Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Steamed Camote Root

Camote root is usually prepared by boiling  and frying. There's another way of preparing camote. Slice the roots about half inch thick. Steam it for five minutes or until it's fully cooked. You just wash the root well without removing the skin. You will love the taste. It is economical because you don't use oil in cooking. The slices are very convenient to eat. Try eating sliced camote for breakfast instead of rice, together with your other usual breakfast fare. Or try bringing sliced camote to office for your snack. That's what we sometimes do.

Malunggay in your Lugaw

Our friend, inventor and Mapecon founder Gonzalo "Jun" Catan swears that putting malunggay leaves in your congee or lugaw is very good. In fac that is what he usually takes for breakfast. He is 75 and is very healthy. He attributes his good health to his eating healthy food, including congee with malunggay. He recommends every home to plant at least one malunggay tree in their backyard where they can harvest their own supply of fresh leaves.
  
The malunggay tree can be pruned to a reachable height so that it is convenient to harvest the leaves. Cutting the main trunk to 1.5 meters above the ground could induce more branching for more leaves.
   

Freeze Your Caimito

Caimito is starting to be available in the market. At the roadsides at the boundary of Antipolo and Teresa, Rizal, the green and purple varieties are being sold now. Speaking of caimito, our friend Maripaz  Godinez of Green Meadows in Quezon City swears that freezing caimito is great. She particularly loves to freeze the purple variety.
  
In serving the frozen caimito fruit, she slices it in half and the flesh is scooped with a spoon. Maripaz will tell you that it is better to eat than ice cream. After all, fruit is very good for the health.
  
Why not try freezing caimito? This could also prolong the availability of the fruit to consumers. You can try freezing both the green and purple varieties. Of course, make sure to freeze the fruits without any defects.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lady Bedecked With Tillandsias

THIS is something you will see at the Flora Filipina Expo, a lady bedecked with Tillandsias. This must be the booth of my friend Rene Dofitas who is a most successful bromeliad breeder based in Bacolod City.
  
Rene and wife Doreen are attending the 3rd Flora Filipina Conference (Feb. 24 & 25) at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management Conference Hall on Visayas corner Elliptical Road, Quezon City.
  
In fact, Rene will be the speaker at the conference tomorrow, Feb. 25, at 1:45 p.m. He will talk on "Developments in Bromeliad Breeding in the Philippines."

Variegated Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

SOMETHING interesting that we saw at the ongoing Flora Filipina Expo at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City is this variegated version of the all-green Zamioculcas zamiifolia. The all-green cultivar is a favorite indoor decor because it is a very hardy plant.
  
In Taiwan, commercial sellers decorate their plants (some are really big) with ribbons and other decors to make them more visible and interesting.
  
This variegated version does not have to bedecked with ribbons for it to be noticed.

Dracaena with Pure White Stripes

SPOTTED at the commercial section of the Flora Filipina Expo at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City is this Dracaena with leaves that have very white stripes. This is attractive and a welcome addition to the cultivar with yellow stripes.
  
Potted plants of this cultivar could make a bright decor indoor on special occasions. The leaves could also be useful to Ikebana practitioners.

Remarkable Fern From Iligan

THIS is a Boston-type fern that was originally gathered in Iligan (Agusan province, Mindanao) several years back by a professor from the Central Mindanao University. The species name is not yet recorded in botanical journals. However, plant sellers have been selling and calling it Peruvian Fern.
  
At the ongoing Flora Filipina Expo at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City (Feb. 23 to March 6), it was entered in the competition and was entered as Nephrolepis Iliganensis (Peruvian Fern).
  
This fern has long fronds and is spectacular when grown into a large specimen as in photo.

Remarkable Hohenbergia

The HOHENBERGIA, a bromeliad,  is not impressive when it is not in flower. It has thick green leaves that have spines in the margins. When in bloom, it is spectacular. And the inflorescence lasts for months.

This particular plant is on exhibit in the ongoing Flora Filipina Expo (Feb. 23 to March 6) at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

National Artist & Apple Makopa

At the Artist's Village in Baler, Aurora province, which we visited last Feb. 19, 2012, we met National Artist Frank Sionil Jose. The first thing he mentioned when we saw each other was the Apple Makopa (maroon variety from Malaysia) which we gifted him many years back.
  
