Tuesday, January 8, 2013

156 Trainees Finish SM Veggie Training Course

The 46th Batch  of farmer-trainees in the KSK program
A TOTAL of 156 trainees in vegetable production received their certificates of completion during  graduation ceremonies at the Event Center of SM City Calamba in Laguna. A harvest festival in the place where they trained was also conducted.

The farmers trained under the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers Training Program being implemented by SM Foundation in collaboration with Harbest Agribusiness. They comprised the 46th batch of the training program.

The harvest festival was held in Brgy. Laguerta, Calamba City, in the farm where they attended lectures and where they did hands-on training. Representatives from SM City Calamba, SM Supermarket and their suppliers were present during the festival.

A farmers forum was conducted where the farmer-trainees, and representatives from SM Supermarket and their fruits and vegetables suppliers engaged in an interactive discussion. This is regularly done during harvest festivals to connect the farmers, the dealers and the supermarket.

Produce Purple Yam Planting Materials For Sale

This is a good variety for seedling production
because of its intense violet color.
Ubi or purple yam is in big demand by processing companies these days. The problem is that there is not enough volume for large scale processing.

Thus, one money-making project that one could undertake at the moment is to produce planting materials for sale. Currently, retail sellers are charging P30 to P50 per seedling.

Several seedlings could be sprouted per root. If the root is big, as many as 15 seedlings can be produced. At P30 per seedling, that would be worth P450 per root. If one seedling sells for P50, that's P750.

What is important is to produce seedlings from roots that have intense purple color. This is very important, especially for ubi products that are intended for export. Foreign buyers don't want artificial coloring in the products they import. They want natural color.

Specializing in seedling production could produce profit much faster than producing roots for processing. The project will not require a big area. And the turnover could be much faster than producing roots for processing.

The thing is, one has to be efficient in producing planting materials that are of good quality. And the seedling producer should be able to market his product efficiently. That could be done if one is creative enough.

Monday, January 7, 2013

How To Apply Power Grower Combo on Sugarcane

A ratoon crop could grow fast with
Power Grower Combo.
Here's the protocol on spraying Power Grower Combo on sugarcane as recommended by its inventor, Mr. Alfonso G. Puyat.

FIRST FOLIAR SPRAY - This is very important but optional if your sugarcane plants are already 3 to 4 feet tall.

In the case of a Ratoon Crop - Spray after stubble shaving, fertilization and about 4 tillers have sprouted with about 4 true leaves each.

In the case of Plantcane - Spray after fertilization and about 4 tillers have sprouted with four true leaves each.

DOSAGE - Dissolve one-half kilo of Power Grower Combo (that's one pack) in 200 liters of water and spray on one hectare of sugarcane.

SECOND FOLIAR SPRAY - This is very important and imperative. Apply the usual fertilizer in the soil, then spray the plants with Power Grower Combo when the plants are 3-4 months old or when the plants are about chest high. This second foliar spray is best done after the first real rainfall of the wet season.

DOSAGE - Dissolve two packs (one kilo total) of Power Grower Combo in 400 liters of water (2 drums), and spray on one hectare of sugarcane.

THIRD FOLIAR SPRAY - Do this 3-4 weeks after the second spray. The cane plants should be head-high or a little taller.

DOSAGE - Dissolve one kilo (2 packs) of Power Grower Combo in 400 liters of water and spray on one hectare of sugarcane.

It is very economical. Total cost of Power Grower Combo (@P400 per pack of half kilo) is only P2,400. And the yield could tremendously increase.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Taiwan Farm Tour Planned For July 2013

The Taiwan agritour that Toto Barcelona is planning will be held next July 2013. According to Toto, it will be summer time in Taiwan by that time and that will be the best time to visit the country's farm destinations. These include fruit farms, vegetable projects and the like. The destinations will also include wholesale markets, auction markets and more.

Toto is founder-owner of Harbest Agribusiness who distributes seeds from Known-You Seed Co. of Taiwan, small tractors from Taiwan, drip irrigation system from India, and other farming inputs- Contact him at (02) 671-7411 to 14.

