Saturday, June 23, 2012


JAIN IRRIGATION SYSTEMS of Jalgaon, India, has won the prestigious "G20 Challenge on Inclusive Business Innovation" award. The company received the globally-acclaimed honor at a high profile event at the G20 Leaders Summit in Cabos, Mexico, on June 18.

The G20 Challenge recognizes businesses that have succeeded in developing innovative, scalable and commercially viable inclusive business models that address the particular needs of people living at the base of the pyramid.

JAIN is a pioneer in drip irrigation technology in India and is considered the No.2 drip irrigation company in the world. Drip irrigation is an effective means of increasing farm productivity and at the same time it is a means of conserving water resources.

The JAIN irrigation systems technology is now available in the Philippines. Harbest Agribusiness headed by Toto Barcelona is now distributing drip irrigation equipment throughout the country. Small vegetable farmers in the Cordillera are among the first to adopt the technology. They are so happy, they are expanding their use of the system. More and more small vegetable growers find drip irrigation to be a viable technology.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Edible Dragon Fruit Flower

Aside from the fruit, the flower of the Dragon Fruit is also edible. In fact, it is used in making salads. It can also be made into jam and other preparations.
The flowers open at night. Some of them, however, will remain open early in the morning.
The economic uses of the Dragon Fruit will be one of the advocacies of the Cactus and Succulent Society of the Philippines headed by Dorie S. Bernabe. The CSSP is planning to stage a Quezon City Country Fair in November at the Quezon Memorial Circle and surely Dragon Fruit will be on the center stage of the event.
On Sunday, July 1, the details of the planned Country Fair will be threshed out in a meeting of CSSP officials and heads of participating groups.
The Country Fair will showcase a wide array of agricultural and agribusiness products and services. These will include orchids and ornamentals, fruits and vegetables, small livestock and poultry, processed agricultural products, input suppliers, fisheries, health and wellness products, planting materials of exotic fruits and many others.


JENNY REMOQUILLO with fruits of Diana
If you want to read the detailed guide in planting the Diana watermelon, better get a copy of the July issue of Agriculture Magazine published by the Bulletin and edited by yours truly, which is off the press by June 27.
The cover features two fruits of the new watermelon held by Jennifer Remoquillo, national coordinator of the High Value Crops Development program of the Department of Agriculture.
Diana watermelon is a hybrid variety developed by Known-You Seed of Taiwan which is distributed in the Philippines by Harbest Agribusiness owned by Toto Barcelona.
The beauty about Diana watermelon is that it is one of the varieties that can be grown even during the rainy season as long as you follow the protocol of growing featured in the July issue of Agriculture Magazine.
Diana is a solo-type watermelon, each fruit weighing about 2.5 kilos. The rind is bright yellow and the flesh is red, juicy and sweet. The plant is productive and can be harvested as early as 60 to 65 days after transplanting.
The planting guide includes the recommended techniques in seed germination, land preparation, transplanting, schedule of fertilizer application like application of organic and chemical fertilizers both as basal, and weekly drenching of different doses of chemical fertilizers.
The guide also tackles irrigation techniques, pruning and fruit setting, control and prevention of pests and diseases, and harvesting.
There are, of course, many other interesting and useful ideas that could be gleaned from the success stories featured in the magazine. These include the story of the Gabuyo couple, Fernando and Erlinda, of Brgy. Tondod, San Jose City in Nueva Ecija. They can usually produce 280 to 300 cavans per hectare in their 20-hectare rice farm because they are very receptive to modern technologies. They are following the rice growing protocol developed by Alfonso G. Puyat.
Dr. Pablito Pamplona also writes a detailed feature on “Promoting High Productivity and Profitability in Rubber Farming”. Rubber farming, he notes, can generate a lot of jobs in the countryside. Rubber can be considered a reforestation crop which can generate employment in land preparation, planting and cutting of trees, and of course labor needed in tapping the latex. One laborer is usually employed for tapping two hectares on a yearly basis.
There is also an extensive report from the Agricultural Research Service of the United States which is about “Alternatives to Antibiotics in Animal Health.”
There is also a story on Isabela’s pioneer commercial sheep raiser and then about Negros Occidental poising to become the country’s Lamb Capital, thanks to Gov. Alfredo Maranon who imported 6,000 Dorper and Damara sheep breeders from Australia early this year.
Agriculture Magazine is the most widely circulated magazine of its kind in the country. It is distributed nationwide through bookstores, convenient stores and through the distribution network of Manila Bulletin.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dragon Fruit & Giant Aloe Vera

