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Housewife Becomes Big Time Vegetable Producer and Dealer

Twelve years ago, Desiree Duran and her husband, Roberto were only making a living from their one-hectare rain-fed rice farm, small piggery, and sari-sari store. no one back then would think that this simple housewife from Basuit, San Ildefonso, Bulacan would become a big-time vegetable producer and dealer today.

The life of the 34-year-old Desiree, or Daisy, started to change in 2001 when the provincial government of Bulacan, the Regional Field Unit (RFU) III of the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Bulacan State College launched Unlad Buhay sa Nayon, a program on off season vegetable production technology.

She realized the potential of producing off-season vegetables as a viable and alternative source of farm income and this motivated her to attend series of trainings and seminars apropos to the High Value Commercial Crops (HVCC) program.

One of the technologies taught on the HVCC program which she became interested with was the kamlong, a term coined from kamatis (tomato) and talong (eggplant). This technology of grafting tomato seedlings into eggplants was developed because eggplants are more resistant to plant diseases in the wet season when the price of tomato is at premium.

After attending the training on HVCC production, Daisy participated in the two-week seminar in Central Luzon State University where she was trained on management practices on sustainable off-season vegetable production technology.

Armed with knowledge and skills, Daisy first attempted to raise kamlong in a 1000-square meter plot in her rice field. Her experiment was successful, she earned P70,000 and harvested every other day for six months.

This success also motivated her to venture into large-scale off-season vegetable production. She then transformed her rice field into a vegetable garden where she raises eggplants, ampalaya, green pepper, cucumber, and tomato which she intercrops with Sinta or Red Lady papaya.

From then on, the Duran family begun to prosper and their neighbors became interested in off-season vegetable production. They often seek her advice on what vegetables to plant and the varieties to choose. Daisy was never selfish for she shared her knowledge with her neighbors; she told them the advantages
of using plastic mulch over traditional practices in growing vegetables, and encouraged them to attend seminars.

In time, more and more farmers in San Ildefonso have been engaging in off-season vegetable production. Daisy, however, had foreseen that this would result in a glut which could depress the prices of the vegetables.

This is why she thought of forming a cooperative to establish a clout in pricing their produce, and this is how Daisy became instrumental in the establishment of the Basuit Vegetable Raisers Multi-purpose Cooperative.

Like Daisy, the members of the cooperative shifted into planting hybrid vegetables. And they learned from her and the technicians of the San Ildefonso Municipal Agriculture Office how to apply the modern technology on vegetable production. It seems that the Cooperative was lucky for when vegetable traders learned of the high-quality vegetables that its members produced, the traders became interested and negotiated at amenable prices.

Moreover, prominent Corporation supplier such as UBM Corporation that supplies fresh vegetables to SM and Robinson’s malls, and Dizon Farms that
supplies to Walter Mart and SM malls also negotiated with the Cooperative.

Due to her dealings with suppliers, Daisy thought of marketing her produce. She bought an elf truck vehicle to transport her produce to Balintawak Market and Nepa Q-Mart. As her business grows, her contact widens until she became a vegetable dealer; she buys the vegetables of her neighbors at prices higher than the offer of other dealers.

When Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap launched the Bagsakan Centers, Barangay Food Terminals, and Tindahan Natin to provide affordable and quality food in the depressed areas in Metro Manila, and to increase the income of farmers and fishermen by broadening their market, Daisy was one of the people who first availed of the opportunity.

In fact, she is the pioneer vegetable supplier of Commonwealth; Nepa Q-Mart; Pritil Bagsakan Centers; and Baseco, Pansol, PUP, and Taguig Barangay Food Terminals. All in all, she sells about 3 tons of assorted vegetables to these DA’s outlets every other day.

She also supplies vegetables to the Kadiwa, Center in Valenzuela City, Marikina Market Zone, Pasig Market, Pamilihang Bayan ng Muntinlupa, and Carmona Public Market in Cavite. She also supplies to the Barangay Food Terminals in Kristong Hari, Holy Spirit, Batasan Hills, Payatas, Smokey Mountain, Towerville Public Market in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan and in Bagong Silang Barangay Food Terminal in Caloocan City.

Her business, however, has also a limitation. Her farm is still rain-fed and so when the dry season comes, she couldn’t produce vegetables. To solve her problem, Daisy applied for ar10-million loan from the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund for the construction of a 12-inch deep well pump which would irrigate her farm and the farms of her neighbors.

She also wanted to produce vegetable seedlings under greenhouse condition to prevent them from being exposed to extreme field conditions, pest, and diseases, and to prevent the roots from being stressed when transplanting.

Raising seedlings in a greenhouse turned out to be another lucrative agribusiness. Farmers started ordering seedlings in plastic trays from her because these are of higher quality.

When Secretary Yap chanced to visit her nursery in 2005, he was so impressed with the way she raises seedlings that he told then DA-RFU III Regional Director Cesar Rodriguez to provide her with a fund which she could use for the construction of another greenhouse. Redentor S. Gatus carried out Yap’s request upon his assumption to duty as OIC Regional Director of DA-RFU III.,

To maintain the greenhouse that DA funded, Daisy invested P100,000 for the purchase of seedling trays and other accessories and in two years, she had another five greenhouses. These produce 180,000 seedlings monthly and each one is sold for P2.

Daisy has been receiving so many orders from Central Luzon and Metro Manila that she bought another truck to deliver the seedlings. Now, she also sells planting materials, organic fertilizers, and chemicals.

Aside from money, her business has also been instrumental in her growth. During this year’s celebration of the World Food Day held in Pritil Bagsakan Center in Tondo, DA recognized Daisy as one of the outstanding suppliers of the Bagsakan Centers and Barangay Food Terminals.

She was also named Most Outstanding Farmer in HVCC category of Bulacan in 2006, and Most Outstanding Farmer in HVCC category of San Ildefonso in 2005.

Her achievements prompted hundreds of farmers to visit her farm and learn from her. In fact, her farm which she named as Daisy Duran Farm and Agricultural Supply has become a regular destination of Lakbay Aral farmers from other regions, and she has been invited to give lectures in seminars on vegetable production.

Daisy is now far from being just a plain housewife. She has become a successful entrepreneur because of her determination, hardwork, acumen in business. and most of all, her generosity in sharing her knowledge with other farmers.