FARMING FAMILY TURNS COCONUT PLANTATION INTO THRIVING INTEGRATED FARM
Agriculture|March - April 2021
THERE’S A SAYING THAT GOES, “the family that prays together stays together.” This can also be the same for the family who farms.
YVETTE TAN

Manay’s Farm is an integrated, diversified family farm located in Purok 7, Bayongan, San Miguel, Bohol. The property spans nine hectares, with about 75 percent given to farming. “The farm is part of an ancestral land share from the Cutillas to the Mendez clan native of San Miguel, Bohol. Before being developed as a private residential farm, the entire land area was left as a coconut plantation of sorts,” says Jeanette Pinat, 31, a start- up agripreneur and founder of Kaayo Project operated at Manay’s Farm.

The farm takes its name from Nunila “Manay Bebot,” the family matriarch. “She has 44 years of accumulated experience in public service and community-based development. She is also an agriculturist and has been our mentor in the development of our farm,” Pinat says. “From the beginning, the vision of the farm has always been to follow integrated, diversified, and organic agricultural practices.”

Manay’s Farm was established in 2016 and its development came in stages. “The first year was dedicated to land preparation and construction of residential huts. It was also during this time that we focused on our farm design. At a small scale, we grow and sell vegetables, tilapia from our pond, and organic native pigs and native chicken,” Pinat says. The farm started selling high value crops in 2019.

Each member of the Pinat family has a role to play on the farm. “Our mom, Manay Bebot, is in-charge of the crop planning and growing, my brother, Joachim, aka Alot, is our farm manager who also personally takes care of our native livestock. I run the entrepreneurial side of the farm, our farm design, and our social programs,” she adds.

FAMILY ENDEAVOR

“Initially, the farm was supposed to be a vacation house for the family. My mom was born and raised in this town but all of us siblings grew up in Dauis, Bohol where my father lived ( about 97km from Bayongan). Most of us moved to various parts of the Philippines to study and/or work. When my father passed away four years ago, my mom decided to permanently return and serve in her hometown. This is when we decided to cultivate our area and turn it to Manay’s Farm,” Pinat, who worked as an HR professional for a fintech company in Cambodia for six years before deciding to work on the farm full time, narrates.

Even before development began, there was no question about the way the farm was going to be run. “We try our best to imitate natural ecological diversity by integrating subsystems by which various components of our farm interact positively thereby increasing overall farm productivity,” Pinat says. “Having farm inputs available in the farm reduces our cost and improves our production given we are aware of the kind of fertilizers we give our crops and feeds we feed our livestock.”

It was extremely important for the family to grow different crops and livestock. “To us, diversification is very important in running our farm because biodiversity expands our production as well as increases and diversifies our income. Growing diverse food crops ensures healthy food security for our family too. Also with the current climate crisis, by going diverse, it helps in reducing risk factors as it ensures that we do not lose all of our resources if the weather does not favor our crop production,” Pinat says. “From our agriculture training, we also learned that crop diversification also effectively increases soil fertility and controls pests so this is definitely a welcomed effect of diversifying.”

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