Sunday, March 11, 2012

Upcoming Event: 5th National Goat and Sheep Congress

On March 22-24, the 5th National Goat and Sheep Congress will be held in Clark, Pampanga under the auspices of the Federation of Goat and Sheep Producers Associations headed by Ben Rara. There will be a showcase of upgraded goats and sheep. There will be a competition of island-born animals. No imported animals will be entered. Contact Ben Rara at 0927-970-1253.

Upcoming Techno Forum

ON Saturday, March 17, there will be a Techno Forum at the Harbest Training Center in Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan. There will be discussions on improved vegetables and other high value crops, drip irrigation with fertilization (fertigation), use of small tractors for land preparation for vegetables, tobacco and other crops. Contact Harbest Agribusiness at (02) 671-7411 to 14 for more details. Attendees will also be able to see the 500 varieties of Known-You Seeds being field tested at the Known-You Philippines experimental farm.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Don't Feed Too Much Spent Grains

Some livestock raisers, particularly cattle and goat raisers, feed their animals with spent grains from the beer factory. The animals love the feed because it is very palatable. But the advice of the expert we met in Thailand is that you should not feed too much brewers's spent grains. 
Why? He said that it will lead to acidosis in the stomach. The stomach will become too acidic so that the beneficial microflora will be killed. That means, digestion of the feed intake will be hampered. Much of the nutrients will not be digested and not used by the animal.


Listen to the radio program "Kaunlaran Sa Agrikultura" for the latest tips on fruit trees, ornamental plants, success stories, advice on various topics of interest to farmers, money-making opportunities, farm mechanization and others.

Kaunlaran sa Agrikultura is aired every Sunday from 4:30 to 7:30 in the morning at radio station DWWW, 774 khz on the AM band. The program is co-hosted by Tony S. Rola, Nina Manzanares-Agu and Zac B. Sarian.

Bhagwa Pomegranate Now Available

Planting materials of Bhagwa, the pomegranate variety from India, are now available at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. You can plant the seedling in the ground or in a container. Our favorite container is the medium size rubberized container.

There is increasing interest in pomegranate because of its reported medicinal properties. It is high in antioxidants. It is claimed to be highly effective in maintaining a healthy prostate gland.

Teresa Orchard is very easy to locate. It is along the road, about 30 meters before the Teresa-Morong boundary. Teresa is the next town to Antipolo City. Call or text 0917-841-5477.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fruiting Black Pepper In A Pot

You can grow your own fruiting black pepper in a pot or some other container. The trick is to marcot the fruiting vines and plant them in a container. The fruiting vines will remain dwarf and will continue fruiting. This was proven in a study many years back at UP Los Banos by the late Salvador Dolar.

There are two types of vine that could be marcotted or rooted. One is the runner, a non-fruiting vine. This will become viny. The other is the fruiting vine. This will remain dwarf.

The Teresa Orchard & Nursery has rooted cuttings of the Paniyur variety from Kerala, India. This produces long fruit spikes.They are available at P100 per three rooted planting materials.

Mangosteen Seedlings in Teresa

MANGOSTEEN, the so-called Queen of Philippine Fruits, will also grow and bear fruit in Luzon for as long as the tree is adequately taken care of.
While the plant is young, it is best to provide partial shade. It is a slow grower so it is good to apply fertilizer frequently. Aside from applying a lot of organic fertilizer in the soil, it is also helpful to spray the plants with foliar fertilizer once a week or every two weeks. Chemical fertilizer (complete) may also be applied in the soil.
Bury the chemical fertilizer at least an inch below the surface. Then the plant should be immediately watered after applying the fertilizer.
Seedlings in big numbers are available at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery. The nursery is along the road, about 30 meters before the Teresa-Morong boundary, right side if coming from Antipolo. Teresa is the town next to Antipolo City. Call or text 0917-841-5477 for more info.

