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Success stories in free forum at SM Iloilo


By Zac B. Sarian

  • JULIUS THE FARMER – Toto Barcelona’s only son, Julius, is an Ateneo graduate who is called by relatives “Julius the Farmer” He is very much involved in helping his father run Harbest Agribusiness which has become a big operation. Toto should be congratulated for inculcating in his son the imporance of agriculture. Not many Ateneo graduates go into agriculture. Julius is shown here with beautiful honeydew melons exhibited during a recent Agrilink trade show.

  • IMPACTFUL COLLABORATION – One project that is producing a lot of impact in farming is the collaboration of SM Foundationa and Harbest Agribusiness. In the last seven years, the Kabalikat Sa Kabuhayan Farmers’ Training Program has so far trained no less than 17,000 farmers and still continuing. Many of them have significantly improved their economic standing having been empowered to undertake productive farming. In photo, Toto Barcelona is the fourth from left.

  • PLASTIC MULCH NOW VERY POPULAR WITH FARMERS – Toto Barcelona is the pioneer in promoting the use of plastic mulch in growing vegetables and other crops. Photo shows a strawberry grower in Benguet who uses plastic mulch to prevent weed growth, conserve soil moisture during the dry months and to prevent water-soaking of the beds during the rainy season.

  • MUSHROOM CULTURE – Eden Panisales and Glenn Mariano will demonstrate how to grow mushroom in the home or in the farm. The oyster mushroom is the most popular species being grown in the Philippines today. Mushroom growing does not require a big amount of capital.

  • HERBS, SPICES AND FLOWERS – Rowena C. Bienes of Allied Botanical Corporation will discuss the agribusiness opportunities in growing herbs, spices and flowering plants. She is a Los Baños graduate who is a senior staff at Allied. She is shown here with flowering plants grown in the company’s experimental field..

  • GOAT RAISING – Those who are interested in goat raising might as well attend the Agri-Talk forum on Saturday at the SM City Iloilo Cyberzone on Saturday. Goats are becoming increasingly popular as food so that there is a growing shortage of animals for slaughter. Those who will discuss the topic are Anelyn A. Hapitan and Cyson Altis of the Department of Agriculture in Region 6. Photo shows Oberhasli goats which are good for meat and milk production.

    Success stories about agri-people, big and small, will be the focus of our topic at the “Agri-Talk” ,  a free forum that will be held at the SM City Iloilo Cyberzone on May 12. The event is a joint project of the Agricultural Training Institue (ATI)  and Agriculture Magazine of the Manila Bulletin which is observing its 20th anniversary.

    Aside from this agri journalist, five other resource persons will talk on timely topics in their own line of expertise. Sratrting at 10 o’clock, the first speaker, Eden Panisales, will discuss how to make organic concoctions for crops as well as livestock and poultry. Panisales is a research staff specialist of the Department of Agriculture’s Regional Field Office 6.

    The next speaker will be Honorio Cervantes who will talk on his favorite subject of square foot gardening. He is an experienced farmer in growing vegetables in his unique system.

    Eden Panisales in tandem with Glenn Mariano will discuss mushroom production which can be undertaken even in the home for one’s own consumption or for sale in the market. This is one project that does not require a big amount of capital and has a short gestation period. One can just buy fruiting bags which will produce mushrooms in just a matter of a few weeks.

    Goat production which can be a profitable project with a ready market will be discussed by Anelyn A. Hapitan and Cyson Altis, senior research scientists of DA Region 6.  Goat-raising is one of the priorities being promoted by the government because the supply of goats for slaughter is not enough. Goats can be raised for both meat and milk.

    Rowena C. Bienes of Allied Botanical will talk on growing herbs, spices and flowering plants as a business. She is a UP Los Los Baños graduate who is a senior specialist at Allied Botanical.

    Our talk which will be at 2 o’clock will focus on bright ideas of successful agri-people that we have gathered through our long years of writing about agriculture, meeting and interviewing outstanding people in agribusiness and related fields.There are many successful people in the business of farming, both small scale and large scale operators. Easily one of the most successful agri people we have met and have observed closely is Arsenio “Toto” Barcelona who put up Harbest Agribusiness in 1997.

    He started Harbest with special focus on the hybrid seeds developed by Known-You Seed of Taiwan that include a wide variety of vegetables and other high-value crops.  These include pinakbet veggies like eggplant, tomato, ampalaya, okra, string beans, onion, salad greens and other high value crops like honeydew melon, watermelon, papaya, sweet corn and others.

    To the hybrid seeds, Toto has added modern inputs in crop production. For vegetables, he was responsible for introducing and popularizing the use of plastic mulch. He related that it took sometime before local farmers realized the advantages of using plastic mulch. He remembers that it took him one whole year to sell the first ten rolls that he imported. Today, however, he sells by the container loads in a matter of weeks. Plastic mulch helps conserve moisture during the dry season. During the rainy season, it prevents excessive soaking of the soil. It also prevents the growth of weeds.

    Toto also popularized the use of plastic seedling trays for germinating seedlings. This has also a lot of advantages. The seedlings grow uniformly and have a much higher survival rate during transplanting. Then he introduced greenhouses and protective nets to make it possible to produce vegetables during the rainy season.

    Toto also popularized many other modern technologies in farming, including drip irrigation, effective microorganisms, small rotavators for land preparation for vegetable production, shredders and more.

    As a strategy in promoting his seeds and other farm inputs, Toto launched trainings for those interested in improved crop production. And one of the most impactful  projects is his collaboration with SM Foundation in undertaking the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers’ Training Program which is now in its 7th year and has so far trained more than 17,000 farmers.

    Aside from Toto, we will share the bright ideas of many other people in farming, not only those engaged in vegetable production but also fruit trees, plantation crops as well as those those who are into livestock and poultry, fisheries, and more.

    If you are in Iloilo and you have the time, we urge you to attend the Agri-Talk forum. You will be glad you did.

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