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Zac Sarian
Zac Sarian

Urban agri expo starts at TriNoma

The second Urban Agriculture Expo starts today and will run through tomorrow (Sunday, Feb. 28) at the Activity Center of TriNoma Mall in Quezon City. The event is under the auspices of Agriculture Magazine of the Manila Bulletin. It is open free to the public. The expo is in line with the advocacy of the publication to encourage people in the  urban areas to engage in food production not only for their own good health but also as a possible source of additional income. There are many practical and doable techniques in urban farming and gardening that ought to be disseminated to urban residents so that they can produce part of their food requirements. And these are showcased and discussed in lectures at the expo. One strong advocate of urban farming is Sen. …

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Jackfruit is big business in Vietnam

One crop that we can grow in the Philippines but which we are not growing in commercial scale is the jackfruit. No wonder, our supermarkets as well as fast food chains in the Philippines are sourcing their requirements from Vietnam. We visited Vietnam last week and we found out the reason why our local businessmen are buying their supplies of frozen jackfruit pulp from that country. The reason is that they can buy all that they need from just one source. In the Philippines, they simply cannot buy jackfruit pulp in bulk from one supplier. So it is more convenient for them to import. Somewhere in the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, we visited the biggest processor of jackfruit. This is MIT International which claims to have about 70 percent of …

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Little Known Veggies

When you attend field days of seed companies, you often see foreign vegetable varieties that are growing very well under local conditions. Yet, they are rarely appreciated by the local people. Swiss Chard This red plant was showcased recently at the experimental farm of Allied Botanical in Tayug, Pangasinan. The plants were very attractive but when we asked what it was good for, the person right next to us answered he did not know and that he was not interested to know. Rowena Bienes, however, interjected and told us it is a vegetable loaded with health-enhancing compounds. We checked it and here was what we found: It is claimed to contain no less than 13 polyphenol antioxidants plus syrengica acid, which is supposed to be capable of regulating blood sugar. Swiss Chard is …

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How a polluted reservoir was rehabilitated

A stagnant and heavily polluted water reservoir that was not fit for growing fish has been rehabilitated and can now be used for growing freshwater fish and other purposes. This is the one-hectare reservoir at the Quirino State University  (QSU) compound in Diffun, Quirino province which has been so heavily polluted that people would not like to eat the fish that might have survived there. The canal that feeds the reservoir passes through heavily populated villages, that’s why. Today, the canal that feeds the reservoir still passes through the same villages but appropriate filtration systems have been installed, thanks to the collaborative efforts of QSU and the National Inland Fisheries Enhancement Program (INFEP) of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources headed by Director Asis Perez. To rehabilitate the polluted reservoir, a team …

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Veggies that Pinoys should learn to eat

During field days conducted  by the seed companies, we often see vegetables that are growing very well under local conditions but which no Filipino that we know of are really eating. Just like the red Swiss chard, for instance. Recently, we saw some beautifully growing red Swiss chards among the vegetables under field trial at the Allied Botanical experimental farm in Tayug, Pangasinan. When we asked the fellow who was next to us what it was, she did not know it. Until Rowena Bienes explained that it is Swiss chard that contains a lot of health-giving nutrients. We searched it in the Internet, and we were impressed by what we read. Swiss chard boasts of at least 13 polyphenol antioxidants. And it also contains syringica acid which is claimed to control sugar …

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Calamansi Rehabilitation in Mindoro

A project has been launched to revitalize the calamansi industry in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro where production has declined in past years. The project is a collaboration of the local government of Victoria, the Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology, and SEARCA or Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture based in Los Baños. Under a memorandum of agreement signed by SEARCA director Dr. Gil Saguiguit Jr., Victoria Mayor Alfredo G. Ortega Jr. and MinSCAT president Dr. Jesse T. Zamora, the project aims to rehabilitate Victoria’s calamansi industry to make it economically viable and at the same time environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. According to Dr. Saguiguit, Mindoro is a major producer of calamansi in the country, yet it has been experiencing huge declines in production due to lack …

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Know about sunflowers for gardens

There’s an emerging trend for sunflowers in the Philippines. As a money-making opportunity, sunflower varieties are targeted for home gardens. It is unlike in foreign countries where the crop is grown commercially in wide areas for the production of seeds for human consumption and for bird seed. Sunflower oil is also extracted from the seeds. The trend in the Philippines works fine. That’s because even the micro-entrepreneurs can participate in the business. And that is helping achieve what the politicians are mouthing as “inclusive economic growth.” Of course, corporate operators can also grow the garden sunflowers for the bigger markets. Four varieties are becoming the favorites of growers of garden sunflowers for three purposes. One is for landscaping not only in the home but also in resorts, commercial building premises, golf courses …

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Tricks of the trade

Bromeliad in Bamboo Tube Most of the bromeliads we see inside homes and other places are grown in pots or containers with the use of growing media like chopped fern chips, sphagnum moss, coconut husk, and the like. One novel way that you can try is to insert your bromeliad in a bamboo or “buho” tube without any growing medium. We have been doing this with our Neoregelias and the plants thrive very well without us doing any special care. We take a piece of “buho” with a node midway. The lower half is pointed so we can stick it into the ground. In the upper part of the bamboo, we just stick the rooted plant or even the new sucker without any roots. You will see that the bromeliad loves …

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Flowers can be profitable to produce

After visiting the Hortikultura garden show at the Quezon Memorial Circle two days ago, and seeing the many sellers of horticultural products, we are convinced all the more that the flower and ornamental plant business is providing an honest livelihood to many small growers. Of course, there are also a few big corporate operators who are also making money from the industry. As they say, when people become more prosperous, they are more or less secure in their food requirements. So they can afford to buy some luxuries like flowers and ornamental plants. The big seed companies are now offering more and more varieties in their stocks of flowering plants. This means that they recognize the money-making potential from the supply of seeds and other propagation materials. Allied Botanical Corporation, for instance, is …

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Poor farmers’ sweet pepperis productive

We visited the open house at the Allied Botanical Corporation’s experimental farm three days before it opened. We wanted to be the first to see what’s new in high-value vegetables and other crops. We were not disappointed. We were particularly impressed by Clarabel, the new sweet pepper which farm manager Herlo Atole called the poor man’s sweet pepper. Why poor man’s sweet pepper? Because it is a variety that even the poor farmer can afford to grow. It is very adaptable to lowland as well as highland conditions all over the country and can be grown even in the rainy season because it has high tolerance against soil-borne and foliage diseases compared to other varieties. Clarabel is prolific but Herlo stresses that the plant has to be adequately nourished to achieve the variety’s …

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