" For farmers to observe and eventually choose the best vegetable varieties, we have invited leading seed companies to showcase their recommended varieties. Five seed companies namely: Allied Botanical, East- West, Kaneko, Ramgo and Seminis responded to our invitation" Provido said.
Farmers were able to learn first hand what varieties can thrive well in the area.
Most farmers favored smooth plastc type sweet pepper since it has resistance to bacterial wilt and its color and shape is appealing to consumers. For eggplant, farmers appreciate the variety that bears fruit in cluster as this means higher yield while in tomato, they preferred to grow Diamante variety as it has shown resistance to bacterial wilt. Other vegetables that thrived well in the area include sweet corn, string beans, okra, pechay, upland kangkong, cabbage, sweet corn and watermelon.
Dragon fruit,a potential new crop with high economic value was also planted in the area for farmers to appreciate and eventually mass propagate.
The City Agriculture Office and the DA XI have organized the farmers involved in the demo farm. Gregorio Ado the elected president of the RTU Energy Park Vegetable Association expressed his gratitude to Mayor Uy as well as the DA XI for the income opportunity given to them. Their Association will now handle the day to day operations while the city government and DA XI will continue to give trainings and other technical assistance.
Having shown how growing vegetable could offer the possibility of increasing production and providing better income for informal dwellers the area was part of the itenerary of of the participants of the recent 3rd Southern Mindanao Vegetable Congress held in the Tagum City. Agriculture students fromm the adjacent university of Southern Philippines' (USEP)- Apokon Campus also benifited from the project had their practicum in the demo farm where like the farmers, they went hands-on in vegetable production.
Since May this year, farmers are harvesting most of the vegetables twice a week. Compared to their income prior to the establishment of the demo farm, they're happy to note that they now have enough money for their basic needs. Vegetable produce are sold in at Tagum City Hall where Mayor Uy have provided them a selling area. There were also negotiations with institutional markets such as the malls and supermarkets but at this time the farmers produce are just enough to supply the demand of city hall employees and its walk in clients.
The first harvest of the farmers association was very promising. Sweet pepper harvested from 200 square-meter plots for the first month alone have yielded 240 kilos and was sold at prevailing market price of P60 per kilo. This has given them a gross sale of P14,400. Eggplant harvested from another 200 square meter plots yielded 340 kilos and was sold at P15 per kilo and game them an initial earning of P5,100. In sweet corn, the farmers were able to harvest from a 3,300 sq m area 6,000 pieces while retail price was sold at P5.00 per piece. This gave them an income of P15,000.
The association is till consolidating their sales in other crops such string beans, okra, upland kangkong, and pechay but they assured that is has also offered very satisfactory income as demand for this type of vegetable has never been a problem.
Mayor Uy said the income from the vegetable demo farm will all go to the members of the farmers' association. To sustain the demo farms' economic activity, the City Agriculture Office facilitates the collection of 30 percent of the farmer's income. The said collection is set aside as the association's seed money or capital for the next cropping season.
More to come
The partnership of LGU Tagum and DA XI will not end after the first cropping season. Several steps are being planned so that the project will be sustained and continue to be the farmers' source for learning and earning.
"As we expand vegetable production we will continue to train farmers particularly on application of post harvest technologies such as handling, product branding and packaing", Mayor Uy said.
Marketing of farmers' produce is another aspect that must be developed. While it is true that vegetables produced at the Energy Park already has winning comparisons with those sold in the supermarkets it must establish market linkage with institutional buyers to maximize profitability.
"In this demo farm, we will show how to address the need of the small to medium scale farming and improved their capabilities towards enterprise development", he added.
So next time you travel on north of Davao Region, try dropping at Tagum's Energy Park where you can have not just a breathe of fresh air but also some packs of fresh vegetables.