Coconut farming helps send children to school

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By Perla G. Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 29 -- Growing coconut trees is like raising children; like kids you have to take good care of them too.

This was how 56-year old coconut farmer Azucena S. Segador, this year’s Gawad Saka Outstanding Coconut Farmer of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas, ended up earning from her 1.16 hectares plantation that helped send her children to school.

On Monday, she was awarded by DA as the Outstanding Coconut Farmer in a ceremony held at the Casa Real in this city.

She shared that her husband, now 68 years old, Carlito, used to work as overseas contact worker. However, he retired just in time when their two children were already in college, thus she saw the need to persevere more.

Segador said that 20 coconut trees were already standing in the 1.16 farm lot when they acquired it way back in the 1990s. Instead of cutting down the trees, they utilized it as sources of vinegar and copra.

She planted additional 70 Malayan Red Dwarf, 30 Catigan Dwarf and Tacunan Dwarf. These varieties do not grow tall but they bear more fruits, she said.

With the help of their association, the Kasaganaan sa Niyugan, Kaunlaran ng Bayan (KAANIB), and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) she was able to learn technologies on how to make coco products like sugar, sap and jelly.

Her family also engaged in integrated farming where they planted coffee, cacao, banana, lowland vegetables, and other fruit trees provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and PCA in between coconut trees.

They also grow livestock such as chicken, carabao and goat and tilapia given to them by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The manure of livestock and poultry are converted into organic soil enhancers.

Before the farm only earned PHP30,000, to date, they earned around PHP143,000 annually.

“It might be small, but it has helped us a lot in sending our children to school,” she said. Two of her children have finished college while the youngest is on Grade 12 this June.

Segador encouraged her fellow farmers to also adopt their practices as she was often invited to speak in various fora to share her farming practices.