Farming family reaps success from mechanized, innovative farming

November 15, 2019

Left photo: Now heavily involved in the family business, Arjay Vasquez encouraged his father to invest in mechanization. Right Photo: Husband and wife Romeo and Josefa Consuelo Vasquez showcase their innovative farming technique of growing seeds on trays before they are transplanted to the prepared field.

Born to a landless tenant farmer in San Mateo, Isabela, Romeo Vasquez was determined to improve his life. He worked odd jobs to support himself through college, eventually earning an Agricultural Engineering Degree from the Central Luzon State University. After graduation, he worked double jobs in Manila as sales representative for a fertilizer company and as a jeepney driver at night.

Then with a growing family of his own, he saved all his extra earnings and commissions to buy farm lots. But in 1986, he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his left leg, which had to be amputated. Although his doctor gave him a small chance of complete recovery from the cancer, Romeo refused to give in and instead worked harder for his family.

While he remained employed in the fertilizer company, he started cultivating his one-hectare palay farm in his native San Mateo. However, the year 1991 dealt him with both a blessing and a setback – his doctor pronounced him cancer-free, but the fertilizer company he was working for closed down. This prompted him to go back to his farm and, with an additional two hectares mortgaged by local farmers, he created R.S. Vasquez Enterprises as a full-time palay trading, rice milling, and seed production business.

Seeking to make quality rice accessible to ordinary consumers, they created their own Mestizo Rice variety, which became sought-after not only in Isabela, but also in neighboring provinces and in Metro Manila. The business gradually expanded, especially after the Land Bank of the Philippines provided credit lines in 2004, which the couple partly used to supply neighboring farmers with their own seed variety for free. In return, the farmers would sell them their harvest.


Technology-enabled farming

His son, Arjay Rusell, who has been involved in the farm since 2012, encouraged Romeo to invest on mechanization and made sure that the company adopted the latest in rice production technologies. Romeo regularly attended agriculture-related training courses and linked up with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for technical assistance and continuing skills training, which exposed him to various agricultural innovations.

R. S. Vasquez Enterprises also began the production of seeds grown in plastic trays containing combined pulverized soil and organic matter. The seedlings are regularly watered before being transplanted to the prepared field using mechanical transplanters. Because of these innovations, the DA named Engr. Vasquez as National Consultant in hybrid rice promotion to teach farmers proper farm waste management, inter-cropping, and other good practices in agribusiness. He has also won various awards through the years, including the Agricultural Entrepreneur Gold Award in The Outstanding Farmers of the Philippines in 2013 and the 3rd place under the Outstanding SME Agri-based Category of the LANDBANK Gawad SME 2018.

The business has since then become a family affair, with their sons on top of introducing the latest farming technologies. They now farm several hectares of land and also advocate farm mechanization by helping set up mechanized farm learning centers that teach proper land preparation, farm site development, and irrigation.

The Enterprise has also generated more than 80 jobs for the community through its palay trading, seeds production, goat raising, and vegetable production businesses. They recently opened a new agricultural supply business, where they also offer free consultancy on palay production activities and agricultural inputs.


Affordable Financing

LANDBANK remains aggressive in providing credit support to farmers like Romeo Vasquez, in pursuit of its drive to help more farmers and fishers boost their production and increase their income.

“As we make direct financing available to more small farmers and fishers nationwide, we also strongly encourage them to invest on mechanization and adopt other agricultural technologies, as this will significantly decrease production cost and improve their harvest,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo.

LANDBANK helps small farmers to engage in mechanization through its various credit programs. These include the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), which helps small farmers and fishers (SFF), their cooperatives and associations, as well as Micro and Small Enterprises, in their crop production requirements and purchase of agri-machineries, equipment, and facilities.

Another program that LANDBANK implements is the DA-funded Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF), which farmers can tap for their rice production or acquisition of rice farm equipment or machinery.  This is available to rice farmers registered in the Registry System on Basic Sectors in Agriculture or RSBSA, and to DA-accredited cooperatives.

The ACEF Lending Program and ERCA-RCEF now have interest rates fixed at only 2% per annum to make them more affordable for small farmers.

The Bank also standardized at 5% per annum the interest rates for most of its direct lending programs for SFFs. These include the Accessible Funds for Delivery to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (AFFORD-ARBs) Program, which provides loans to finance production of rice, corn, and high-value crops, as well as the acquisition of small farm implements.