Tortoise Shell Bamboo

THIS is a rare bamboo that was exhibited in a garden show in Tokyo, Japan that we attended some time back.
It is called Tortoise Shell Bamboo because the internodes look like tortoise shell.
Many plant collectors who have earlier seen this photo that we took have been longing to own one.
Owning an unusual plant is the dream of plant aficionados. And they would be willing to pay a high price for it. And that is why some enterprising people in the plant business are always on the look out for something new. (Photo by Zac B. Sarian)

Some Tips on Flowering Durian

Durian trees in Luzon started to flower middle of last February 2012. The fruits will ripen in late May or June. More and more fruit tree farmers are planting durian in Luzon as they have proven it to be suited to many parts of the big island. Photo shows the clusters of unopened flowers of a hybrid durian from Malaysia which is grown at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.
The Malaysian hybrid has small fruits (1.5 to 2 kilos) but is very fleshy and with excellent eating quality.
SOME TIPS: While the tree is in bloom, maintain sufficient moisture in the soil. Don’t apply nitrogenous fertilizer (urea) or the flowers will fall. When the flowers open, manually pollinate some of them. This is best done in the evening. Thin out some of the young fruits if there are too many in one cluster. You may spray Nevirol on the open flowers, a chemical that prevents the flowers and fruitlets from falling.

A Native Leea Species

IN Photo with Tess Baldonado is a nice specimen of a native Leea species, a mother plant at the Teresa, Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.
While Teresa Orchard specializes in exotic fruit trees, there are a few selected ornamental plants that are being grown.
This species is still rare in the market. It is quite easy to propagate, however. Marcots easily produce roots in three weeks or one month.
The upper side of the leaves is dark green while the underside is purple.

Queen of Flowering Trees

IT'S now the blooming season of Amherstia nobilis, the so-called Queen of Flowering Trees. The tree at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, is full of pendulous flower clusters at this time (March 8, 2012).
The flowering tree is a native of Burma or Myanmar and was named after Lady Amherst, the first lady of a governor general of India.
The Amherstia was introduced at the UP Los Banos before World War II but it has not become widespread because it does not normally bear fruit. The first time the tree in Los Banos produced large pink pods was when a senior researcher of the Department of Agronomy treated the flowers with hormone.
The tree is also difficult to multiply by marcotting. Out of 10 branches marcotted at Teresa, only two produced roots and eventually survived.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Banana with a Thousand Fingers

THAT'S me, Zac B. Sarian, posing with Pisang Siribu, the banana from Indonesia with a thousand fingers. This is not one for food production. There are just a few fingers that are edible, tasting like the ordinary Saba banana.
This variety is more of a curiosity plant. It could be an attention-getter in a plant collector's collection of unusual plants. It could be a money maker, however, for those who have acquired it ahead of others because collectors are usually willing to pay a high price for a sucker.
At any rate, it is not for food production.

Sweet Sorghum Processor

ANTONIO ARCANGEL of Batac City, Ilocos Norte, is a serious private investor in producing various sweet sorghum products.
He has been making vinegar out of sweet sorghum. Another product is sweet sorghum syrup. The latest we heard is that he has been able to produce sweet sorghum sugar powder through spray-drying. The sugar produced has low glycemic index which means it would be better than the sugar from sugarcane, especially for diabetics.
As of the moment, spray-drying is being done at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). A commercial spray-dryer costs about P1.4 million. Hopefully, Tony would be able to acquire one through a research agency of the government.
Sweet sorghum juice is first turned into syrup. The syrup is then spray-dried to produce the sweet sorghum sugar powder.
Photo shows Tony Arcangel showing a bottle of sweet sorghum syrup.

Antica Now Available in Luzon

ANTICA, the first organic fungicide with bactericidal properties to be approved by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, is now available in Luzon through Manchem Industries (0917-532-0387, Tony Lucero).
Antica has been proven to be effective against various diseases, including anthracnose in mango, Sigatoka in banana, Tungro in rice and fungal diseases in vegetables.
Antica is a product of Ahcil Laboratories of Cebu. The product is an invention of a chemical engineer, Gigi Zaballero, now a multi-awarded scientist.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nam Roi (White Vietnam Pummelo)

That's me, Zac B. Sarian, with the lady selling Nam Roi pummelo at the Can Tho Airport in Vietnam. The Nam Roi variety is an important commercial variety grown in Vietnam. It has white flesh that is juicy, sweet and easily detaches from the skin.

The Nam Roi pummelo is now grown in the Philippines. Fruiting trees in container can be seen at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. Grafted and marcotted planting materials are available.
There's also a red version of Nam Roi. And it is called Dha Xanh.

