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Profitable crop combination in a small farm


By Zac B. Sarian

The combination of crops you grow in your farm can either determine profits or losses. What is the right combination? It is not really easy to tell because there are so many things to consider. That include one’s financial resources, business sense, management skills, target market and the fickle weather.

Anyway, we were talking to Dennis Miguel of Simon’s Farm the other day and he was telling us what he and his partner are planting on two hectares they are currently cultivating in Santiago City, Isabela. Maybe, one can gain some insight from what they are planting. The same could be applicable to your situation.

Dennis, by the way, is the fellow who adopted the SRI or System of Rice Intensification who was able to produce 200 cavans of palay  per hectare in a rainfed field in Santiago City which used to produce only 50 cavans per hectare.

  • SWEET PEPPER FOR ALL SEASONS – Clarabel sweet pepper is one variety that farmers cultivating small farms can plant. This is because it is high-yielding and it can be grown in both the wet and dry seasons. It can also be planted in the lowland as well is in areas with higher elevation. It is one of the choices of Dennis Miguel and his partner in Isabela to plant in their diversified farming venture.

  • RED HOT PEPPER COMMANDS A HIGH PRICE – The Red Hot variety of hot chilli is a favorite of agri-people like Jess Domingo of Ifugao because its price is much higher than those of other peppers. If there is an oversupply in the market, which is very rare, the harvest can be processed into chilli powder, chilli flakes, hot sauce and others for added value. It is also a choice of Dennis Miguel and his partner Eric Pungan of Santiago City, Isabela.

  • PURPLE CORN FOR BOILING – The newly introduced Purple Corn has caught the interest of Dennis Miguel and his partner in Isabela because in Santiago City it is selling for as much as P130 per kilo. The partners will plant the variety on staggered basis so as to produce a steady supply that matches the requirement of the market. There are other varieties of corn for boiling like the white Klasica of East-West and the bicolor Violeta of Ramgo.

  • HOT CHILLI FLAKES – When there is an oversupply of hot chilli, the harvest can be processed into hot sauce, hot chilli flakes and others for added value. Above are the chilli flakes processed by Jess Domingo of Alfonso Lista in Ifugao. According to him, a kilo of fresh fruits worth P45 to P50 when prices are down can be turned into hot chilli flakes worth P400.

  • SWEET CORN – This is another crop that can be planted on a staggered basis in small farms that should be limited to the quantity that the target market can absorb. Sweet corn, like other varieties for boiling, does not have a long shelf life so that the ears should be sold soon after harvesting. There are several sweet corn varieties available from seed companies like Ramgo, East-West and Allied Botanical.

  • PAPAYA INTERCROPPED WITH TOMATO – Papaya is a high-value crop that can be grown together with other varieties to maximize the income of the farmer from one land area. Photo shows a papaya plantation intercropped with hybrid tomato. Other short-term crops can be intercropped with papaya. In the case of Dennis Miguel and his partner in Isabela, the crop of choice is the hot chilli.

    Dennis will resume planting rice the SRI way in January next year, but in the meantime he and Eric Pungan are growing several crops on two hectares of rainfed fields. Their major choice is hot chilli. They have planted 15,000 hills of Red Hot and Pinatubo varieties.

    Why hot chilli? Well, they were inspired by the story they read about Jess Domingo who said he considers chilli as his most profitable crop for very good reasons. For one, the price is usually much higher than pinakbet type vegetables. If the supply is short, hot chilli can fetch more than a thousand pesos per kilo. And if the price in the market drops, Jess said he processes the harvest into chilli flakes. One kilo of fresh fruits that may be selling at only P45 to P50 can be worth at least P400 when turned into flakes. And he has a ready market for that.

    Dennis and his partner have their own plans on their chilli harvests. They will sell to the companies that have their own requirements. But they will start coming up with their vinegar-chilli in bottles. Dennis said that his partner, Eric Pungan, has the experience in catering to outlets that include sari-sari stores, groceries and institutional buyers..

    PAPAYA INTERCROP – To maximize income from the land, they will soon intercrop hybrid papayas that are dwarf and high-yielding. The papayas may be planted at appropriate distances so as not to shade the sun-loving chillis.

    Among the current varieties in the market are Red Royale, Cariñosa, Red Lady and some others. Papaya can be for the production of both green and ripe fruits.

    SWEET PEPPER FOR ALL SEASONS – Dennis is also excited about Clarabel, a variety of sweet pepper that is distributed by Allied Botanical. The variety is very prolific and it can be grown in both wet and dry seasons. And it can also be planted in the lowland as well as in higher elevations. It is also resistant to stresses like dry spells, pests and diseases.

    But of course, as per the advice of Herlo Atole of Allied, the plants should be properly cared for. First, good quality seedlings should be used. And the soil for planting should be well drained and with good tilth. Clarabel should be adequately fertilized not only with the traditional NPK but also with calcium nitrate to make the plants more sturdy and the fruits less prone to rot.

    When the plants are still young, they should be drenched with calcium nitrate. Ten grams of the chemical may be dissolved per liter of water and drenched on each plant.

    PURPLE CORN – In one portion of the property, Dennis and his partner will plant Purple Corn on a staggered basis. He is so excited to grow the  new variety because in Santiago City he has observed that Purple Corn is selling at P130 per kilo.

    Aside from purple corn, there are other varieties for boiling. These include the white Klasica, the bicolor Violeta and of course the different varieties of sweet corn.

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