Monday, December 3, 2012

Honeybees In Mario Rabang's Farm

Flor Labon, the bee expert with veil, showing
to the visitors the frame being filled with
 honey by the bees. The bees don't only 
produce honey, they also pollinate the 
mangoes. Second from right is Mario Rabang.
That's me, Zac B. Sarian,showing a
frame filled with honey. Flor Labon
later demonstrated how to extract
the honey with an extractor.
The filled frames are being readied for extraction.
At left is Mario Rabang while at right is Tony Rola.
Mario Rabang, a Manila businessman and his better half, Dr. Perla Rabang, have included bee culture in their farm in the rolling hills of Abucay, Bataan.

The farm which covers more than 30 hectares is in the process of development although there are already mango trees of fruiting age, guyabano, papayas, cacao, pummelo and many other crops. Mushroom culture is also being included as a special project of Dr. Rabang, a practicing dentist in Manila.

The farm was the venue of the monthly meeting last December 2 of the members of the Aani Mango Industry Network (AMIN) Foundation headed by Tony S. Rola. Aside from the talk on mango technologies, a honeybee expert from Baguio, Florida Labon, was invited to demonstrate how to take care of the bees as well as how to extract the honey from the honeycomb. 

Pol Rubia, on the other hand, conducted a demonstration on mushroom culture.

The Rabangs prepared an overflow of food that included two native lechon, seafoods like crabs, shrimps, seabass, tilapia and other goodies.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Non-chemical Spray Against Whitefly

NESTOR ACOSTA, an outstanding diversified farmer from Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, has an unusual way of controlling whitefly in tomatoes and other crops using a non-chemical spray.

The spray is the extract from the partially digested feed found in the abomasum of ruminants such as cattle, carabao, goats, sheep and others. He collects from a slaughterhouse in his hometown the partially digested feed in the abomasum of the slaughtered animals. He gets one pail of the material (called "papaitan" in Ilocano) and an equal amount of water is added. He then extracts the liquid and uses that for spraying against the whiteflies.

Acosta swears that the spray is very effective. Whitefly is a pesky pest of tomatoes, eggplant and even ornamentals such as poinsettias. 

The abomasum, by the way, is the fourth compartment of the animal's stomach where the feed is partially digested before it proceeds  to the small intestines where it is further digested and absorbed in the blood.

Onion Is Also Profitable in Pampanga

PAMPANGA is not a traditional onion growing province. But it can be profitable to grow in the province as proven by limited plantings earlier in 2011-2012. 

Fidel David, chairman and founder of Bangon San Matias Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Sta. Rita town, said that a 60-square meter patch planted to Red Pinoy variety yielded 200 kilos that was sold at P35 per kilo or P7,000 for the whole harvest.

A member of the co-op, the owner of Kitch Farm in Bacolor, planted Red Pinoy on one hectare. The farm was drip-irrigated so the yield was high. Gross sales from that one hectare, according to David, was P1.5 million.

Red Pinoy is the best-selling variety of East-West Seed Company. It is a red creole type that is claimed to be tolerant to common onion diseases. The bulbs also have excellent keeping quality.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Indon & Thai Visit Teresa

EDGARDO LADORES (right in photo) and his Indonesian and Thai visitors visited the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal on Nov. 24 looking for fruit trees and unusual plants.

One ot the plants that caught their fancy was the African banana, Kasirakwe, which has dark pseudostem or trunk. This variety produces fruits that look somewhat like the fruits of the latundan.

The Thai visitor, Daeng, is at left while in the middle is Chandra, the Indonesian. They were also interested in the latexless jackfruit, Key lime, giant atis and Super avocado which bears fruits that weigh as much as one kilo each.

Myrna Paredes Goes For Longkong

Ripening Longkong fruits.
MYRNA PAREDES goes for Longkong.
Myrna Paredes owns a big mango plantation in Medina, Misamis Oriental. When we met her at the  National Mango Congress in Mandaue City, Cebu, she sounded rather frustrated with her mango trees because they require so much work. They have to be sprayed with chemicals to coax them to bear flowers. And there are lots of destructive pests and diseases that require the spraying with very expensive insecticides and fungicides.

