It was raining on the 25th of June when I visited Gina at her home in the countryside section of Pinangimnan, Santa Catalina, a farming town in Negros Oriental. She invited us to come in while she and her son Roy (14) were sprawled on the floor removing dried corn kernels. It was during my interview that Gina told me that her loan in December 2015 for peanut farming had been a failure. The peanut plants yielded little with many shells empty. Gina, blamed this on the nationwide earlier this year when the entire country experienced El Niño. The harvest amounted to three 10-kilo sacks of peanuts, much less than the 10 sacks that they had expected. Gina was able to repay her loan, but the money came from the proceeds of the couple’s livestock sales. Now she is applying for a re-loan, this time for a three-year lease on a coconut farm with 100 fruit bearing coconut trees.
Both Gina and her husband David (55) have jobs; Gina is a snack vendor selling native snacks in a public school whereas David (55) works as a farm labourer on a sugarcane plantation. The couple’s combined income is 1,500 pesos ($32) per week. Aside from their weekly earnings, the couple have a farm of their own, a two hectare plot of land on which they grow sugarcane, maize, bananas and a few vegetables. The proceeds from the sugarcane harvest amount to about 50,000 pesos ($1,050) a year, and this is shared with three of the couple’s married children who help with the planting, weeding and harvesting. The other crops are usually kept for home consumption and also shared with the married children.
The coconut farm is available for lease because Evelyn, the owner, is getting married and is needing funds for the special event. Gina is keen to have the lease because the thrice a year harvest yields an average of 625 kilos of dried copra, which when sold amounts to 10,600 pesos each time. She will not have to hire labourers, as her married children will be the ones to climb the trees and dry the coconut meat.
With this additional income, Gina will be able to accomplish another plan, to buy a carabao for her husband to use. David plans to stop working on the sugarcane plantation and work on his own, ploughing his own farm and other farms that need his services. He will earn more by ploughing than by working as a hired labourer. Gina looks forward to the approval of this loan; she has a good repayment record, so we are confident that these new plans will succeed.
Ireen O. Ingles