He said that the tree has been fruiting profusely the past many years. This is a fleshy variety that is crisp and sweet. We are still multiplying the same at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal and many others have been telling us their beautiful experience in growing the same.
  
Frank added that the tree did not bear fruit immediately. He talked to his tree. He threatened that he would cut down the tree if it did not start bearing fruit. Wonder of wonders, the tree, he said, started bearing fruits.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beautiful Ornamentals at Flora Filipina

TILLANDSIA FASCICULATA TROPIFLORA
The Flora Filipina garden show was formally opened at 4 p.m. of February 23 at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City. A lot of beautiful ornamentals and orchids are on display, and visitors will be able to see them up to March 6.

There are indigenous as well as imported species, hybrids and mutants. One of the immediate attractions is a tillandsia with branching pink bracts that are yellowish at the tip.

Here are the photos of the more remarkable ones.

If you are interested in cycads, you will be impressed by the exhibit of Encephalartos, Macrozamia, Zamia integrifolia and Zamia fischerii. Those exhibited are at least 30 years old.

Then there are exhibits of bonsai. As usual, the nice ones are the native Bantigue or Memphis acidula. Also exhibited are natural stones by the Suiseki aficionados.

From the collection of George Mendoza are a native fern that is variegated and a number of indigenous species, including a Leea with big leaves that are green on the upper surface and purple underside. Another is a Holeria rubra which has attractive leaves.

Speaking of ferns, a species that was collected in Iligan by a professor from Mindanao was conspicuous in the exhibits. This is an unidentified species but is now known in the trade as "Peruvian Fern". It was listed in the exhibit entry as Nephrolephis Iliganensis (Peruvian Fern).

Speaking of endemic species, particularly the flowering kind, there is a floriferous Ardisia pyramidallis on display.
DENDROBIUM ANOSMUM
ENCEPHALARTOS VILLOSUS
BROMELIADS GALORE

ZAMIA FISCHERII
ENCEPHALARTOS MUNCHII
ENCEPHALARTOS ALTENSTEINII
ANTHURIUM JENMANII
ENCEPHALARTOS FEROX
ENCEPHALARTOS SCHAIFSII
ENCEPHALARTOS CHIAMANENSIS
ENCEPHALARTOS MARUNGUENSIS
ALCANTAREA ODORATA

ALCANTAREA IMPERIALIS
TILLANDSIA SCHIDDEANA
NEOREGELIA CHILI CON CARNE
LOHERIA RUBRA (Native)
VARIEGATED SANSEVIERIA (Mutant)
HYBRID PHILODENDRON
PLATYCERIUM ELEPHANTOTIS
ARDISIA PYRAMIDALLIS
ANTHURIUM HOOKERII X MARIE
VARIEGATED TALISAY TREE
At the commercial section, there are many interesting ornamentals that are not exhibited in the exhibits. One of those we noticed is a mutant Kamuning (Murraya) that is full of berries. It is a result of irradiation by the experts of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute. This mutant has very small leaves and seedlings that are barely three inches tall may already bear fruit. The particular tree we saw was at least 10 years old and is priced at P2,500.
  
In the commercial booth of Lambana orchids, we saw the variegated Talisay tree prominently displayed. So are variegated foliage anthuriums. There are also mutant ferns.
  
At the Purificacion Orchids commercial booth, we saw a lot of beautiful Phalaenopsis grown in their Alfonso nursery in Cavite.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Winning Christmas Tree Made of Water Hyacinth

Mrs. Cynthia Villar is shown here posing with the winning Christmas Tree in a competition last December at a hotel in Makati. The Christmas Tree is made of cured stems of water hyacinth more popularly called water lily in the Philippines.
Mrs. Villar is responsible for starting an industry in Las Pinas where workers, men and women, have found a profitable livelihood making various handicrafts out of water hyacinth.
The idea started when the Las Pinas-Bacoor River was clogged with water lily. She thought of converting the pesky weed into something of value.Now, the river is cleared of all water hyacinth. They are now using water hyacinth from Laguna Lake.

Support for Dragon Fruit

THIS is a concrete support for dragon fruit that we saw in the farm of Pol Rubia in Candelaria, Quezon. A circular structure at the top is made of small pipes. You might want to copy this for your own dragon fruit plants. It is something very practical.

One Month Old French Beans

THIS is a photo of a one-month-old French Beans. It is already flowering. At 35 days, the first fruits could be harvested.
  