Guyabano Powered by Power Grower Combo

On Nov. 8, 2012, Mark Dorothy of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, received his order of Power Grower Combo, the special fertilizer formulation of Mr. Alfonso G. Puyat.

On January 3, 2013, he reported to us: I just want to tell you that after spraying Power Grower Combo a few times, a guyabano that I have in a pot waiting to be planted in the ground is now blooming. The tree is about 1-2 years old, and about six feet tall.

Now I believe in the power of the Power Grower Combo. I will take pictures which I will send to you.

By the way, Power Grower Combo and its partner Heavy Weight Tandem, are available at Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. To know how to order, text your complete name and address to 0917-841-5477.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

An All-Season Strawberry

THESE are fruits of the all-season strawberry variety called Festival that was developed in Florida, USA.

Now, it is being grown in the Philippines by Francis Ching in Cada, Mankayan, Benguet.

The fruits are big, sweet, juicy and aromatic. Moreover, they have a very good shipping quality. The fruits can withstand the stress of long journeys and are not easily bruised.

Photo by Melpha M. Abello, a staff member of Agriculture Magazine.

Seaweed Industry Gets P265-M For 2013

Our good friend Max Ricohermoso is all smiles these days. The reason is that the industry he loves most got its biggest ever budget from the Department of Agriculture in 2013.

Ricohermoso, of course, is the chairman of the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines. The DA allocated a total of P265 million for the expansion of seaweed production in suitable areas throughout the country. The allocation is about six times the 2012 budget for seaweeds which was P40.8 million.

There is a lot of room for expansion of seaweed production. The area suitable for production is about 255,000 hectares.

The budget will go into input assistance to farmers like healthy propagules that could be produced through tissue culture. No less than P232.7 million will go into input assistance that will also include postharvest facilities and infrastructures.

About P9.7 million will be used for nursery maintenance, demo and test plots.
The expansion program will also involve state colleges and universities as well as the members of the SIAP. Aside from coming up with tissue culture laboratories which will be set up in 14 locations, they will also engage in training for manpower development.

The seaweed industry is a big dollar earner. In 2010, the Philippines exported $155 million worth of seaweeds. Seaweeds are the second biggest fishery export next to tuna. The main product that is exported is carrageenan which is used in the food, pharmaceutical and industrial products.

Currently, the bulk of seaweed production is in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu. In 2011, these two places produced 686,000 metric tons. The other area with considerable production is Region 4B, particularly Palawan, with a production of 483,000 metric tons in 2011.

In Batangas, there is a developing market for the fresh market. The varieties that are being consumed in salads are becoming increasingly in demand in the Manila market.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How True: Quote From East-West Seed Thailand

Here's a favorite quote of mine from the commemorative book marking the 20th anniversary of East-West Seed Company in 2002.

"SEEDS are small, almost like dust, yet if breeder, seed producer and seed processor do their parts right, those small seeds become the indispensable starting point for a long chain of beneficial downstream developments in markets, farming systems and rural revenue streams. In fact the case can be made that reliable, quality seed has had greater impact on market development in tropical countries than millions in aid money supplied by well-meaning governments and international organizations.".

Orchid Farm In Alfonso, Cavite

SERAPION METILLA among Phalaenopsis at the
Purificacion Orchid Farm in Alfonso, Cavite.
THERE'S a large orchid farm in Alfonso, Cavite operated by Cora Purification and her daughter Ana Ruth Conde. 

The farm was visited recently by members of the Philippine Horticultural Society which is holding its annual garden show from the last week of January 2013 to the first week of February at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

Photo shows Serapion S. Metilla, a member of the PHS, posing with the floriferous phalaenopsis in the Purificacion orhid farm. Phalaenopsis thrives well under the cool climate in Alfonso. Aside from orchids, the Purificacions also grow many other ornamental plants, including cacti and succulents, bromeliads and more.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Klasika Waxy White Corn

ERNESTO PASCUAL, one of the Farmer Heroes honored by East-West Seed, enjoys a big ear of Klasika waxy corn. This is a white variety that is very nice to eat as boiled corn because its kernels have that desirable waxy consistency.

