Small-time vendor makes it big in vegetables

4 01 2010

Who would have thought that a small-time fish ball vendor would eventually be her own boss and make it big in farming? Desiree Duran did, because she did not let having finished only grade school stop her from becoming a successful entrepreneur. Eight years ago, Daisy started planting off-season vegetables after attending farmers’ training under the Unlad Buhay sa Nayon’ program of the Bulacan Agricultural State College, the provincial government of Bulacan and the municipal government of San Ildefonso. Duran grew grafted tomato in a 1,000-square-meter plot and from this, she earned P70,000 — not bad for a newcomer in the industry. In 2003, with help of the Agriculture department, East-West Seed Company and local agricultural offices, the entrepreneur developed seedlings to sell to other vegetable growers in the area who did not have the time or expertise to do so. “I initiated the San Ildefonso Vegetables Multipurpose Cooperative with other vegetable growers to get a better bargain for our produce,” Duran said in Filipino. They connected with the Agriculture department’s direct market linkage program, which allowed them to sell their produce at bagsakan centers and food terminals without a middleman,, which increased their profits. Duran said the department and its attached agencies contributed a lot to their success. She managed to convert a one-hectare, family-owned rain-fed rice land into an oasis of vegetables that include eggplant, bitter melon, white squash, and sponge guord. She has also planted hot and sweet pepper, cucumber and tomato. She inter-cropped these with Sinta papaya. Daisy later bought land, a truck, a owner-type jeep, a motorcycle, and a 4×4 pick-up truck from her earnings. But what she deems as her greatest accomplishments are providing quality education to her three children, as well as livelihood to the women in her community. Thanks to Duran’s efforts to get her town mates to embrace vegetables, what was once a quiet and quaint community in the outskirts of San Ildefonso, Bulacan is now known as the vegetable basket of the municipality. Duran still gets a natural high from the active agribusiness environment in her community that she helped put in place. “Every day, it seems like we are holding a big food caravan here in Basuit as we prepare truckloads of fresh vegetables for Manila,” she said. “It’s not true that it’s impossible to find a good job or source of income,” she added. “You just have to see the potential of what’s already around you and start to make things happen for yourself.”

(This article was lifted from the book “The Art of Agribusiness, 111 and more Success Stories in Agri-Entrepreneurship” by Arthur C. Yap.)




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