This variety is particularly suited to places with mild climate. The pods are long and slender. They are sweet and very tender. That is why they cost high in the market. One grower is selling his harvest at P180 to P200 per kilo.
  
We saw somebody trying to grow it in Morong, Rizal which is quite dry and hot. The pods were not as long as those grown in higher elevation. Nevertheless, the Morong grower was able to sell her harvest at P180 per kilo in Manila.

At Panabo Mariculture Park

That's me, Zac B. Sarian (seated at right), and Bert Braga, administrator of a college in Ozamiz City, at the fishcage of Dr. Frank de la Pena at the Panabo Mariculture Park.
  
Dr. De la Pena, an educator who is expert in fisheries, has come up with his own formulation of an organic fish feed which can cut down the cost of feeds by 20 percent.
  
He used to have many fishcages but had to reduce them to just two because the cost of feeds skyrocketed. When he started in 2008, a 40-kg bag used to cost about P500. Now the same is P700 to P800 per bag.
  
He is going to stock more cages soon because he has already developed a cheaper organic fish feed. Dr. De la Pena runs two colleges in Davao del Norte, one in Tagum and another in Panabo. He has also come up with a Natural Farming Institute.

Wild Cherry Tomato Seedlings

THESE are seedlings of a wild cherry tomato being grown by Ralph Diaz, a retired employee of the United Nations who is now doing his own brand of farming on the roofdeck of his building in Quezon City and in a farm that he is starting to develop in Bataan.
  
The fruit of the wild cherry tomato is sour, which is good for certain purposes. It could be used for cooking pinakbet.
  
Meanwhile, Dr. Rene Sumaoang revealed that  the sweet cherry tomato from Known-You is very good for cooking pinakbet. The resulting dish is sweet.

RALPH DIAZ: Roofdeck Gardener


Ralph Diaz, an agriculturist who retired from the United Nations, has a showcase of an urban garden at the roofdeck of his building in Quezon City. There, he grows his favorite lettuce, culinary and medicinal herbs as well as ornamental plants. He grows lettuce and various other vegetables in containers, using the technology of Dr. Eduardo Paningbatan Jr. of UP Los Banos. His rooftop garden is open to people who are interested in growing their own vegetables the organic way. The place is at 32 Timog Avenue, Quezon City. He is shown here with his plants, most of them hanging.

With Korean Students in Baler

During our trip to Baler, Aurora, we had the opportunity to meet ten Korean students who are in the Philippines for English proficiency studies in Manila. They were also guests of Sen. Angara in Baler. They are seen here with us and Sen Angara (right). The Koreans enjoyed the local food that included suman made of sticky rice, dipped in coco jam or in locally made peanut butter. Sen. Angara swears that the Aurora peanut butter is superior to other brands in the market. In fact, he says that balikbayans from the US usually take with them the Aurora peanut butter to their adopted country.

He Read My Story and Made Big Money

PAUL CRUZ is an enterprising guy who has a knack for spotting an opportunity. In 1995, we wrote about two enterprising guys in Malaysia who put up a nursery that specialized in growing full-grown Royal Palm for landscaping. We suggested that the same should be duplicated in the Philippines.
  
Paul picked up the idea and bought Royal Palm seedlings from a local nursery at P10 apiece. He grew them in between his mango trees in San Ildefonso, Bulacan.
  
One of his first clients was a golf course in Bulacan. He supplied the palm trees in exchange for a share in the golf course worth at least P500,000 at that time.
  
Today he is the main source of landscapers for their requirements of full-grown Royal Palms, ranging in price from as low as P3,000 to more than P10,000 each.
  
We met him for the first last February 17 when we visited Baler, Aurora as guest of Sen. Edgardo Angara. There, Paul profusely thanked us for the idea he got from our column in Panorama magazine. By his own estimate, he must have already sold more than P8 million worth of Royal Palms. He has in stock right now about 10,000 plants of different ages. He will be supplying the requirements of a new hotel being built by Sen. Angara in Baler.

Manager Is Honor Food Tech Graduate

Christy Dianne Ramos is an honor graduate in Food Technology from the Visayas State University in Baybay City, Leyte. After graduation, she was recruited by Sen.Angara to take charge of the Integrated Food Processing Center that he set up in Baler in February 2011. She is shown hereshowing banana chips they produced to Sen. Angara.