The ears are big so that it has a high yield. Klasika is one variety that can be produced commercially for the green corn market. A lot of boiled ears were served to visitors during the celebration of East-West's 30th anniversary last December 12, 2012.

On Brown Rice: Did You Know?

"If all Filipinos would eat brown rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner just once a month (36 meals a year), our rice importation would shrink by an average of 50,000 metric tons per year, valued at US20.32 million (or P812.81 million) savings yearly."

This is from a publication of Philippine Rice Research Institute.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Too Much Money Can Be Dangerous, Too!

In farming, too much money can be dangerous, too. We just came from a lunch date with a friend who is successful in commercially producing organic fertilizer. He also has his own farm where he produces hot pepper, black pepper, and a number of other crops and farm animals.

He told us about the story of a young former congressman who planted six hectares to hot chili after learning that the hot pepper sells for as much as P400 to P500 per kilo. (Actually, though, the price could even escalate to more than a thousand pesos per kilo when supply is very scarce.)

Because the ex-congressman had a lot of money, he did not mind spending big sums of money in preparing the land, money to buy the seeds and the manpower to take care of the plants, the fertilizers and pesticides. To the misfortune of the politician, when he was already harvesting, the going price was only P15 per kilo, according to our informant.  At that price, it was a losing proposition. A big losing proposition.

When the price did not improve after quite sometime, the congressman was so frustrated. He just  abandoned the project  because if he would continue to spend for the workers and other inputs, he surmised he would be incurring more losses, big losses.

THE LESSONS HERE - Just because you have a lot of money, don't just jump into an agribusiness you have  heard to be profitable. Make a careful study of the market, the nature of the demand for the crop you choose to produce. And it is wise to start more modestly, especially if one is new in the business. Six hectares for a hot chili is too big for a neophyte hot chili farmer, especially if he has no  arrangement with a sure buyer. We think starting with a hectare would be more prudent. From there he could expand  if his experience will warrant.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Taiwan Agritour Planned

We got word from Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness that he is planning to organize an Agritourism Trip to Taiwan in 2013. He and his family are now vacationing in Taiwan but will be back on January 4 in time for a dinner with Dr. William Dar, director general of  the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

What's good when Toto leads the Agritourism Trip is that he has close contacts with the interesting farm tour destinations. He stayed in Taiwan for a long time and he speaks the language. Moreover, he is the distributor of Known-You Seed from Taiwan. For sure, the facilities of Known-You will be part of the itinerary.

The date is not yet fixed but for sure you will know about developments through this blog. 

Papaya That Tastes Like Mango

One seed company in Thailand has reportedly developed a papaya hybrid that tastes like mango. The fruit is small, usually about a kilo or less. The company is said to be reluctant to commercialize the hybrid because the flesh is yellow. Why? Well the market in Thailand prefers red-fleshed papaya.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Dwarf Flowering Ornamentals

IN PHOTO is a showcase of dwarf flowering ornamentals at the demo farm of East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

These plants are in full bloom even if their stems are just a couple of inches above the ground. They are good for use as bedding plants in landscaping projects. Or they could  be grown as potted flowering plants for sale in the market.

The plants include Celosia, Zinnia, Vinca and Marigold. Their flowers come in different colors. The Marigold, for one. could be planted in between vegetable crops to repel insects that could damage the vegetables.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tissue-Cultured Mama Sita Banana

A VERY limited number of tissue-cultured Mama Sita banana is now available at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. We are making this announcement because so many have previously asked if the seedlings are now available. They are, but just about 150 pieces.

Mama Sita banana has now become a favorite. It does not grow very tall and has a huge pseudostem so it does not topple down easily. It produces big bunch of fruit which is very sweet when ripe.

Those interested may call Rose at 0915-434-4216.