That is why she is going to plant Longkong lanzones instead of mango. She was so excited telling us about her 16 Longkong trees that produced a lot of fruits earlier this year which she sold at P92 per kilo. She was able to get P14,720 from her harvest. This means that each tree gave her P920 and she did practically nothing except to apply some fertilizers. She did not spray any flower inducer. Neither did she spray anything against pests and diseases.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why We Should Eat Brown Rice

So much of the nutrients in rice is lost if it is well polished as is usually done in the Philippines. That is why we should eat unpolished or brown rice, it was stressed by Dr.Antonio Alfonso of the Philippine Rice Institute.

Dr. Alfonso was one of three speakers at a forum on new approaches to health in the Philippines, November 28, 2012, at the Gateway in Cubao, Quezon City,

Brown rice, he explained, is unpolished whole kernel that is produced by removing the husk of the palay, leaving the bran layer intact. Also called "Pinawa," it is a whole grain food containing bran, germ and endosperm.

Polishing to obtain milled rice, according to Dr. Alfonso, removes 15% of protein, 85% of fat, 80% of thiamine, 75% of phosphorus, and 60% of other minerals.

He adds that eating brown rice may help prevent the onset or reduce the incidence of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, heart disease and stroke.

Dr. Alfonso, by the way, is the Chief Science Research Specialist, Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Division of PhilRice. He can be reached at

December 2012 Agriculture Magazine

The December  Agriculture cover
featuring Maricon Arcega.
THE DECEMBER 2012 issue of Agriculture Magazine features 30 Farmer Heroes who will be honored on December 12 during the 30th anniversary celebration of East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

Four out of the 30 Farmer Heroes are women, including Maricon Arcega of Lubao, Pampanga, shown on the cover page with her bountiful harvest of Ambassador cucumber, a variety developed by East-West plant breeders.

Aside from the story on the Farmer Heroes, there are a lot of interesting features that provide valuable farming tips, ideas and insights.

Agriculture Magazine is the most widely circulated magazine of its kind in the Philippines. It is distributed nationwide through bookstores and the nationwide outlets of the Manila Bulletin and through subscriptions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Vicky Motril in her
 squash plantation.
Lady farmers can be at par with, if not better than, many of their male counterparts. One very good example is Victoria A. Motril, 61, of sitio Pag-asa, Cr. Rubber in Tupi, South Cotabato. She is one of the outstanding farmers who will be honored by East-West Seed Company as "Farmer Hero" on December 12, 2012 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the company.

Vicky, who finished an elementary education course, is a widow. She and her late husband were overseas workers (OFWs), first working in Jedda and then in Athens, Greece.

When the couple returned to Cotabato in 1990, they decided not to go abroad anymore. With their savings, they bought six hectares for their farming project, later increased to 8 hectares. Because her husband passed away not long after, she had to do the farming herself. And what a model farmer she has become.

With the guidance of the East-West technicians, she was able to master the ins and outs of the vegetable business. She has been planting the improved varieties developed by the East-West plant breeders. The latest that she planted this season is the Engrande squash which is supposed to be an improvement of Suprema, the long-reigning squash variety of the company.

She has not only mastered production techniques like the use of improved seeds, plastic mulch, trellising, proper irrigation and pest and disease prevention or control. She has also been creative in marketing her own produce as well as those of others with whom she has formed an association.

They have become concessionaires in five supermarkets in Cotabato where the members bring their produce for sale. Thus, they are assured of the right price for their harvests.

Vicky devotes six hectares to vegetables. She is an advocate of organic farming so she produces her own organic fertilizer through vermiculture.

To minimize damage by pests and diseases, she practices crop rotation.  Vicky plants eggplant, ampalaya, squash, tomato, different varieties of peppers, carrots and several others.

Nothing is wasted in her farm. She classifies her harvests. The Class A are sold to supermarkets and malls. Those that are deformed or have some other defects are processed into vegetable pickles, candies and powder products. She has the training for these because she majored in home economics at the Silliman University. The processed products are also saleable in the market.

Squash is one vegetable fruit that she makes into powder when the price is low. She said that when squash is in short supply, one kilo could fetch P15 to P20. But the price can tumble down to P2 per kilo. That’s when she makes her squash fruit into powder, which she sells to bakeries to enhance the eating quality and nutrient content of their pan de sal. She sells her powdered squash at P400 per kilo. Ten kilos of fresh fruits, she says, make one kilo of powder.