Integrated Food Processing Center in Baler

We visited on February 18 (2012) the Integrated Food Processing Center put up by Sen. Edgardo Angara in Baler, Aurora province last February 2011.
  
That's me, Zac B. Sarian, second from left. The others are Dr. Mark Perez, Sen. Edgardo Angara, Paul Cruz and Ed Calma.
  
The Center is processing banana and cassava chips. The chips taste great, especially if they are dipped in the Aurora coco jam or peanut butter.

Key Lime is Great

THESE are fruits of Key Lime we harvested from our trees grown in medium-size containers. The fruits are small but very juicy and with few seeds.
  
Key Lime has a very nice flavor. Squeezed over Balayan bagoong, it makes a great sauce for grilled fish and meat. The flavor is simply great.
  
Key Lime is a small tree so that it is perfect for growing in containers. It can be propagated by grafting or by marcoting. 
  
Fruiting trees as well as marcots that are about to bear fruit are available at Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. Call or text 0917-841-5477 for more info.

Coir and Dust from Coconut Husk

Sen. Angara is showing to visitors the coco net woven by
the farm families. Zac B. Sarian is at extreme left.
Three processing plants in Aurora province are converting the coconut husk into important byproducts, thus maximizing the income of farmers from their trees.
  
The coconut coir or fiber that is extracted from the husk by means of a decorticating machine is made into twines which are woven into coco net used in erosion control. The nets are installed in sloping areas to prevent the soil from eroding. Vetiver grass or some other vegetation is grown where the net is spread so that after several years, when the coco net shall have disintegrated, the grasses will already be well established to hold the soil. There are other uses of the coir aside from geotextile or coco net.
  
Another byproduct of coir extraction is the coco peat or dust which is also useful in agriculture. The dust is processed into potting medium for vegetables and other plants. In fact, the East-West Seed Company is said to be buying about 30 tons of coco peat from Aurora every month. The coco dust is also a valuable material for the manufacture of organic fertilizer.
  
The three coco coir and coco peat processing plants are located in Brgy. Reserva in the capital town of Baler, another in the town of San Luis and the third in Casiguran. The three plants can produce 36 tons of dried coconut coir per month. The coco dust is much more because the coir is just about 30 percent of the husk.
  
The processing plants have been put up under the initiative of Sen. Edgardo Angara who is very much interested in agriculture. A company called Principe Agribusiness Corporation is running the processing operations in the three plants.
   
The farmers make money by bringing their husk to the processing plant as well as in twining and making coco net out of the fiber.  Salvador B. Panes Jr. who manages the company said that the farmers are paid 25 centavos for every kilo of husk that they deliver.
  
The processing plant decorticates the husks and then the farmers are given fibers to make into twines and which they weave into coco net. Twining and weaving are family undertakings which are a good source of income for the farm families.
  
According to Panes, a family can make four rolls of coco net measuring one meter wide and 20 meters long. For every one square meter woven, they are paid P22 or P440 per roll. That means they can make P1,760 per day if they finish four rolls.
  
The coco peat is still to be fully utilized. There is a possibility that an organic fertilizer company can tie up with the Aurora processing plants in producing organic fertilizer. Dr. Rene Sumaoang who produces Durabloom fertilizer has indicated interest in a project like that.
  
Aurora is rich in coconut trees. It is claimed to have the biggest number of trees of all the provinces in Luzon. It has more coconuts than either Laguna or Quezon. In the capital town of Baler alone, it is claimed to have 14,000 hectares planted to coconut.
  
The province is also said to have the biggest coconut nursery. It produces 16,000 seedlings a year. According to Sen. Angara, the nuts from Aurora are 20 percent more meaty than those from other provinces. The nuts are also bigger.
  
The young coconut or “buko” from Aurora are supplied to Central Luzon up to Laoag City in the north. The coconut used for making “bukayo” in Pangasinan is sourced from Aurora.

Monday, February 20, 2012

American Girl Is OMG Volunteer

A 20-year-old girl student from Brunswick, Maine, in the United States has volunteered her services to the "Oh My Gulay" (OMG) program in Aurora province, helping encourage school children to eat vegetables and at the same time learn to grow the same.
  