The Giant Aloe vera and Dragon Fruit will be the Mega Stars in the planned Quezon City Country Fair under the initiative of the Cactus and Succulent Society headed by Dorie S. Bernabe.
The purpose is to make the public more aware about the potential contribution of these two plants in providing food security and good health for the people.
The two plants could be grown profitably by farmers and processed into high-value products by entrepreneurs.
See story below.

Quezon City Country Fair Planned

A Quezon City Country Fair is being seriously planned by a garden group that would like to present not just the ordinary garden show which may be losing its attendance due to monotonously predictable presentations.

The proponent of the QC Country Fair is the Cactus and Succulent Society headed by Dorie S. Bernabe. The idea is to draw a wider spectrum of attendees by presenting a wider array of products and services in one location.

One major purpose is also to create more awareness regarding the commercial potentials of some cacti and succulents. One of them is the dragon fruit which is a variety of cactus. The dragon fruit is increasingly becoming a commercial crop that is good for both the farmer and the consumers.

The fruit of the dragon fruit is not only delicious to eat but is also claimed to have medicinal attributes. Besides being eaten as fresh fruit, it is now being made into wine, juice, jam, yoghurt, candies and many others.

One succulent that will be highlighted is the Giant Aloe vera which produces big leaves that yield a lot of juice. The Aloe vera is not only used to make shampoo, soap and other wellness products. Aloe vera juice is claimed to have medicinal attributes, too.

In the planned QC Country Fair which is tentatively slated for middle of November this year, a lot of products from commercial farmers as well as hobbyists will be showcased. These will include fruits and vegetables, aquarium fishes, free-range chickens, small ruminants, ornamental plants and flowers, suppliers of inputs and services, organic and wellness products, processed foods from the regions and many more.

Educational lectures and seminars will be part of the country fair. Being mulled are cooking demonstrations, photography contest, on the spot painting and the like.

Philippine-Israeli Agri Training Project Extended

The Philippine-Israeli Center for Agricultural Training project has been extended for two more years. The memorandum of agreement extending the project was signed recently by Sec. Virgilio de los Reyes of the Department of Agrarian Reform and Israeli Ambassador Menashe Bar-On. Under the project, young Filipino farmers are sent to Israel to undergo hands-on training on modern farming technologies. When they return, they are expected to practice what they have learned and also share them with other Filipino farmers. Photo shows the two signatories showing the MOA they signed. Ambassador Menashe Bar-On is at left.

A Healing Farm in Negros

MRS HEDY ACAYAN (right) poses with the lettuce grown in a hanging sack filled with vermi-compost at the Rapha Valley Healing farm of Dr. Albert Jo (left) in Brgy Kumaluskos, Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros, Occidental. Dr. Jo's healing farm has become some sort of a mecca for both foreign and local visitors. Visitors partake of organically grown vegetables and flowers grown on the farm. For a fee, the visitors also listen to a half-day lecture on healthy lifestyle by Dr. Albert Jo who is a medical doctor.
Zac B. Sarian (left) visited last May 25, 2012, Dr. Albert Jo's Rapha ValleyHealing Farm in the mountains of Brgy. Kumaluskus, Don Salvador Benedicto town in Negros Occidental. Note Dr. Jo's lettuce being grown in bamboo poles way above the ground.
THIS is a rare banana variety from the collection of Dr. Albert Jo of Rapha Valley Healing Farm in Don Salvador Benedicto town in Negros Occidental. It produces silver-bluish fruits.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Native Batanes Fruit Studied For Wine, Etc.