Vicky says there is practically no waste in her farming. The peels and vegetable trimmings are fed to her earthworms for the production of vermicompost.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

P2,000 Profit Per 29-Year-Old Mango Tree

PETE DURANO is the owner of 2,000 29-year-old mango trees in Samal Island in Mindanao. In an interview at the 14th National Mango Congress in Mandaue City, Cebu, he said that earlier this year he induced to flower and bear fruit 250 of his mango trees.

The weather was not so cooperative because at 25 to 40 days after induction (DAI), there was continuous rain. That's the reason why he had spent so much for fungicide to protect the flowers and fruits. The total cost of production was a cool P1 million.

Nevertheless, he was able to harvest more than 83 tons which he sold for P1.5 million or an average of P18 per kilo. Therefore, he netted P500,000. Had the weather been more cooperative, that profit would have been much bigger.

Grafted Super Avocado Now Available

These are the grafted Super Avocado which
are now available at the Teresa Orchard &
 Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. Tel. 0917-841-5477
or Rose at 0915-434-4216
Opened frujt of Super Avocado. The flesh is
fine-textured, fiberless and with mealy consistency.
The Super Avocado weighs as much
as a kilo.
GRAFTED Seedlings of the Super Avocado are now available in limited number at the Teresa Orchard and Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. Tel. 0917-841-5477 or Rose at 0915-434-4216.

This produces fruits that weigh as much as one kilo and its flesh is fine-textured, fiberless and with a mealy consistency.

Avocado is not only for eating. Oil is extracted from the fruit is used for making beauty and wellness products. Avocado oil is exported to Europe, especially in Germany, where it commands a high price.

Those who have earlier reserved may now visit Teresa Orchard & Nursery to pick up their grafted plants before supply runs out.

ERNESTO PASCUAL: Farmer Hero From Asingan

ERNESTO PASCUAL and his Red Hot pepper.
ERNESTO PASCUAL, 55, is one of the "Farmer Heroes" of East-West Seed Company who will be honored on December 12, 2012 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

An agriculturist who has been connected with the Department of Agriculture up to this time, he has been pursuing his own vegetable planting with the assistance of his wife Gregoria.

He grows different vegetable varieties but one money maker these days is Bonito ampalaya (we interviewed him last Nov. 15, 2012 while attending the National Mango Congress). His half hectare Bonito is giving him at least 100 kilos every other day which he sells for P2,500.

One big money maker earlier was Galactica ampalaya which he planted on a half hectare. Planted in early July, he started harvesting on August 25. At first he just harvested 20 kilos but it soon increased to 250 kilos every four days.  He got his highest yields in October during which he harvested 350 to 400 kilos every four days and which he sold at P35 to P45 per kilo. At 400 kilos times P45, that's P18,000 in one picking.

Pascual's other money makers are patola, upo and Red Hot pepper. Photo shows him with his very fruitful Red Hot pepper.

Power Grower Combo Doubles Sugarcane Yield

Mauro and Melanie Merculio
and their sugarcane sprayed
with Alfonso Puyat's Power
Grower Combo and Silikon
The application of a special fertilizer formulation on sugarcane has virtually doubled the yield in terms of cane tonnage as well as in sugar yield. The treated cane plants yielded 265 tons per hectare compared to 138 tons of the untreated.
This was shown by an experiment in a commercial sugarcane plantation in Victoria, Tarlac owned by Mauro and Melanie Merculio who planted the Indonesian variety PS862.

The special fertilizer is the Power Grower Combo formulated by Alfonso J. Puyat who has done a lot of personal research in plant nutrition. The power fertilizer contains high phosphorus with smaller amounts of nitrogen and potassium and enriched with a growth promotant. The treatment was also bolstered by a dose of soluble silicon that makes the plants more sturdy.

The experimental cane plants are a first ratoon crop, meaning the second crop from the original cane points planted. After harvesting the first crop, new shoots come out which make up the first ratoon crop.

In the experiment, the original planting stools were rehabilitated in January 2012. This means the hills were cleared of debris and top soil added around the hills wherever necessary.

One week after the first rain in May, the plants which were about breast high were sprayed with the Power Grower Combo. This was sprayed for the second time with Power Grower Combo one month later when the plants were as tall as an average Filipino man. In the second spraying, a soluble silicon, also formulated by Mr. Puyat, was added to the power grower.

The fertilizer treatment is very economical. During the first spray, 8 scoops (72 grams) were used per 16-liter knapsack sprayer. In the second spraying 8 scoops of Power Grower Combo and 8 scoops of soluble silicon were combined and sprayed together.

