By Zac B. Sarian
Dr. Teddy (not his real name) is a medical doctor who is a farmer at heart with a clinic in a well known hospital in Quezon City. After graduation from college, he planted 600 durian trees in his farm in Western Mindanao.
We met him one Saturday morning at the Agri-Kapihan Forum in the early 1990s. There, he related to us how he managed his farm while he stayed in Manila most of the time.
What we admired about him most was how he made sure his trees were all fertilized adequately in just one day. How did he do that?
Well, he said he had only one 50-year-old caretaker. As per what he read in a book, the trees should be fertilized at the onset of the rainy season and then right after harvest.
He said that applying chemical fertilizer to his 600 trees could take a long time if he depended only on his caretaker. He was not also sure if the caretaker would apply the fertilizer in full. He knew that his man loved to drink, and if he wanted to cheat his boss, he could sell part of the fertilizers for some extra money to buy his favorite gin. The doctor had heard of some other absentee farm owners who were being cheated by their laborers. That, he did not want to happen to him. So what did he do?
Dr. Teddy could only stay for three days in the farm because of his medical practice in Manila. So, what he did was to buy all the fertilizers that would be needed for his 600 ten-year-old trees. Four kilos of complete fertilizer would be applied per tree. He also bought 10 brand new spades and 10 pails. These were to be used by the 10 laborers he hired to apply fertilizer in just one day with him overseeing the operation.
He said the 10 hired workers easily finished fertilizing the 600 trees in one day. Each one only had to fertilize 60 trees! Isn’t that a very practical and doable strategy? The doctor had complete peace of mind knowing that his trees got the fertilizer they needed.
The late Ave Tadeja, a very good friend, was about the first commercial manufacturer of fertilizer that we know. He had a factory in the outskirts of Quezon City. And his workers were young men who were mostly his nephews or close relatives.
Every now and then a worker would get drunk or into some other misdemeanor. Whenever one commits such a misdeed, Abe had a unique of punishing the culprit.
He would make him report to his house and let him sit in the rocking chair to watch TV the whole day. He would not scold him. In fact, he would even give him snacks.
That was his novel way of punishing his erring worker. Abe explained that they guy would be the butt of joke of his fellow workets and most likely he would not repeat his misdeed.
Abe swore that his technique worked wonders.