Monday, May 7, 2012

JOSELITO JOSE: Jollirice and Honeydew

JOSELITO JOSE and his honeydew melons.
JOSELITO JOSE, 50, of Brgy. Faustino, Cauayan City in Isabela is a progressive diversified farmer who plants hybrid rice and high-value crops.


One high-value crop that he is harvesting at this time (May 6, 2012) is Ilocos Gold honeydew melon. This produces fruits that are about a kilo each. The rind is golden yellow while the flesh is sweet and fine-textured. He is selling the fruits at P60 per kilo at farmgate.


Unlike other growers who just let their honeydew vines crawl on the ground, he grows his melon on trellises. The fruits are cleaner and he can also grow more plants per hectare. On a hundred square meter, as many as 200 hills can be planted. If each hill produces three kilos, that's P180 per hill, or a gross of P36,000 per 100 square meters. On a per hectare basis, that's about P360,000. In this cropping season, Joselito planted just a thousand hills. That should yield a good income to pay for his inputs for his next cropping of Jollirice, his favorite hybrid rice from Bioseed.


Joselito has been doing his own experiment in growing hybrid rice. Unlike most hybrid rice planters, he planted his last crop by direct seeding instead of transplanting. He direct-seeded Jollirice on three hectares last season. He harvested an average of 167 cavans of 54 kg. per cavan per hectare. Not bad at all. It was a profitable crop considering the fact that he saved at least P4.500 for not having to pay for planters and those who pulled the seedlings from the seedbed.


He likes Jollirice because it is high-yielding and it has about the best eating quality among hybrid varieties. The rice is soft and aromatic. The direct-seeded Jollirice was profitable for Joselito. He spent only about P40,000 per hectare in the direct-seeded rice while the yield was worth about P121,000 per hectare.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Recruiting The Right Farm Worker (Tip No. 15)

(This is another tip for the aspiring as well as the veteran farm entrepreneur. It's a digest of a chapter in our  book titled "How To Start And Manage Your Own Dream Farm" which is now out of print.)


How To Recruit The Right Farm Worker


There's no single best way to recruit farm workers. It all depends on prevailing circumstances. Who you are, where you are, what your available resources are, and what your project is would have something to do with the way you get people to work for you.


One doctor who farms in Tanay had heard that Boholanos are hard working. So he asked a patient from Tagbilaran to look for a suitable farmhand from there. He got a newly married couple who have been farming all their lives. So far, the doctor has been very satisfied with his Boholano worker. In fact, he has asked his patient to recruit two more bachelor workers from his hometown.


Our doctor friend said that getting workers from a distant province has its advantages. First, the worker is not tempted to go home very often. So work on the farm is not disrupted.


He related that one time he had a worker from Laguna. Every time there was a barrio fiesta or whenever a relative would have a wedding or baptismal party, he would rush back home for at least a day or two. Which was not so good for the farm.


Having a married worker as a head worker on the farm is advantageous. A married worker tends to be more mature and would not think of abandoning his work anytime he wishes.


Of course, Boholanos don't have the monopoly of being hard workers. We know of reliable farmhands coming from Mindanao, Bicol, Cagayan, Ilocos and elsewhere.


Sometimes, it is a matter of good luck. The thing is, when you have recruited a good one, be sure you will be able to keep him for as long as necessary. Up to his retirement if that's possible.


One management consultant pointed out that most workers are basically good. Even if they are not very adept in the beginning, they could be developed into conscientious workers if they are treated the right way.


What is important, our friend said, is to spell out right from the very beginning what is expected of them to do. Tell them what the project is all about and make them feel they have a stake in the project. If the farm makes good, they will get their just reward.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How to Save a Big Amount (Farming Tip No. 14)

(Here is one more farming tip that you might want to try. We will continue posting practical tips in this web site so keep visiting.)


He Focused on Saving a Big Amount


IN early 1990s I met a fellow from Bulacan who was constructing his dream house worth P4 million. That was a big amount then. It could easily be the equivalent of P15 million today. What impressed me most was that he did not borrow any money from the bank or from someone else to build his dream house. He saved the big amount from farming in a clever but doable manner. How did he do it?


Well, Cornelio (his real first name) saved the big amount in a period of 8 years. He had a big rice mill and he got a lot of rice bran. Because he knew that rice bran is a good feed for cattle,  he decided to raise cattle with the aim in mind of eventually using his income from cattle to build his dream home on a 4,000-sqm lot.


For a start, he bought 18 top quality females for breeding, including purebred Brahmans. He multiplied his cattle as fast as possible.  Whenever a female cow gave birth, he retained the female for breeding and sold only the male as breeder or as fattener. He used the proceeds from his sales to buy pregnant cows. Not a single peso would be spent on anything else. He was that disciplined.


Eight years later in 1992, he already had 250 animals. He sold 150 of the mature ones for four million pesos and that was what he used to build his dream house. He did not have to borrow money from anybody.


A very clever and systematic way to accumulate a big amount, if you ask us.  Why not give the idea a try? You can produce something else for that big amount. Not necessarily for a house. It could be for a new car. Or a more modest amount for a new TV set. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

FREDDIE PASCUA: Natural Farming Practitioner

That's me, Zac B. Sarian, at right signing the book we wrote
which Freddie Pascua bought more than 12 years ago
That's Freddie Pascua at left and me, Zac B. Sarian, at right. The two of us met for the first time last April 29 when we joined the AANI Farm Tour that visited Fred's Kota Verde Farm Resort in Brgy. Marahan, Alfonso, Cavite.
  
Freddie is a retired Chief Marine Engineer who served an international shipping company for many years. After he retired, he decided to do his own brand of natural farming on a rented land in Cavite.
  
He said he had been longing to meet us because he wanted us to autograph our book which he bought more than 12 years ago. The book is "How To Start And Manage Your Own Dream Farm" which is now out of print after two reprints. 
  
Freddie produces vegetables (lettuce, tomato, broccoli, etc) and farm animals like mallard ducks for salted egg production, free-range chicken and naturally-farmed pigs.

Grow Something For The Rich (Tip No. 13)

(This is another strategy for those who are aspiring to make money from their farming. Keep on logging to this blog for more doable tips.)


GROW SOMETHING FOR THE RICH AND FAMOUS


If you are farming for money, aim at the big spenders. Grow something for the rich, the famous and the powerful. Find out what the affluent people need and produce them. It can be much easier to sell something special and expensive to people who have the money.


And what are the things rich people need? They usually need high-value products of the highest quality. These are the usually hard-to-find ones that they could use for themselves or for giving to friends or special clients who are also rich and powerful.


Examples are first class mangoes like the big and luscious carabao mango. Or the Golden Queen mango that is big and very nice to eat both as green or ripe fruit. Or the Arancillo durian and other top quality varieties. Specialty vegetables like French beans, organic lettuce and many others.