On November 23, 2012, the canes were harvested and data gathered. The laboratory analysis was made at the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Sugar Laboratory in Luisita.

Here are the results. Millable stalks with average of 95 inches were taken from both the treated and untreated plants. The treated stalks weighed 2.3 kilos each compared to the control which weighed 1.54 kilos.

The number of millable stalks for the treated plants numbered 17.28 canes per linear meter whereas it is 13.83 for the control or untreated plants. The possible number of tons per hectare in the treated plants is 265 whereas it is only 138 tons in the case of the control.

In terms of sugar yield, the treated plants had a possible yield of 524 bags of 50 kilos each compared to only 254 bags of the untreated canes. The national average in crop year 2009-2010, on the other hand, is only 102.2 bags per hectare.

Sugarcane is the latest crop to be experimented with the use of Mr. Puyat’s fertilizer formulations. Earlier, his Power Grower Combo and Heavy Weight formulations produced bumper crops in corn and rice. It has also proven to be effective in fruit trees and vegetables.

Fernando Gabuyo of San Jose City has been harvesting 280 to more than 300 cavans per hectare of rice by using the Puyat protocol.

In Duku and Longkong lanzones, Gen. Recaredo Sarmiento reported heavy fruiting of his trees. In fact, a second flush of flowers followed after harvesting the fruits of his Duku lanzones in Lucena City.

In our own experience, the Power Grower Combo has triggered fast growth of seedlings and has made old trees robust. Pomegranate, grafted Luz calamansi and pummelos respond very well to Power Grower Combo sprays.

Mr. Puyat explains that when the Power Grower Combo is sprayed on the leaves, the plants feel hungry so they take up as much plant nutrients from the soil as possible. That is why he recommends application of adequate balanced fertilizer in the soil.

The Heavy Weight Tandem is sprayed in the flowering or fruiting stage of plants to make the fruits bigger, more uniform and sweeter in the case of citrus and other fruits. The formulation is high in potassium.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

National Mango Congress, March 13-15, 2013

The next National Mango Congress will be held on March 13-15, 2013 in Iba, Zambales. This will coincide with the Mango Festival held every year in the province.

This was announced by Evelyn Grace, president of the association of mango growers in Zambales. The Congress is under the auspices of the Philippine Mango Industry Foundation, Inc. headed by Virgie de la Fuente from Cebu. The last Mango Congress was held in Mandaue City, Cebu, on November 14-16, 2012.

At the last Congress, the Zambales delegation attended in full force, including Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II, other local government officials as well as growers.

Evelyn A. Grace, president of the Zambales mango
growers association (left), and Virgie de la Fuente,
president of the Philippine Mango Industry Foundation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

GABBY B. RETUYA: Farmer Hero

GABBY RETUYA in his ampalaya plantation.
GABBY B. RETUYA, 30, is an outstanding  farmer who plants 12 hectares to different vegetables.He is one of 30 Farmer Heroes who will be honored on December 12, 2012 during the celebration of East-West Seed Company's 30th anniversary in San Rafael, Bulacan.

This year, 2012, he planted 3 hectares to Galaxy ampalaya which gave him 30 to 35 tons per hectare. He planted another 3 hectares to Django finger pepper which gave him 24 tons per hectare. On 4 hectares, he planted Mayumi and Dalisay upo varieties and got 40 tons per hectare.On 2 hectares that he planted to stringbeans of the Bonga and Pantastiko varieties, he got 20 tons per hectare.

Gabby is a college graduate who opted to become a full time farmer. He started growing vegetables in 2004 when he was just 22 years old. He grew rich from vegetable farming and is now helping other farmers by providing them with financing. 

Aside from growing his own crops, he also engages in buying and selling vegetables, fertilizers and crop protection chemicals.

Grafted Ampalaya Gives Extra 10 Harvests

In foreground is Myrna Ramirez
who can graft 800 seedlings in
8 hours. Behind her is Ailyn
Infortuno, the lead woman in the
grafting operations at East-West.
Newly grafted ampalaya seedlings.
Rootstocks ready for grafting
THE LATEST development in growing ampalaya (bitter gourd) is grafting. That’s what they are doing at the Farm Ready Nursery of East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.
The technique was started to be commercialized last year and is now becoming increasingly popular. During our recent visit to the nursery, technicians were busy grafting thousands of seedlings that have been ordered by growers in Nueva Ecija and Southern Luzon.

