Sonny Humarang has been a hog farmer for 15 years. He knows how difficult it is to wait for at least five months before being able to sell his pigs. The long turnaround time posed challenges in his livelihood. It increased operation costs and prevented him from maximizing his potential income. He hoped for a better a life and a more rewarding business.
He knew about the Kabalikat Program of Universal Robina Corporation’s Agro-Industrial Group. Through training sessions and seminars, partner-farmers learned the latest farming technology and management practices. Hinged on a three-“K” principle, the program gave members a chance to become a URC-AIG collaborator. To be a kabalikat or partner by increasing the kita or profit of partner-farmers and ensuring kalidad or quality for URC consumers.
Sonny, after attending Kabalikat seminars, learned the proper way to feed his pigs. Plus, he can now administer the right medications. “The lessons improved the productivity of my farm,” he said.
Now, he is able to sell his pigs in two months, reducing his spending on facilities and increasing his profit.
Modern farming method
In the case of Zaldy Angcaya, he started as a buyer of Uno+ Hog Feeds and Veterinary Products for his livelihood. After he joined the Kabalikat Program he became a distributor of URC products.
“Since I started my piggery, I have always used Uno+ Hog Feed. Then the distributor made me a dealer. After about two years, I also became a distributor. When I first joined, I did not know what Kabalikat was, but I was told it could help us,” Angcaya said.
“Technology is available to help farmers keep their piggery clean and not as smelly as feared. We learned through Kabalikat how to control odor and clean pens properly. It is important to find the right location and to continue learning. Piggery and the agro-industry, in general, are important as the Philippine population grows and the demand for food increases,” Angcaya added.
A growing community
The Kabalikat Program started in 2013 with only eight farms. As of February 2018, 80 Kabalikat Farms belong to the Kabalikat community. Sonny’s and Zaldy’s success stories are not the only achievements of the project. Filipino hog raisers nationwide attest to its integrity. Since the members implemented the program’s strategies, their businesses grew. They expanded their farms to accommodate the growing number of animal population. What’s more, their home life improved. The farmers can now afford to send their children to school.
In return, the program made a positive impact on UNO+’s business. From 2013 to 2017, its compounded annual growth increased 10 percent in the sales volume of hog feeds.
The chosen ones
How are partner-farmers chosen? They must be willing to accept and share best practices for raising pigs—from breeding (selection of breeders, insemination systems) to fattening (feeding program, cleaning management, record-keeping system) to knowing the appropriate meat production standard. Applying bio-security systems is an important process, too. It helps protect livestock against diseases or harmful biological agents. This, in turn, ensures that the meat products are clean and safe for human consumption.
Eric Malinis is one of the Kabalikat farm technicians. He services six farms in Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite. For him, imparting knowledge to partner-farmers is a key aspect of the program.
“We conduct seminars—one of the good aspects of the job. I am able to share what I know with those who need more information, like small breeders or those who want to go into the business.”
“I tell them about URC products, hog diseases and management,” Malinis said.
Thanks to projects like the Kabalikat Program, local hog raisers have a chance to grow—in business and on a personal level—on their own. URC-AIG advocates the idea that the best way to help Filipino farmers is not through dole-outs. It is by empowering them and connecting with them through an inclusive value chain.