Other rich people are also looking for special farm animals and fish. Examples are purebred Boer goats and other exotic breeds, free-range chickens, turkey, wild pigs, native pigs, Arowana (high-priced aquarium fish), mini horses and many more.


If they are into ornamental plants, they might be looking for first class bonsai, mutant or variegated plants, new orchid varieties, exotic bamboos like black bamboo, and many more.


Try to figure out who are the rich, famous and powerful (even the notorious) within your territory. They could be politicians, business tycoons, highly paid professionals like doctors, lawyers, CPAs, architects, job placement operators, etc. Find out their favorite hobbies, the food they eat, their likes and dislikes. Based on your findings, produce something for them. then when you have produced what you think will interest your rich targets, find a way to reach them.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bonsai Show at QM Circle - May 4 -14

DORIE S. BERNABE and her prize-winning bonsai
Bonsai Master Li Tiong Hong is shown hanging ribbon on
Best Bonsai In Show owned by Letty Ligon, a tamarind tree.

The Bonsai & Suiseki Alliance of the Philippines, Inc. (BSAPI) will stage its 2012 National Bonsai and Suiseki Show & Competition at the Flower Garden, Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City. The ceremonial opening will be held at 4 p.m., May 4, and will be open to the public from May 5 to May 14.

There will be daily seminar-workshops throughout the duration of the show. On May 5, 3 p.m., Li Tiong Hong will conduct a bonsai workshop from 1 to 3 p.m. Then from 3 to 5 p.m. he will demonstrate Bonsai Branching Techniques.

On May 6, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be On the Spot Painting Contest open to non-pro painters.From 3 to 5 p.m. Dr. Romeo Gutierrez, James Joseph Obnamia and Fernando Sena will do the judging of the paintings.Also on May 6, 1 to 5 p.m., Robert Stevens will conduct bonsai demo/workshop, and Penjing demo/workshop.


Other speakers in succeeding days include Al Villareal on Basic Bonsai; Vic de Rona on Zen Garden;  Serapion Metilla on Indoor and Vertical Landscaping; DENR representative on PAWD CITES Regulations; Fernando Aurigue on Use of Gamma Rays in Plant Variety Development; Serapion Metilla on Innovative Bonsai; and Elmer Villareal on Guide on Selection and Appreciation of Suiseki.


The Allied Bonsai Clubs will stage a Bonsai Challenge on May 7, 3-5 p.m. 

Cultivate A Loyal Market (Farming Tip No. 12)

(This is another practical tip which we would like to pass on to aspiring farmers. It is lifted from our book "How to Start and Manage Your Dream Farm" which, unfortunately, is out of print. Anyway, we can still share the doable pointers through this web site.)


CULTIVATE A LOYAL MARKET


WE REMEMBER the late Osmundo Mondonedo who used to produce a lot of turkeys in Los Banos. He did not only sell plenty during Thanksgiving Day but also at Christmas time.


He developed a loyal market that bought his turkeys every December. This market consisted of advertising agencies which bought his oversized turkeys for gift-giving during Christmas.


Mondonedo explained that once an agency gave its special clients a turkey for Christmas, the recipient would expect no less than a turkey the next time around. It would not look good for an agency to do otherwise, he said. Thus, repeat orders are almost a certainty come next December.


Bal Evangelista, a businessman whose sideline is raising turkeys, has another way of grossing at least P180,000 every December from just 60 big turkeys that he raises in Antipolo.


He has mastered not only the raising of turkeys but also cooking them. He broils his turkeys and sells them ready for serving, complete with all the "works", including cranberry sauce. One ready-to-serve turkey fetches at least P3,200. And he sells them mostly to well-off friends who have placed their reservations in advance. One December, he recounted, he could not even meet the orders of his friends so he had to buy elsewhere for his own family's Christmas turkey.


My good friend Vic Yasis calls that creative marketing. It is very clever of Bal to be raising not so many turkeys so that there is no oversupply. By doing so, buyers don't usually haggle. It's a seller's market. And that holds true with many other farm products. When the supply is short, even the rejects are bought at a high price.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fair Warning On Starting Your Farm (Tip No. 11)

(This is the first chapter of our book, How To Start And Manage Your Own Dream Farm, which is now out of print. This could serve as fair warning to those who are intending to go into farming.)


Farming Has Its Risks and Rewards


SO YOU want to be a farmer. You want to start and develop your own dream farm.


Fine! You are not unlike so many other professionals in the city and elsewhere who dream of having a small piece of paradise.


But don't be carried away by your fantasies.


Farming has its problems as well as its rewards. Farming can be enjoyable but it can also be frustrating.


You can lose your shirt and your pants in farming. You can even lose your sanity. But farming can also make you rich not only in terms of money but also in experience and self-fulfillment.


When you decide to go into farming, be prepared to sweat and work the soil with your own hands. Be ready to spend money. Be prepared to face the fury of Mother Nture and its consequences. But you should also be prepared to reap the bounty of your hard work and share it with your loved ones.


Of course, you want your farming to be successful, rewarding and enjoyable.So keep logging on to this website. Or regularly read our columns and articles in the Manila Bulletin and its other publications like Panorama Magazine, Agriculture Magazine, Bannawag (Ilocano), Liwayway (Pilipino or Tagalog), Bisaya and Hiligaynon (Ilonggo).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Seminar at Costales Nature Farm, May 12-13

The Costales Nature Farms will conduct a two-day Integrated Natural Farming and EM Seminar on May 12-13, 2012 at its place in Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna.
  
Ronald Costales who was named the First Prize winner in the Rotary Club of East Cubao's search for outstanding organic farmers, will conduct the seminar.
  
The Costales organic farm produces a lot of lettuce, culinary herbs, cucumber, beans and others. It also has native pigs and free-range chickens, fish, etc. The farm is using Effective Microorganisms in its operations.
  
For reservation, contact Josie Costales at 0917-544-2023 or email josie.costales@yahoo.com

Syngenta's Crops Demo Day in Singapore (CORN)

LESLIE SHARP shows some of the test plants at the Crops Demonstration
Day at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore, April 26, 2012.
Syngenta, the multinational company based in Switzerland that is solely focused on agribusiness, has been developing innovations that are aimed at helping farmers produce higher yields, better profits in a sustainable manner.
  
And what are these? They develop seed materials with improved desirable traits. Then they have crop protection products that keep the farmers' plants from harm's way. One of them is Cruiser that is used to coat the seeds before planting. This protects the plants from as many as 25 corn pests like cutworm, armyworm, semilooper and others. Cruiser does not only protect the plants from the early stage of growth to harvest time, it has other advantages. It promotes vigorous root development so that the plant can be less affected by stresses like low available moisture level in the soil. Cruiser also makes the leaves greener so that the plant is more efficient in photosynthesis or in "cooking" the nutrients absorbed from the soil so the plant can use the same for its growth, flowering and fruiting.
  