Other Stories

LANDBANK spurs financial independence for OFWs with P2.68-B in loans

Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) continues to strengthen its commitment to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) seeking to permanently return home and achieve financial security through its Overseas Filipino Workers Reintegration Program (OFW-RP). Jointly implemented with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Program aims to enable OFWs to pursue business opportunities in the Philippines as an alternative to overseas employment. As of March 2024, LANDBANK has approved a total of P2.68 billion in loans to 1,504 borrowers. “We recognize the significant contributions of our OFWs to the economy, and through this Program, we are providing them access to affordable financing and essential support services. We hope to turn their hard-earned savings abroad into thriving businesses here in the Philippines for their families and beneficiaries,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Lynette V. Ortiz. Under the OFW-RP, eligible OFWs may avail of loans for working capital or acquisition of fixed assets at a minimum amount of P100,000 and up to P2 million for a single proprietor borrower, and P5 million for a group of OFW borrowers, with a fixed interest rate of 7.5% per annum. The short-term loans under the Program are payable up to one (1) year, while the tenor for term loans shall be based on cash flow but not to exceed seven (7) years, inclusive of a maximum of two (2) years grace period on the principal. The OFW-RP offers funding for a wide range of viable business ventures, including franchises, agricultural and non-agricultural production and marketing endeavors, construction projects, rental services, trading businesses, and transportation services, among others. Aside from providing access to credit, LANDBANK has also been supporting OFWs by facilitating the efficient delivery of financial support under the social amelioration programs of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). For inquiries and application assistance, interested OFWs may visit the nearest LANDBANK branch or Lending Center, or call our toll-free hotline at 1-800-1-LANDBANK (1-800-1-5263226). ABOUT LANDBANK LANDBANK is the largest development financial institution in the country promoting financial inclusion, digital transformation and sustainable development to benefit Filipinos. The Bank is present in all 82 provinces in the county, committed to providing accessible and affordable financial support to key players and industries as part of its broader thrust of serving the nation.


On the back of record earnings: LANDBANK tops remittance to National Gov’t with P32.119-B in dividends

The Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) has remitted P32.119 billion in cash dividends to the National Government—the highest in the state-run Bank’s history—to support the country’s infrastructure projects and socio-economic programs.  The record-setting contribution, the highest amount remitted among all Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), highlights LANDBANK’s robust financial position after posting an all-time high net income of P40.3 billion in 2023 and year-end capital of P266.8 billion.  LANDBANK officially remitted the P32.119 billion cash dividends to the National Treasury on 30 April 2024, which was recognized during the GOCCs’ Day ceremonial dividends turnover event on 06 May 2024 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, led by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. together with Finance Secretary and LANDBANK Chairman Ralph G. Recto, and other officials. “The solid performance of LANDBANK in 2023 yielded a record-breaking dividend contribution, which will significantly support our people’s growing needs and further stimulate the country's economic growth. This unprecedented amount demonstrates the fiscal discipline that we have instilled in LANDBANK. Credit must be given to LANDBANK’s management team led by PCEO Lynette Ortiz and staff for their hard work and commitment to the nation,” said Finance Secretary and LANDBANK Chairman Recto. “LANDBANK’s unprecedented contribution to the government’s coffers underscores our unwavering commitment to nation-building. We look forward to further advancing the country’s growth trajectory by providing ample funding for priority infrastructure projects and socioeconomic programs,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Lynette V. Ortiz.  President and CEO Ortiz added that the Bank will remain aggressive in serving the growth requirements of the agriculture sector and other key industries, to complement the National Government’s inclusive and sustainable development agenda.  Strong profit growth in Q1 2024 LANDBANK has started the year strong after earning P12 billion in the first three months on the back of increased interest income from loans. The state-run Bank’s net income for the first quarter jumped 11% from P10.8 billion year-on-year, exceeding its P11.3 billion target for the period by 6%.  LANDBANK’s total assets expanded by 5% to P3.3 trillion, driven by robust expansion in loans. The Bank’s deposit base likewise improved by 4% to P2.9 trillion due to increases in government and private deposits.  The Bank’s gross loan portfolio reached P1.5 trillion, marking a 25% increase due to the growth in treasury and commercial loans, primarily channeled towards agribusiness, energy, affordable mass housing, and infrastructure projects. Earlier, the Bank garnered the highest rating for corporate governance among all GOCCs in 2022, with a scorecard of 102.5 from the Governance Commission of GOCCs (GCG), showcasing LANDBANK’s strong corporate governance culture anchored on integrity, transparency, and accountability.  ABOUT LANDBANK LANDBANK is the largest development financial institution in the country promoting financial inclusion, digital transformation and sustainable development to benefit Filipinos. The Bank is present in all 82 provinces in the county, committed to providing accessible and affordable financial support to key players and industries as part of its broader thrust of serving the nation. 


