Being a son of a farmer, Mr. Ernesto Quijano, fondly called Mang Nestor, knows fully well that farmers will never go hungry. Mang Nestor is a philosophy major who embarked on farming which is his true passion.

After long years of being an educator and a certified trainor on organic agriculture, Mang Nestor decided to retire upon reaching his golden age. He resolved to devote his time to his first love which is farming. Though still available for consultation and voluntary service as a trainor on organic farming, Mang Nestor says that there is less stress and pressure now that he takes care of his own agribusiness endeavour called EG Agro Eco Venture.

His farm, located in San Jose Extension, Brgy. Taclobo , Dumaguete City is where he grows his coffee and cacao seedlings. His two other farms located in Sibulan and Valencia towns, also in Dumaguete City is where he nurtures his fruits trees and timber trees seedlings. Mang Nestor’s time is fully devoted to producing coffee, cacao, coconut, rambutan, durian, mangosteen, lanzones and timber seedlings such as rubber.

Cooperative Bank of Negros Oriental’s (CBNO) invitation triggered the start of something big

An invitation from the Cooperative Bank of Negros Oriental (CBNO) General Manager Rey Gomez started it all, Mang Nestor recalls. He attended an orientation on the Agricultural Credit Policy Council’s (ACPC) Cooperative Banks Agri Lending Program (CBAP) organized by the CBNO in 2012. From the initial P100 thousand he loaned from the program in early 2013 to augment his capital, he was able to have a sales of P1.2 million by the end of the same year. In late 2013, he borrowed another P100 thousand to increase his seedling production. He projects sales of P1.5 million from his seedlings by the end of this year (2014).

The Cooperative Banks Agri Lending Program (CBAP)

The Cooperative Banks Agri Lending Program (CBAP) is one of the programs implemented by the ACPC under the Agro-Industry Modernization credit and Financing Program (AMCFP), the umbrella financing program of the government for agriculture and fisheries. The CBAP aims to provide funding support to cooperative banks that lend to small farmers and fisherfolk on a sustainable basis. Launched in 2011, the program adopted a scheme where special time deposits (STDs) are placed directly in partner cooperative banks, such as the Cooperative Bank of Negros Oriental. This scheme eliminates the need for wholesalers, thus enabling cooperative banks to expand their agri-fishery loan portfolio and reduce pass-on rates to farmer fisherfolk borrowers.

When asked what he liked about the CBAP, he says the orientation gave him a clear view of how the government tries to reach out to the farmers. He added that the monitoring by the staff of the CBNO and ACPC staff always puts him on his guard to ensure that the money he borrowed will be used for its purpose and will not be wasted. He adds that the requirements were easy to comply with and that the loan was released speedily. He is thankful that he is one of the beneficiaries of this program, and he hopes that more farmers will also benefit.

Mang Nestor says that the additional capital he borrowed from the CBAP enabled him to increase his seedlings production. Through this loan, he was able to hire three (3) regular employees and hire additional laborers to meet his delivery deadlines. He explained that he is able to secure the bulk of his orders of seedlings through government bidding. He says that most of his clients are local government units (LGUs), the Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Department Environment and of Natural Resources (DENR) and non-government organizations (NGOs), private organizations such as Nestle Corporation and civic groups. Orders from his company ranges from 1,000 to 50,000 seedlings per transaction. He says that each seedling costs between P5.00 to P30.00 per seedling depending on the size, kind (either coffee, cacao, fruits trees or timber seedlings) and variety. He is proud to say that his seedlings are organically grown, thus, he is able to command a higher price. Though he is yet to work on securing a certificate for growing organic seedlings, he says that he offers after sales monitoring and training, thus, his customers always come back to him for consultation after the sales.

Mang Nestor says that he envisions to establish a full blown nursery. His vision includes developing a one hectare farm planted with certified seeds. Though he admits he has a long way to go with the certification process which takes about 2-3 years and a capitalization of more than P1 million, he is slowly going towards attaining this dream.

Mang Nestor’s advice to would be farmers

“Sipag, tiyaga at dasal,” should be an inherent to would be farmer entrepreneurs, says Mang Nestor. He encourages farmers to observe the trends in the market. That is, do research if necessary on what is “in” citing organic farming and doing agribusiness that would help mitigate climate change. He said that in starting a business, one should start small and take small but well-thought calibrated steps.

He finds fulfilment in being able to create jobs for his community and share his knowledge and transfer technology to others. He believes that one should share his success with others.