Syngenta has also come up with Avicta which is the first chemical that is used to treat the seeds for the control of nematode. Then there is Force for controlling corn root worm that is prevalent in some places.
  
EXCITING DEVELOPMENTS are in the offing. Expected to be launched soon is Agrisure Viptera which is claimed to be able to control the lepidopterous pests that do a lot of damage to corn from the young seedlings to mature plants. These include such pests as cutworm, armyworm, earworm, semilooper and others. 
  
Through biotechnology the unique Lepidoptera Trait will be inserted into the genes of the corn plant so that it can protect itself from the damage caused by lepidopterous insects. Syngenta is also developing the Halex GT which will make the corn tolerant to glyphosate, a herbicide. This means that it will be much easier to control weeds which are very destructive if they are not controlled in the early growth stage of the corn plants. It means that the corn plants will not be damaged by the herbicide even if they are partly sprayed during the spraying of the weeds.
  
It is much more economical to control weeds with the use of herbicide rather than by manual weeding.
  
Through Agrisure Artesian, Syngenta combines the products of its chemistry research and water management. And under drought conditions, this technology has been proven to increase corn yield in the US by 14 bushels per acre.
  
These developments were showcased at the Crops Demonstration Day conducted by Syngenta at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore on April 26, 2012 to which we were invited to attend. Hardeep Grewal and Elsie Sharp did the explaining in the Corn Booth. 

IT'S WHOM YOU KNOW (Farming Tip No.10)

 (Here's one more little piece of a tip when you are in farming, whether a neophyte or a long-practicing farming aficionado.)

IT IS WHOM YOU KNOW


IN farming as in any other business, it pays to know the right people. We remember the case of Ernest (that's not his real name) who happens to be the high school buddy of Frank (not his real name), a prominent person in big business.
  
When Frank took over as president and CEO of a big food firm that is big in the poultry hatchery business, Ernest visited his long-time buddy to congratulate him. They have not seen each other for a very long time but the friendship is as strong as ever.
  
When Frank asked Ernest what he could offer as possible business for him, he said he was not really there to visit him to look for a business opportunity but really to greet and congratulate him for his  success in business.
  
Frank mentioned, anyway, that Ernest might want to buy table eggs in big volume, at least 100,000 eggs every other day. Frank's company is in the hatchery business and they have a lot of contract breeders that are producing hatching eggs for them. Not all the eggs are fit for hatching so they have to be sold as table eggs.
  
To make the story short, Ernest got interested because he knows how to dispose of eggs that are even more than a hundred thousand. He got the deal to buy the 100,000 table eggs from his friend. He has a ready market because his friend Nards operates a network of 18 stalls in Metro Manila. He could pass on to him the 100,000 eggs.
  
Nards was just too happy. He was looking for a reliable supplier of table eggs. And so Ernest became richer by P2,000 every other day because he knew a good friend who had the goods, and also knew another friend who could buy the 100,00 eggs. Ernest passed on the eggs to Nards making just 2 centavos per egg.
  
The lesson here is that sometimes (if not more often)  it is WHOM YOU KNOW that can give you money-making opportunities whether it is in farming or in another line of business. That is why it is important to attend gatherings like the Agri-Kapihan to meet new and old friends. The thing is that it has to be a two-way street. Be helpful to your friends so they can be helpful to you, too. And be honest always!


(OTHER SITUATIONS: You might be a friend of a manufacturer of a good organic fertilizer. Being a good friend, it is possible he can give you a discount. Or if you have a good friend who has plenty of idle property, he could lend you portions of his property for a token rent, or probably even for free so you can do your own brand of farming. Now you see, there are benefits in having good friends.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

KUMATO - The High-Priced Tomato From Syngenta

JINGQING BI of Syngenta with Kumato fruits in a bowl.
In photo is JINGQING BI holding a bowl of Kumato, a tomato developed by Syngenta with a very special flavor, so special that it is selling in Europe four times the ordinary salad tomato. It sells for 4 Euros per kilo in Europe whereas the ordinary salad tomato sells for only 1 Euro per kilo.
  
This variety with maroon fruits about 70 to 80 grams per fruit was showcased at the Crops Demonstration Day conducted by Syngenta at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore (April 26, 2012).
  
In Singapore, some Kumato fruits are available in a few supermarkets at S$13 to S$15 per kilo. That's P408 to P510 per kilo in Philippine money!
  
Unfortunately, seeds are not available in the Philippines. They are being sold only in the US, Australia, Europe and Japan. Maybe, if you have a relative in the US, ask him or her to look for a packet or two of Kumato seeds for your trial planting. Who knows, that could start a money-making business for you, catering to a specialty market.
  
Syngenta showcased its agri technology innovations on various crops such as vegetables, rice, corn, sugarcane, oilseeds, specialty crops, soybean, cereals and lawn and garden.
  
We will write more about the technology innovations from the researchers of Syngenta in this blog and in our articles in the Manila Bulletin publications (daily newspaper and magazines). Syngenta allocates US$1 billion a year for agricultural research.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

If You Are Farming For Money (Tip No. 9)

(Here is one more small piece of advice for those who are new in farming, and even for those who are already in the business.)


If Farming For Money, Consider The Market 


You should consider the market for your produce if you are farming for money. Of what use is producing something that nobody would like to buy? Or something tht would sell for less than the cost of production?


Before starting a farm project, you should have a clear idea of your target market. Is it an affluent segment of society that will not mind paying a high price for your produce? How big is the market.


Who are your competitors? Do you have an advantage over them? Can you produce a better crop at a lower price? Are you nearer the market? That will give you an advantage in transporting your harvest, Your product will be fresher when they reach the market. List down your advantages over your competitors.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dr. Emily Fabregar Thanks ZAC

Dr. Emily Fabregar and Zac B. Sarian at the Lapanday
nursery in Callawa, Davao City.
WE have received a message from Dr. Emily Fabregar of the Tissue Culture Laboratory of Lapanday Food Corporation in Davao City.
  
She said that probably due to our featuring her in this blog or in the Manila Bulletin Agripage, a client in Palawan is ordering banana meriplants from her.
  
Meriplants are small plants from the tissue culture lab. They are very convenient to transport because they are very small. One box can contain as many as 2,500 meriplants.
  
Dr. Fabregar will be tissue-culturing the two Cavendish variants from Taiwan that have been observed to be resistant to the Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4).
  
She is also producing a lot of lakatan tissue cultured planting materials for those who would like to plant lakatan.
  
There's one possible business opportunity for those residing in Luzon and Visayas. They can buy meriplants of their desired variety from Lapanday. Then they can harden them in their own nurseries near where they are going to be planted. Meriplants that cost P7 or more each can be sold in Luzon or Visayas for as much as P30 each when they are ready for field planting.
  
