By Zac B. Sarian
BAMBOO SUPPORT FOR EGGPLANT – One interesting practice in a research farm in Thailand is the use of bamboo poles to support eggplants that are grown into tall plants by providing them with adequate fertilizer and moisture through drip irrigation. The fertilizer is included in the drip irrigation and is called fertigation. This assures the plants enough nutrients of the right kind so they have a long productive life. The leaves at the bottom are removed for improved air circulation. After all, the old leaves below are no longer functional. If they are not removed they will harbor insect pests that damage the plants.
MARSHLAND MADE INTO FARMS FOR HIGH-VALUE CROPS – One interesting practice in Thailand is that they convert their marshy areas into productive growing areas for high value crops. They make big embankments separated by big canals that serve as the passage way for taking out their harvest as well as bringing in inputs like fertilizers. The water in the canal is a ready source for watering the plants. Photo shows embankments planted to cucumber. A small banca is used to access the plantation.
BAMBOO SUPPORT FOR BIG PEPPER PLANTS – Pepper plants can really grow tall if they are given adequate nutrition, soil moisture and appropriate management techniques. The hot pepper plants in photo are really tall and are very fruitful. They are mulched with plastic sheet and drip-irrigated. Their lower leaves have also been removed for good air circulation.
TRIPLE DECK PICKUP TRUCK DELIVERS BANANAS TO MARKET – One amusing photo taken by the editor of this page during a trip to Thailand is this pickup truck loaded with bananas on triple deck for delivery to the Talad Thai Market. The Talad Thai Market is the biggest wholesale market for agricultural produce located about one-and-a-half hours drive to the north from Bangkok. This is where many farmers bring their harvests for sale. It is also where traders procure their requirements for distribution to different smaller markets in that country.
PRESENTABALE UBOD PACKAGING – One very impressive packaging of coconut heart (ubod) for sale at the Talad Thai Market in Thailand is shown in photo. The coconut hearts are cleaned and packaged in transparent plastic so buyers can see what is inside. The ‘ubods’ look very clean and hygienic. Perhaps, if somebody can do the same in the Philippines, the ‘ubod’ can be marketed in supermarkets in the city at a good price. Some people have been trying to produce coconut ‘ubod’ for sale in the Philippines. They plant the seedlings barely a meter apart from each other and when they are three years old or have big enough ‘ubod’, they are harvested.
KSK TRAINING IN LANAO DEL NORTE – Last March 3, SM Foundation brought its Kabalikat Sa Kabuhayan Rural Farmers Training Program to Lanao del Norte as it conducted an orientation at the Mindanao Civic Center Sports Complex in the capital town of Tubod. A total of 188 participants from 10 municipalities were enrolled in the season-long program where the farmers and staff of municipal agriculture offices are trained on the production of vegetables and other high-value crops. The orientation was attended by Gov. Imelda Quibranza Dimaporo, Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo of the second district, Arsenio Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness and Cristina Angeles, AVP for Outreach SM Foundation, Inc. Photo shows a group photo of the participants and officials of the province and SM Foundation.
Visiting farms in other countries often rewards us with practical ideas that could be copied or duplicated where it is appropriate in the Philippines.
In one place in Chiang Mai, Thailand where Ric Reyes of East-West Seed brought us sometime back, we witnessed how a marshland was converted into productive embankments planted to high value crops like cucumber, papaya and many other crops including jackfruit and other varieties.
With heavy equipment, the marshland is dug up and the excavated material is made to form embankments. Canals that are big enough for navigation by small boats or bancas are constructed. It is here where the water for irrigating the crops are sourced. A small boat equipped with irrigation pump is used to spray the water to the plants on both sides of the canal.
The banca is used to haul the harvest to the packing area in the farmer’s home prior to delivery to the market. The boat is also used to deliver the fertilizer and other inputs to the plantation.
AT THE RESEARCH FARM – We also observed how they produce big plants of eggplant and peppers that have long productive life. This is done by growing the recommended varieties and then providing them with the best care and management.
The rows are planted in upraised beds that are mulched with plastic. The soil is enriched with organic and inorganic fertilizers before planting the seedlings. The plants are watered by means of drip irrigation in which the right fertilizer in adequate amount is provided.
With the right management, the plants really grow big. And to keep them upright for best growth, bamboo poles are provided as support for each plant.
Another important practice is to remove or prune the old leaves near the bottom. This provides good air circulation which is good for the plants. After all, the old leaves are no longer functional and if they are not removed they will only serve as hiding place for insect pests. Plants with no leaves at the bottom are also very nice to look at. The fruits that dangle are very visible and pleasing to the eye.
The same treatment is also provided to other plants like peppers. There are varieties that really grow tall and which can produce high yields because they are provided with adequate amounts of nutrients, moisture and other requirements for good growth. They remain productive for long periods.
TALAD THAI MARKET – Considered the biggest wholesale market for agricultural produce is the Talad Thai Market which can be reached from Bangkof in about 1.5 hours by car to the north. This was developed by a private businessman whose monument now stands near the entrance of the huge market.
The visitor will really be impressed by the big volume of harvests being delivered by farmers with their SUVs. One that really caught our attention was a pickup truck delivering bananas to the market on triple deck. By the new models of their delivery vehicles, it is easy to conclude that the Thai farmers are making money from their high-value crops.
One other thing that caught our special attention was the very presentable packaging of their coconut heart (ubod to us) which is usually used in the Philippines for making fresh lumpia. At the Talad Thai Market, the coconut hearts are presentably packaged in transparent plastic, very clean and hygienic-looking. If somebody in the Philippines can do the same thing, the local ubod could be a bestseller in local upscale supermarkets.
The Talad Thai Market is where traders or viajeros source their requirements for distributing to their outlets in the smaller cities in Thailand. One can find there practically every farm produce in big volume. Aide from the major crops, one can also find organic fish, meat, flowers and ornamental plants.