Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Biodiversity & Genomics Symposium: June 14

The University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City will hold a Biodiversity and Genomics Symposium on Thursday, June 14, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Auditorium of National Institute of Physics, National Science Complex, UP Diliman. This was announced by Ibsky Romero.

Philippine Wild Berry Studied

Women Rural Improvement Club members with
their harvest of wild berry
Close up of a couple of ripe berries and a green one.
A few years back, a wild berry growing abundantly in Mt. Banahaw and other towns in Quezon province caught the attention of the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) as a possible object of research. The wild plant is locally called Sapinit which might as well be called the Pinoy wild berry. Botanical name: Rubus rosifolius.

DA-BAR, headed by Dr. Nicomedes Eleazar, set aside a fund of over a million pesos for researchers from the Quezon Agricultural Experiment Station in Tiaong to study the culture and develop possible products out of the berries that become very attractive red when ripe.
The researchers, headed by Dr. Concepcion Amat, not only studied the best ways to propagate and cultivate the wild plant in a demo farm in Brgy. Kinabuhayan in Dolores, Quezon, but also how to process the fruits into useful food products.
They found out that the plants were easy to grow. The plants that were planted in March 2009 produced the first harvestable fruits the following December or just a matter of 9 to 10 months after planting.

They also reported that the fruits are suitable for consumption as fresh fruit or they can be processed into wine, juice and jam. The next step that the researchers took was to train the women members of a rural improvement club in Dolores to process the fruits so that the excess production that could not be sold for the fresh fruit market could be fully utilized.

The technicians of the experiment station have also been teaching the farm families to produce organic fertilizer which they could use in growing their Sapinit crops. That way the harvests could be considered as organically grown and would command a much higher price than if the plants were grown the conventional farming way, using a lot of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

The promising results of the experiment conducted by Dr. Amat and her colleagues could lead to a number of possibilities. The upland areas hitherto uncultivated for traditional crops could be used to grow Sapinit. In the place where the plant grows well and fruits well, the finished products could be the town’s OTOP or one-town-one-product.

Since the Sapinit has been growing as a wild plant in the uncultivated areas, it is highly suitable for production the organic way. Processed organic products could be sold initially in weekend markets where organic products are becoming popular.

The products could be exposed to the public during trade fairs just like the annual trade fair conducted by the DA-BAR in conjunction with its anniversary. This year, for instance, the agency will be conducting an agri-fair and techno-forum on commerciable technologies. This will be from August 9 to 12 at the SM Megamall Trade Halls 1 and 2 in Mandaluyong City.

By the way, aside from Dr. Amat, the researchers on the Sapinit project included Rolando Cuasay, Dennis Bihis, Lani Averion, Arnel Repaso and Anniewenda Reyes.

AGRI-KAPIHAN on June 16, 2012: Broiler Production

The weekly Agri-Kapihan Forum this Saturday, June 16, will have Mr. Rommel Parado as resource person on Broiler Production. This will be at the AANI Weekend Market at the St. Vincent Seminary on Tandang Sora, Quezon City.

The Agri-Kapihan is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. A project supported by the Department of Agriculture, it is open free to everybody who is interested in agriculture. Call 936-6556 or 0917-795-0916 for more information.


The AANI Farm Tour on July 1, 2012 will visit the biggest vermiculture project in the Philippines which produces about 5 tons of vermicompost every day in Alaminos, Laguna. This is the Mapecon company of Jun Catan. Aside from vermiculture, the participants will be able to observe the production of green charcoal and activated carbon.

The Farm Tour will also visit the native pig project at the Quezon Agricultural Experiment Station in Tiaong, Quezon. Aside from native pigs, native chickens and other livestock grown the organic way can be observed.

The fee is P1,500 per person. Those interested to join may contact landlines (02)9366556; 9353146; 4808990; 8241848 or 0917-795-0916. Seats inside the aircon bus will be assigned on a first-come-first-served basis, based on who pays first.

Monday, June 11, 2012

DA-BAR Techno Forum Set Aug. 9-12

ANTHONY OBLIGADO is showing the poster of the 8th Agriculture and Fisheries National Technology Commercialization Forum and Product Exhibition which will be held on August 9-12, 2012 at the SM Megamall Trade Halls 1 & 2 in Mandaluyong City.

Obligado is the head of the Technology Commercialization Division of the Bureau of Agricultural Research, an agency of the Department of Agriculture. DA-BAR is headed by Director Nicomedes Eleazar.

The event is held in conjunction with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Bureau of Agricultural Research. Aside from the presentation of commerciable technologies in agriculture and fisheries, the entrepreneurs who have been assisted by BAR will showcase their various products and services in exhibit booths.

