By Zac B. Sarian
HORSE POWER – The horses that vegetable farmers in the highland areas of Liliw, Laguna, use for hauling newly harvested vegetables are small but they are hardy and can carry as much as 160 kilos of tomatoes and other vegetable that are delivered to the packing place of traders. The horse owners are paid R1 per kilo of vegetables that they can haul. One horse owner can make 8 to 10 trips in one day.
EXCESS TOMATOES THROWN AWAY – Farmers In Liliw, Laguna, just throw away many of their harvest of small tomatoes (30 to 40 grammers) because traders buy them at a very low price of P4 per kilo. While a number of traders buy some of the small fruits, they can’t buy everything, hence they are just thrown away by the roadside. In photo, the tomatoes on the ground at the back are discards while the fruits on the table are still to be sorted to select the saleable sizes.
DINALUPIHAN KSK GRADUATES – Photo shows some of the graduates of the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers Training program being undertaken by SM Foundation in cooperation with Harbest Agribusiness of Toto Barcelona. In photo are recent graduates of the training conducted in Dinalupihan, Bataan. They are showing their beautiful harvests of watermelon and honeydew melon. The trainees learn to grow high-value crops that they can sell in markets accessible to them, including SM Supermarkets.
BIGGEST DRAGON FRUIT PLANTATION IN THE COUNTRY – The 22-hectare plantation of Dragonfruit Philippines, Inc. is probably the biggest dragon fruit plantation in the country. It is located in Brgy. Anonas in Angeles City, Pampanga.The farm, according to Crisper Garcia who manages the project, is expected to produce 500 tons of fruits this year. Photo shows Greg de los Trinos posing in the vast plantation. He was responsible for providing the drip irrigation system of the farm.
Last May 26, we heard on the DZMM radio patrol report that the ordinary tomatoes are selling at P80 per kilo in a Manila market. On that date, we checked the selling price in a popular supermarket in Antipolo and we found out that five pieces of about 50 to 60 grammers had a tag of P8.
We could only shake our head in dismay when we heard the radio report and then when we checked the price of tomatoes in the supermarket. We were really dismayed because on My 24, we visited the tomato growing areas in the uplands of Liliw, Laguna. And did you know what we found?
Many of the smaller tomato fruits that weighed about 30 to 40 grams each were being bought by traders at only P4 per kilo. What was bad about it is that the traders don’t buy many of the smaller fruits so the farmers just throw them away along the roadsides. The small fruits are not defective except that they are smaller than the usual 50 to 60 grams of the popular Diamante Max variety of East-West Seed.
And did you know how much the traders are buying the standard sizes of 50 to 60 grams? They are buying them at P6 to P8 per kilo! Same price as the five pieces in the small plastic displayed in the supermarket.
A lady farmer, Josefina Rodanilla, said they had planted tomatoes on one hectare. They are losing now because the price is so low and the expenses are high. The plants have to be fertilized and sprayed with crop protection products. They have to be staked so they don’t topple down. Labor cost is also getting expensive. And transporting the fruits from the farm to the sorting and packing area also costs good money. The harvested fruits are usually hauled by “horse power”. The horses being used to carry as much as 160 kilos of tomates are small but they are very sturdy and docile. For every kilo transported, the farm owner pays the horse owner one peso. The horse owners are making money because one owner and his horse can make as many as 8 to10 trips in one day.
Of course farmers are not always losing money growing tomatoes. They make a lot of money from tomato, especially when the supply is scarce. This usually happens when an area is ravaged by typhoon or heavy rains, or the plants are attacked by pests and diseases. Many also make a lot of money during certain months but when one incurs a major damage in his plantation, the loss can be really big.
That is why some farmers like Victor Arbisu of Brgy. Luquin has stopped planting tomatoes after he incurred big losses for two consecutive years. He is now concentrating on crops with less volatile prices like radish, cabbage, cucumber, ampalaya and others.
Another fellow, Ponciano Bolivar of Tiaong, Quezon specializes in growing pepper “pangsigang”. He has planted 12,000 hot peppers in his farm and is harvesting every day 150 to 200 kilos which he sells at P25 a kilo. At other times, the price could go as high a P100 per kilo.