Although the grafted seedlings cost P17 each compared to the P4 to P5 per piece of the un-grafted seedlings, there are farmers who would rather plant the grafted ones.

Why? Because the grafted seedlings are more robust and more tolerant to stresses such as bacterial wilt disease, too much water or too dry conditions. According to Ailyn Infortuno, the lead woman in the grafting operations, the grafted seedlings have a much longer productive life. Usually, the ungrafted seedlings normally produce 18 to 20 harvests per cycle. In the case of the grafted ampalaya, the grower can expect 10 extra harvests.

East-West uses as rootstock a certain variety of cucurbit (cucurbits include upo, patola, cucumber, watermelon and the like) that the company would rather keep to itself.

In grafting, a small biodegradable rubber tube is used to keep the point of union in place. The seed of the rootstock is planted ahead by four days. When the rootstock is 12 days old it is ready for grafting. By then the scion would be eight days old.

The seedlings are grown in plastic trays with 104 holes. Once grafting is done, the tray of grafted seedlings is placed in a healing chamber that’s fully enclosed inside the greenhouse. They stay inside the chamber for four days. After that, the grafted seedlings are transferred to another chamber which is opened every two hours to let air inside. That is one way of hardening the plants. Ten days after grafting, the seedlings are ready for field planting.

Ampalaya is one of the most profitable vegetables to grow although it requires more capital than others. A total of P300,000 to P500,000 may be required as capital per hectare because of the high cost of planting materials, trellising materials, plastic mulch, fertilizers and crop protection chemicals. Nevertheless, with the right production techniques such as those practiced by Gabby Retuya of Bautista, Pangasinan, one can produce 30 to 35 tons per hectare. At an average of P30 per kilo, the 30 tons would be worth P900,000. There are times when the farmgate price is more than P50 per kilo. In that case, the profit would be very high, indeed.

By the way, the different vegetables being propagated by East-West Seed will be showcased during the celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary on December 12. These include, new sitao varieties, squash, papaya, sweet corn, tomato, eggplant, cucumber, upo, patola, hot and sweet peppers, onion, watermelon and others.
During the anniversary, 30 outstanding vegetable producers who are planting East-West seeds will be honored.
The grafted seedlings are ready for field planting
ten days after they are grafted.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Agri-Kapihan At AANI Urban Farm

Raymond Rubia in front of
Agri-Kapihan attendees.
More than a hundred farming enthusiasts attended the first session of the Agri-Kapihan in its new venue - the AANI Urban Farm in Antipolo City - last Sunday, November 11,2012.

The venue is inside Kingsville Court subdivision with entrance along Sumulong Highway, in front of the Shell gas station. It is about a kilometer from the Marcos Highway-Sumulong junction.

Raymond Rubia, who specializes in organic farming, was the resource speaker. He discussed techniques in organic farming and gardening. He talked about the characteristics of beneficial insects as well as the harmful ones. He talked of beneficial microorganisms, vermiculture, vermi tea, orientation of plant rows, and many more.

The attendees also observed the organic farming practices being undertaken at the AANI Urban Farm where leafy greens are grown under plastic roof as well as in the open.

The Agri-Kapihan is now being supported by the Department of Agriculture. It is held every 2nd Sunday of the month at the AANI Urban Farm and every last Saturday of the month at the Agribusiness  Development the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City. It is open free to the public.

Red Hot Is A Money Maker

Party List Congressman Agapito Guanlao (left) inspects ripe
Red Hot fruits with Fernando Lorenzo, Jenny Remoquillo
and Fidel David, manager of the demo farm.
Juliet Capili of the Dept. of Agriculture and a boy
who helps in harvesting ripe Red Hot fruits.
The Red Hot variety of hot pepper is proving to be a money maker for many farmers in the Philippines.
One place where the variety is proving to be highly profitable at this time is the demo farm put up by Butil Farm Party List Cong. Agapito Guanlao in Brgy. Calulut, San Fernando City in Pampanga.

A half hectare portion of the 4.5-hectare demo farm was planted to Red Hot last June 15, according to Fidel David who is managing the demo farm. By the third week of August, the first harvest was made and since then harvesting has been going on every other day.