The technology forum and product presentation aim to identify, disseminate and promote mature technologies in Agriculture and Fisheries, and to establish and strengthen linkages with the private sector, NGOs,local government units and other government agencies, especially in the aspect of marketing the producers' products.

Seminars and demonstrations on various timely topics will be open free to the public. The visitors will also have the chance to buy the products of assisted entrepreneurs that include high-value crops, natural products and ingredients for health and wellness, and organic farm produce.

Friday, June 8, 2012

They Give Free Evening Light to 50 Neighbors

CHRIS and Maymay Javelosa, owners of the UJ Swine Farm in Sagay, Negros Occidental, are well loved by their neighbors, some 50 families of them.

That's because their pig farm with about 1,800 head does not have the usual smell of traditional pig farms. The reason is that the manure goes to a big biogas digester that generates electricity not only for their farm's use but also for their neighbors.

The electricity generated is used by the pig farm in running its hammer mill, in milling corn, mixing feeds, for brooding the piglets and for lighting. There is also an excess electricity that is enough to provide free lighting to the 50 neighboring households albeit only from 7 to 9 in the evening.

Aside from growing pigs, Chris and Maymay are also planting sugarcane on 30 hectares. Some of the 30 hectares are rented land.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Indian Black Pepper for Cavite

THE Department of Agriculture is promoting the production of black pepper in Cavite province. It has bought recently a thousand planting materials of the Paniyur variety from India which produces long fruit spikes. Its yield is virtually double that of the ordinary variety.

One practice that is being popularized is to plant three or four rooted cuttings at the base of each mahogany tree that is at least about five years old. The vines will cling to the trunk of the tree. The vines may be maintained at a height of six feet for easier harvesting and maintenance.

The vines will usually bear fruit in two years. At four years old, they will already produce a lot of fruits. Photo shows the fruits of vines made to climb a mahogany tree at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. A lot of planting materials are available here. Call or text 0917-841-5477.

Legislator Going For Duku

A LEGISLATOR from Luzon, after seeing the young fruits of Duku lanzones in our web site, suddenly thought of going into commercial planting of this fruit tree. He ordered an initial 200 grafted planting materials to be followed by another batch later.
Duku has a very nice flavor. The fruit clusters are not as compact as those of the Longkong but in a way that is an advantage. There is better ventilation between the fruits. The skin is thicker than that of Longkong so that it has a longer shelf life.

Nevertheless, while the skin is thicker, the fruit is very easy to open by just pressing it between the thumb and the index finger. The fruit is without latex  so it is not messy to eat. It will not stain your fingers.

Photo shows developing fruit clusters of a Duku tree at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Novel Agritourism Destination In The Making In Bacolod

MAY'S ORGANIC GARDEN  is an innocent sounding name for a novel concept of an organic farming-based tour destination in Bacolod City. One would think it is just like one of those ordinary projects being put up in different places in the country today.

But the place, a 3.9-hectare agritourism project, would be different in many ways when it will be finished by September this year. It will showcase many doable technologies needed to succeed in organic farming and gardening.
The place is owned by the family of Ramon Uy, the inventor of shredders and many other agricultural machinery. He usually quips, however, that he just happened to be married to the lady who owns May’s Organic Garden, the young-looking May Uy.
While the whole project is still under development as of this writing (June 6, 2012), there are a number of sections that are already functioning. First is the May’s Organic Restaurant that serves dishes using organically grown vegetables and other ingredients. There’s also a weekend market where organic vegetables, herbs, organic health and wellness products are sold.
On display are a couple of windmills in operation, fabricated by Ramon Uy himself. A third one will soon be installed. One is providing irrigation to a mini version of rice terraces planted to organic rice.
Then there is a low-cost pump called Elephant Pump which is made of recycled rubber tire and steel pipe. There is no engine needed. It is operated manually and is ideal for drawing water from a source like a canal. It can bring up water for irrigating garden plants 3 to 5 meters above the water source.
There is also what Ramon calls Rope Pump which is easily manipulated by hand to lift the water from a well. It provides an easier way of drawing water from the well than the traditional system.
Right now, there are already different vegetables and herbs being grown the organic way in sections of the property. These include pechay, eggplant, okra, tomato, camote, mustard, sitao, lemon grass and many others.
There’s a showcase of sweet corn where camote is intercropped for the production of tops for salad and some for root production. There is a shredder stationed in one place shredding coconut husks for use as mulch in plots planted to eggplant.
There’s a greenhouse where  growing seedlings of vegetables are showcased so visitors may learn to germinate their seeds properly. There are also culinary herbs cultured in the greenhouse.
Also to be installed will be the lemon grass oil distiller which is also manufactured by Ramon’s RU Foundry. This is one invention of Ramon Uy which is providing livelihood for upland farmers in Brgy. Camalandaan in the upland town of Cauayan in Negros Occidental.
The upland farmers grow lemon grass for oil extraction in Ramon Uy’s distiller and the oil extracted is sold at P1,500 per liter. The extracted oil is used in making health and wellness products like massage oil, bath soap, shampoo, and the like. An anti-dengue organic spray using Citronella oil is also now being developed with the help of a UP scientist.
Organic fertilizer production by means of vermiculture will be another attraction in May’s Organic Garden. Ramon’s shredders are efficient in shredding farm wastes and other materials which are fed to earthworms for the production of vermicompost. Visitors will be able to learn the art of making organic fertilizers right there. 
In the middle of an artificial lake or lagoon, a two storey building is being built as of this writing. This will serve many purposes. It could be a venue for conferences, celebration of special occasions like wedding receptions, birthday parties, reunions and others.
The lagoon which occupies big space could be used for boating. The water could be stocked with fish and leisure fishing could be one of the attractions later.
What Ramon considers significant will be the seminars on various topics in organic agriculture that will be regularly offered. Experts from different lines of specialization will be invited to conduct seminars and demonstrations.
Chefs from Manila and other cities could be invited to conduct cookfests using organically grown materials. The ideas are practically limitless.
Ramon Uy behind a full-grown lemon grass.