If one is proficient in growing those baby banana plants to outplanting size, one could make a good income.

You can contact Dr. Fabregar at 0918-921-7943.

To Be No.1 In Your Farming (Tip No.8)

(This is one more idea that you can apply when doing your own brand of farming)

YOU CAN BE NO.1 IN SEVERAL WAYS


It pays handsomely to be No. 1 in your particular field of farming. And there are several ways that you can be Number One.


No.1 to grow a new outstanding crop in your locality - If the crop is really good it could make you rich.Say you are the first person to grow Mama Sita banana in your town in the province. You don't only make money from the fruits. You can make money from selling the suckers to others who would like to plant the same.


The same is true with the Indian black pepper variety Paniyur which produces long fruit spikes. You don't only make money from the fruits. You can sell the rooted cuttings.


No.1 in bringing your product to market - We remember an engineer in Bulacan who prepares his ampalaya farm two weeks ahead of his neighbors by using a tractor to plow the field. That way he plants his ampalaya two weeks earlier than his competitors. Thus, he can sell his harvest ahead at a higher price.


No.1 in terms of quality - If your harvests are of the highest quality, you can dictate the price. Which could be much higher than the rest of the competition. 


No.1 in terms of fairness to customers - Being helpful and nice to your customers will pay handsomely. The buyers of your produce will keep going back to you.


No.1 in farming know-how - People will patronize your products and services if they know you are the expert in your line of farming. People will come to you for advice. You can also be a paid consultant. Or you can conduct seminars for a fee.


Now you see you can be No.1 in a number of ways. And it usually pays to be No.1.


This is the long spike of the Indian black
pepper, variety Paniyur. If you are the
first to acquire it in your locality, grow and
multiply it. You can make money by selling
the rooted cuttings to other farmers. One strategy
is to produce a lot of planting materials before
releasing the same. Otherwise other growers might
overtake you in producing more planting materials.
Then you will not be No.1



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What to Plant In Your Dream Farm (Tip No.7)


Visitors at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery p;ose with fruiting Paniyur
 Indian black pepper made to climb a mahogany tree.
(This is one more little piece of advice that can make a big difference in choosing what to plant in your own dream farm. We will keep on posting this type of tips because they are easier to keep in mind. So keep visiting this web site.)

 Plant A Crop That Keeps Well, Easy to Transport

If your farm is far from the market and it would be very expensive to transport your harvest, chose a crop that is light to transport and one that will keep for a long time without cold storage.

Is there such a crop? Yes. One is the black pepper. The dried pepper corn are very light and they can keep for months without any refrigeration. Black pepper also commands a high price.

Another plus in growing black pepper is that it can be made to climb the trunk of live trees, like the mahogany trees at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. And once the plant is established, it has a long productive life.

The Paniyur variety from India produces long fruit spikes so that it is much more productive than the ordinary variety. You can source your planting materials from Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. (0917-841-5477).

AANI FARM TOUR: April 29, 2012

Organic pigs at Kota Verde Farm Resort in Alfonso, Cavite.
More and more people are getting interested in organic farming. And that is the reason why tours of organic farms are getting more frequent. On Sunday, April 29, AANI will again be leading a group that will visit the Kota Verde Farm Resort, an organic farm in Alfonso, Cavite operated by Freddie  Pascua.
  
Earlier, AANI had also brought two batches of farm-tourists to the organic farm of Ronald and Josie Costales in Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna. As can be noted from the number of people joining such trips, there is an increasing keen interest in learning the basics of organic agriculture.
  
Those who will be joining the visit to Alfonso will be able to observe how Pascua is growing vegetables, farm animals and fish the organic way. He has planted a big portion of his farm to leafy greens like different varieties of lettuce that come in various colors, mustard, bush sitao, broccoli and others.
  
To make it more convenient to water the plants, a drip irrigation system has been installed in the plots. This way, the water containing the organic fertilizer is delivered to the base of the plants drop by drop. It is not only economical and convenient, it is also effective.
  
Pascua is also growing ducks for the production of organic eggs that are made into salted eggs. He has a flock of 800 layers which give him a substantial number of eggs every day. The salted duck eggs sell for P7 to P10 apiece, depending on the size. The big ones are sold at P10 apiece ex-farm.
  
Freddie Pascua also grows free-range chickens. He is raising the Grimaud breed being distributed by Dr. Erwin Cruz. Free-range chickens are also in demand by health-conscious people who are avoiding meat produced with antibiotics.

Those interested to join the farm tour should go to reserve at the AANI weekend market at the St. Vincent Seminary on Tandang Sora, Quezon City. Call Jocelyn at 935-3146 or 936-6556 for reservation and further info.

May 2012 AGRICULTURE MAGAZINE

DR. EMILY FABREGAR is on the cover of the May 2012 issue of Agriculture Magazine which will be off the press shortly. She is a tissue culture expert from the Lapanday Food Corporation in Davao City. She will be tissue-culturing two Cavendish variants from Taiwan which have been proven to be resistant to the FusariumWilt Tropical Race 4 disease that is threatening the banana export industry of the Philippines.
  
Read about what is being done to address the Fusarium Wilt disease in the May edition of Agriculture which is the most widely circulated magazine of its kind in the Philippines. It is published by the Manila Bulletin and edited by yours truly, Zac B. Sarian.
  
Agriculture Magazine is distributed nationwide through bookstores and the network of outlets of the Manila Bulletin.

Starting Your Dream Farm (Tip No. 6)

(This is one piece of advice for people interested in farming for money, whether one is a neophyte or one who has been farming for a long time. We will post these tips every now and then so keep on logging to this site.)


GROW WHAT YOU CAN SELL IN YOUR OWN TOWN!


IN these times when transport of your harvest is very costly, consider growing something that  you can sell right in your own hometown or province. You will not only save on bringing your product to market, your produce will be more fresh when they reach your buyers.


Also, when the market is near your farm, you can grow crops that don't have a long shelf life but with excellent eating quality. You know, there are certain crops that taste very good but many farmers don't like to grow them because they have poor transport quality and short shelf life. One example is the native tomato in the Ilocos which is very juicy with a desirable acidity. It is something many consumers (especially Ilocanos) are looking for but it is usually not available in the traditional markets. 


The trick in order to succeed is to estimate the volume that the local market could absorb and don't overproduce. You can stagger your production, if that is possible, so that you can have a continuous cash flow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Guevarra Family Impressed With Mama Sita

Salvador Guevarra and members of his family were truly impressed by the big bunch of Mama Sita banana that they saw at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery that they visited recently. Here, they are posing with a newly fruiting banana. The banana blossom seems to excite Mr. Guevarra who likes not only to eat the ripe fruits but also the blossoms that are cooked with his favorite dish.
  