One government agency that continues to support the development of products from indigenous plants that are hitherto unexploited is the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture.
We have written earlier about the wild raspberry that is abundant in the area of Mt. Banahaw in Quezon which is now being made into wine, jam and juice, thanks to the financial support of BAR.
This time, the research agency is providing funds for the upscaling of initial research efforts on an indigenous tree in Batanes that produces a lot of small berry-like fruits which are usually just left to rot under the trees.
The tree is locally called Arius in Batanes but is known botanically as Podocarpus costalis. Actually, this tree is usually used as a landscaping material in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the country. For some reason, however, it is only in Batanes where the tree produces a lot of small fruits that look like they are “double-bodied” because each fruit has a fleshy portion that is attached to the peduncle while a portion that protrudes at the other end is a round part that contains the seed. When ripe, the fleshy part of the fruit is swollen. It becomes bright red to purple or black while the seed-bearing portion remains green.

Children as well the adults may eat the sweet, somewhat sticky pulp but they don’t really eat much. Each person usually eats two or three fruits at a time. It is the birds that love to eat the fruits and it is believed that the proliferation of the tree in many parts of Batanes could be attributed to the birds. The seeds that go with their manure germinate and eventually get established. The Arius tree does not grow very big.Under Batanes conditions, it may be just one meter to five meters tall. That is advantageous because harvesting of the fruits would be easy. It grows well in elevations from sea level up to 30 meters above sea level.

The Arius tree bears some fruits that are harvested in summer, particularly in March or April. However, it is observed that the main crop which starts as flowers in April and May are harvestable from July to October.

The project leader in the Arius tree research undertaking is Roger Baltazar, the director for research and extension of the Batanes State College in Basco. Baltazar’s group has already conducted initial research and development regarding processing of the Arius fruit. They already have produced wine, pastillas, tart, jam, fruit preserves and tea.

With the new funding of about P1.6 million that BAR is about to release shortly (as of this writing, June 15), improvements could be further achieved. The products could be developed in such a way that they are of export quality. It is believed that since Batanes is one island that is isolated from the rest of Luzon and away from pollution, the products derived from the Arius tree could be considered organic. In which case, they could command a premium price.

In his proposal, Roger Baltazar stated that special focus will be the production of Arius wine. From the time of harvesting and transporting, special care will be observed so the fruits will not get crushed or bruised.

Baltazar said that in making wine, they will adopt the methods used by the local sugarcane producers in the province. The seed portion of the fruit will be separated and the fleshy portion crushed for easy extraction of the juice. The crushed pulp will be boiled to soften it and thus enhancing fermentation. Yeast and sugar will be mixed but the proportions will be studied to find out which will give the best results.

The fermented juice will undergo aging, racking (transferring from one container to another), filtering and fining before the wine is bottled. Bottling and design of packaging will also be given special attention so that the product will become something really special.
Fruiting Arius tree in Batanes, Podocarpus costalis.
Fruits of the Arius tree. Dark portion is the
fleshy part. The green contains the seed.


TOTO BARCELONA and his small multi-function tractor.
The Department of Agriculture is coming up with the 2nd Agricultural Machinery Road Show on July 4-7 at the World Trade Center at the corner of Puyat Avenue and Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City.

The DA is inviting participants to join the Expo which is targeting over 1,800 participants featuring a wide array of production and postharvest mchineries, equipment and services. It is open to all and  participation is free.

Interested exhibitors, product demonstrators, and seminar sponsors may contact the following until June 20, 2012. Engr. Aldin Badua (PhilMech) at (044) 456-0213 local 290/282/287; Ms. Shiela Castro or Ms. Louella Legaspi (DA-Rice) at (02) 925-2152; Ms. Lorna Calda or Ms. Cahterine Tumaque (DA-MID) at (02) 929-0140.

Photo above shows Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness with his multi-function tractor that is highly efficient for land preparation for planting high-value vegetables. It can rotavate, form the plots or beds, dig canals, make furrows, can serve as weeder, and for hilling-up.