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tegra Rice Transplanter

SYNGENTA, the multinational company that is engaged in the development or rice and corn technologies, is developing a new system for rice production in India that could be eventually adopted in other rice-producing countries in Asia and elsewhere. A component of the Tegra rice production technology is the use of a transplanting machine that transplants the 21-day-old seedlings in straight rows at two seedlings per hill. The machine can plant four to five hectares in eight hours of operation. The transplanting of young seedlings provides longer time for the rice plants to develop more tillers than when the seedlings are planted 30 days old or older as is often done by many farmers.

He Prefers Renting Rather Than Buying Land

You don’t have to own your farm in order to become a successful farmer. You could always rent some land for your own kind of farming.
That’s the belief of Feliciano “Ka Sano” Linatoc of Sta. Teresita, Sto. Tomas, Batangas. He is considered the champion vegetable grower in his hometown, if not in the whole province, growing high-value vegetables. He has a few hectares of his own but he would rather rent land than buy it. After all, he said, there are lots of farmlands for rent in Batangas.
The truth is, he said, one landowner was recently offering 43 hectares for him to rent. As of now, however, he has enough rented farms to keep him busy. Even if he would love to, he says he cannot do it because he does not have enough workers for such a big area. He already has over a hundred farmhands working for him in his rented farms.

One farm he rented that is giving him a lot of income is a 9-hectare property in Brgy. San Pablo which he leased for P90,000 for one year. Last November 22 and 23, he harvested five tons of Galactica ampalaya worth P150,000. That was more than enough to pay for the one-year rent.
He harvests his ampalaya every four days. He does not have any problem disposing his harvest because a lady assembler in Tanauan City takes care of everything.
Ka Sano used to grow rice and corn in his own farm. However, 15 years ago, he turned to vegetable production and found out that vegetables are much more profitable than rice. Vegetables have a much shorter gestation than rice. And although vegetables require much more attention, the extra effort is compensated many times over.
Usually, he produces vegetables in partnership with his children, children-in-law and sometimes friends outside the family. The partners chip in capital while he does the management of the project. Sometimes, he also puts in his share of cash. The ampalaya project in Brgy. San Pablo is in partnership with a former vice mayor of the town as well as Ka Sano’s relatives. The sharing of the profits depends on the cash and efforts rendered by the partners.
When we interviewed him last November 22, they were on their fourth harvest of the ampalaya. They expected to harvest a lot more because normally, one can harvest from one cropping 20 to 25 times. The harvesting time is perfect because it is within the Christmas season when the price is usually high. The price at the time of our interview was P35 per kilo, wholesale to the assembler.
Tomato is one other profitable crop, especially if the timing of the harvest is perfect. A previous project where they planted tomatoes on four hectares was a most profitable one. The tomato seedlings were planted in June  2012 and harvesting started in August. Menardo Linatoc, one of Ka Sano’s sons, said that they had a bumper harvest and also got a very good price.
From the four hectares, Menardo said, they must have harvested no less than 4,000 crates of 20 kilos per crate. They were able to sell the harvests at P700 per crate. That’s a gross of P2.8 million from the four hectares in a matter of less than four months.
The Django “pangsigang” pepper from East-West has been most profitable also for Ka Sano and his partners. They planted only one hectare to this hot pepper last August but they had a bumper harvest. From that planting, they harvested 18 times. The planting time was perfect because when they started harvesting, the price was P200 per kilo.
One time they harvested 400 kilos from that one hectare. It was sold for a cool P80,000.
Ka Sano and his sons have also planted snapbeans in another rented land. The plants were still young when we wrote this piece but they were expected to give some harvest before Christmas. Possibly another money maker.
Ka Sano provides livelihood to a lot of workers. More than a hundred people earn money doing various chores in the rented farms, including planting, fertilizing, spraying, harvesting and the like.
Ka Sano owns a big tractor which he uses to prepare the land for planting. The reconditioned tractor which he bought for about P700,000 can plow five hectares in one day.

