Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pamplona Eco Park

More people are getting interested in putting up projects for Agritourism. Dr. Pablito P. Pamplona, the fruit expert who retired from the University of Souithern Mindanao, wrote that he is developing an Agritourism Park that is based on fruit trees, oil palm, kaong for sugar production, sweet coconut and others.

He already has fruiting farms of more than 1,000 fruiting Magallanes pummelo, 3,000 Longkong lanzones, mangosteen, exotic mango varieties, oil palm, rubber and sweet coconut.

How The Sweet Sorghum Sugar Powder Was Conceived

Soon after we posted What's New In Sweet Sorghum in this blog and also published it in our column in the Manila Bulletin (March 16, 2012), so many congratulatory messages were received ty Tony Arcangel. He was after all the first fellow to conceive how dry sugar could be produced from sweet sorghum juice. 
Tony is an engineer who stayed in Canada for 20 years. A few years back he came back to the Philippines and decided to specialize in commercializing sweet sorghum products. He is now producing commercially sweet sorghum vinegar through natural fermentation and sweet syrup. Now, his sweet sorghum sugar powder has a big potential commercially because the product is claimed to have a low glycemic index (GI) which means that it is superior to the sugarcane sugar. It could be used by diabetics and nondiabetics for sweetening their coffee and other food products that need sugar. At present coconut sap sugar (simply called Coco Sugar in the market) is a hot item globally because of its low GI. 
The sweet sorghum sugar powder offers advantages over Coco Sugar in terms of the production of the raw materials. Sorghum can be produced very fast by even the ordinary farmer. It can be grown in many parts of the country.

The sweet sorghum sugar powder is produced by spray-drying the syrup. The juice is first turned into syrup and then it is spray-dried with the use of a spray-drying machine.

HOW THE IDEA CAME ABOUT - What gave him the idea to try producing sweet sorghum sugar powder was his observation in Canada. He said, in Canada they are making powder out of animal blood. Maybe, the technique can also work on sweet sorghum juice.

Fortunately, he went to the Department of Science and Technology to see if his idea is feasible. Fortunately the DOST has a spray-drying machine. That's it! They were successful in producing the sweet sorghum sugar powder.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jackfruit With Over A Hundred Fruits!

HAVE you seen a jackfruit as prolific as this one in photo? Mr. and Mrs. Rodrigo Espana pose with their extremely prolific jackfruit in General Santos City. This is just an ordinary variety which did not previously produce any significant number of fruits. However, when Rodrigo applied two formulations of growth and fruit enhancers developed by Alfonso G. Puyat, the tree produced over a hundred fruits. Some of the fruits (about 50 percent) have already been thinned out.

One formulation hastens the vegetative development of the plant while the other induces the production of a lot of fruits. The technique requires a lot of organic fertilizers applied to the ground. Puyat’s formulations are sprayed on the leaves. They make the tree hungry so it has to take up as much nutrients from the soil as possible. Even if the manure, for instance, is not yet fully decomposed, the tree will be able to absorb the nutrients in the manure. The fruits are sweet because the fruiting formulation contains a lot of potassium. 

Of course, some of the fruits have to be thinned when they are about 1 to 2 kilos each and could be sold or used as vegetable.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Agritourism Conference Set

THE First National Agritourism Research Conference in the Philippines will be held on June27-29, 2012 under the auspices of Tourism Foundation Inc. and the Los Banos-based SEARCA or Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture. The venue has not been announced, however.
Topics include "Theory and Practice in the Philippine Agritourism Sector," "Financing Agritourism Initiatives/Marketing and Business Development," "Partnerships and Collaboration in Agritourism Ventures," "Cultural and Historical Aspects of Agritourism," and "Policy and Regulatory Concerns of Agritourism/Certification/Sustainability Challenges."
SEARCA Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said the conference is open to stakeholders in the country's agritourism sector, including practitioners, regulators, interest groups and academics, all of whom are invited to present completed and ongoing research projects related to agritourism.
For more info, contact: You may also call tel. No. +63-49 536-2365 to 67 local 159. You may also call Eli Paolo Fresnoza, assistant professor, Asian Institute of Tourism, UP Diliman (email:; telefax +63-2-922-3894).

