After working as a seaman for years, Joel Mobo finds himself working as a piggery and poultry owner, and help put up a group that resulted in the improvement of their living condition. (Photo Courtesy)

JOEL Mobo of Hinunangan, Southern Leyte, ventured into the piggery and poultry business after he decided to return home for good after spending so many years as a seafarer.
Shifting to a life on the farm was a given for Mobo, who finished high school at his hometown’s agricultural school.

“While I was in high school, I studied at Hinunangan Agricultural Vocational High School, now the Southern Leyte School of Arts and Trade – Hinunangan Campus. I really like anything vocational,” the 60-year-old Mobo told Philippine News Agency as he explained what led him to his present venture.

Dream come true

Mobo had wanted to become independent since he was young.

After saving enough money, he decided to end his seafaring days and returned to his native Hinunangan in 2015 to fulfill his long-cherished dream of becoming a farmer.

Business was as rough as the high seas he had crossed as a seafarer.

In 2021, his piggery and poultry were almost wiped out by the onslaught of Typhoon Odette. Fortunately, he was able to sell his chickens days before the typhoon struck.

“Translation: I started small with pigs and chickens, but then Typhoon Odette hit, and that happened. I had already culled more than a thousand hens before Odette, but with so many repairs needed in the house, all the capital was spent. Luckily, the building for pigs and chickens was still standing, spared by Odette,” he said.

Farmers’ and fishers’ organizations

Following the storm, fishers and farmers in Mobo’s community banded together and sought the government’s help to enable them to bounce back. By mid-2022, the Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma ug Mananagat sa Hinunangan (NMMH) was officially registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), with 65 members in its fold. Mobo became the group’s vice president.

At this time, the provincial government of Southern Leyte received financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to fund agriculture-related initiatives under the Odette Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (ORRP). The province, through its Veterinary Services Office, was looking for beneficiaries of the assistance.

The NMMH seized the opportunity and signed up for the grant for an egg-laying project. Mobo was unanimously chosen as the project manager due to his experience in poultry farming.

“Only one program can be availed of, but there is a promise that if we manage the RTL well, we can avail of other programs like piggery next year. We will draft a resolution about this by next year,” Mobo explained.

From dependent to self-sustaining agri-business

On August 1, 2023, NMMH received 480 heads of ready-to-lay chickens and feed support for up to three months. With proper management, another set of 455 heads was delivered this month, on January 3, with provisions for feeds up to a year, covering the first and second batches.

Mobo’s chicken coop in Barangay Talisay, the one spared by Typhoon Odette, was used as the housing structure for the August and January cycles. However, the latest January deliveries required more cages. The NMMH purchased some as needed, using the money they had already earned. This differs from the previous cycle, where the grant included cages.

With an average harvest of more than 20 trays of eggs a day, the organization now has more than P200,000 in cash in its possession. “We can already buy feeds on our own, but we will still make use of the program where feeds remain part of it,” said Mobo.

Mobo shared with excitement that by July of this year, when the financial support from the province is cut off, it will be time for NMMH to demonstrate to the provincial government that the organization can stand on its own.

“We thanked Gov. Damian Mercado for the project that we received. We also thanked the Department of Agriculture national and regional offices, through Dr. Francisco Cabarrubias, the provincial veterinarian, for the opportunity and the support),” Mobo expressed his deep gratitude.

More projects

The piggery project is next in line, probably by next year, assuming everything goes well, including the unpredictable weather changes.

Apart from that, Mobo shared that the organization is requesting a “galingan” (rice mill) from another agency. This is because there is an open lot that can accommodate the machinery, considering that Hinunangan town is branded as the rice granary of the province and other towns in the Pacific area.

Mobo cannot provide a definitive answer regarding whether or not he will continue to serve as the project manager for the upcoming projects. However, he has expressed his willingness to continue serving for an additional six years under the NMMH by-laws, provided his colleagues still have confidence in him and choose to re-elect him.

The NMMH can still expect to have a dedicated former OFW as a project manager if the members desire.
(AAC/MMP/PIA-Southern Leyte)