His Tricycle For Veggie Delivery

Photo shows Leonardo Avila III of Davao City with his brand new tricycle which he uses to transport his vegetable harvests to the market. Avila is one of the previous trainees in vegetable production under the SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers’ Training Program on vegetable production in collaboration with Harbest Agribusiness. Under the program, farmers undergo hands-on training on the various aspects of producing high-value vegetables and other crops. Recently, SM Foundation launched its 39 batch of the training program in Davao City’s Mandog and Waan barangays. By having his own tricycle for delivery to the market, Avila’s vegetables don’t pass through a series of middlemen before they reach the consumers.

Balimbing In A Container

You can grow your favorite Balimbing (Star Fruit) in a container and yet get full-sized fruits. The trick is to grow it in a medium that is rich in organic matter and it should be fertilized with organic as well as complete chemical fertilizer. The beauty about growing the tree in a container is that it is portable and can be transferred to a desired location any time.
There are grafted Balimbing with big fruits that are juicy and sweet. There are those that are just 2.5 feet tall that are already flowering. Some can be had at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. (0917-841-5477).

Grafted Duku Lanzones Available at Teresa

The Duku lanzones is a prolific fruit bearer and the fruits are sweet with a nice flavor. The fruits are also latexless and are very easy to open by pressing with the thumb and index finger. The skin is thicker than that of the ordinary lanzones so that it has a longer shelf life. Grafted planting materials in big numbers that are ready for planting are available at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. For more info, contact 0917-841-5477.

Ripe Mama Sita Banana

These are ripe fruits of the Mama Sita banana which was introduced into the country as part of a collaborative research between a private foundation (Mama Sita Foundation) and a government research institution, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARD).  The project which was aimed at introducing possible fruit crops for commercial production was originally initiated by former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. who used to head the Agriculture Committee in the Philippine Senate. The research was undertaken by Dr. Benito S. Vergara, a retired scientist from IRRI but who is very much interested in horticultural crops. The Mama Sita banana did not take long to take off as a commercial variety for local production. It is now grown by many farmers, using tissue-culture planting materials as well as suckers.

Talad Thai Market - A Memorable Place

Whenever we visit Thailand (two times in 2011 and several times earlier), we always try to visit Talad Thai wholesale market about an hour’s drive north of Bangkok.
First, the fruit section. This is our favorite place because you can find practically all the fruits in season in Thailand. And they are much cheaper than those you will find at the Otoko market and other markets in Bangkok.
MANGOSTEEN. The last time we visited the place, one kilo of mangosteen was priced at only 40 baht per kilo (about P60) while it was more than double that in a supermarket in Bangkok. The fruits are usually not as big as those in the Philippines but they are fleshy with very few seeds. They are also very sweet.
LONGKONG. This is the lanzones from Thailand which has very few small seeds, most of the time seedless, and without latex that stains the fingers when opening the same. One time we visited Talad Thai, Longkong could be had for as low as 40 baht per kilo. That’s several times lower than the price one gets for imported Longkong in Manila. Sometimes, Longkong is priced at P300 or more per kilo in the Philippines.
ATIS. Sugar Apple or atis is something we like very much. There are fruits that weigh half a kilo or more. They are sweet and fleshy. But they don’t readily break up when you open the fruit. Usually the rind is removed and the flesh remains intact. You have to eat by biting on the whole fruit with the skin removed.
SWEET TAMARIND. Sweet sampalok is also very cheap and you can buy all the quantities you need. They come in boxes and other containers. There are several varieties, some curved, some straight. The No. 1 variety is the Seechung. One kilo could be had for as low as 50 baht whereas in the Philippines, the price in the local markets could be as much as the equivalent of 250 baht.
PUMMELO.  Pummelos are available in big piles. You can buy a truckload or more if that is what you need. They are cheap and of good eating quality.
DURIAN. Then there are the durians. Some are very big (more than 5 kilos) some of medium size and very few small ones. The varieties available are usually of good eating quality. They have thick flesh with good flavor. Monthong seems to be still the predominant commercial variety. It is also known as the Golden Pillow.
JACKFRUIT. Jackfruit which are not ready for eating (they will ripen in a few more days) are always plentiful whenever we visit Talad Thai any month of the year. Usually, they have minimal latex inside and have plump arils.
MAKOPA. Also known as wax apple in English, Makopa in Thailand have very good eating quality. The current commercially produced favorite is the Star Ruby which is brilliant red, usually seedless, crisp and fleshy. The fruits are cheap in Talad Thai but could cost as much as 150 baht in the supermarkets in Bangkok.
The green makopa is also available in the market. It is fleshy and juicy and is an old variety commonly served for breakfast in hotels. This is also a nice variety to eat.
The latest variety we saw is called Chompupet. This is said to have originated from Petchaburi province. It has light green color with a tinge of red. It is fleshy but has seeds. It also has very good taste.
KAMACHILE. In the Philippines the Kamachile is not grown commercially but it is in Thailand. Fruits are usually available in sidewalks as well as in the public and private markets. The varieties available are sweet.
The cultivars in the Philippines usually have acrid taste so nobody is growing them. There are, however, a few that are also sweet.
Sweet Kamachile
MANGO. There are nice mango varieties in Thailand. Most of them have good eating quality as green mango. We like Falan, Nam Dok Mai, Eating Green and others. There are also big ones that are much more expensive than the medium-size varieties.
BANANA. There are different bananas in Thailand. What we like most is what we now call Mama Sita banana in the Philippines. This can be eaten as fresh ripe fruit, fried, boiled, barbecued or made into chips.
GUAVA. There are two types of guavas we found in Thailand. One is the light-colored variety that is big and round. The other has smaller fruits but with pink flesh inside. Both are nice to eat.
MAYONGCHID. This is a rare fruit that is yellow with nice sweet flavor. It is as big as a small chico (the size of the Pineras variety in the Philippines). It has soft, sweet flesh that is very nice to eat. There is a cultivar called Maprang. This is sour and is much cheaper. The Mayongchid may cost 200 baht per kilo while the Maprang could only fetch 25 baht per kilo or thereabouts.
Fruits of Mayongchid
MAFAI. We tasted Mafai for the first time when we visited Talad Thai market in September 2011. This has clustering yellow fruits about the size of a sineguelas. It tastes somewhat like mangosteen which is sweet-sour. It has several small seeds inside which could be germinated easily. We will find out if the seedlings we grew will bear fruit in the Philippitnes.
These are the fruits of MAFAI. A limited number of seedlings
are now available at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa,