Berba Fruit

Ripe fruits of the Berba tree at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery
BERBA is considered a minor fruit which is usually grown by hobbyists or collectors of unusual plants. It bears small round fruits that turn bright yellow when ripe. Inside are a few seeds which are coated with a white pulp that is sweetish-sour and very pleasing to the taste.

The tree is small with dark green shiny leaves. It can be grown in partial shade as well as in full sun. One three-foot tree at the Teresa Orchard and Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, has been languishing in the last few years for lack of attention (read no fertilizing).When it was sprayed with Mr. Alfonso G. Puyat's Power Grower Combo last week of February 2012, it produced new branches and then flowers and fruits. The ripe fruits in photo (photographed June 15) are the result of the spraying.

We are programming the propagation of this little known fruit tree by germinating the seeds. It is a slow grower but we have to be patient to wait for the seedlings to grow.

Friday, June 15, 2012

First National Agritourism Research Confab

Agritourism stakeholders are invited to attend the First National Agritourism Research Conference in the Philippines which will be held on June 27-29, 2012 at the SEARCA headquarters in Los Banos, Laguna.

The conference is under the auspices of SEARCA (Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture) and the Tourism Foundation, Inc. Those invited to attend include agritourism practitioners, regulators, interest groups and academics.

A total of 22 prospective participants, mostly from state colleges and universities, have submitted abstracts of their research reports for oral and poster presentation in the conference.

For more information, contact tel. +6349-536-2365 to 67 local 419.

Pangasius Processed For Added Value

Mrs. Cecile Canson and her technician, Rabbie Lloyd Tabulao,
 at St. Martha Farm in Teresa Rizal show a breeder Pangasius in their showroom.
Lady workers at the processing plant of St. Martha Farm process
Pangasius into different kinds of sausages and other products.
The St. Martha Farm, the Pangasius farm that is the pride of Teresa, Rizal, is not only producing a lot of fingerlings but it has also gone into processing to add value to the fish.

Pangasius is a freshwater fish that is imported from Vietnam in the form of fillet in huge volumes, adding to the dollar drain from the country. It is one fish species that could as well be grown in the country because it is a hardy and fast growing fish.

Mrs. Cecile Canson now manages the farm after her husband, the late Gen. Jewel Canson, passed away last December. The operation continues and, in fact, new innovations are under way. Mrs. Canson is looking forward to making it into an organic fish farm.

Mrs. Canson said that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), particularly Dr. Aida Palma of the Tanay Research Station, is conducting a research on organic Pangasius production at St. Martha. There is a pond now that is stocked with a thousand fingerlings that are grown the organic way.

Aside from the fact that St. Martha is supplying a lot of fingerlings to the fishpond owners in many parts of the country, Mrs. Canson is very proud of her processed Pangasius products.

Her Pangasius fillet, according to her is not bleached and also not glazed. Thus, when it is thawed coming from the freezer, the original one kilo remains one kilo. There is practically no shrinkage.

She is also very proud of her gourmet Pangasius sausages. These include the Hungarian sausage, Bratwurst sausage, Garlic Polish sausage, Vigan and Lucban longanisa and a few others.

There is practically no wastage in processing Pangasius into different products.The prime cuts are turned into fillet and sausages. The flesh from the head portion is made into empanaditas which are something very new. Then the fishbones and skeleton are ground into fish meal for mixing with the organic fish feed. The entrails are turned into organic fertilizer for her organic vegetables.

Mrs. Canson also takes pride in her collection of culinary herbs which are grown the organic way. These include tarragon, rosemary, rao ram, spiny coriander, mint, parsley, marjoram, thyme, dill and others.

By the way, members of the Philippine Horticultural Society will visit St. Martha Farm on Saturday, June 23. The same group will also visit Teresa Orchard & Nursery, also in Teresa. The PHS is headed by May Caballero-Dumlao.

Mrs. Cecile Canson can be reached at 0917--526-3659.

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.
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