someday, i would know how to properly plow a land!

i have been busy. mostly with work (that would not surprise you) but also a little bit time spent working on a very huge opportunity i decided to grab. i decided to venture into farming.

about two years ago, i decided to invest some of my money in sugarcane farming.  i have always had doubts about the lucrativeness of the thing as i have heard stories of either the investor getting screwed or the farmer getting cheated out of.  added to that fact that at that point in time, i have no knowledge whatsoever about sugarcane planting except that the Negros land (where i grew up) is just abundant of that. how i got into it was sort of an accident, really. my father had some extra money and he decided to put it as an investment to his brother’s sugarcane plantation.  His brother returned the money plus my father’s share of the income after a year.  i was quite impressed of the return and urged him to re-invest it again.  unfortunately for my father (i love the guy but man, he is as stubborn headed as i am), he used both the income and the capital to buy the close-to-dilapidated place his other brother (not the one he invested the money with) was renting so they do not get kicked out for not paying any rent. that decision deserves a blog entry all on its own so we will leave it at that.

and because most farmers need capital to work efficiently on their farms, my uncle asked me if i want to invest. and because at that point, most of my extra money was spent on travels- i thought i would want to give it a try. that was probably one of the most life-changing decision i have ever made.

i made some money- not that much as the investment i put in was not that big but the returns on investment was jaw-dropping. Jaw-dropping in a sense that you could not get that kind of return if you invest it in the stock market or bonds. Jaw-dropping because if every small farmer only has one fair investor that work with them hand in hand (and well, teach them how to manage their money), there wouldn’t be that much heartbreaking poverty in Negros. 

it was of this realization that i felt i can do something. i can help create jobs, improve a farmer’s lifestyle and still grow my money in a faster pace than putting it in stocks, bonds or whatever financial vehicle my banker throw over at me to consider.

i also wanted to leave the arrangement i got with my father’s brother as is. we have expanded our exposure there (my mother and my sister decided to follow my steps and invested with me) but that is an area that is considered developed for sugarcane planting already.  the people there are used to continuous stream of farming work due to the vast sugarcane production in the area. i wanted to venture to an area where there were less (if not rare) opportunity for continuous farming chores.

so, i turned my attention back to my mother’s family’s vast, undeveloped land over at the far mountains of my hometown.  like most families in the rural areas, the land lies idly for years due to the lack of capital or interest (or both) to make it productive.  it is also home to a number of impoverished families that survives by eating boiled cassava on most days or rice and dried fish on very rare days when they get lucky. these are not lazy people; there are just not that many opportunities to earn for their day to day survival, much more for financing of their own little farms.

after multiple conversations (most of the times exhausting and confusing for a finance-minded individual that i am) with my mother, my mother’s brother, my grandmother and after doing an extensive research about agricultural investment, i decided that this was the perfect place to start my quest.

the biggest problem i have was not money (it was the easiest way to secure; in fact, a good friend of mine already put in his investment)- it was finding people that are competent and trustworthy enough to run this business for me.  it took a few months before we found the people who we can trust to run the farm for us, but we found and established our confidence in them alright. i have learned a long time ago that for a labor-intensive business to be successful, you need to have the right people at the right positions to manage it. i do believe i have found my group of people.

as of this writing, the farm workers are busy tilling, plowing and preparing the land for the sugarcane to be planted. i have received news from my mother that more and more people came to our mountain to ask that they be hired to work (we do pay them a little above the market rate).  it is funny how things get communicated in such a far flung area but it does look like news traveled fast and people realized that a big change was happening and wanted to take part of it.

i have mentored a number of people (who are now very successful at their jobs) in my eleven years in the corporate setup but creating jobs that people wanted to do is probably the biggest success i have had so far. i could not quite explain the feeling but this makes my quest way so much easier to pursue.

i have created jobs today. i want to give them a sustainable income source tomorrow. and someday, down the road, i want these people to learn as much about financial freedom as i been blessed enough to get acquainted of.

and in return, they may show me exactly how to properly plow a land.


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