He Harvests Rain Water For Home Use

Now that the rains are here, we might as well harvest them for future use. Just like what a senior scientist in India has been doing the past many years. He harvests the rain and stores the same in a huge underground tank below his house.
He is Dr. M. M. Sharma, manager of Visitors, Protocol and Travel Services at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in the Indian state of Hyderabad. 

One of the first things we learned from him when we visited ICRISAT was how he harvests rain for his family’s use. In 1995, Dr. Sharma built his house with a flat roof made of concrete measuring about 160 square meters. Underneath, he built an underground storage tank to catch the rain water from the roof.
Before the water reaches the underground tank, it passes through a filter made of gravel. The water for household use is pumped by a 0.25 hp electric pump to a 1,000-liter capacity plastic overhead tank. From this tank water comes down by gravity and is used in the kitchen and toilets.

Dr. Sharma said that since 1995, the rainwater harvested has been used for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing clothes all year round. It is not necessary to boil or treat the water used for drinking and cooking. An ordinary filter is sufficient.
The walls of the underground tank are made of rough granite stones joined by a rich mixture of cement and sand. The floor is made of concrete. There is a concrete staircase to descend into the tank to facilitate cleaning. He explained that cleaning the tank annually ensures water quality. It is very important that the tank is built in such a way that sunlight does not penetrate the structure to prevent algal growth. Because it is soft water, using rainwater in the washing machine saves about 50% of detergent powder.
In late 2003, Dr. Sharma connected his neighbor’s roof to the same rainwater tank and together they have been harvesting about 250,000 liters of rainwater every year.
It cost Dr. Sharma US$1,025 to build his water harvesting system. During the first eight years, the system saved Dr. Sharma about 1 million liters of water worth $1,250. This means that the total construction cost was recovered in seven years.
From 2003 to 2007, the total value of water conserved by Dr. Sharma’s rainwater harvesting system was valued at $1,850 

Total savings from 1995 to 2008 amounted to US$4,450. So it really pays to harvest rainwater.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Beautiful Farm Resort in Silang

MYRNA MAGALONG, a successful businesswoman who runs a placement agency, has developed a most beautiful farm resort in a 2-hectare property called Banio Creek Farm in Pulong Bunga 1, Silang, Cavite. It has become a favorite destination of individuals, families, groups of business people, academe and others who would like to enjoy the fresh unpolluted air in a secluded place surrounded by thick vegetation.

She has put up five buildings complete with amenities where visitors can stay overnight. They can cook their own food with the facilities of the farm, or they can order their requirements from a caterer.

There are recreation facilities like a billiard hall and swimming pool which visitors can use without limit.

Plant lovers will enjoy the beautiful bromeliads and other flowering plants. Bromeliads particularly love the mild climate in Silang. There's a big collection of Aechmea blanchetiana which produces long-stemmed red flowers that last for months. The flowers are a favorite of floral arrangers.There are also colorful Neoregelias as well as tillandsias. 

Several varieties of Medinilla are particularly floriferous at this time of the year. So are the Rubia, lantana, coral tree and others.

Myrna who claims she is a farmer at heart is devoting a lot of her time and resources in adding new attractions in her property.

Myrna, by the way, is a member of the Cactus and Succulent Society of the Philippines which will be staging an international garden show in November this year at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City. That will showcase the economic importance of cacti and succulents that include the dragon fruit which is increasingly becoming a popular fruit crop in the Philippines. Myrna is also growing dragon fruit commercially. Another succulent with much economic importance is the giant Aloe vera which has food and health attributes. 
The president of the CSSP is Dorie S. Bernabe while the treasurer is Mely Sibayan. They both visited the Banio Creek Farm together with us on June 3, 2012.
You can reach Myrna at 0920-919-3199.

RUBIA produces large clusters of flowers at Banio Creek Farm  in
Pulong Bunga 1, Silang, Cavite owned by Myrna Magalong. 
Different Medinilla species bloom profusely in Banio Creek Farm of Myrna Magalong.