She is Emma James, a student at the Bowdain College in Brunswick, majoring in anthropology and education. She comes from a farming family that produces organic vegetables and beef cattle. She has been in Aurora since January 16 and is collaborating with Michelle Calica, the vegetable technician of East-West Seed Company, in putting up vegetable gardens in the school grounds of five elementary schools in the province.
Michelle Calica, her partner, is a graduate from UP Los Banos who has been assigned by East-West Seed Company to implement the OMG program in five schools in the towns of Baler, Maria Aurora and Dipaculao.
  
OMG is a program initiated by Sen. Edgardo Angara as an answer to the prevailing malnutrition among children in the country. By undertaking the growing of vegetables right in the premises of elementary and high schools, it is hoped the children will learn to love eating vegetables and at the same time will also become familiar with the basics of growing the same. The program is being implemented in many schools in the country in collaboration with East-West Seed Company which develops and distributes high-yielding varieties of vegetables and other high-value crops.
In the school garden, improved vegetables are grown the scientific way. The soil is thoroughly prepared, processed organi fertilizer is incorporated in the plots, plastic mulch is used and other improved techniques are employed. The school children are themselves involved in doing the gardening chores hands-on.
  
Among the vegetables that they have  been planting in the school gardens are tomatoes, eggplant, sitao, pepper, cucumber, ampalaya, okra, pechay, lettuce and more.
  
Sometime in March (2012) when most of the vegetables would be harvestable, a field day will be conducted at the Maria Aurora Elementary school garden. Teachers, parents and other residents in the other towns in the province will be invited to attend the occasion. This is to show to as many people as possible the results of growing vegetables the scientific way.
  
Usually on such occasions, there's a vegetable cooking competition where the teachers and parents as well as students may cook their favorite vegetable recipes and winners are declared. Token rewards are given to the participants. And there's a tasting of the cooked food.
  
Emma James, by the way, is an adventurous student. She a grant from the Sen. George Mitchell Institute so she could travel in Southeast Asia. Before coming to the Philippines, she stayed in Vietnam observing community development.
  
She happened to read about the Oh My Gulay project initiated by Sen. Edgardo Angara and thought it would be an interesting experience to participate in the promotion of vegetable growing in the schools. She contacted Sen. Angara who was only too eager to accommodate her wish. Now she stays in one of the houses of the senator in the capital town of Baler.
  
By the way, Emma has learned to love the vegetable dishes in the Philippines. One of her favorites is ampalaya which is something new to her. She also likes the edible fern collected from the wild that is made into salad or cooked with coconut milk together with other ingredients.
  
She will stay in the Philippines until June before she goes back to the US to finish her studies in anthropology and education. She has three more semesters to go. She hopes to return to the Philippines to do her own field study.
  
Back home, she says her parents take care of 100 beef cattle raised the organic way. They have 200 acres for growing hay for the animals. On four acres, they grow for sale organic potatoes, pumpkins, leafy greens, tomato, sweet corn and more.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Growing Fruit Trees in Containers

If you don't want to plant fruit trees in the ground because you are just renting the land or the house where you are staying, you can grow fruit trees in containers. That's what we have been doing in our farm in Teresa, Rizal. There are a number of advantages in this system. First, you can transfer the position of the trees in container whenever necessary. You can take them with you when you transfer residence. Or you can sell the same if somebody is interested in buying them. You can't do that if the tree is planted in the ground, especially if it is already big.
Trees in containers are easy to manage. For instance, if you want to stress the tree prior to flowering, it would be easy to do so. You can withhold watering.
  
This practice is ideal for use in a property that is temporarily unutilized. For instance, there is a private school owner in Bulacan who is using part of the school campus for growing her favorite fruit trees in containers. She said that it will take many years before new buildings could be constructed there.  
  
There are many varieties that you can grow in containers. These include pummelos, calamansi, lemons and other citrus species. Others include chico, makopa, sweet tamarind, mango, Abiu, balimbing, pomegranate, rambutan, and others.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Advice on Mama Sita Banana

The Mama Sita banana is becoming increasingly popular because it is sturdy, produces big bunches, and the fruits are very versatile. They can be eaten as fresh ripe fruit, can be fried, boiled, barbecued and mad into banana chip.
  
One practical advice: Allow just one plant to develop in one hill. The fruit bunch will be bigger. If there are suckers, separate them as soon as they are 1.5 feet tall and plant the same if you have space.  When the plant is nearing fruiting, allow one sucker to become a replacement. After the fruit of the main plant has been harvested, cut down the old trunk so the new sucker will grow faster.
  