At first, harvest was just small and the price then was only P25 per kilo. It did not take long for the harvest to increase and so did the price. The price continually increased to P50, P100 and then to P170 per kilo during our visit last November 9.

For a number of days, the price has been P170 per kilo and the volume of harvest has been steady at 220 kilos every other day, according to David. That means about P37,000 gross sales every other day.

What’s good about the hot pepper is that it has a long productive life. According to David, if they continue to take care of the plants, fertilizing them and irrigating them as needed, they could remain productive for the next two years.

Marketing the harvest is not a big problem, according to David. There are regular traders who buy their harvest. The project is also proving to be creating employment to people from the community. Ten pickers are employed every other day, working for five hours and getting paid P250 for their labor.

Cong. Guanlao thought of putting up the demo farm so that farmers in the community, if not the whole province and beyond, could pick up ideas that they could adopt in their own farms. To manage the farm, Fidel David of the Bangon San Matias Multipurpose Cooperative of Sta. Rita town was hired for the job.

David is an engineer who used to work in the Middle East but who gave up his overseas job to go into farming. He has become a successful farmer, earning probably more from farming than from his job in Saudi Arabia. He has accepted the job because he wanted to help other farmers realize that there is money in farming if they adopt the improved practices.

Actually, the 4.5 hectares that they rented for P25,000 a year was idle and unproductive for many years. It was filled with tall growth of talahib which they had to bulldoze to clear the place. They also had to apply a lot of manure to improve the fertility of the soil.

Aside from Red Hot, they also planted 5,000 square meters to Django, a “pangsigang” variety. The plants were also productive but the highest price they got has been P60 per kilo. And then the price went down to as low as P10 per kilo. Fidel plans to phase out the Django and plant other high-value crops like watermelon and honeydew melon.

There are lesser plantings of papaya, patola, squash and others. The demo farm wants to showcase various crops that the local farmers could grow in their own farms.

Actually, the demo farm has now become a training center. During our visit, a group of farmers from Sta. Ana, Pampanga, were visiting to observe the improved practices. What the demo farm is also showing is the proper way of producing seedlings. This is important so that farmers can produce their own seedlings of improved varieties.

As its contribution to the project, the Department of Agriculture provided a greenhouse where they germinate vegetable seedlings. This is where the trainees learn to grow their own seedlings.

Earlier, David said they had a trial planting of Formosa and Ilocos Gold watermelon on 3,000 square meters. From that space, they were able to harvest seven tons.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tomato Preserve & Condiments

Maria Concepcion M. Arcega 
and her whole tomato preserves.
Maria Concepcion M. Arcega's 
Chili-Garlic paste.
MARIA CONCEPCION M. ARCEGA of Lubao, Pampanga,  is a psychology graduate who has opted to be a farmer and food processor while her engineer husband is working in the Middle East.

She grows rice and various vegetables the organic way. She is head of the Florida-Lubao Organic Farmers Association (FLOFA). She is also developing processed foods and condiments out of hot pepper and tomatoes.

She has come up with whole tomato preserves that could last for a year as per the test by the Department of Science and Technology. She has also come up with a chili-garlic paste, hot chili powder and flakes. The products are ready for commercialization pending approval by the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD).

She is being helped by the Department of Science and Technology in connection with product quality, packaging and label disign while the Department of Trade and Industry is helping her in marketing.

She could be contacted at 0917-826-0324.

Bonga Stringbean Is High-Yielding

DANILO MATEO shows the long pods of the new stringbean (sitao), called Bonga, recently released by the East-West Seed Company.

This is a high-yielding variety that can produce 25 to 30 tons per hectare. The pods are dark green, 70 to 80 cm long with red tip. 

Danny claims that his sitao are sweeter than most varieties in the market because he applies enough potash (0-0-60) to his plants just when they start bearing flowers. The potash should be buried in the soil because they are not readily absorbed by the roots if the fertilizer is just broadcast over the soil surface.

Danny is one of the outstanding farmers who will be honored by the East-West Seed Company during its 35th anniversary on December 12, 2012. His is a rags-to-riches story, thanks to high-value vegetables, including  sweet corn. He is from Sulucan, Angat, Bulacan.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Day-old Paraoakan Chicks Available

ERNESTO ABALOS is seriously pursuing the commercial production of Paraoakan chicks because of the increasing interest of native chicken raisers.

Paraoakan is a native strain from Palawan which is bigger than the other Philippine strains. They have longer legs and neck, and bigger bodies too.