Salvador is a retiree who loves farming. Naturally, he got some planting materials for his farm in Sta. Ana, Pampanga. With him in photo are his wife Angela, son Alvin and granddaughter Arella.

MAY C. DUMLAO: New PHSI President

MAY CABALLERO-DUMLAO is the new president-elect of the Philippine Horticultural Society, Inc. (PHSI). Elected with her are Ralph Diaz, vice president; Norma Villanueva, secretary; Elisa Montecastro, treasurer; Butch Duque, auditor; Botchie Canicula, PRO; Dorie S. Bernabe, Edna Felipe and Remedios Santelices, board members. Ex-oficio board member is Dr. Romeo Gutierrez, immediate past president.


The new officers and members of the PHSI board will be inducted into office in the afternoon of April 28 at Mett's Plant Arts Center at the Manila Seedling Bank, Quezon City. Inducting them will be former Sen. Joey Lina.


PHSI is one of the major garden societies in the Philippines that was organized in 1975. It holds its annual garden show every last week of January to early February.

Power Grower Combo Triggers Profuse Key Lime Flowering

The flowers emerged about one week from spraying with
Alfonso G. Puyat's Power Grower Combo, a special fertilizer.
LOOK at what the Power Grower Combo of Alfonso G. Puyat has done to our Key Lime grown in a plastic pail. About one week after spraying, the plant has come up with profuse flowers.
  
In a couple of months the fruits should be ready for picking. The Key Lime has a very special flavor and people like Dr. Rene Sumaoang of Novatech loves to squeeze the juice on fish sauce or bagoong when eating grilled tilapia or some other fish.

Key Lime is very hardy and if grown in a commercial scale, it should be a hot item for supermarkets.
   
Young planting materials as well as fruiting Key Lime plants are now available at the Teresa Orchard and Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. Call or text 0917-841-5477 for more info.

On Starting Your Dream Farm (Tip No.5)

(NOTE: This is another small piece of advice on Starting Your Own Dream Farm. We will post these tips in small doses so they are easier to remember and digest.)


DON'T PROCRASTINATE!


WE remember two cousins in Metro Manila who bought their own farmland in San Juan, Batangas. One fellow is a market stall owner whom we will call Jimmy. The other is Peter who runs a gasoline station. 
  
Last year, Jimmy invited us to his farm some 8 years after he bought his farm to partake in the harvesting of his Longkong lanzones. Peter was also invited.
  
Jimmy's farm is really enviable. After paying for his farm, he immediately started developing it. He fenced the same, put up his farm house, and set up the water system. He immediately planted exotic fruit trees like Longkong, Duku, durian, rambutan, mangosteen, latexless  jackfruit and also had a thriving vegetable garden.
  
Obviously, Peter was very envious because he had not started developing his farm. He said he should have also started planting in his farm. He had already lost so much time!
  
The lesson here is: Don't Procrastinate! Start right away! Don't be afraid to commit mistakes. But make sure they are just minor mistakes.

Quantity Control: (Farming Tip No.4)

If there's such a thing as Quality Control, there is also Quantity Control which is just as important. If you are producing a certain agricultural item, visualize what the market can absorb and don't overproduce. In fact, our friend Vic who runs more than a dozen market stalls in Metro Manila and who has a farm in Batangas, says that it is better to produce a little less than the requirement of the market. Why? Well, he says, the buyer would buy even what he would normally consider as "reject." 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Starting Your Own Dream Farm (Tip No.3)

(Every now and then we will post tips on starting your own farm project in small, easy-to-digest doses.)


What Is The Right Agri Project For You?


Check these:
1. It is something that you will love working on.
2. It is something that is suited to the environment where the project is to be undertaken.
3. It is something that you will be able to finance, either with your own money, or with borrowed money.
4. It is something that will give you the best profit.
6. It is something that is sustainable.
7. It is something nobody else is doing in your place.
8. It is something that will make use of waste materials, hence low-cost inputs.
9. It could be something that will keep the cash flowing throughout the year.
10. It could be something you could produce on rented land.
11. It could be something that requires minimal care and management.
12, It could be something that requires only little space.
13. It could be for the short term or for the long term.
14. It could be something that caters to a niche market.
15. It could be a hobby that will provide you the needed exercise.
16. It could be a project that will help you keep your sanity.
17. It could be a project you want to do on a long idle family property.
OH YES, there are endless reasons why a project is right for you.

Boosted by Power Grower Combo

THE Power Grower Combo of Alfonso G. Puyat really works wonder in enhancing the fast growth of plants like the grafted Longkong lanzones in photo at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. After being sprayed with the special fertilizer formulated by Mr. Puyat, long new shoots emerged soon after spraying.
  
Puyat explains that when sprayed on the leaves, the plant will feel very hungry so it absorbs as much plant food in the soil as it can. That's why a lot of organic or chemical fertilizer should be applied at the root zone of the plant before spraying Power Grower Combo.
  
When plants of fruiting age are sprayed with Power Grower Combo, another formulation is sprayed on the leaves. It is called Heavy Weight Harvest which contains a high percentage of potassium. The potassium facilitates the transfer of the "cooked" nutrients in the leaves to the fruits so that they become bigger, juicier and sweeter.
  
Both formulations are applied in combination with ANAA, a plant growth regulator. Both formulations are now available at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery. Call or text 0917-841-5477.

Oysters Return to Pantal River in Dagupan City

Dagupan City Agriculturist Emma Molina and Zac B.
Sarian with a basin full of oysters from Pantal River.
Fleshy oyster grown in Pantal River using the floating raft
system advocated by City Agriculturist Emma Molina'
This is the floating bamboo raft used for raising oysters.
For many years in the past, oysters used to be an important source of income for fisherfolk in Dagupan City’s seven rivers, especially the Pantal river. But the good oyster years were overtaken by fish cages that eventually clogged the free flow of water resulting in polluted and silted river beds.
  
According to city administrator Vladimir Mata and city agriculturist Emma Molina (who is a fisheries expert), the rivers were filled with fish cages that numbered no less than 1,600 which were a goldmine for the fish farmers and their financiers. But they wrought havoc to the environment.
  
The oyster farms in Pantal river were totally displaced in 1987 by the fish cages where fingerlings of bangus and other species were cultured for a period of three months. Although the cost of putting up and maintaining the cages for a three-month growing cycle needed a capital of P500,000, the returns were very attractive. According to Emma Molina, the profit ranged from 25 to 36 percent. At 25 percent, that’s P125,000 net profit from one cage of 300 square meters in less than 100 days,  and if it is 36 percent, that’s P180,000!
  
