Bienvenido “Ben” A. Rara, 78, owner of BARFARM Agroventures, was exposed to agriculture from an early age. His childhood is full of good memories on a farm with his father.
Through his education and his affinity with nature, he has followed a professional path close to his roots.
Rara graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a specialization in Animal Husbandry from the University of the Philippines Los Banos. After graduating from college, he spent years climbing the corporate ladder.
As he was considering retirement, his employer accidentally announced that the company would be under new management. Rara had no choice but to receive severance pay rather than continue working.
Using severance pay, he bought a farm in Bukidnon, his hometown, believing it would save him money as property rates are much cheaper in the province than in Luzon.
But since he did not have permanent accommodation in the province, he had to fly and stay at a hotel every week in order to be able to work on the farm.
In 1995, while tending to his farmland in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, he received a call from his former boss. In short, he decided to rework while remotely developing his retirement farm.
After a while, he bought another 15 hectare guava plantation. Unfortunately, this expansion quickly brought challenges. All of his farms in Bukidnon ultimately failed due to remote management.
The second time is a charm
When another farming opportunity presented itself years later, Rara seized it. He made sure to devote it to his passion and expertise: animal husbandry. Fortunately, the property offered to him was a meadow, which made it suitable for animal production. In addition, it was easier for him to develop.
In 2004 he started raising 100 goats on a 16 hectare rented property in Pandi, Bulacan. This has swelled to over 400 goats in less than three years.
When Rara started raising goats, it was also a good time to provide training and services to others, as goat breeding was not as widespread then as it is today.
His farm, named Bar Farm, began to organize seminars in the hope of increasing the goat population in the Philippines.
Rara was recognized for his contributions to the goat farming industry and was elected president of the Federation of Philippine Goat and Sheep Producers and Associations (FGASPAPI), the umbrella organization of goat producers and associations and sheep in the Philippines.
Diversify the terroir
He eventually sold his plot of land to Bukidnon as he found it impractical to have many farms while managing it alone. This allowed him to concentrate on his farm in Bulacan.
Rara built a vermicomposting facility that benefited her farm in Bulacan by saving her from buying organic fertilizers from stores. This paved the way for him to train more people, especially those applying for worm picker jobs in Canada.
“It allowed us to earn extra income to support the farm,” said the longtime farmer.
Rara also ventured into agricultural production again, this time planting dragon fruit, bananas, lemons, calamansi and vegetables.
From simply feeding goats to opening its doors to other animals as well as crops, Bar Farm has steadily grown and expanded its operations with the help of promotions and sales.
In 2017, the farm started raising dairy buffaloes for their milk and manure. As of this writing, the farm is home to 16 heads of imported Italian Mediterranean and Bulgarian water buffalo, as well as goats and sheep.
“Since then we have been satisfied with our buffaloes which give us daily income from milk and at the same time give us enough manure to feed our African Nightcrawler (ANC) so that they can continue to produce vermicast”, Rara said.
According to him, the farm has also been able to contribute to local milk production. “We import over 95 percent of our country’s milk requirements. We sell our milk to individuals, processors and cooperatives.
Bar Farm has six regular workers whose jobs and wages are maintained even during the height of the pandemic. In addition to free accommodation and provision of rice, employees with children up to the age of seven receive fresh milk from the farm.
Now 78, Rara is a full-time farmer who stays on the farm most days of the week. On weekends, he takes a break with his family in town.
Rara may not have been successful in her early endeavors, but those bittersweet experiences have been replaced with fruitful discoveries and opportunities.
Photos courtesy of Bar Farm Dairy
For more information visit Dairy Farm Bar.
Learn more about farming and gardening at agriculture.com.ph
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