Marigold Drives Away The Insects

POTTED MARIGOLD in bloom are placed at the base of leguminous vegetables at the demo farm of the East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

The marigold is claimed to drive away the insects that could damage the vegetables.

By the way, East-West is introducing marigold varieties that are dwarf. These make ground cover in landscaping projects. They could be useful as potted flowering plants for sale in the market.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tarragon Makes Refreshing Tea

A very healthy Tarragon
IN PHOTO is a very healthy Tarragon grown in a recycled car tire filled with vermicompost. It is grown in the Permaculture Farming showcase at the East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

Many people find it difficult to grow healthy and robust Tarragon. But the secret at East-West is the use of organic growing medium

The Permaculture Farming team headed by Robert Acosta produces vermicompost in cemented bins covered with GI sheet.

The worms are fed with vegetable trimmings, kitchen waste from the company's canteen and other biomass available at East-West.

By the way, Tarragon makes a very refreshing tea. Take about ten leaves, place them in a cup of boiling water, and presto! You have a tea you won't easily forget.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Striped Snake Gourd

The Snake Gourd usually seen in the Philippines has pure white fruits. However, the variety showcased at the demo farm of East-West Seed during its 30th anniversary celebration has striped fruits..

Snake Gourd is not yet popularly consumed in the Philippines but it is well liked in Thailand.

The striped fruits of the Snake Gourd are very attractive.

Maybe, Filipinos should learn from Thailand how to prepare Snake Gourd dishes.

Lettuce and Sweet Corn Together

Here's one doable idea you can adopt in your farm or garden. You can grow your favorite sweet corn together with your favorite leafy green - lettuce.

Photo shows just how it is done at the Permaculture Farming showcase at the headquarters of East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

The sweet corn is planted at one seed per hill and distanced about 1.5 feet apart. In between the hills are lettuce which as are very healthy and robust as can be seen in the picture.

The planting bed is mulched to prevent weed growth and to conserve moisture at the same time. During rainy days, the mulch prevents waterlogging.

No chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used so the leafy greens are very safe to eat. To see for yourself, better visit the East-West headquarters one of these days.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ampalaya Grown In Jute Sacks

In photo are ampalaya plants (bitter gourd) growing in medium size jute sacks filled with vermicompost as growing medium.

The plants are very fruitful. Note the jute sacks perched on benches on both sides of the trellis.

This is one of attention-getters at the Permaculture Farming showcase at the East-West Seed Company headquarters in  San Rafael, Bulacan.

The plants are organically grown. No chemical pesticides and fertilizers. There's no fruitfly damage on the fruits.

Purple Corn For Good Health

Purple Corn with kernels that are all purple.
The Purple Corn was one of the varieties showcased at the demo farm during the 30th anniversary celebration of East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

The Purple Corn is claimed to be rich in anthocyanin which may help stabilize and protect capillaries and blood vessels from damage by free radicals. 

Anthocyanin has been shown to promote collagen formation (which is good for our skin) and may improve blood circulation.

Aside from the variety with purely purple kernels, there is also what is popularly called Bicolor.The kernels are a combination of purple and yellow, or purple and white.

As boiled corn, the Purple and Bicolor are nice to eat because they are waxy.

Ric Reyes with Bicolor corn.

Friday, December 14, 2012

East-West Founders Persevered and Won

Simon N. Groot at the 30th anniversary
of East-West Seed.
Michelle Robel, E-W plant pathologist,
poses with fruits of Emperor Sweet Pepper
which is now making farmers rich.
Ampalaya is a major interest of East-West plant breeders. They
have developed several hybrids which are big money makers
for a lot of farmers. These include Jade, Galaxy,
Galactica and Bonito.
The great success that the East-West Seed is enjoying today is the result of dogged perseverance and the strong belief that a good and reliable seed could have more lasting impact on our farmers than the billions of aid money from well-meaning donor nations and NGOs.

That could be very true because the impact of a good seed is directly felt not only by the small but also the big-time farmers. Countless farmers are continuing to benefit year after year from not just one seed but a series of improved seeds that the company’s researchers are churning out every year.

