Managing with seasonal income flow differences

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Rice farmer, Iloilo Province, The Philippines, February 22nd 2009

Roger is the eldest of a family of seven. When he was 13 years old, he would watch his parents work hard in the fields as casual labour during the rice planting season to earn enough money to feed, clothe and educate him and his siblings. The following year he told them that he would work too and he stopped going to school for two years until the day his mother got a job as a domestic servant in Hong Kong. He's a qualified marine engineer but took the decision to stay home with his two sons when his wife found a similar position overseas. Instead, he leases a hectare of land for two years at a time and grows rice.

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Rice drying before husking

Because his field isn't close to any natural water source, Roger is dependent on natural rainfall for planning his planting seasons. In a good year, he will get two harvests as opposed to three that those with low lying fields and irrigation are able to achieve. Rice can be harvested in three months but until the rains come in April or May, this is the 'dry' season or summer from January onwards. But Roger is a strategic planner, he has a godown for storage and holds on to his rice until this season when the prices are much higher than during harvest times. He can afford to do this because he also keeps a few cows (for beef), pigs and chickens. A rooster can sell for around 200 pesos but if they are trained to be 'fighting cocks' they can command prices upto 2000 pesos, which is what he prefers to do, culling the best from the chicks.

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Fighting cocks kept in separate cages

Even though Mrs Roger sends home money from her job, Roger prefers to save it towards the day when he can buy his own land for farming. He saw his parents go to work on other people's land growing up and he won't let that happen to his sons. He's proud of the fact that he can manage selling sacks of rice from two harvest in a manner that allows him to accommodate the fluctuating prices and also to balance the ups and downs of his income from these variety of sources. Some are sold at harvest time for working capital but most are held until he thinks he has the best price. He tracks prices in the nearby towns during the dry season every few days.

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Hand or carabou powered tractors for wet paddy field plowing

His highest cost is that of fertilizer, labour just costs 150 peso a day during planting and harvesting and course there is the rent of the hand tractors involved. There isn't much of a profit to be made if you don't own your own land or it doesn't yield enough. Most people grow for their own kitchen and sell what's left over. You can call a rice husking truck if you just want to a sack or two for your own needs but the bulk is sent to rice mills.

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Mobile rice husking machine
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