Advancing a circular economy: Poultry farm boosts Romblon’s egg supply with LANDBANK support

With support from LANDBANK, brothers Alex and Raymond Abelido were able to establish Tierra del Sur Farms, Inc., in San Agustin, Romblon, which is currently the largest commercial poultry farm in the province supplying around 54,000 fresh farm white eggs daily. SAN AGUSTIN, Romblon – With its local small-scale poultry farms having limited egg production capacity, this Province mainly relies on imported chicken eggs to fully sustain the daily requirements of consumers, restaurants and other local businesses.     Bulk of Romblon’s egg supply are shipped from other areas in the country, making its supply vulnerable to transportation disruptions caused by adverse weather conditions and other unexpected delays. These constraints were in full display during the previous imposition of lockdown measures and travel restrictions at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Local businessmen and brothers Alex and Raymond Abelido saw this demand-supply gap as an opportunity to establish Tierra del Sur Farms, Inc., a commercial poultry farm to help strengthen local egg production and cut down egg imports.    “Growing Romblon’s poultry production is part of our vision to build a more sustainable food system in Romblon. This is our contribution towards ensuring food security in the province,” said Tierra del Sur Farms President and CEO Alex Abelido.  Branching out from their existing construction business, the Abelido brothers faced the challenge of venturing into agriculture and building the largest poultry farm in the province to-date.  In 2023, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) extended credit assistance amounting to P160 million to re-finance the construction of facilities in their 17-hectare farm in Romblon.  The LANDBANK loan helped put up necessary facilities such as four poultry buildings, as well as feeds and tools warehouses, workers' quarters and an organic fertilizer plant. Part of the loan also supported the acquisition of ready-to-lay chickens and covered the purchase of chicken feeds, among other operational expenses.  Not long after having 25,000 laying hens at the beginning of their operations, Tierra del Sur Farms, Inc. now has around 60,000 laying hens in their Romblon farm producing about 54,000 eggs daily. These eggs are distributed to the different island municipalities of the province, including Tablas Island. Locals are now able to buy eggs at a much cheaper price, with each piece sold at a farm gate price of P7.00 compared to imports that cost around P10.00 per piece. Having locally produced eggs likewise ensures quality and availability in the province, as compared to imported eggs which could take days to reach the province.  Tierra del Sur Farms, Inc. is able to produce over 250,000 eggs daily, distributed in the islands of Romblon and other parts of the country, including Batangas, Rizal, and Manila. With the success of their Romblon poultry farm, Tierra del Sur Farms, Inc. likewise sought the assistance of LANDBANK in expanding their operations to Calatagan, Batangas. They availed a P430-million loan to finance the construction of poultry buildings and support facilities such as an organic fertilizer plant, sewage treatment plant, and warehouses.   The Batangas poultry farm houses around 250,000 laying hens in seven fully automated and mechanized poultry buildings. It produces about 200,000 eggs daily, shipped to various trade partners in Batangas, Rizal, and Manila.  “We would like to thank LANDBANK for its support as we achieve our goals of empowering local communities and ensuring food security. We look forward to their continued support as we plan to expand the reach of our operations even further to neighboring provinces,” said Raymond Abelido, Tierra del Sur Farms, Inc. Corporate Treasurer and manager. As of end-March 2024, LANDBANK’s outstanding loans to the poultry sector has reached P15.5 billion to finance the production of chicken and duck eggs, breeding of poultry, and sale of poultry meat and products, among other projects.  Building a sustainable circular economy  As part of Tierra del Sur Farms, Inc.’s advocacy to operate with minimal ecological footprint, the farm prides itself on employing sustainable methods for waste management to reduce environmental impact and protect natural resources.  Through a sewage treatment plant also financed by LANDBANK, the farm recycles wastewater as drinking water for their chickens, thereby reducing costs and preventing water pollution.  LANDBANK’s assistance likewise enabled the farm to construct an organic fertilizer plant to produce their own fertilizer from chicken manure. These fertilizers are sold to local farmers to help improve soil quality and agricultural production.  Tierra del Sur Farms, Inc. was also recently recognized for the good quality of their fertilizer and tapped by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) through a joint venture to supply organic fertilizer to coconut farmers nationwide. Their new collaboration aims to boost coconut production while promoting proper poultry waste management, as the Abelido brothers work towards making their business more sustainable and self-sustaining.  ABOUT LANDBANK LANDBANK currently operates a total of two Branches in the Province of Romblon, complemented by seven ATMs and one cash deposit machine, to facilitate accessible, convenient, and secure banking services.  LANDBANK is the largest development financial institution in the country promoting financial inclusion, digital transformation and sustainable development to benefit Filipinos. The Bank is present in all 82 provinces in the country, committed to provide accessible and responsive financing to drive the agriculture sector’s productivity and competitiveness, while championing sustainable development in the countryside.