Because of the big return on investment, the river was abused. More fish cages were erected than ccould be maintained for the river’s good health. Because the fish have to be fed with commercial ration, the excess feeds polluted the river. Siltation ensued. According to city administrator Mata, the river used to be six meters deep but by 2008, many portions of the river were only three meters deep.
  
Something had to be done. The city council passed an ordinance that would demolish the fish cages in the river. Of course, the operators and their financiers did not like the idea because that meant the loss of their profitable income. Many of the fish farmers were financed by 14 big financiers, each financier may be funding at least 30 fish cages. One could just imagine the income from that number of cages considering that the profit margin was from 25 to 36 percent.
  
So it was not easy for the city authorities to eject the fish cages. But with the political will of the city council, the fish cages were finally demolished in 2010. The next agenda was to dredge the river. The dredging involved a really big amount, at least P6 million, but it was done. The dredged materials were used as landfill  in the low-lying coastal barangays to the joy of the residents there.
  
The rehabilitated river once again came to life and the endemic species once again thrived. One species that is being revived now is oysters. According to Emma Molina, the city agriculturist who is a fisheries expert, a new system of growing oysters is being introduced in Pantal river. This is the so-called floating raft system.
  
She explains that in the traditional system of growing oysters, bamboo poles were erected in the river where the spats or baby oysters attached themselves. That’s not good, according to her because the bamboo poles impeded the free flow of water. Under the new system a bamboo raft is used. The raft floats and strips of rubber (the interior of truck tire) are attached under the raft. The spats attach themselves to the rubber strips about two meters long. In about eight months the oysters would be ready for harvesting. What’s good with oysters is that they don’t need commercial feed. Initial trials in growing oysters in floating rafts have been very successful. The cultured oysters are very fleshy.
  
The fisherfolk will soon be allowed to make their own bamboo rafts for culturing oysters. Also, bangus and other species (samaral, pompano, seabass) and others will be cultured but the area for such projects will be limited to 26 hectares out of the total river area of 649 hectares.
  
Because of the cleaned up rivers, the small fisherfolk who fish by hook and line are very happy these days. According to Emma Molina, there are no less than 2,000 such small fishers who catch the endemic species like snapper, samaral, lapulapu, a species locally known as Bulasi, and others. The small fishers are happy because now when they go fishing from 10 in the morning up to 3 in the afternoon. In five hours they usually catch 6 to 9 kilos of assorted species at least worth a thousand pesos. Before, there were only about 1,000 fishers who caught fish by hook and line and they used to catch only three kilos in a period of five hours.
  
Now it is very obvious that if we protect the environment, the good old days would come back to benefit more number of people. And that could only be done if there is the political will to do it.

Start Your Dream Farm (Tip No.2)

(This is the second tip on Starting Your Dream Farm, a series that we will post in this blog every now and then in small, digestible doses.)

If You Don't Have Land Of Your Own, RENT!

YOU say you are not farming now because you don't have your own land? That should not prevent you from doing your own brand of farming. You can borrow or rent land!

  We remember a number of vegetable growers in Batangas, Laguna and other provinces renting the land they are cultivating. One very good example is Benito Magaling of Lipa City. A few years back, he rented 2 hectares from a land reform beneficiary and used it for growing Django pepper from East-West Seed Company.

The rent was just about P7,500 per hectare per growing season - May to January. And do you know how much he made? After planting the two hectares in June, he started harvesting by August. By September, he was harvesting 2 tons every day which he sold to a big dealer in Divisoria and some big buyers in the Tanauan market in Batangas. From September to January, he harvested every day at least P100,000 worth of finger peppers!

There are several advantages in farming on rented land. One is that you don't pay for the realty tax. Another is that you can rent new land season after season so that you avoid the build up of harmful diseases as well as pests as a result of continuous planting in one place.

Of course you usually plant short-term crops on rented land.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fusarium Wilt Threat Is Real

Emma Ramillete and Dr.Agustin Molina posing with resistant
Cavendish variant from Taiwan at Lapanday Rarm in Callawa,
Davao City
The Fusarium Wilt disease of Cavendish banana that has been played up in the media is a real threat to the multi-million dollar banana export industry in the Philippines.
  
This is stressed by Dr. Agustin Molina, the senior scientist of Bioversity International, a non-government agency based in Rome that is particularly interested in promoting the banana industry worldwide.
He e-mailed thanking us for what we have written about Bioversity’s program in in collaboration with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture. “Your articles, I am sure, will be read by international audience since Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is a very important global concern. It is still in the mind of the global banana industry how Panama Wilt devastated the banana industry  in Central America in the ‘50s. It is called Panama Wilt because the first epidemic was in Panama in 1918.”

Dr. Molina said that the wilt disease that attacked that time was the Race 1 which affected the Gros Michel variety which was a favorite of the growers as well as the consumers in the world market. The Gros Michel produced big bunches and the fruits were sweet. It also had good transport quality. But then it was susceptible to the disease. Eventually, Gros Michel was replaced with Cavendish which was resistant to the Fusarium Wilt Race 1.
  
The Panama disease eventually spread to neighboring countries like Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia. Dr. Molina said these were the major banana producers at that time. Banana was such an important export crop in these countries, a major source of their foreign currency.  And that’s probably the reason why these countries were called Banana Republics.
  
He said that it took the big banana companies 40 years of grappling with disease devastations and moving from one place to another to establish plantations. The big companies included United Fruits (now  Chiquita), Dole and Del Monte. They were forced to  change Gros Michel in the late ‘50s with Cavendish which was resistant to Fusarium Wilt Race 1.
  
Now, the TR4 is threatening not only the Cavendish in the Philippines but also other varieties like Lakatan and Latundan. The disease is a big threat if not given the right R&D attention for its mitigation, according to Dr. Molina. He says that TR4 first appeared in Taiwan in the late ‘60s causing lots of damage in the ‘70s  and ‘80s. Then it appeared in Malaysia and Indonesia in the early ‘90s, making them uncompetitive.
  
Of course, the threat is not only on the Philippines. India (the biggest banana producer but mostly for domestic use) is also worried just in case the disease gets into that country. So with the growers in Central America and in Africa.

Lechon Festival in Dagupan - April 24, 2012

Lechoneros from different parts of the country will showcase their roasting talents using 30 lechon piglets grown from using Feedpro Natural Hog Feeds at the First Dagupan's Best Special Lechon National Open Competition on Tuesday, April 24, at the Dagupan City Plaza. This was announced by Jeremy Yap, marketing officer of ProNatural Feed Corporation.
  
Following a successful pre-event held last March, the Dagupan City government decided to create this bigger lechon competition coinciding with their 2012 Bangus Festival with the aim of further promoting natural hog raising and sustainable livelihood opportunities in their city and nearby towns.

