Conchita Nitura, Jovelyn Siatrez, Maria Rafanan, Marilyn Villarosa belong to a solidarity group of peasant rice farmers in Palawan, Philippines called Nitura and Partners. All of the members are women. In effect, they, like most of the other peasant rice farmers in Palawan, take loans on behalf of their families because it is the families who traditionally work the farms. The group got an ECLOF loan of US$ 932, or approximately US$ 233 per family. This doesn’t seem like much, but as we see from the story about Conchita Nitura below, it can certainly go a long way for the peasant rice farmers of Palawan.
Conchita Nitura and her family live in a town called Sandoval and walk or ride their buffalo to their rice farm about 1 and 1/2 miles away. Conchita also owns and operates a small variety shop from the front of their house in order to bring in more family income. Salvador, Conchita’s husband, runs the family’s farm. Conchita’s role is mostly to handle the financial and administrative tasks of maintaining the family. The couple used to have only one hectare of land but thanks to their hard work and perseverance they now work around eight hectares.
The couple also used to have to borrow money from speculators in the area using a large part of their rice as payment. The speculators charge an unbelievable 10% per month. Before ECLOF started giving loans in Palawan, the speculators were the only ones who had enough money to buy the farmers’ rice. They in effect controlled the price of rice.
With the rice farming loan introduced by ECLOF Philippines, the farmers can now access loans with fair interest rates. The money gives them the means to afford, for example, inputs as well as transport costs to local outlets. Now, the farmers are in a much better position to control the selling price of their rice.
Around 60 - 80 sacks of rice can be produced from a one-hectare plot of land. One sack weighs on average 50 kilos. With a loan from ECLOF to cover production costs, the farmers can ultimately earn PhP 8 – 9 (US$ 0.17 – 0.19) per kilo as opposed to US$ 0.15 a kilo if they take a loan from a speculator. That’s a difference of approximately US$ 1 per sack or roughly US$ 60 – 80 more per hectare. As there are two rice crops per year in Palawan, that means that thanks to the loan financed from contributions to Global Giving through ECLOF, the Nituras can earn up to US$ 160 more per hectare per year or a total of roughly US$ 1,280 more per year or US$ 3.50 a day.
That’s a lot of money when you consider that over 40% of Filipinos live on less than US$ 2 a day and much less in rural areas.
Including the loan to Nitura and Partners, ECLOF Philippines has lent out to 337 peasant rice farmers in Palawan a total PhP 6,261,605 (US$ 130,450).
With the extra income from their farm, life understandably is better for the Nituras. They now have ten cows and have managed to put up a bigger and safer shelter for the animals. They were also able to buy their own rice thresher. They are especially happy because they can afford to keep their daughter in enrolled in high school. She has more years of schooling than both her parents combined.
Thanks to donations through Global Giving, contributors made it possible for ECLOF to extend badly needed credit to at least two groups of Philippine peasant rice farming families in the Philippines, like the Nituras.
Click below to read more about the loan program in the Philippines or see a picture of a rice farmer!
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