Friday, March 2, 2012

March 2012 Agriculture Mag Now Out

JOSEPHINE COSTALES is featured on the cover of the March 2012 issue of Agriculture Magazine published by the Manila Bulletin and edited by Zac B. Sarian. It is now off the press.
Josephine works in tandem with husband Ronald in managing Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna. Theirs is an organic farm where they produce lettuce, Japanese cucumber, French beans, culinary herbs, free-range chicken, naturally farmed pigs, fish and fruit trees.
The March issue also contains many other interesting articles that are full of doable ideas.
Agriculture Magazine is the most widely circulated magazine of its kind in the Philippines. It is available in most bookstores and at the outlets of Manila Bulletin nationwide.

Dr. William Dar Writes A Book

Feeding the Forgotten Poor is the title of a new book by Dr. William D. Dar, a multi-awarded Filipino agricultural scientist who is currently the director general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Hyderabad, India.
The book chronicles Dr. Dar’s perspectives in tackling poverty and hunger, especially among the poor. As it is observed, the world’s population will grow from almost 7 billion now to over 9 billion in 2050. The daunting question, according to him is – will there be enough food to go around?
In his book Dr. Dar raises the question of how the world is going to feed the poor, in an inspiring recounting of the events of his own life that shaped his career and his commitment to and vision of a world that is free from hunger and poverty.
Dr. Dar is a dynamic agriculturist and international research manager, in charge of leading ICRISAT in finding a path towards a smarter, healthier, more sustainable and resilient agriculture towards the attainment of food security, particularly in the dryland tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The book was launched in New Delhi on February 6 by no less than the former president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Kalam. The launch coincided with former president’s participation as chief guest during the inaugural session of the 2nd Global Agri-Business Incubation Conference: NIABI 2012. The event was organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in partnership with ICRISAT.
In the book’s foreword, Dr. Kalam wrote: “The book reveals perspectives to grow and provide food to the people wherever they live on Earth, backed by Dr. Dar’s own experiences in multiple countries. Particularly, I am impressed with the Chapter “Innovate, Grow and Prosper” where he deals with strategic science and dynamic development.”
The book, co-written by Arun Tiwari, is divided into four parts: (1) soil and Roots, (2) Stems, Leaves and Fruits, (3) Skin of the Earth, and (4) Growth and Prosperity. These parts correspond to Dr. Dar’s rise from national (in his native Philippines) to regional and international agricultural research for development and his life-long commitment to a hunger-free world.
The book is published by the Orient Book Swan Publishing Company and will soon be available in major stores in India.
Dr. Dar who comes from Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, holds the distinction of being the first Filipino and Asian to be Director General of ICRISAT, a member of the Consortium of CGIAR Centers. He led ICRISAT into renaissance, excellence and relevance with the motto “Science with a Human Face”. His transformational leadership has turned ICRISAT into a forward looking institute, which has been ranked “Outstanding” consecutively in 2006 and 2007 among the CGIAR centers.

ABIU Seedlings Available in Teresa

LUSCIOUS ABIU – The Abiu, an exotic fruit from Brazil, has long been introduced in the Philippines but it is still not familiar to many people. The yellow ripe fruit has a soft white flesh that is very nice to eat. It is sweet, tasting somewhat like the common caimito. The fruit tree has been growing and fruiting well at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. The beauty about this fruit tree is that it starts bearing fruit even when it is still just four years old and can be kept low by pruning to a height of two meters. It could be grown in containers and will still  bear full-sized fruits. Planting materials are now available in Teresa in big numbers.

Davao Trainees in Veggie Production

The SM Foundation’s 39th Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers’ training program was recently launched in Brgy. Tigatto, Buhangin, Davao City. The farmer participants came from this barangay and from the other barangays of Mandog and Waan. They are now undergoing lecture and hands-on training on the improved techniques of growing high-value crops such as vegetables, melons and watermelons and sweet corn. The program has been conducted in many places in the Philippines where the SM has existing malls. One objective is for farmers to produce high-quality vegetables that they could market to SM supermarkets as well as other outlets. Many of the graduates in previous trainings have improved their economic conditions, just like Leonardo Avila III who was able to buy his own tricycle for delivering his harvests to the market. Photo shows the trainees during the ceremonial planting of seedlings.

Two Important Commercial Camote Varieties

The LSU Purple and VSP6 are about the two most commercially important sweet potato varieties developed by the Root Crop Research and Training Center based at the Visayas State University in Baybay City, Leyte. 
The LSU Purple, also known as NSIC SP25, has about the highest dry matter content of 36 percent, hence it is very tasty when boiled. LSU Purple is also the sweetest with a sugar content of 4.07 percent. Most other varieties only have a sugar content of 2 to 3 percent.
Camote roots with high dry matter content are highly suitable for cooking. They don't easily break up when boiled or when made into banana-cue.
The other variety, VSP6, is high-yielding with an average yield of 21.02 tons per hectare. It also has a high dry matter content of 32.90 percent.
VSP6 is the most commonly grown variety in Tarlac and other parts of Central Luzon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