Myrna Magalong (center) and friends Dorie S. Bernabe and Mely Sibayan who are certified plant lovers posing with Myrna's circular Neoregelia Fireball arrangement.
MYRNA MAGALONG and her Aechmea blanchetiana.
Dorie S. Bernabe (right), president of the Cactus And Succulent Society of the Philippines, and Mely
Sibayan, treasurer, show special interest in the flowering Opuntia in the Banio Creek Farm of Myrna
Magalong in Silang, Cavite. The Cactus and Succulent Society, will be staging a garden show in November this year to highlight the economic importance of cacti and succulents like the dragon fruit, giant aloe vera, etc.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Small Rice Farmer Who Grew Rich (A Reprint)

(This is a reprint from our first book titled "Successful Agri-People And Their Practical Ideas That Work." The book is now out of print after one reprinting. That was published in 1992, 20 years ago, but we believe the ideas of Anastacio "Amang" Lopez could inspire other farmers to be more enterprising and businesslike.)

NOT ALL small rice farmers remain poor and small. Some also grow rich, yet remain hard working and simple. One such farmer is Anastacio "Amang" Lopez of Barangay Baquero, Cabanatuan City.

Amang, who was born in 1950, only reached fifth grade. When he got married at the age of 20, his father was only able to bequeath to him less than a hectare of rice land to till. Only 8,500 square meters, to be exact.

At that time, he did not even have enough money to cultivate his farm. He had to borrow from a local rice miller so he could buy some seed, fertilizer and other inputs, and then paid his debt with his palay harvest.

As of this writing (May 1992), he is the owner and tiller of 14 hectares of irrigated rice land and also tills another 10 hectares mortgaged to him by other farm owners. His small bamboo and wooden house which was blown down by Typhoon Saling a few years back has now been replaced with a spacious concrete house complete with the amenities of modern living like a refrigerator, fine furniture, stereo, color TV and even an encyclopedia set.

But he has retained his humble ways. When we interviewed him, he was personally doing the bagging of his newly threshed palay in his farm not farm from his home.

He Does The Final Land Prep

While he owns three power tillers for preparing his land for planting, he still keeps a carabao for the final leveling of his rice fields before planting. And he himself does the final chore. He would not entrust to anyone else the final leveling because to him, that is very important for high yields.

In 1990, he also bought a P300,000 rice mill that is now installed in a warehouse near his home. He also owns a jeep or the family's use. And in October 1991, he  borrowed some money from a rural bank to buy a P450,000 truck for transporting farm products.

Amang has also now become a financier. Other cash-strapped rice farmers go to him for money which they pay back in kind after harvest.

How come Amang has become so prosperous? Aside from hard work, he has business sense. He and his wife are very keen on other money-making opportunities, like a backyard piggery. Since they got married, they have always raised a few pigs. At the time of our visit, they had 12 breeders and eight fatteners in their pig pen.

In their early years of marriage, Amang also remembers that he used to go out to fish when there was nothing to do on the rice fields. And his wife would sell his catch in the market. He was always looking for income opportunities other than rice.

Blower For Rent

In those early years, mechanical threshers were still unknown. The palay was threshed by the "hampas" method that required blowers to winnow the harvest. Amang saw an opportunity to augment his income by buying a blower which he rented out to the other farmers. He sold a couple of pigs to buy the blower.

The blower had proved to be a good money maker. The other farmers who rented the blower paid two kilos of palay for every sack winnowed. Since one blower could winnow 200 cavans daily, that meant 400 kilos of palay rental for the couple every day.

When the mechanical thresher arrived, Amang sold some more of their pigs and bought their own thresher. This was even a bigger earner for the couple. In one harvest season, the thresher could earn for them more than 500 cavans of palay.

Meanwhile, the couple started to provide the necesssary financing for the farmers who were short of cash. Since payment was made in kind, the Lopezes had to learn to trade in rice to dispose not only their own harvests but also the payments-in-kind made by the farmer-borrowers.

Soon they had saved enough cash to buy more rice fields. And then the rice mill, the truck and as if that is not enough, the couple also put up a small grocery in Cabanatuan City, managed by Mrs. Lopez.

The story of Amang and his wife, no doubt, should inspire other small farmers to have more business sense and be more enterprising. If the Lopezes were able to do it, why can't others?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Essential Oil Extractor Saves Forest Trees


This is the Lemon Grass Oil Distiller by Ramon Uy of Bacolod City.

Vice Mayor Jerry Tabujara and Ramon Uy talk shop

An essential oil extractor is helping save the forests in the upland town of Cauayan, Negros Occidental. The machine that distills essential oil from lemon grass in Brgy. Camalaandan has been observed to have stopped people from cutting trees for making charcoal because they have found that it is easier and more profitable to grow lemon grass for essential oil extraction than to make charcoal.
The change came about a few years ago when Ramon Uy who designed the essential oil extractor brought one unit to Brgy Camalandaan and asked the people to grow lemon grass. The project was helped by the provincial government who encouraged the farmers to shift to lemon grass production by providing funds for the planting materials.