Tissue-cultured planting materials are sometimes available. Such planting materials grow fast. In one year, they could bear fruit. Right now (Feb. 16) there are a limited number of tissue-cultured Mama Sita at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.

Induce Branching of Young Fruit Trees

If you have young Abiu trees, say they are 4 feet tall and you want to induce them to produce many branches, all you have to do is to nip or cut the tip of the main stem. After that spray the plants with Ritz Harvest, a growth hormone. You will notice that in a short time, the plant will produce a lot of new branches. You can do the same with your mango, avocado and other fruit trees.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rimas Can Be Marcotted

The common belief is that Rimas or Bread Fruit can only be propagated by cutting the root and then taking out the sprout that will emerge from the cut root. Pol Rubia, vice president for operations of AANI, swears that branches of Rimas can be marcotted. He has done that in his farm in San Isidro, Candelaria, Quezon.
  
The trick is simple enough. Select a branch with a diameter of about one inch. Remove the bark of a portion about 1.5 inches long. Wrap the debarked portion with moist sphagnum moss or coco coir dust one week after debarking. Don't wrap it right away. Pol says that roots start to emerge as early as two weeks from wrapping. Cut off the rooted marcot when the roots have turned brownish.

Bamboo Collection in Las Pinas

Las Pinas City has a collection of 37 endemic bamboo species planted along the Las Pinas-Bacoor riverbank. These bamboo species help hold the soil along the river, thus preventing erosion. At the same time the Kawayan Tinik is cut for the use of those making lanterns and other items needed in connection with the livelihood projects of the city government. Mrs. Cynthia Villar, former congresswoman, was responsible for the establishment of the bamboo collection.
  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marang in Season

Marang is a very delicious fruit that is traditionally grown in Mindanao. It is now in season in Mindanao and ripe fruits are available in Davao City and many other places in the south.
  
The trouble is that Marang has poor shipping quality. Ripe fruits easily deteriorate so that those that are available in Manila, if there are, were usually harvested prematurely.
  
It has been shown that the Marang will also bear fruit in Luzon. In fact, one caller from UP Diliman contacted us one day telling us that they have a very fruitful tree that needed pruning. She was asking how to do that. We also know of a fellow in Brgy Aduas in Teresa, Rizal who used to have a number of fruiting Marang trees.
  
In other words, more people should plant this fruit tree in Luzon to meet the requirements in Manila.
  
Photo shows a Marang seller in a fruit market in Davao City.

Ralph Diaz & Black Pepper on Mahogany

RALPH DIAZ is a UP Los Banos agriculture graduate who worked for a long time with the United Nations. Now retired, his interest is hobby farming. He has a penthouse in his building in Quezon City where he grows beautiful lettuce and other greens. He has also bought a farm in Bataan where he will plant fruit trees. He has already bought a lot of Vietnam pummelo cultivars for planting any time from now.
  
Here is posing here with Paniyur, an Indian black pepper cultivar which grows very well in the Philippines. The black pepper is made to climb a mahogany tree. This vaiety produces long fruit spikes that are very pungent. Planting materials are available at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.

Watch For Coming Events

There are important coming events that you  would like to know. Like the Philfoodex, for instance. This is the 11th Philippine Food Expo to be staged on February 23-26 at the World Trade Center on Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. corner Sen. Puyat Avenue, Pasay City.
  
The trade fair aims to showcase the best local food products to both local and foreign attendees. The event’s theme is “From Farm to Fork, the Best Food Products to the World.”
  
To help buyers identify the sectors they want to cover, the four-day event will feature retail and exporters’ zones. Roberto Amores, Philfoodex president, said that the event will be a most ideal venue for sourcing and business matching for both local and foreign food industry players. He added that there are many exportable high quality products that are still unknown to the world market.
  
This year’s new features, according to Amores, include cottage industries pavilion and industry clusters showcasing the coffee, chocolate, mango, coconut, organic, condiments, snacks and beverage sectors.
  
Amores added that the Philippine Food Expo will highlight the importance of the various sectors involved in the manufacturing and development of export-quality food products – from ingredients, high technology processes, food safety standards and manufacturing practices to creative packaging and marketing strategies.
  