Indigofera Pellets Good For Goats

Art Almeda feeding an Anglo Nubian milker with pelleted
Indigofera. This increases milk yield and saves on feed cost.
In livestock production, whether it be pigs, cattle or goats, the dream of practically every raiser is to save on feeds. After all, about 70 percent of the cost of production is attributed to feeds.
  
Now, our good friend Rene Almeda of Alaminos Goat Farm in Laguna, is excited about the new development in feeding their goats, particularly the dairy goats of Saanen and  their crosses with Anglo Nubian. He reports that since they have been feeding their dairy goats with pelleted concentrate feeds that contain 30 percent shredded Indigofera leaves, their goats have been giving them more milk every day and the cost of feeds consumed is also significantly reduced.
  
Rene and his two sons, Arthur and Toti, operate one of the most sophisticated goat farms in the country today. They have about a thousand animals of both dairy and meat types. Their dairy goats, purebred Saanen and their crosses with Anglo Nubian, number more than 200 while the meat type animals (Boers and crosses) are more than 600.
  
In their desire to reduce feeding cost but at the same time maintaining balanced nutrition for their animals, the Almedas established a few years back what they call the Alaminos Salad Garden which is not salad for humans but for their goats. Their aim is to assure enough supply of nutritious green forage for their animals every day.
  
How? The salad garden consists of 30 long plots of forage grasses and leafy shrubs from which they cut the greens that are fed to their goats. One plot is harvested every day so that after 30 days, the first plot would be ready for harvesting again. Their favorite green feed is Indigofera, a legume that contains a high 26 percent crude protein.
  
Now the grasses and legumes are not only fed to the animals as fresh green forage. The leaves are shredded and then pelletized together with other ingredients such as palm oil cake, fine rice bran, molasses, soya and a little salt and calcium.
  
The Almedas are fortunate because there is an ongoing research collaboration between the Bureau of Agricultural Research and  Alaminos Goat Farm regarding the feeding of the dairy animals with pelletized malunggay leaves to find out if malunggay will induce the dairy goats to produce more milk.
  
So as to validate his suspicion that Indigofera could be excellent for feeding milking goats, he engaged the help of Remedios Acasio of the Bureau of Animal Industry so that they conduct a parallel research on feeding the animals with pelletized shredded Indigofera leaves.

The results excites Rene no end. He reports that since they have been feeding their goats with pelletized Indigofera, the animals’ milk production significantly increased. Before they started feeding with pellets, their goats only gave them 120 liters a day. Now they are giving 150 to 160 liters daily.
  
Rene is all the more excited because they also reduce the cost of feeds by using pellets. Rene explains that usually one dairy goat is given 2.5 kilos of concentrate every day. When the pellets don’t contain Indigofera, the 2.5 kilos consumed daily cost P37.50. But if 30 percent shredded Indigofera leaves is added, the cost of feed consumed by each milking goat is P28.12 only. That’s a saving of about 25 percent on concentrate feed.

Tips On Starting Your Dream Farm (No.1)

(NOTE: Starting with this posting, we will bring to you practical tips on Starting Your Own Dream Farm.  We will do it not every day but every so often. We will put a number in each advice. This should be helpful to beginners as well as long-time farming practitioners.)

Number 1: Don't Wait For Your Retirement Before You Start Farming.

It's wise to start developing your own farm while still young. How young? The younger the better. We remember a fellow who started planting lanzones in his family's coconut farm in San Pablo City many years ago while we were working in Los Banos. He was only 17 then but was farsighted enough to start planting his favorite fruit trees.
 
There are advantages in starting farming while you are still young. You will know early in life the realities in farming. There are risks in farming but these risks should keep you on your toes. Mistakes are usually inevitable but if you are still young, there's enough time to make amends. Mistakes can make you more creative in your farming strategies.
 
We will give these farming tips in small doses. They are easier to remember that way.

SOLOMON CARPIO: Labuyo Grower

SOLOMON CARPIO of Davao City is going into commercial production of the native Siling Labuyo for a big manufacturer of sauces and condiments. He has already planted one hectare with a target to plant a total of five hectares in his farm in Marilog district.
  
He is producing the Siling Labuyo for Marigold Commodities, the maker of the famous Mama Sita sauces and condiments. Siling Labuyo is about the smallest among hot peppers in the country. This has the hotness and flavor desired by Mama Sita. Aside from Siling Labuyo, he plans to grow black pepper also for Mama Sita.
  
According to Mrs. Clara Lapus of Mama Sita, their company needs big volumes of sour native guava, achuete, small-seeded peanut, sour tamarind, etc.
  
By the way, Mr. Carpio already produces commercial volumes of high-value vegetables like bell pepper. He is looking for big buyers of bell pepper and other crops he is growing because the Davao market can't absorb all his present production.
  
Mr. Carpio was born in Davao but he traces his roots to Paoay, Ilocos Norte. His parents migrated to Davao many years ago. He is a business administration graduate from UP in Diliman. He used to work in Quezon City but he got tired of Metro Manila's monstrous traffic so he decided to go back to Davao to do his own brand of farming.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Asking for ZAC's Farming Advice?

We receive a lot of messages (texts, email, phone calls) asking for advice or something else. Many don't give their names and addresses, some just ask what projects are most profitable for them, etc.
  
Just like an e-mailer who just said he is a new parent with a 21-year-old wife and a new child. He didn't give his name and address where he lives or where to put up his project (city, province or elsewhere). It's not easy to give the right advice without knowing the circumstances he is in and other relevant info about him.


SO HERE'S OUR ADVICE: Please give your Mobile Phone No. so I can respond immediately to your queries  even if I am out in the field (which is very often). If you want a face-to-face encounter, text me. You might want to see me at Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal so we can know each other better. But make an appointment. We prefer to meet just a few people at a time, not more than five. We can provide some practical advice and maybe learn from you also. There's no fee for seeing us. 


We prefer to meet people in the afternoon of Saturdays and Sundays. Text or call us at 0917-841-5477. This is Zac B. Sarian, agriculture editor of the Manila Bulletin and a hands-on farmer.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Urea Aborts Undesired First Watermelon Fruits

The watermelon experts will tell you that the first couple of fruits of the watermelon plant should be removed because it is better to retain the third or fourth fruits. The experts don't tell how to remove the first fruits. The assumption of most is that they could be clipped with the use of scissors.
  
In Oton , Iloilo, the growers have a practical way of eliminating the first fruits. They water the plants with a solution of urea fertilizer. Because urea is nitrogenous and it is for vegetative growth, applying the same on newly fruiting plants will abort the small fruits.
  
That's more practical than using scissors to remove the small first fruits. You are fertilizing the plants and removing the fruits that are not desired to develop. It could mean additional labor cost to remove by hand the fruits, especially when one is growing thousands of plants.