One of their recent buyers is a lady  PhD holder from UP Los BaƱos who is getting serious in producing organically grown native chickens for a niche market.

At the recent Agrilink trade show (October 4-6, 2012), adult Paraoakan birds sold like the proverbial hotcake. Many of the buyers got the roosters for crossbreeding with their gamefowls. They want to duplicate the so-called Paraoakan-Texas crosses of the late Ramon Mitra Jr. which were champions in those days.

Abalos lives on 198 M. Paterno St., San Juan City. He can be contacted at 725-6079; 724-6994; 724-3209 or 0917-536-5503.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mango Strips Dipped in Chocolate

Here's a very new and very nice mango product that is world class in taste and in packaging.

It comes by the name Cebu Best Mango Chocolate which is actually strips of dried mango dipped in Belgian chocolate.

We tasted some, courtesy of Agriculture Sec. Proceso J. Alcala. Certainly, the taste is superior and the packaging is great. Each dried mango strip is in individual sachet. Twenty-four sachets are packed in one attractive rectangular box. Ideal for gift giving.

The Mango Chocolate has a chewy consistency and the sweetness is just right. Not very sweet. We personally like the product.

Cebu Best Mango Chocolate is manufactured by AEO International Food Corp. of Cebu. We are almost sure, this will be presented at 14th National Mango Congress which will be held in Mandaue City, Cebu, on November 14-15, 2012. 

New Agri-Kapihan Sked

The 26-year-old Agri-Kapihan forum has a new schedule. On Sunday, November 11, the Agri-Kapihan will be held at the AANI Urban Farm in Kingsville Court, Antipolo City from 8:30 to 12 noon. Resource persons will take up organic farming, vermiculture and gardening in containers.

From now on, the Agri-Kapihan will be held every second Sunday of the month at the AANI Urban Farm where organic agriculture is being undertaken. Every last Saturday of the month, the Agri-Kapihan will be held at the Agribusiness Center at the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City.

Here's how to go to the AANI Urban Farm. The entrance is along Sumulong Highway, in front of a Shell Station about a kilometer from the Marcos Highway-Sumulong junction. The entrance to Kingsville Court is about 30 meters from Sumulong. Ask the guard how to go to the AANI Urban Farm. Or call Pol Rubia at 0917-847-5071 for further information.

The Agri-Kapihan is open free to everyone interested in farming and gardening. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Very Important: The First 45 Days Of Corn Plant

Young corn plants treated with Cruiser are vigorous. 
Their roots are more extensive so the plants are more
resistant to water stress. The leaves are also wider, 
hence more efficient in photosynthesis.
Corn not treated with Cruiser are not vigorous. The
leaves are narrower and the roots are less extensive
than those treated with Syngenta's Cruiser.
Your Blogger Zac B. Sarian interviewing Syngenta experts
at the Demo Farm in Ba Ria province, Vietnam. He was 

one of the journalists invited to the Syngenta Media Workshop
in Ho Chi Minh City, Nov. 29-31, 2012.
Dr. Hardeep Grewal showing fully filled ears of hybrid corn.
About 98 percent of corn planted in Vietnam today are hybrids.

Test-corn seedlings treated with Cruiser. Note the long roots.
Weed-free corn field treated with Lumax. The plants
are robust and are expected to produce big ears.
Weedy corn field not treated with Lumax. Pointing to
the weedy condition is Ngo Lanh, head of Syngenta's
Solutions Development Division.
Not many farmers may realize it, but the most crucial stage that can assure high yield in corn is proper care of the corn plant during its first 45 days.

This was emphasized by corn experts of Syngenta during the recent  media workshop that the company sponsored for Asian journalists in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Proper care of the young corn plants during the first 45 days from planting could easily mean an additional two tons of grains that could translate to a profit equivalent to US$500. That’s exactly what a small farmer from Indonesia reaped when he took good care of his young corn plants.

The same is also being experienced by farmers in Vietnam. Right now, one ton of corn in Vietnam sells for US$340. Which means two tons ($680) could mean an additional income equivalent to close to P28,000 in Philippine money.

Aside from the use of high-yielding variety, one important step is to treat the seeds for planting with a Syngenta product called Cruiser. This is a liquid which is used to treat the seeds before planting. This protects the young plants from the various pests that attack corn. Aside from protecting the plants from pests, Cruiser is also claimed to encourage development of much longer roots that go deep into the soil. This means that the plants can tolerate dry spell better than those untreated.