He said that previous editions of the food expo had over 300 exhibitors with sales of US2.6 million from more than 50 foreign buyers from Europe, the United States and Asia. There were more than 27,000 local trade buyers and visitors.
  
The trade expo will also feature lectures on food processing, cooking demonstrations, business matching opportunities and various special events.
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FLORA FILIPINA EXPO 2012 – A major horticultural event, the Flora Filipina Expo 2012, will be held from February 23 to March 12 at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City. One highlight is the Scientific Conference that will be held on Feb. 24-25 at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management on Visayas Avenue corner Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City.
  
Fee for students is P1,600 while P2,000 is for non-students. The scientific conference will feature foreign and Filipino resource persons. There will be foreign speakers from Indonesia, Thailand, India and Singapore.
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FIRST NATIONAL COCO SUGAR CONGRESS – The First National Coconut Sap Sugar Industry Congress (NCSSIC) will be held on March 5 to 6 at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City.
  
The Congress aims to craft a master plan aimed at developing what is popularly called the coco sugar industry to seize more opportunities in a $1.5 billion alternative sweetener global market.
  
“With the increasing demand, the coconut sap sugar industry presents a promising business opportunity for the farmers and small to medium enterprises,” according to NCSSIC Chairman Erlene C. Manohar who is also project development officer of the Philippine Coconut Authority.
  
The Congress is under the auspices of the Bureau of Agricultural Research and the Philippine Coconut Authority.
  
Director Nicomedes Eleazar of BAR believes that “our farmers and entrepreneurs can create a niche in natural products whose primary value is their health quality. Coconut sap sugar is one of those products that has already taken off in the market and which still offers so much valuable growth potential.”
  
There are only three countries competing in the coconut sap sugar supply in the world market, namely Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. The Philippines has competitive advantage over Thailand in terms of volume and against Indonesia in terms of quality.
    
The Philippines broke into the coconut sap sugar market in the United States in March 2007 after proving that the coconut sap sugar has a low glycemic index (GI) at 35. Any sugar-based product is considered low when its GI is 54 and below. This is much lower than the 65 to 100 GI for sugarcane-based sugars.
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AGRI-KAPIHAN SKED – The Agri-Kapihan is now held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 noon at the AANI Weekend Market premises at the St. Vincent Seminary on Tandang Sora, Quezon City.
  
The topic on February 18 is on Biogas which will be tackled by Pio Rodriguez who has a working portable model for residential use.
  
On February 25, the topic will be on swine production which will be tackled by Vic Alburo.
  
The Agri-Kapihan is a forum that is open free to farming enthusiasts. It was organized in 1986 by the editor of this page, and has been ongoing since then.
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KSA RADIO PROGRAM – Tune in to the radio program “Kaunlaran sa Agrikultura” (KSA) which is aired every Sunday from 4:30 to 7:30 in the morning on radio station DWWW, 774 khz on the AM band. It is co-anchored by Tony S. Rola, Nina Manzanares-Agu and Zac B. Sarian.
  
We have a segment on ornamental horticulture and success stories. Other segments include farm mechanization, fruit trees, fertilizers and pesticides, marketing ideas, research results, schedule of events and many others.

Remarkable Flowering Plant

This floriferous shrub was spotted at the commercial section of the recent Horticulture 2012, the annual garden show of the Philippine Horticultural Society held at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.


It is a variegated version of the Clerodendrum quadriloculare, a native of the Philippines. It is quite rare because of its variegated leaves. The common one is the all-green cultivar.


An enterprising member of PHS paid P7,000 for this particular plant. He intends to grow it even more floriferous for the next Horti show. It could win the Best-in-Show award hands down.

Known-You's Sweetest Melon

This is how the fruit of Known You's sweetest new melon hybrid looks like. Called Red Aroma, the fruit is deep globe-shaped, and it rind is gray-green with stable nets. Fruit weighs around two kilos. The thick dark orange flesh with soft texture has a good aroma and a high Brix of 15 to 18 degrees. It can be harvested around 75 to 90 days after sowing and is good for shipping and storage. It is claimed to be resistant to Fusarium wilt.


This variety is one of 500 high-value crop varieties that are now being field tested at the Known-You Philippines (KYP) demo farm in Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan KYP is a new joint venture company of Known-You of Taiwan and Harbest Agribusiness of Toto Barcelona of the Philippines.
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