September 30, 2023

While agriculture remains to be the backbone of the economy of the country, the rich agricultural resources provide employment opportunities to a large percentage of the population and resources for food and raw materials for various industries.
In Kibungan, Benguet, farming plays a significant role as it remains to be the main source of livelihood for the community. Historically, the early settlers of Kibungan during the 18th century contented themselves in cultivating camote or sweet potato in their nem-a or upland swiddens. The crops they produced include potatoes, cabbage, carrot, radish, strawberries, and lettuce, most of which are commercially grown, a study noted.
The study of Roji Mae B. Lorenzo and Nora C. Sagayo titled “Wat ta iman supsuplay” (We are but supplied farmers)”: Understanding the Practice of Pasuplay System on Vegetable Production in Madaymen, Kibungan, Benguet” documented the practice of pasuplay system on vegetable production in 2018.
The vegetable production in Madaymen’s landlord-tenant relationship is observed in the practice of the pasuplay system, which is generally known as the supply system. It started when the number of migrants began to increase, which led to the establishment of more businesses. In addition, some farmers do not have enough cash to cultivate their land and some farmers were landless.
Meanwhile, Batani in 2013 emphasized that pasuplay system is a version of an informal credit system that has evolved into several schemes, depending on the norm of the place and personal relationships between a supplier and the one being supplied.
Lilia Gumpic, a supplier, said the pasuplay system is a job opportunity for those who want to grow crops but do not own land and cannot afford to buy the needed farm inputs. It is a form of an informal credit system where the supplier funds her supplied farmers in the form of fertilizers, seeds, and land. This includes shelter and food for the farmers.
The pasuplay system is relevant to Kibungan farmers as a source of income. One of the migrant supplied farmers from Burgos, La Union shared they engage in the system due to the lack of job opportunities in the community.
“We engaged in the pasuplay because we have no land to cultivate. It is where we earn money for a living,” a farmer from Sagpat, Kibungan shared.
Pasuplay system has five stages: ngalatan (agreement), panag-uubla (cropping), panag-aapit (harvesting), panaglalako (marketing), and panagtototal (computation of share).
The first stage is the ngalatan/istoryaan. It involves face-to-face communication between the landowner of the supplier and the supplied farmer. The farmer communicates with the supplier and tells his purpose of entering the pasuplay. If the supplier agreed, they would proceed to the proper ngalatan where discussions are made. The ngalatan is usually done inside the house of the supplier. Here, they will make an agreement regarding the land tenancy, the different expenses that will be outlaid to the supplied farmer, the benefits of the farmers, the responsibilities of the farmers, farm visits, and the rules and regulations of the supplier.
The panag-uubla follows. This stage is the longest stage because it covers the whole year, which is divided every four months. It is where the farmers cultivate and nurture the land where they plant seeds, fertilize the crops, and apply manure to the crops. During this stage, the supplier is not involved in how the farmer does his or her farming. Therefore, all activities in the panag-uubla are shouldered by the supplied farmer. On the other hand, he or she can also pay laborers to help him or her when he or she cannot do everything by himself or herself.
Panag-aapit is the next stage. Harvesting is usually done two to three times a year, depending on the number of times a farmer planted. Before the vegetables are harvested, the supplied farmers will set a schedule for the harvest. They will consult the supplier regarding the availability of the vehicle for transportation, which is owned by the supplier to haul their products with. Also, the basis for setting the schedule for harvesting depends on the availability of the date of harvest. In this stage, allusion is usually observed wherein supplied farmers gather and help each other to harvest their co-supplied vegetables. In return, when they harvest their vegetables, the others will do the same. As part of the alluyon, the supplied farmer host is responsible for the meals of his companions since all the supplied farmers are required to help in harvesting.
Next is the panaglalako or the marketing stage. After harvesting the crops, the products will be sold in the market specifically at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post. According to the farmers, if the vegetable’s price is P30 per kilogram and above, the disposer will get P3 per kilo as commission. The farmer also helps in sorting and packaging the vegetables to ensure the security and safety of products.
Panagtototal is the last stage. This stage is also called by the farmers as the “judgment stage” because they will know if they have a share of the crops. During this stage, all supplied farmers are required to participate and witness the computation. It is usually done every month of the year after all crops are harvested. Usually, only the first and second harvests are computed since the third harvest is yet to be done. In this case, another computation will be conducted for farmers and suppliers only.
The farmers revealed the panagtototal will be pursued regardless if their crops are destroyed by typhoons. Together, they must compute the total profit of the harvested crop and then deduct it from the total expenses consumed for raising the crops and the rent of the cultivated land.
The pasuplay system contributes to the socio-economic development of the farmers involved in the system. For instance, the Gumpic family’s lifestyle was upgraded, and the pasuplay system enhanced their economic status because they can save money and other resources for the future.
Lilia Gumpic, one of the suppliers in Kibungan, said as she cannot cultivate the land by herself, the system helped her (through her supplied farmers) till the land. She gets her income from this, which she uses to buy medicines, food, and clothing, and to pay the taxes on her lands.
It also helped her to survive, especially after her husband died from illness. Other members of her family have benefited from the pasuplay system. Her children were able to build their own houses from the income of the pasuplay. They can send their children to school and even afford to travel abroad.
As to the supplied farmers, they developed the following values: a sense of responsibility; friendship or kinship; and courage. From Rowland’s overlapping dimensions, it was implied that the supplied farmers are personally empowered because they develop their individual consciousness and confidence to confront oppression.
On the other hand, some of the supplied farmers said while they are at the losing end of this kind of economic arrangement, they also think that it is better than nothing at all.
“If we insist personal farming, it is hard for us to finance our needs. In the pasuplay system we can join the informal credit,” the farmer said.
However, there is still a feudal relationship existing between the supplier and supplied farmers. Inside the pasuplay system, it is not always a win-win situation. The supplied farmers remain to be under the control of the supplier. In essence, they are not totally empowered. Also, the supplied farmers can never get out of the system because of the cycle of indebtedness.
Problems encountered by the supplier and the supplied farmers in the pasuplay system include low price of vegetables, poor and ineffective management of the farmland, some of the farmers being very dependent on the pasuplay system, availability of the equipment in the production of the crops, high transportation fee, high additional price in the farm inputs, the misuse of alluyon in the pasuplay system, high cost of the farmland rent, untimely occurrence of the typhoons or the effect of climate change and attacks of the diseases to crops, and lack of transparency of receipts.
The study recommends for policy advocacy through the local government unit to enter the pasuplay system, especially in passing ordinances that will regulate the system to be both fair to the supplier and supplied farmer.