The government did not pay for the machine. Ramon Uy just brought the extractor to the place so that the farmers can use it without paying for the extraction service. At the same time, Ramon Uy promised to buy all the oil extracted. The price is P1,500 per liter of oil. A byproduct called hydrosol or the water that was separated from the oil during extraction is also bought at P600 per 20 liters.

According to Arnel Taba, the project development officer from the provincial agriculturist’s office, there are now about 30 farmers who are growing lemon grass for extraction in Ramon Uy’s machine. One farmer who has planted just 2,500 square meters can have an income of P5,000 a month, according to Taba. That’s not bad for a family up in the mountain who also has other crops like corn and vegetables. After all, lemon grass is just intercropped with coconut, corn or simply planted along the dikes of the corn fields.

On a per hectare basis, according to Taba, one can produce ten tons of lemon grass leaves every two months once the plants have become six months old. From each ton, P6,000 worth of essential oil can be extracted.

This is how the scheme works. The farmers cut the lemon grass and bring the same to the distilling machine. One load consists of 250 kilos of leaves. The farmer uses wood for fuel. In three hours, the oil extracted and is bought by Ramon Uy for P1,500 per liter.

The hydrosol produced per batch is about 40 liters which is worth P1,200. This hydrosol is used as a biopesticide to control pests in crops. It is also used for marinating fish or for treating scabies in farm animals.

Lemon grass oil, on the other hand, is used in many wellness and beauty products. It is used in making bath soap, massage oil, shampoo, dengue control products and more.

Ramon Uy revealed that an anti-dengue spray using lemon grass oil as a major component is about to be perfected. The preparation would be safe for spraying in homes, classrooms and other places. It is very safe because it is an organic product. There is no synthetic chemical in it.

Because of the success in Brgy. Camalandaan, the provincial government is buying a new unit for Brgy. Sura in Cauayan. The unit will require a planting of at least 10 hectares so it will provide livelihood opportunities to more families in the upland barangay of Cauayan.

Lemon grass is not expensive to grow. In fact it does not require fertilizers if the soil is relatively fertile. There is no pest that attacks this crop. In fact it is planted among fruit trees to repel the insects.

The planting materials are planted 60 cm x 60 cm so that 27,777 hills can be planted in one hectare. When the plants are full grown, one hill can produce a kilo of leaves. The first harvest is done when the plants are six months mold. Succeeding harvests are every two months. Replanting may be done after two years of harvesting.

Make A Good Activity A Habit (Farming Tip No. 20)

In one session of the Agri-Kapihan, Pat Dugan brought extra-large ginger rhizomes for the attendees to see. He said that was the result of the chicken manure he spread all over his 14-hectare farm in Lipa City.

He explained that every Saturday when he visited his farm, he made it a habit to load his pickup truck with chicken manure from a poultry farm along the way. He just spread the manure all over his farm. After doing that for a few years, his soil became really rich and that's the reason why he produced the extra-large ginger rhizomes.

The lesson here is that by making it a habit to bring manure to his farm every day, he was able to improve the fertility of his farm in a doable, easily affordable way. Imagine, if he brought with him 500 kilos of manure every visit to his farm, in 52 weeks of the year he would have added to his soil 26 tons of manure!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pineapple/Moringa Shake - Very Delicious

THIS IS me Zac B. Sarian showing a glass of a very delicious fruit shake served to me by Ramon and May Uy during my visit to Bacolod City on May 25-27, 2012. 

It is a blend of ripe pineapple, fresh Moringa or Malunggay leaves and honey blended in an Osterizer.It is kept cool in a refrigerator or some finely crushed  ice may be added before serving.

Negros As Lamb Capital Of The Philippines

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Maranon (left) and Zac B. Sarian
at a dinner in Bacolod City on May 25, 2012, where we partook of
different sheep cuisines. Gov. Maranon is promoting sheepraising
in his province.
A plate of mutton stew served at the dinner given by  Gov. Alfredo
Maranon to Zac B. Sarian and some other friends of the Negros
chief executive, including Ramon Uy and Marvin Velayo.
The province of Negros Occidental is poised to become the “Lamb Capital of the Country” if we are to believe Gov. Alfredo Maranon who is apparently obsessed in promoting sheep raising in his province.

He believes that sheep could be a better choice than goats for Negros farmers for a number of good reasons. Sheep are less problematic to raise than goats. They are more docile and they are not as destructive as goats when goats are raised in the open, not confined in their housing.

Sheep are an ideal live “lawn mower” in orchards because they don’t destroy the trees. In fact they eat the grass in the plantation so that they are helpful in keeping down the weeds.

