Rene Descalsota and his family grew up working in the sugarcane fields. When his father was awarded 2.8 hectares of land through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) last 2003, the family thought they could finally get out of poverty but the economic crises only worsened as they had no financial capability to plow their land. Out of other better options, his father rented the land to their neighbor. Rene left his hometown Silay City, Negros Occidental in 2005 after graduating high school, and started working in Batangas.
From 2005 to 2020, Rene jumped from one job to another. He worked in construction, feed mills, and other back-breaking jobs until he worked on an egg farm in San Jose, Batangas. But the experience did not last longer as COVID-19 forced him and his young family to return to Negros.
Now married with one child, Rene was out of job with a little money left in his pocket. He wasted no time and started planning his future based on his latest experience as a poultry worker, and also as a former feed mill employee.
His father still owns half a hectare of land. This land is not part of the CARP but is a homestead and cannot be planted with sugarcane. It’s a perfect location for livestock and poultry as it is along the river and water is abundant.
With indigenous materials like bamboo and coconut available, he built a house good for 200 chicken layers. he also built another house for free-range chickens. Ready-to-lay (RTL) chickens are expensive so he opted to buy chicks. Chicks will take around 4 months to lay eggs so while waiting, he focused himself on developing feeds and adding more free-range chickens.
Chicks are sexed before they are delivered to customers but out of 200, Rene got three males. He kept these birds and made them breeders so he would not buy chicks again in the future.
Things started to change after four months when the layers started laying eggs as well as the free-range chickens. Now, Rene has both white and brown eggs.
“I remember the very first time I sold eggs was 5 trays of white and 2 trays of brown. I made a net income of P1,050 in one day. My wife, who was on the verge of depression due to stress, was very happy”, Rene recalled.
Rene said he spent around P12,000 from the start until he made his first profit. He had a little over P5,000 when they returned from Batangas so he had to borrow P10,000 from his OFW sister.
Rene started his business during the height of the pandemic when food was scarce and expensive, but since then, his customers only multiplied in numbers. Three years later, he has dozens of retailers waiting for his eggs every day.
Today, Rene has 2,000 white layers and 700 brown egg layers. This gives him an average of 1,920 eggs per day or a P5,760 net income per day. He employed his younger brother and two nephews. He also managed to retrieve the family’s land that was rented to their neighbor before.
Distaste Against the Sugar Industry
“I have no plan of planting sugarcane. There is no money in sugarcane, especially for this small piece of land. You must have 20 hectares of sugarcane plantation to support your family. My business can support 10 families if I turn this land into an Eco-farm”, he added.
With enough capital, Rene is planning to expand his business and employ more neighbors.
“People living in rural areas of Negros Island have been living in sugar slavery for more than a century. I want to start changing this in my own small way. Sugarcane can’t provide real jobs and is a massive waste of land. I can make millions of pesos from two hectares of land while providing regular jobs to dozens of people. Egg demand is consistently increasing and I can’t even provide half of my customers’ demands”, Rene said.
He added that he is planning to venture on swine but the latest problem with African Swine Flu (ASL) made hold the plan.
“ASL scares me at the moment but I am waiting for the good time to start,” he added.
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