental. “Chamba-chamba kag Mato-mato” an Ilonggo term for “hit or miss” was how he described his farming experience. As a caretaker of his uncle’s farm, he learned how to apply pesticides as the only means that is guaranteed to drive out pests. However, this took a toll on Andoy’s health after using yellow-label pesticides and cocktails in a haphazard manner.
Andoy became part of the OURFood Project in 2014 as a member of the tribal group located in the uplands of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. As a young farmer, Andoy was among those who was dedicated and committed to learn about farming. He went through all the trainings in Good Agriculture Practice, Monitoring and Documentation, Organic Farming, Costing and Pricing and How to deal with Buyers until he became a consolidator handling twenty (20) collective farmers in his area.
After the OURFood Intervention, the landscape of Andoy’s farm changed and more significantly, his family income has increased by 300% to 500% during the peak season. Production has increased by 70% to 80%. Andoy attributes the increase in production to the application of proper farming technology. From open field seed beds, he now has his own rain shelter and protected nursery that safeguard his crops from heavy rains and pests. Since his area is without electricity, Andoy has invested on a few solar panels to provide light for his family at night. In 2016, through a partnership with the Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation, one of the institutional buyers working with AFOS OURFood partner, Association of Negros Producers (ANP), Andoy was among the farmers who received farm inputs and supplies of farm materials for his rain shelter.
Through the Market development program of the ANP for OURFood farmers, Andoy and his farm cluster are now directly selling to bigger markets and institutional buyers where they get more premium prices for their crops as compared to the traditional markets where the traders , known as “compradors” control the prices and earn more than the farmers. The potentials of Andoy have gone beyond being a farmer and consolidator as is he is now nationally certified in Organic Agriculture Production by the Philippine Technical Education & Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and is an accredited trainor of the ANP-Foundation for Enterprise Development, Inc. All these Andoy achieved through the training interventions of AFOS Foundation’s OURFood Project. Andrew Pelomeo as certified and accredited trainor was part of the training team of
OURFood Agri Technicians who extended their training services to 180 farmer beneficiaries under the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The OURFOOD Legacy cannot just be quantified by the funding support. It is a partnership program that taught all the partners including the smallholder farmers in investing the right amount in the right areas. It has taught us how to change our state of mind and approach to countryside development. There is hope for Philippine Agriculture to survive but there is a lot of work to be done together by government and the private sector.
Story by Marivic Rio, OURFood Coordinator for Negros Occidental