Sheep meat or mutton is also claimed to be more healthful than other livestock meat. It is reported that prime cuts of mutton sell for as much as P700 per kilo. Mutton can be served in many ways. Sheep lechon is a special food that is now served during special occasions.
A few years back, Gov. Maranon happened to visit the farm of Juven Chua of General Santos City because they were looking for Brahman bulls to buy. During his visit, they served his party with a sheep lechon. He liked it so much that he vowed to make sheep a special farm animal for Negrenses to raise.
The provincial government bought a number of stocks of sheep from Chua. But after the purchase of the second batch, Chua would not sell any animals anymore because that would deplete his flock. He regularly butchers sheep for his own restaurant, according to Gov. Maranon.
The recourse was for Negros province to import no less than 6,000 ewes and rams from Australia so propagation of the selected breeds – Dorper and Damara – would be fast. These selected breeds are much bigger than their native counterparts. Many of the animals weigh a hundred kilos, according to Gov. Maranon.
The provincial government has developed a 159-hectare property in the town of Murcia which used to be a santol orchard. There are still 300 big santol trees but there is enough space between the trees to produce forage crops which are cut and brought to the animals that are confined in their housing.
The workers harvest to less than 17 tons of napier grass every day which are shredded using the RU Shredder manufactured by Ramon Uy. The shredded grass is transformed into very small pieces that are easily eaten by the sheep. The shredded grass is more palatable too.

The imported sheep arrived in Negros early this year and a good number of the breeders have been bought by private entrepreneurs as their own breeders whose progenies could be sold to others interested in raising sheep.

A total of 2,000 have been sold not only to private raisers but also to various local government units. In the meantime, trainors headed by Dr. Renante Decena, the provincial veterinarian, are busy training what are called para-veterinary workers who are at least high school graduates who are teaching the farmers the proper care of farm animals, not only sheep and goats but also free-range chickens, goats, cattle, carabaos and others.

There is at least one para-veterinary personnel in each barangay who helps the farmers in the barrio with the problems that they encounter with their farm animals.
The improved breeds of cattle, both for dairy as well as for meat, are being promoted by Gov. Maranon as an additional source of income besides sugar and gamefowls.
Dairying is something that needs assistance from the government. Importation of breeding animals to augment the present stocks that they have in their ranch will be done shortly.
These are Dorper and Damara sheep from Australia.
They are much bigger than the so-called native sheep.

The gamefowl business, meanwhile, is a thriving industry in the province but the private investors can take care of themselves, according to the governor. It is a big industry in the province. Fighting cocks are sent to Manila and other provinces by plane at the rate of 17,000 a month, according to Dr. Decena.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

JADEITE: New Ampalaya In PH

PAUL BENIGNO AQUINO (aka Bam Bam) shows off a fruit of the Jadeite ampalaya, a variety with spiny skin texture, harvested from the demo farm and training center put up by Congressman Jeci A. Lapus in Concepcion, Tarlac. Aquino is president of Micro Ventures Foundation which is helping sari-sari store owners in sourcing their merchandise. He is studying how he could include marketing of farmers’ produce in the agenda of his foundation. He was one of the visitors who attended the event at the demo farm last May 22, 2012.

KY Bush Sitao

Fruitful Bush Sitao. First harvest can be picked 45 days after planting.
Planting the bush sitao has its advantages. Unlike the viny string beans, KY Bush Sitao, a variety from Known-You Seed of Taiwan, does not require any trellis. The first fruits of this variety can be harvested 45 days after harvesting.  Plants are very vigorous, dwarf, around 50 cm tall, and well-branched. The pods are light green, tender and stringless. Harvesting can run for more than a month. It is one of the varieties showcased at the Demo and Training Center in Concepcion, Tarlac, put up by Congressman Jeci Lapus.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Productive Life of Mungo Prolonged

Fenando Gabuyo (right) and Zac B. Sarian with mungo
pods being dried in the sun.
Mungo sprayed with Puyat's products
produce long pods and productive life
life is prolonged.

