By ZAC B. SARIAN
We often hear people saying that we should encourage the youth to go into agriculture because our farmers are getting old. They say that farming is so much more fun today because new technologies are now available like the use of drones in spraying fertilizers and crop protection products. They also cite the machines that can now plant rice and vegetables rather than by human hand. Yet many Millennials still don’t seem to care about farming.
Maybe we should not only encourage the young but also the 40- and 50-somethings to go into farming as an honest-to-goodness business. It makes sense to encourage the older people who are professionals or business operators to engage in agribusiness. Why? Because they have the capital to start with. If they have to borrow money, they usually have the necessary collateral or the track record to back them up. They are more receptive to new technologies. They would probably know the right people who can help them in sourcing improved technologies, various production inputs, market linkages and the like.
One businessman who went into serious fruit farming is Orlando Chio who owns the Tau Hai Farm in Calinan, Davao City. We visited his farm early last September during our durian-eating tour that also included feasting on marang, longkong lanzones, pomelo and mangosteen. Tau Hai, he explained, means “good ambience” and good ambience is what his farm really has. The farm, which is more than 10 hectares, is well kept and the fruit trees are very healthy and productive.
What really impressed us were the heavily fruiting longkong lanzones trees. The individual fruits are bigger than most fruits in the market which is an indication that the trees are adequately fertilized and protected from pests and diseases. The fruits were sweet and juicy, most probably due to balanced fertilization complete with micronutrients.
Maybe we should not only encourage the young but also the 40- and 50- somethings to go into farming as an honest-togoodness business.
The durian trees looked very healthy with no indication of any dieback condition that we observed in other durian farms that were attacked by phytophthora disease. Orlando said that they had finished harvesting a bumper crop a couple of weeks before our visit. He said that he plants any variety that he finds outstanding. One very outstanding durian variety that he is very proud of is Alcon, an early selection that is rarely found in other farms today.
The fruits of his marang that he served his visitors were bigger than the fruits that were served us in a farm that we visited earlier. Pablito Villegas, our agricultural economist companion, really had a great time feasting on the plump arils of Orlando’s marang. Aside from the varieties mentioned above, Orlando has many other fruit-bearing crops like jujube, atis, mangosteen, guyabano, chico, jackfruit, papaya, pineapple, mango, rambutan, and more. During trips abroad, he also brings home seeds that he finds interesting. Just like a guava with orange flesh that he grew from seed that he got from Taiwan.
A coule of landmarks at the Tau Hai Farm are big metal sculptures by a prize-winning sculptor from Davao City. Orlando’s family has a thriving business in the heart of Davao City but he spends more time in his farm. Farming is something he enjoys very much. He is a regular buyer of Agriculture Magazine published by the Manila Bulletin and has copies of our books that include “Winning Strategies in Agriculture.” (Log on to our blog: zacsarian.com for practical farming tips, ideas and interesting agri-people. Our email: [email protected]).