Image credits: Philippine Information Agency
In October 2019, Angelita Cerillo was awarded the Philippine Presidential Award for the Most Outstanding Corn Farmer. In an industry dominated by men, this was an impressive accomplishment - Angelita herself could hardly believe it. Just 10 years earlier, she owned no land and had debt collectors chasing her. With no education, farming was the only way she could provide for her family.
With unused land that she managed to rent, she started farming high-value crops, such as bananas, cassava and sweet potatoes. In 1993, she discovered the market for corn as a feed input. At first, Angelita used openly pollinated varieties (OPV) of corn, but switched to hybrid corn in 1997, which led to increased yield. She started using Pioneer hybrid corn (by Corteva Agriscience) in 2001.
Angelita saved all her extra income and reinvested it into the farm. Through her determination, and by becoming an early adopter of new technology, she now owns five hectares of land, and farms on another 15.
Today, she grows rice, corn and coconut, and has invested in farm machinery. She further increases her income by breeding farm animals.
When asked what contributed to her success, Angelita is quick to give credit to the local government agriculture extension office and to Corteva Agriscience for the training she has been able to participate in over the years. These trainings were typically centered around good agricultural practices, as well as the use of new technologies.
Due to her desire to help her family and fellow farmers, Angelita continues to implement new farming methods in her farm - including the use of better-quality seeds, use of farm machinery, proper use of fertilizer and crop protection solutions to mitigate the impact of pests and disease and, finally, proper harvesting and drying of corn.
Angelita has proven to be a savvy agripreneur – she's thorough and efficient in managing the farm’s finances and able to save their additional income and reinvest it towards continuous improvement of the farm operations. Due to her hard work, Angelita is a role model for modern farming technology in the country.
Angelita is also an inspiration for all mothers in the way she continues to ensure the health and wellbeing of her family, particularly her two children. Her daughter is studying to be a teacher. She also wants her son to graduate from school.
Her generous spirit extends to her broader community as well.
Angelita is dedicated to helping other women rise out of poverty and improve the future for their families. She provides permanent jobs for 15 members of the Agta Tabangnon Tribe, an indigenous community.
Finally, as a leader of the community and a model citizen, Angelita was resourceful and caring enough to help secure clean drinking water source for over 200 families in her community.
She is an inspiration to all of us at GrowHer.