Zosimo Sabugan thought that nothing could be worst than the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, but after three years of fighting off debt and depending on loans for the survival of his crops he started to think this was just as bad. The 47 year old from the province of Leyte spends more than 75% of his earnings each season to pay off his debts.
Formerly a copraand tuba (Coconut wine) producer, Zosima had his coconut trees swept away by Typhoon taking along his only income and way to feed his 10 people family. He decided to take up rice farming, because coconut trees take up to 13 years to become productive; he rented a farm near his home and began to work. He soon found out that rice farming is a taxing labor, not only physically but also financially. He was forced into asking for a 26,000 pesos (550 CHF) loan in order to be able to pay for laborers and all of the farm’s needs. He didn’t want any debt, but there was no other choice, “Farming needs a lot of hard labor, my children are too young to work in the field and my wife is still breastfeeding our youngest child, so I am left to farm alone and I’m getting old… I need the help”.
ADRA’s Economic Recovery in Leyte Project (ERL) is conducting financial literacy trainings in the region returning after helping in the reconstruction of the barangays after Typhoon Haiyan. This activity aims to train the community regarding the methods on monitoring finances, getting out of indebtedness, market analysis, and basic business planning. Mr. Sabungan is part of those benefiting from this training and he already has a plan in mind; he desires to acquire a Carabao (Water Buffalo) to help in the field labors and allow him to receive some extra income by renting it. With the Carabao he could plant sweet potato, cassava and bananas as well. He wishes to eliminate his dependence on loans and laborers, he wants to increase his income to provide a better lifestyle for his family.
Zosimo is hoping this upcoming season he doesn’t have to ask for another loan and he can begin working with his Carabao. His usual harvest is of 100 sacks of rice, of those 60 are for paying back the loan, 10 pay the farm rent and five cover the water irrigation. Only 25 sacks are left for his family’s consumption, with those sacks he also pays his children’s education and other needs of the household. Now, thanks to ERL he believes that his family will have more than just 25 sacks, which will allow them to have more food other than the vegetables grown in their backyard, maybe some delicious bulad (dried fish) everyone’s favorite dish.
“I’m very happy that ADRA came back to our barangay. ADRA had already helped us in restoring our houses, and now they have come back to help us improve our livelihoods”. For Zosimo and other farmers in Leyte the ERL Project is a beacon of hope and positivism after the toll Typhoon Haiyan and debts had on them. ADRA will help them learn how to manage their finances, develop sustainable economic activities and become less dependable on loans. He is no longer thinking what is worst, but of the wonderful possibilities of the present and future.