While East-West is considered the leading vegetable seed company in the Philippines today, achieving success was far from easy. The early years, starting 1982 when it was established by Simon N. Groot of the Netherlands and Benito M. Domingo of the Philippines, were particularly rough years.

Mr. Groot recalls during talks over lunch at the company’s 30th anniversary that it took them 10 years to reach the first $1-million mark in sales. After their first building was put up, they were already running out of money so that they had to buy second hand furniture for their offices. Up to this day, the P200-second hand table that Mr. Groot used in those difficult years is still kept at the East-West headquarters in San Rafael.

After achieving the $1 million annual sale, however, the sailing had become more smooth. Sister companies have since been established in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India and China.

Promoting the “pinakbet” type of vegetables was a smart tack that East-West took. That’s because in “pinakbet” many kinds of vegetables are cooked together in one dish. In the authentic Ilocano pinakbet, as many as 15 or even more vegetables, including minor ones, are cooked together.

These include ampalaya fruit and shoot, eggplant, tomato, stringbeans, patani, radish fruits, alokon, paayap, sweet pepper, finger pepper, malunggay fruits, kadios seeds, gabi tuber, patola, okra, katuray flowers and bataw. Cooked with “bagnet” or broiled “dalag”, and just enough tomato sauce and water, the concoction could make a superb one-dish meal.

Mr. Groot said, they thought of promoting the pinakbet type vegetables because at that time, it was the favorite dish of former President Marcos. He has tried to promote the same dish in Indonesia but has not succeeded so far.

The production of superior varieties is just one part of the cycle. What is equally important is the dissemination of the varieties and the production techniques that go with the seeds.

The company has been successful along this line. It has put up demo farms in various places, has conducted workshops and seminars, conducted what it calls road shows and many more.

One project that has become successful is the Tanim Para Sa Kinabukasan project or TSK whereby the technicians of the company collaborate with school officials to put up a vegetable garden showcase right on the school campus. Here, the students participate in putting up the garden, in sowing the seeds, transplanting them and then caring for them up to maturity. At the end of the cycle, a harvest festival is held. Parents of the children and other target groups are also invited to see the  beautiful vegetables taken care of by the students and their mentors alike.

So successful has the TSK program become that the Oh My Gulay project started by Sen. Edgardo Angara has been hitched to the TSK. Now, to cover more schools, the gardening-in-charge in interested educational institutions are sent to the East-West for training.

East-West Seed is not only focused on the production of seed varieties. It is also focused on other means of improving productivity. One example of late is the promotion of grafted ampalaya planting materials. This technique is increasing the productive life of the crop by an additional 10 harvests. Then it is promoting what is called permaculture farming, which we will delve into in another write up.

At the 30th anniversary celebration of East-West last December 12, 30 outstanding vegetable farmers were honored for their exemplary achievements. Some of them have risen from poverty to become multi-millionaires because of the technologies they have adopted from East-West and other sources.
Simon Groot and Irene Sion reminisce the old days at
East-West. Here she is showing Mr. Groot the improvised
seed catalog which she used when selling seeds. Aside from
plant breeding duties, she also sold seeds of the company.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sweet Corn And Pipinito Together

Photo shows Dorie S. Bernabe, president of the Cactus and Succulent Society of the Philippines, holding a fruit of the Pipinito cucumber intercropped with sweet corn at the Permaculture farming showcase at the East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

Planting sweet corn and the mini cucumber together is a practical idea that could be adopted by hobbyists and commercial planters alike. Usually, sweet corn is harvested 65 to 75 days after planting, depending on the variety.

On the other hand, the mini cucumber starts fruiting 35 days after planting. The farmer or gardener, therefore, can start harvesting from his farm or garden in just five weeks from planting.

It is important that the sweet corn is planted one plant per hill and should be spaced about two feet apart. This will let sunlight penetrate between the plants for the good of the two crops.

Dorie Bernabe was one of the visitors at the EAst-West Seed on December 12 when the company observed its 30th anniversary.
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