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Myrna Cruz, 60, is one of the women farmers in Maragondon, Cavite. When she became part of IIRR’s Family Farming Project in 2014, she was empowered by the productivity and dramatic improvements of her 3,000 square meter farm. Before, she used to plant only a few crops like rice, coconut, corn, cassava, and sweet potatoes for her family’s consumption and some bananas for selling. She earns an average of Php 1500 to Php 2000 (USD 29 to USD 38) from selling bananas bi-monthly while also doing manicure and pedicure services (Php 50 or USD 1 per service) and occasionally selling processed meat products.

But when she started planting a diverse range of crops using sustainable farming practice she learned from IIRR, her small farmland has been filled with different kinds of vegetables and fruit trees that she’s able sell and share to relatives and friends. She has also learned how to save seeds and raise native pigs (3 sows, 11 piglets, 1 fattener, and 1 boar). Using farm crops as feeds, is greatly minimizing her expenses. She’s also engaged in the paiwi (sharing) system, where she takes care of an owner’s piglets and when the piglets are sold, they share the earnings 50-50. Myrna sells the piglets at a competitive price and in 2018, she earned Php25,400 (USD 508) from it. Her increase in income enabled her to save money and provide for her family’s needs.

The dramatic improvement in her farm and income encouraged her three siblings to adopt the same sustainable and environment-friendly farming practices she used. When IIRR scaled out the family farming approach in Maragondon, Myrna’s sister, Teresita Aguilar, was one of the many farmers who eagerly joined. She gained access to diverse sources of food like fruits, leafy and leguminous vegetables, root crops, and meat from native pig and chicken. In just a little more than a year, she has been growing and harvesting various vegetables and fruits in her once dense farm. Some of the crops she’s planting for selling and personal consumption are papaya, banana, pineapples, corn, sorghum, arrowroot, etc. To save money, she started her own vermicast, which she learned in one of IIRR’s trainings. She also began raising a native pig using the crops she planted as feeds. In 2018, she generated a profit of PHP 144,970 (USD 2,741) from selling fruits, vegetables, and native pigs. With this, Teresita was able to improve her home with floor tiles and paved walls. She, along with Myrna, are now able to save money through their community savings group.