Another important factor is the early control of weeds in the corn field. Syngenta has come up with a new and effective herbicide that prevents the weed seeds in the soil to germinate. This is called Lumax, a liquid that is sprayed on the ground before the seeds are planted.

Ngo Lanh, Syngenta’s head of Solutions Development division, explained that weeds rob the corn plants of nutrients in the soil. At the same time, they harbor insects that could be destructive to the crop.

Meanwhile, Vietnam is fast approaching self-sufficiency in corn. It is now producing about 80 percent of its annual requirements, thanks to the increase in hectarage as well as higher yield per hectare.

In 2001, the area devoted to corn in Vietnam was about 700,000 hectares. By 2011, the area has expanded to 1.12 million hectares. And the average yield per hectare has increased from 3 tons to 4.5 tons. The use of hybrid seeds has been mainly responsible for the increase in yield. Introduced only about 10 years ago, hybrid seeds are now planted in about 90 percent of the corn areas.

BIOTECH CORN – Biotech corn, those genetically engineered varieties, are not yet approved for planting in Vietnam but this is expected to be approved any time soon. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has reportedly approved of the technology but there are still some agencies that have to give their approval.

Once Biotech corn is approved for planting, corn production could increase significantly. It would not be far-fetched to imagine that Vietnam could also become a corn-exporting country.

The consolation for Filipinos is that the planting materials could be supplied from the Philippines. Syngenta has a big Biotech corn processing plant in Pangasinan which could supply the seeds to Vietnam.

Syngenta Exec To Speak On Food Security

MARTIN TAYLOR, chairman of the Board of Directors of Syngenta AG, will talk on "Increasing Food Security in an Environmentally Sustainable Way" on November 12, 2012, at 12 noon, at the Continental Room, Tower Club in Makati City.

The forum is under the auspices of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AMCHAM).

Taylor is the Chairman of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and currently the vice Chairman of Europe's largest mass media company, the RTL Group SA. Previously he was an advisor to Goldman Sachs International (1999-2005), Chairman of WHSmith PLC (1999-2003), Chief Executive Officer of Barclays PLC (1993-1998) and Courtlauds Textiles (1990-1993). He is a member of the British government's recently established Independent Banking Commission.

Monday, November 5, 2012

48 Sweet Potato Products in Indonesia

Processed sweet potato products made by SPAT.

Filipino visitors sample sweet potato delicacies.

Sweet potato french fries is exported to Singapore
Camote delivered for processisng

SPAT is the acronym of an Indonesian company that specializes in processing no less than 48 camote or sweet potato food products commercially. In English, SPAT stands for Integated Farming Development Center found in Malang Regency in East Java.

We visited the factory recently and we were very much impressed by the wide variety of food products that could be made out of the sweet potato. These include brownies, french fries, chips, juice mixed with other vegetables, noodle, ice cream, powder for export and many more.

The owner is businessman Unggul Abinowo who is obsessed in making sweet potato as the national food in Indonesia. And for very good reasons. Sweet potato is the most nutritious root crop with the Irish or white potato running as a distant second. Sweet potato can be grown year-round and does not require a big capital. Even small farmers can grow sweet potato successfully.

Unggul Abinowo has 16 hectares of his own for growing sweet potato. But that is not enough to produce the raw materials needed by his factory. There are 362 contract growers who supply him 20 tons of fresh sweet potatoes every week. Seventy workers are working three shifts a day for seven days of the week.

The 20 tons of fresh roots are worth 40 million rupiahs. When these are converted into the different processed products, they are worth 700 to 800 million rupiahs, according to Endi Yatmo, marketing and business development manager.

Most of the finished products are sold throughout Indonesia. Only the uncooked french fries are exported to Singapore. On the other hand, the sweet potato powder is exported to Taiwan and Japan.

Maybe, investors in the Philippines could take a second look at the sweet potato and copy what Unggul Abinowo is doing in Indonesia. One starting point would be Tarlac where in Moncada alone there are 4,000 hectares planted to the root crop. We mentioned the possibility to Sec. Proceso J. Alcala at the recent Quezon City Country Fair and he said that would be a good idea. He said the Department of Agriculture could assist in providing the machinery for processing. But first, there has to be a serious group that would go into sweet potato processing.
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