Salvador Guevarra Goes To Teresa

Salvador Guevarra of Sta. Ana, Pampanga, is a retiree who is very much interested in farming. He and his wife Angela, son Alvin and granddaughter Arella, recently visited Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. They were really excited about the Mama Sita banana and the Indian black pepper (Paniyur).
  
The Mama Sita is in fruit in Teresa today and they were very much impressed by its big bunch and stout pseudostem (trunk). They were likewise excited about the Paniyur black pepper growing on mahogany trees and bearing fruits.
  
They got planting materials of Mama Sita, Paniyur, Abiu, Golden Queen and Peach mangoes, etc.
  
They were truly glad to see the orchard and nursery. They were able to taste Abiu and a new banana variety from Honduras called FHIA 17 which produces big fruits that are very nice to eat. All the members of the family love fruit trees and farming in general although they reside in Manila. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

ZAC Invited to Syngenta Demo Day in Singapore

We have been invited to attend  the Syngenta Crop Demonstration Day on April 26 at the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre. The event aims to "bring to life Syngenta's new global integrated strategy and provide tangible examples of how it will operate in practice."
  
The afternoon will begin with an overview of the agricultural challenges we face and how Syngenta is addressing these challenges by helping farmers grow more from less. The attendees will then be invited to tour a series of crop exhibits that will show how Syngenta is innovating to provide an even better, more comprehensive offer in the company's key global crops like rice, corn, soybean, cereals, vegetables, specialty crops, sugarcane, oilseeds and lawn and garden.
  
The invitation was extended to us by Cindy Lim, Community and Media Relations Manager of Syngenta.
  

Grafted Longkong Sprayed With Power Grower Combo


Note the broad young leaves, thanks to Puyat's
Power Grower Combo.
These are grafted Longkong lanzones at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal that were sprayed with the Power Grower Combo formulated by Alfonso G. Puyat, an economist and agricultural researcher-inventor. Note the big new leaves that emerged soon after they were sprayed with Mr. Puyat's formulation.

The Power Grower Combo consists of powdered single fertilizer nutrients applied in combination with Puyat's own improved ANAA, a plant growth regulator.
  
Power Grower Combo facilitates the rapid uptake of plant nutrients in the soil. It is recommended therefore that adequate organic and non-organic fertilizers be applied within the root zone of the plants.
  
Mr. Puyat has another formulation for profuse fruit production. This is applied on fruiting trees that were earlier sprayed with Power Grower Combo. Called Heavy Weight Harvest, it facilitates the transport of the "cooked" plant food in the leaves to the flowers and developing fruits.
  
Mr. Puyat's formulations are effective on rice, corn, vegetables, fruit trees and practically every crop.

Resistant Cavendish for Small Farmers

Dr. Agustin Molina and Dr. Emily Fabregar checking the fruits of
resistant Cavendish variant in the Lapanday banana plantation in
Callawa, Davao City. Two variants have been observed to be resistant
to the Fusarium Wilt disease. These variants will be tissue-cultured for
growing in small farmer's fields in Mindanao under a new project of
Bioversity International and the Bureau of Agricultural Research.
Two banana varieties developed in Taiwan that have been observed to be resistant to Fusarium Wilt will soon be disseminated to small-scale banana farmers in the Davao provinces whose Cavendish bananas are being attacked by the wilt disease.
   
The new project is a collaboration of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) and Bioversity International (BI) represented by Dr. Agustin B. Molina, it’s senior scientist and coordinator of its livelihood programs  in Asia-Pacific.
  
The project is in response to the increasing threat of the Fusarium Wilt disease in Cavendish banana plantations, both in the large scale farms as well as in the farms of small-scale independent growers.
  
Lately, the government authorities as well as the big plantation owners themselves have been alarmed by the increasing incidence of infections by the disease in the banana plantations in the Davao provinces and other Cavendish growing areas in Mindanao.


Naturally the different stakeholders are getting alarmed. After all, Fusarium wilt is a very serious banana disease. In the early 1950s the disease wiped out the vast banana plantations in Panama planted with the Gros Michel variety. This was eventually replaced with Cavendish which was found to be resistant to Fusarium Wilt Race 1. 


But there is a Fusarium Wilt that attacks Cavendish, the Tropical Race 4.The TR4 ravaged the Cavendish plantations in Taiwan which was one of the major producers of Cavendish banana for export to Japan and elsewhere in the '70s and ‘80s. Then in the early '90s TR4 prevented the growth of the Cavendish banana industry in Indonesia and Malaysia.
  
What makes the current Fusarium Wilt in the Philippines (called Tropical Race 4 or TR4) more alarming is that it also infects other locally grown varieties such as Lakatan and Latundan. Only Saba and Cardaba seem to be tolerant.
  
Under the project with a budget of P16-million, two varieties observed to be resistant to Fusarium TR4 will be planted in at least 20 pilot areas consisting of infected farms of at least four hectares per farmer. The varieties to be planted are GCTCV 119 and 219 that were developed in Taiwan and introduced in the Philippines by Bioversity. GCTCV stands for Giant Cavendish Tissue Culture Variant. Dr. Molina explained that among tissue-cultured plants there are some variants that possess some desirable characteristics.
  
These variants have been field tested in recent years at the Lapanday Cavendish plantation in Callawa, Davao City. It was Dr. Molina who convinced the owners of Lapanday to field test the said variants in places where Fusarium infection was observed. And of the different varieties tested, No. 119 and No. 219 have proven to be unaffected by the disease even if they were planted near the infected plants that have died.
  
What’s good about No. 119 and 219 is that the fruits are well accepted in the world market, especially in Japan. Dr. Molina said that the fruits of the variants are sweeter than the standard varieties, and that is a quality preferred by the Japanese buyers.
  
The only not so major disadvantage, Dr. Molina said, is that the bunches are a little smaller than the Grand Naine and Williams varieties that are currently grown in the Philippines. The plants also mature about two weeks later. But then what is more important is that they are not affected by Fusarium Wilt and the fruit quality is very good.
  
To make sure that the planting materials that will be grown in farmers’ fields are disease-free, they will be multiplied by means of tissue-culture. Lapanday, through Dr. Emily Fabregar, will be doing the tissue culturing of materials from disease-free mother plants.
  
The farmers will be involved in the hands-on operation in culturing the banana plants, from land preparation, seedling hardening, fertilization, irrigation and drainage under the guidance of technicians from the Department of Agriculture as well as by Dr. Molina himself. But the farmer has to be actively involved, including having to pay for the fertilizer, so that he will have a strong sense of participation.
  
The result of the pilot testing will showcase the improved practices that could mitigate the onslaught of the Fusarium disease. The technologies involved will then be disseminated to the rest of the Cavendish growers, particularly the small-scale independent growers.
  
Dr. Molina said that the independent growers play a major role in the production of bananas for the export market. In fact, they are responsible for producing 50 percent of the Cavendish exports today.

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