YOU can join the AANI Farm Tour this Sunday, March 4, 2012. The destinations are the Center for Rural Technology Development and the farm of Bert Coronel in Calauan, Laguna. At CRTD participants will see different technologies in integrated and organic farming that include tilapia, vermiculture, chickens, vegetables, fruit trees and others.
AANI has been conducting farm tours to different interesting places. The recent tours include the Costales Nature Farm in Majayjay, Laguna; the Harbest Agribusiness Training Center in Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan; The St. Martha Farm and Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.
Those interested to attend may contact Pol Rubia at 0917-847-5071. Better still go to the AANI Weekend Market at the St. Vincent Seminary on Tandang Sora, Quezon City. You can pay your reservation there so you will be assigned a definite seat. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fruiting Abiu in a Container

A young Abiu planted in a container has full-sized fruit.
THE beauty about Abiu, an exotic fruit from Brazil, is that it will bear full-sized fruit even when it is grown in a container as in photo.
Seedling trees (not grafted) will usually start bearing fruit in four years. The plant could be kept low by cutting the top. By doing so, more branches that will bear fruit will develop.
Fruiting is not only once a year. After the fruits have ripened, a new set of flowers will emerge not long after.
The Abiu is luscious. It tastes somewhat like the common Caimito, but not quite the same.
Seedlings that are more than one foot tall are available in big numbers at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. The place is very easy to find. It is along the road, Km 36.6, about 30 meters before the Teresa-Morong boundary. Teresa is the town next to Antipolo City.

Balik Scientist Goes For Organic Cacao

Dr. Divina Amelin, showing here a big pod of cacao, is a Balik Scientist from the University of Florida in the United States. She is now detailed with the Cacao Foundation of the Philippines (COCOAPHIL), working on integrated pest management in cacao plantations. A graduate of UP Los Banos and the University of Florida, she is an entomologist. She says that pod borer is a major pest of cacao. The damage could be minimized by strict sanitation in the plantation, sleeving or bagging of fruits, monitoring and other good agricultural practices. Cacao is one industry that is being revived in the country today.

Pickle Lady at Philfoodex

FLORDELIZA VALERIO showing her pickle
One  interesting person we met at the recent Philippine Food Exposition (Philfoodex) at the World Trade Center was a lady who specializes in making pickles out of locally available raw materials.
Her products are bestsellers because, as she claims, those who happen to taste her pickles always go back looking for more. She is Flordeliza Valerio, an enterprising businesswoman who had to do a lot of experiments to perfect her technique in coming up with quality pickles.
Her interest in making pickles started in 2006 after she was gifted with a bottle of singkamas pickle. She just took the bottled singkamas for granted and kept it in her refrigerator. After one year, she became curious about the singkamas pickle. She found out that the pickle was still crunchy and tasted very good.
From then on, she started her experiments to find out the best way to make pickles not only out of singkamas but also out of other materials like green mango, papaya, ampalaya and other vegetables.
Although she says that by 2008 she had not really perfected her pickling formula, she started marketing her products under her Delisha’s Homemade Atchara brand. The first encouraging word she got was from a medical doctor, Dr. Robert Ong. The doctor went back to tell her that her pickles were really good. That inspired her no end and she continued to pursue her pickle-making business.
She was further encouraged when a supplier of a big supermarket chain liked her products and made her a regular supplier. Now the fellow, Gary Aklan of Chorizo de Cebu, is buying from her 300 bottles of her pickles every week.
Soon the Department of Science and Technology noticed her interest in the pickling business. The DOST experts provided her valuable pointers on making her pickles. They taught her the value of sanitation, the use of high quality raw materials that have to be uniform in quality, the importance of on-time processing (the raw materials should be kept for a long time before processing). They also introduced to her mechanized operation like the use of a slicing machine, a mechanical grater and spinner.
She said the DOST has been very helpful in coming up with good quality packing and label design. The pickles are packed in high quality bottles containing 350 grams each and sold at P100 apiece.
Because of the equipment that DOST provided as a loan, her operation is much easier now and very systematic. She has come up with a system that works well for her business. Among the equipment that DOST provided worth P205,000 include a grater, cooking vat (for ampalaya), mechanical slicer and spinner (for draining water). She has five years to pay for these starting February 29, 2012.
The equipment are a big help, according to Flordeliza. For instance, when grating was done manually, her five workers took six hours to grate 50 kilos of green papaya. With the mechanical grater, it takes only 45 minutes now to grate 50 kilos of green papaya.
Floredliza’s pickles include ampalaya, singkamas, green papaya, sweet chili, eggplant, okra, cucumber, shallot, carabao and Indian mango. She is still experimenting on pickling kamias, yacon, santol, sitao and other vegetables. Each one has a different pickling solution without using any chemical as preservative.
Her operation is very systematic. She only pickles one kind in one day. For instance, she only pickles 50 kilos of ampalaya in one day and no other. She has to use first class fruits of the same variety, Galactica, to maintain uniform quality. The price of newly harvested ampalaya ranges from P40 to P65 per kilo. The 50 kilos would then range from P2,000 to P3,250. Add to that the cost of the pickling solution which includes small amounts of syrup, cane vinegar, refined sugar, bell pepper, hot pepper, iodized salt, garlic, ginger and shallot.
The 50 kilos of ampalaya will make about 200 bottles which are sold at P100 each, for a gross of P20,000. Of course you have to deduct from that the cost of raw materials, the pickling solutions, labor, packaging and marketing. Still it is a profitable proposition, according to Flordeliza. She estimates that the total cost of production is 70 percent of the selling price.
Flordeliza says that among her big buyers are Pasalubong Centers, Shopwise, Rustan’s, and others. She also regularly participates in food expositions and trade fairs. You can reach her at delisha’

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

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.


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.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...