By Zac B. Sarian
During an informal gathering of friends who are farming enthusiasts, we were asked if we could name some of the agri people we have met who had impressed us. Well, there are so many of them but here are just some:
ASHITABA ADVOCATE – One lady who is really passionate in popularizing the true Ashitaba botanically known as Angelica keiski is a cancer survivor who would like to help people who want to keep a healthy body by partaking the Ashitaba products, primarily tea and the powder that could be used in making pan de sal, noodles, juice drink and others. The fresh leaves and stalks can be also used for cooking as vegetable.
The cancer survivor is Adela Ang who introduced Ashitaba from Taiwan, growing the same in commercial scale in Benguet and in Tagaytay where the weather is cool and conducive to the robust growth of the plant.
Adela really took time in researching the many health benefits that can be derived from Ashitaba and multiplying the plant so other people may grow them for their own benefit. Of course, she is also manufacturing Ashitaba tea which has become popular to customers. She has just put up a new tea manufacturing plant in Caloocan City.
BIG TIME VEGGIE GROWER – One big time grower of high-value vegetables whom we met recently is Nestor Kalaw of Lipa City. We attended the same Field Day at the diversified farm of Carmelo Prado in Sariaya, Quezon. We learned that he is now planting 40 hectares of rented land to various vegetables like chilli, tomato, eggplant, ampalaya and others.
One notable crop that he remembers well is the red hot chilli that he planted in 2016. He can’t forget that because he was able to sell at P800 per kilo the 300 kilos that he harvested from a small area. The next season, he and his partner planted 21 hectares to the hot pepper.
FINGER PEPPER FOR SINIGANG – Lately, we also met Ponciano Bolivar of Brgy. Bulakin, Tiaong, Quezon. We asked him what notable crop he has planted of late that gave him a big profit. What did he tell us? He was very pleased with the 5,000 Magnum finger pepper that he planted in April fom which he harvested once every five days for up to December. He harvested an average of 200 kilos each time which he was able to sell at P100 per kilo. He said he netted more than P100,000 from the 5,000 plants. That means after deducting all expenses.
Today, he has a standing crop of 12,000 pepper plants for sinigang from which he is harvesting 200 kilos a day and which he sells at an average of P25 per kilo.
BENITO MAGALING – Yes, Benito Magaling is his true name. True to his surname, he is really “magaling.” (smart or bright). We first met him several years back when the technician of East-West brought us to him so we can interview him. At that time, he had just finished harvesting his Django hot pepper (for sinigang) which he planted on two hectares that he rented for P7,500 per hectare per year from a land reform beneficiary.
Did you know that every day he harvested 2,000 kilos (two tons) which he sold at P50 per kilo in the Tanauan Market and in Divisoria? That was P100,000 gross income every day from late August to December. To harvest two tons daily, he hired 20 women pickers who had to harvest just 100 kilos each. The job can be done in half a day and the pickers were paid P170 for their half-day’s work.
Well, there are many other smart farmers we have met in our work as agriculture journalist. For lack of space we will reserve them for issues in the future. You can also read about them in our blog: zacsarian.com.