Baguio Veggies for Boracay

Although Baguio is quite far from the tourist island of Boracay, a lot of vegetables are supplied from the Cordillera highlands. One trader in Caticlan is responsible for buying the highland vegetables for Boracay retailers. These include cabbage, carrots, cucumber, Baguio beans, sayote, peppers and others. An interview with a retailer in Boracay revealed that the buyers prefer cabbage from Baguio because it is claimed to have better taste than those grown in the lowland.
Two 10-wheeler truckloads are bought by the Caticlan trader every week, each truck having a capacity of 20 tons. The trader has posted his brother in Baguio to take care of the buying of vegetables. The truck that is dispatched on Wednesday arrives in Caticlan by Roro in the evening of the next day (Thursday).
The truck has reserved space for other items purchased in Divisoria and Batangas. Sourced from Divisoria are spices (garlic, onion) and imported fruits such as apples and oranges. In Batangas, 20 crates of eggs, each crate containing 360 eggs, are loaded.
The trader estimates that the cost of transporting vegetables from Baguio to Boracay amounts to P4 per kilo.
For backload from Caticlan, the trucks are loaded with scrap cartons and plastics for sale to junk shops in   Luzon.
Aside from Baguio vegetables, the Caticlan trader also buys ginger from suppliers from Gen. Santos City, squash and tomatoes from Cagayan de Oro.  

Aurora Province: Buko Source

THE Province of Aurora is claimed to have the biggest concentration of coconut trees in Luzon, a fact not known to many people. It is said to have more coconut trees than the provinces of Quezon and Laguna. Some 14,000 hectares are planted to coconut in Baler, the capital town, alone.
Sen. Edgardo Angara told us during our visit to Aurora on February 17 that no less than 50 trucks every week deliver buko or young coconut to buyers in Central Luzon up to as far as Laoag City in Ilocos Norte.
Baler is said to be the source of raw materials for "bukayo" makers in Pangasinan. Sen. Angara added that Aurora is also the main source of coconut seedlings for planting. Last year, 16,000 seedlings were produced in Aurora.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Large Planting Material of Abiu

If you are in a hurry to have a fruiting Abiu in your farm or garden, better get one like these in photo. They are large planting materials at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.
With proper care, these may bear fruit in just two years. Abiu is a delicious fruit from South America. The ripe fruit is yellow and inside is a white luscious flesh. One to three seeds may be inside. The taste is somewhat similar to the more familiar Caimito. Those interested in these planting materials may text or call 0917-851-5477.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Steam Your Sliced Camote

Some people are advocating the eating of more sweet potato or camote for two good reasons. One is that it will help us reduce rice consumption, big quantities of which are imported. Second, camote is healthy food. One fellow who will tell you that is Fred Yap, a fisheries expert who used to suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Now he is eating camote instead of rice and he swears that his health has improved tremendously.
One healthy way to prepare sweet potato for the table is to slice the root as in photo and steam the same. There is no oil used and cooking is very fast. In five minutes, the slices could already be cooked. Try this, you will be glad you did. We have been doing this for a few years now. We like steaming the variety with yellow flesh and the purple variety (which is not always available). The sliced yellow root in photo is a Taiwanese variety. It is sweet with a nice consistency.

Farm Visits Are Very Educational

Not a few readers have been asking us how best they can start their own farm projects. They are either employees or professionals who would like to have a hobby farm or an honest-to-goodness farm business. Some are young people while others are retirees.
Well, it is very easy to commit mistakes in starting a farm. So I often tell those who consult us to visit as many farms as possible. I tell them to visit the type of farms that they would like to undertake. Oh yes, there are so many choices in farming. One can go into ornamental plants, fruit trees, vegetables, livestock and poultry, fisheries and so on.
While it is a good idea to visit farms, sometimes it is difficult to locate one we would like to visit. Sometimes the owner might be reluctant to show his farm, especially to a stranger. In which case, it is a good idea to join a farm tour, just like what Agri-Aqua Network International (AANI) has been undertaking.

