By Zac Sarian
At trade shows like the recent Agrilink, you don’t only see new products on exhibit, you also meet interesting agri-people who are full of valuable information and ideas concerning agribusiness.
One such fellow is Arleen Valera, a UP Los Baños graduate who for many years was the biggest producer of sweet corn in the Philippines. We remember reading about his success in an issue of Readers’ Digest. Oh yes, that was how successful he was.
Then we have lost track of him, only to meet him on the last day of Agrilink 2016. Where did he go? Why did he give up his sweet corn business?
He said he was a victim of climate change. He confessed that when his sweet corn business was devastated by strong typhoons five years in a row, he told himself it was time to relocate. And relocate he did to Palawan.
Not many people realize the agricultural potential of Palawan, Arleen was so excited talking about it. Did you know, he said, that in most parts of Palawan there are no typhoons? Yes, no typhoons in the towns south of Puerto Princesa City that include Batarasa, Quezon, Rizal, Española and Brooke’s Point.
In these towns, he said, all the rice that we import could be produced in the 740,000 hectares of land. The thing to do, however, is to map the fertility situation of the soil and rehabilitate those that have problem soils.
And speaking of problem soils, these could be rehabilitated to become organic crop production areas. He was so upbeat telling us about Bioyodal a soil from the Acatama Desert in Chile which is full of nutrients and micronutrients. This natural fertilizer has been tried in the Philippines and the results are fantastic although the product is not yet widely distributed.
With Bioyodal, farm lands can be converted into land for growing organic crops. Why? Because Bioyodal is claimed to rid farm lands of heavy metals, toxins (residues of herbicides and pesticides applied in the farm) and suppresses disease-causing organisms in just a few months.
He cites an organic farm in Indang, Cavite which has tried applying Bioyodal on lettuce in combination with a plant extract that comes by the name of Perfect Crop Solution or CSP. The application of Bioyodal and CSP on lettuce resulted in 117% increase in yield. The plants that were 21 days old were bigger than the untreated plants that were 30 days old, according to him.
Arleen also reported that calamansi trees treated with Bioyodal and CSP fruited continuously for eight months. Sugarcane also responds dramatically to Bioyodal and CSP application.
The typhoon-free areas south of Puerto Princesa could also be devoted to crops other than rice. Banana, for instance, is one good candidate since there is no typhoon there. Cacao, rubber and various fruit trees could also be grown for export as well as to meet the food requirements of the tourists and local residents.
Arleen reports that the population of Palawan is only about 900,000. He said that there could be 1.5 million people in Palawan at any one time but a big number of them are tourists.
LONGKONG IN BICOL – We also met Santos Borbe Jr. at the Agrilink. He was very proud to show us the picture of his longkong tree that is fully laden with fruits. He now runs a farm in Polangui, Albay.
FULLY-AUTOMATED LAYER CAGE SYSTEM – Ernie Rodriguez and Dr. Arnel Amurao of Bitrade were also very proud of their model of a fully-automated layer cage system which was first developed by a German company but which was significantly improved by the Japanese.
Feeding, drinking, manure collection, egg harvesting and other chores are fully automated. Then there is an automatic egg packing machine. The eggs pass through a conveyor to egg trays at the other end. The trays are then placed in egg crates by machine.