A couple who grows mungo in between the wide rows of their calamansi trees are very happy these days because they have significantly prolonged the productive life of their plants.
They are Fernando and Erlinda Gabuyo of Brgy. Tondod, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija. On the first week of January this year, they planted mungo in between their calamansi trees for two good reasons. One is that mungo can be a profitable cash crop. The other purpose is to increase the organic content of their soil. Mungo is a legume and it can fix nitrogen from the air into the soil.
At first they were very disappointed because they hardly got anything from their first harvest about 45 days from planting. Their plants were ravaged by insect pests. Worms ate the leaves and the fruits so they hardly got anything of value.
Then came Alfonso G. Puyat, an economist who has been doing his own serious agriculture research, particularly in enhancing plant growth with his own formulations, and also working on how to protect the crops from pests and diseases.
Earlier, he had developed the Power Grower Combo which is applied in combination with ANAA, a plant growth regulator that has been used by farmers for a long time now. Then he is coming out with a new formulation that he calls Silikon, also a fertilizer which would discourage plant pests to attack the plants.
Puyat encouraged  the Gabuyo couple to apply his Power Grower Combo and his Silikon to their dying mungo plants that were ravaged by pests. Lo and behold! The insects went away. They were not killed but they must have deserted the place because they probably did not like the plants. Puyat explains that his Silikon is not a poison. In fact, the material is part of what we eat every day. Probably, it just makes the plants not palatable for the insects.
What excites the Gabuyo couple is that their mungo plants have become productive again. Fernando relates that normally, the mungo plant deteriorates after a few harvests. The leaves become brown and the plants die within a short time.
After spraying the plants with Power Grower Combo and Silikon, the stems where the previous fruits were harvested produced new flowers and leaves. And since then, Mrs. Gabuyo said, three women have been harvesting the ripe pods every other day. Sometimes they are able to harvest 15 kilos of seeds which sell for P120 a kilo, or a total of P1,800 worth of seeds per harvest.
They expect to harvest from their mungo plants for at least a few more weeks.

DIANA WATERMELON and Jennifer Remoquillo

JENNIFER REMOQUILLO, national coordinator of the High Value Crops Development Program, shows two fruits of Diana watermelon harvested at the training center in Concepcion, Tarlac.

The Center was inaugurated on May 22, 2012 with a Field Day and Harvest Festival attended by farmers, government officials and other stakeholders.

Diana is a new watermelon variety distributed by Harbest Agribusiness headed by Toto Barcelona. The fruit has an attractive golden-yellow rind and uniform oblong shape. The vigorous plant is early and productive, with strong fruit-setting. Flesh is red, tender and juicy, with 12% sugar content. The rind is thin but good for shipping and storage. The average weight is 2.5 kilos.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

She Does Not Know How To Market Their Produce

Mia (she did not give her full name) has sent a comment to our blog. She says they already have a farm and they produce really delicious fruits and vegetables. She does not know, however, how to market their harvests. She asks, where can she learn to market their produce?Are there seminars she can attend?

We could help Mia more realistically if she had mentioned what are the fruits they are producing. How big is the volume? What months are these available? Where is their farm? What town or city?

We would be able to give some suggestions if we knew more details about their farm. There are many approaches in selling one's produce. If your products are of really high quality, you can approach an outlet of similar produce. Let them taste your fruits. If they will taste the superior quality of your fruits, we are sure they would like to carry your fruits. They will be happy to buy at a reasonable price.

If you have plenty of production, contact traders ahead of time. If they see your developing fruits, they would be happy to deal with you. Don't contact just one trader or stallholder so you can have a choice.

If you have a steady production of various farm crops, it might be practical for you to get a stall in the nearest market. We remember a fellow from Cagayan de Oro who is planting two kilos of kangkong seeds every three days. He got a stall in the public market manned by his wife. They don't have a problem   where to bring their daily harvest because they have their own stall. Once you have developed a loyal clientele (suki), you will have a steady number of customers that could be increasing every time.

The late David Remandaban of Tacloban City did the same. He started a small poultry project. When he was already producing more eggs than can be bought by his neighbors, he got a small stall in front of a popular grocery where he displayed his eggs complete with the sign "Farm Fress Eggs." His eggs became a favorite because they were really fresh. Later, when he was  producing various vegetables in his farm, he got a stall at the Tacloban public market manned by his wife and a daughter-in-law. They were selling in those early years at least P2,500 a day. That was a big amount in the early '80s.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bromeliad In A Bamboo Tube

There's a practical way of growing your Neoregelia or some other bromeliads. Instead of the usual pot and potting medium, use a bamboo tube instead.

In our case, we just insert the bromeliad in the bamboo tube (Golden  Buho in our case), without any medium whatsoever. The Neoregelia in photo started as just one plant in a bamboo tube. Now it has become four. The pups were separated from their mother plant and were just inserted in the bamboo tube when they had about eight leaves.

No care whatsoever was done. The plants were simply placed under a net and made to stand between two pipes as can be seen in photo.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Duku Lanzones in Teresa Orchard and Nursery

DUKU LANZONES in Luzon have started flowering as early as March and they are now laden with young fruitlets that are expected to be harvestable by the later part of July. Duku is a superior variety of lanzones that has a nice flavor, is sweet and without latex. The skin is thicker than those of other varieties (native and longkong) but it is easy to open by just pressing the fruit with the thumb and index finger. This Duku in photo is grown in Teresa, Rizal.

Photo shows a Duku tree at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery laden with young fruits. Grafted planting materials are available in big numbers at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery located along the road, about 30 meters before the Teresa-Morong boundary if one is coming from Antipolo. Teresa is the next town to Antipolo City. Call or text 0917-841-5477 for more info.
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