Monday, March 5, 2012

He Prefers Rambutan and Pummelo

Instead of mango, a big farm owner in Tanay, Rizal is now planting rambutan and pummelo. That's because there are so many pest and disease problems in mango. Anthracnose disease and Kurikong (Cecid fly) are particularly very expensive to control.

He recently ordered his planting materials from the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. The good thing about rambutan and pummelo is that they can bear fruit commercially in only four years from planting, about half the waiting period for mango. They also bear fruit without any need for spraying flower inducers.

Teresa Orchard & Nursery is along the national road in Teresa, Rizal. It is along the road about 30 meters before the Teresa-Morong boundary. Teresa is the next town to Antipolo City. Contact No. is 0917-841-5477.

Bright Idea: They Slaughtered Their Own Pigs

While listening to the radio, somebody was complaining about the viajeros who were buying the fattened pigs of backyard farmers at a very low price. They were offering P5 per kilo lower than the price they were buying from big commercial piggeries.
This reminded us about a group of backyard pig farmers in Calaca, Batangas whom we wrote about many years ago. What they did was to form a cooperative. Then they got a stall at the public market. They slaughtered their own pigs and sold the pork in the market. Those that were not sold were made into longganisa, tocino, etc.
Also, their co-op became a part-owner of a feedmill. As a result, they were able to buy their own feeds at a much lower price than if they were buying from the usual feed suppliers.

He Buys Coconut Shell

OUR good friend Gonzalo "Jun" Catan of Mapecon is looking for suppliers of coconut shell which he makes into activated carbon. He revealed that he has issued a P1-million purchase order to suppliers in Marinduque.
After hearing our report that Aurora province has the most number of coconut trees in the Philippines, he is interested in contacting Sen. Edgardo Angara because he would like to buy all the available coconut shell in the province. He said that he is ready to issue a P1-million purchase order for raw coconut shell from Aurora. The buying price is P1 per kilo.
The farmers don't have to make the shells into charcoal anymore. They can just sell them after extracting the meat for copra. Catan's contact number is 09209157820.
Jun Catan, a UP Los Banos graduate, is an inventor who holds many patents for pet control. He is about the biggest producer of vermicompost in the country. Mapecon, his pest control company, has branches nationwide.

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.
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