For those who are interested in organic farming, for instance, AANI will be conducting a farm tour of one of the best organic farms in the country – the Costales Nature Farms in Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna. This was started in 2005 by Ronald Costales who was recently adjudged the First Prize winner in “The Outstanding Philippine Organic Agriculturist” Awards  given by the Rotary Club of Cubao East.
This will be the second time that AANI will conduct a farm tour of the Costales farm. Last March 4, more than 80 farming aficionados joined the tour. There, they tasted the organic vegetables and fish plus edible wild ferns for lunch. They were also given a lecture by Ronald himself on the techniques in organic farming that he has been employing in growing his crops, fish and livestock.
The farm is now an accredited tourist destination by the Department of Trade and Industry.
Those interested to join the tour may contact Pol Rubia at 0917-847-5071. Paid reservations will be given their seat assignment in the aircon bus.

Monday, March 12, 2012

AANI Farm Tour: March 25, 2012

The AANI will conduct a second Farm Tour of the Costales Nature Farms in Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna on Sunday, March 25, 2012.
Ronald Costales, the founder, was recently adjudged the First Place Winner in "The Outstanding Philippine Organic Agriculturist (TOPOA) Award given by the Rotary Club of Cubao East headed by Conrad Dieza. 
Last March 4, AANI conducted its first Farm Tour to the Costales Nature Farms with more than 80 participants.
The attendees will enjoy eating the organic vegetables and will also have the chance to bring home some. There will be a lecture on organic farming by Ronald himself. The Costales Nature Farms produces organic vegetables, culinary herbs, pigs, free-range chicken, fish, rabbits and others. 
Those who would like to join the AANI Farm Tour should reserve with the AANI office at the weekend market at St. Vincent Seminary on Tandang Sora, Quezon City. Call or text Pol Rubia for more information at 0917-847-5071.

Pummelos Are Blooming In Luzon

While rambutan trees in Luzon are not yet flowering at this time, the pummelo trees are flowering profusely. That's the beauty about pummelo trees. Unlike mango trees, they don't have to be sprayed with flower inducers to make them bloom. Even if shower or rain overtakes the flowering, there is no damage done unlike in flowering mangoes. When mango flowers are overtaken by rain, they are usually ruined because of fungal attack. Not so with pummelo flowers.
Photo shows flowers of Nam Roi pummelo, a white variety from Vietnam, at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. They will be ready for harvest by October, just in time for tasting during the Agrilink trade show which is usually held in early October at the World Trade Center-Metro Manila.

Delay in Rambutan Fruiting in Luzon

Due to the changing weather, rainy up to February, fruiting of rambutan is delayed in Luzon. Last year at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, R5 and other varieties started flowering in late January. Today (March 12, 2012), there are no signs yet of emerging flowers. Young leaves are predominant.
On the other hand, longkong and durian started flowering as early as January this year. Durian could be harvestable in May or June.

Los Banos Garden Show: March 23-April 1

The Los Banos Garden Show will be held from March 23 to April 1 at the Seniors Social Garden at UP Los Banos. This is under the auspices of the Los Banos Horticultural Society. A special feature on Living Wall will be showcased which attendees can copy. This is said to be the landscaping trend in both indoors and outdoors. Living Wall landscaping was showcased during the 2010-2011 Taiwan International Flora. Dr. Benito S. Vergara of Los Banos has also reported that Living Wall landscaping is being done in Thailand. One example is the wall inside the Big C Mall in Bangkok.
In a Living Wall, the plants are grown vertically. This means more plants can be grown per square meter of ground. The concept is good for limited space. This can be done not only for ornamental plants. Vegetables could also be grown in the same way in the home grounds.

In the Philippines, one example of a Living Wall can be found in the home of Bobby Gopiao in Quezon City. A big concrete wall several meters high is completely covered with ferns.

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.
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