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Success Story

Ka Ner’s Hito Culture in Fishpond

qIt all started with his wife’s goiter.

Five years ago, the family of Cornelio “Ka Ner” Casipit was tried by fate. His wife’s goiter problem got serious and she needed to undergo surgery. They needed P 20,000.00 and during that time, producing that kind of money wasn’t as easy as 1, 2, 3. With God’s help however, they were able to produce the amount and had his wife operated. Unbeknownst to them, the trial would be the start of something better for their family.

Unexpectedly, there was a P 3,000.00 amount left from the money intended for the surgery. During those times, Ka Ner was hearing a lot of positive feedbacks regarding hito culture. Without thinking twice, he used the remaining money to start his own hito culture business. He had a joint partner then whose counterpart was labor capital and they used Ka Ner’s financial counterpart to buy hito fingerlings and construction materials for the fish cage. They built the fish cage in the town’s nearby river and it was beginner’s luck when at their first harvest, their gross sales reached four times their initial capital. Not only did they got back their capital, they also profited P 3,000.00 each which was already a big amount then for them. That gave them the courage to stake out all they have earned and added another fish cage and doubled their stocks. According to Ka Ner, their biggest income was P 14,000.00 with the price of hito ranging from P 38.00 to P 40.00 per kilo.

They used the “staggered” stocking system which enabled them to harvest every month instead of waiting for the 4-month culture period to end. Ka Ner said it was necessary because they had children they were sending to school and they needed money every now and then.

At first, all was going smoothly until the rainy season came and they noticed that their stocks are growing unhealthy. They realized that because of the rain, pollution in the river rose up and rushing flood from upstream brought more garbage and waste. The uncontrollable pollution made their project seasonal. They couldn’t risk the health of their stocks and thus, there were months that they had to harvest early and sell the hito in a much lower price. And worst, there were months that they didn’t have any harvest at all and their income suffered.

Ka Ner transferred their project in the lakeside. This time, he did it alone. His partner entered a new business venture. Ka Ner dug semi-fishponds along the lake and arranged sand bags as dikes. At first, his set-up was doing well and he managed to profit every harvest. But as soon as the tide rises up and the water gets big on the onset of the rainy season, he knew his lakeside project is destined to be seasonal again. He had to prevent his stocks from being washed-out and so he couldn’t culture hito when the water is high. Every year he had to excavate and arrange sandbags as if he was starting again and again, year after year. His project was yet again seasonal and so was his income.

Ka Ner was never hopeless though. He saved money from his profits every harvest and he was able to buy a 500 m² land after some time. He built three small fishponds within the area where he transferred his stocks from the lakeside. It seemed that he never runs out of luck for after his first harvest in his three fishponds, he was able to buy again another 500 m² land and built two additional fishponds. He was also able to build a large nipa hut near his fishponds where he stays most of the day.

Aside from being their source of income, Ka Ner said culturing hito became a hobby to him. It also became an advantage to him that he is now culturing hito in a backyard set-up rather than in a river or in the lakeside where there is much work and yearly digging up and arranging heavy sandbags which he couldn’t do anymore because of his old age. He said he’d rather stay on his backyard fishponds where there is little work and requires only one helper to make the entire job done.

Just last April 2007, Ka Ner started culturing fry to be sold as fingerlings in addition to his grow-out. He said he learned from someone that it gives a more regular and higher income than grow-out because the operation is monthly and there would be a ready capital to be used for the next operation. A box of fry costs P 3,000.00 with more or less a 100,000 pieces of hito fry. Even if there is 50% mortality after a month’s culture, assuming that 90% of the remaining will be sold as fingerlings and 10% for grow-out, with only P 3,000.00 spent for feeds and gasoline for a month, Ka Ner would still profit handsomely and even give his helper proper compensation with an additional P 500.00-bonus. With regards to grow-out, for 10,000 pieces two-month old fingerlings and 700 kgs harvestable adult, he spends P 300.00 per day for feeds and P 100.00 for gasoline every two days. Assuming again that 10% of the fingerlings will die and the remaining would range from four to five pieces per kilo and a kilo is P 60.00, Ka Ner would profit at least P 50,000.00. Since he uses staggered stocking, the 700 kgs will be harvested on the first month, and he may replenish it by stocking another set of fingerlings and then harvest again some of the previous stocks on the following month and so on and so forth. Suffice to say that his P 50,000.00 income is not fixed and would not be lesser for four months.

Even if things are going well and smoothly for Ka Ner’s hito fishponds, he still has plans on developing his project. For one, he plans to study more on artificial insemination so that in the future, they wouldn’t have to call an expert, do the job for them and pay for its service. His second plan would be to buy his own truck to transport his hito to pre-contacted buyers so that they won’t have to wait for middlemen anymore to come at their site and pick-up their hito. He said his profit would increase more when they will do the transporting themselves considering that these middlemen buy hito from them at only P 60.00 per kilo and sell it at P 10.00 higher per kilo.

When asked about his secret on success, he said that the most important thing is to be hardworking and patient. He said one has to be patient on facing problems and work hard to solve it. There may be risks but once a person had encountered and solved these risks, he would learn from it and might even prevent it from happening again. Furthermore, having a small capital should not stop a person from starting his own business; even the smallest of a capital could serve as a starter for a business venture. He also stressed the importance of a continuous inquiry, that it is important to be curious and concerned enough to ask about things being encountered in the business. This way, he would learn from other people’s experiences and combine it with his own experiences thereby polishing his ways and methods for the improvement of his project.

Indeed Ka Ner’s story is truly inspiring. According to Ka Ner, there are many amusing stories that could be mined from his experiences on hito. But his most memorable story was the one that happened one rainy day when he was still culturing hito on a fish cage in the river. He could never forget what his son said which made him realized that his hito really became their bread and butter and that he never thought his sons are as concerned as him to their business. It was nearing school enrolment then, and one of his sons who was on his last year of Physical Therapy course said, “Tay, agapan natin yung hito, wala akong pang-tuition” (father, lets harvest the hito early, I need money for my tuition fee). Among the three set-ups he went through with his hito, the fish cage in the river became the most special. Not only because it was his start on his hito venture, but also because it had provided for his son’s education and promoted a closer relationship among them. (AMT Fontanilla)

 


 


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Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
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