Categories: Church newsPublished On: 12 February 2024

Jerome and Jenny Mejio are newly married, both in their early 20’s, with a daughter, Akiesha Jane (2). At the time of their marriage, there was a one-hectare area belonging to the government which Jerome’s parents had been cultivating for almost two decades. Under the government’s comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP), this area is now being given to Jerome’s parents. However, as the parents are getting old, they are in turn transferring this same one hectare area to Jerome to cultivate, since he now has a family to support. Working as a farm labourer is Jerome’s main job. He gets hired to do work on neighbouring farms; the jobs comprise either weeding or the planting of sugarcane, banana shoots and root crops. For this, in a typical week he gets paid 800 pesos (€13). On days when he is not working on other people’s farms, he works on his own piece of land which he has planted with corn. The Mejio couple obtain enough corn for their own consumption from their twice-yearly harvests. Jerome is very keen to start sugarcane cultivation as soon as possible on his newly acquired piece of land so he is already gathering robust-looking left over sugarcane cuttings to be used as starter sugar points. He will plant sugarcane and intercrop it with corn. Come early next month, Jerome will be renting a carabao (water buffalo) in order to plough the field; this will take two weeks. Immediately after ploughing will be the perfect time to plant his new sugar points. However Jerome will need to buy at least 10 sacks of fertiliser to assure a good crop and it is for this reason that he is applying for a loan. With sugarcane, the cycle is four years which means that there is no need to plant sugar points again until year 5. The first cropping is not very lucrative due to a low sugar content but Jerome can still expect to make an income of 30,000 pesos (€500) after deducting his farming expenses. By the second year, the harvest could give Jerome a net income of at least double that amount. When I asked Jerome how he intended to use his income, his reply was that he wanted to make improvements to his native-style abode, by installing interior partitions to separate the kitchen, dining and bedroom areas. He would also like to have electricity installed; at present they are connected to a neighbour’s house in order to have lighting at night. The Mejio couple are excited about the prospects for their sugarcane cultivation and we wish them every success.