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Compilation of Information on Growing Ampalaya (bitter gourd) in the Philippines


By Kishore Hemlani

Growing Ampalaya with Cost and Return Analysis


Ampalaya (Momordica charantia) is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown in the Philippines for its edible fruit. As the English name suggests (bitter melon or bitter gourd), the melon has a bitter taste due to the presence of momordicin, and is believed to be among the most bitter of all vegetables. Amplaya is a climbing vine that grows up to 5m, with tendrils up to 20cm. long. Amplaya leaves are heart-shaped, 510 cm across, cut into 5-7 lobes. Each Ampalaya plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers. It bears fleshy green fruit, oblong shaped with pointed ends, ribbed and wrinkled, bursting when mature to release seeds. Ampalaya seeds are flat with ruminated margins. Sta. Rita is an open-pollinated variety and one of the most popular. The yield is 39 tons/hectare, harvest maturity is 70 days from planting. The fruit is 30 cm long, weighs 200 grams, green, straight, thin, shiny, and resistant to downy mildew. Environmental Requirements o o o o Suited to the tropics and grows well in temperatures between 20C-35C. Low temperature, low relative humidity, and high nitrogen stimulate the development of more female flowers. Can be grown all year round but is susceptible to waterlogging and drought which reducing yield considerably. Can be grown to any type of soil with pH ranging from 5.2 to 6.8. Do not plant in areas that infected with bacterial wilt and nematodes. Cultural Management a. Land Preparation o o o Prepare land thoroughly by mechanical means or with the use of animal-drawn implements. Make sure to break big clods. Space the furrows 75 cm apart. b. Planting b1. For direct seeding o o o Soak seeds in water overnight or wrap them in a moist cloth for faster and more uniform germination. Sow two seeds per hill spaced at 40-50 cm apart along the rows and 2.25 m in-between rows. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and water immediately. b2. For transplanting o Hybrid seeds are expensive, hence, they are grown as seedlings first to avoid seed wastage

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o o o o o

Sow 1 seed per hole in seedling trays with a mixture of 1:1 garden soil and coir dust or 2:1:1 garden soil, rice hull, and compost. Water the tray. A week after sowing, apply starter solution 1 tbsp Urea (46-0-0) dissolved in 1 gal of water. Condition seedlings for transplanting by gradually exposing the seedlings to sunlight and reducing frequency of watering a week before transplanting. Kishore Hemlani Seedlings are ready for transplanting 3 weeks from sowing. Avoid transplanting during the hot part of the day to avoid wilting. c. Fertilization

o o o o

Before planting, apply 1 tbsp 14-14-14 per hill as basal application. Apply about 250 g or a handful of dried animal manure per hill. Thirty days after planting or if the seedlings have produced branches, apply 1 tbsp Urea (46-0-0) per hill 10 cm away from the seedlings. At flowering, apply 1 tbsp of a mixture of 1 part Urea and 1 part Muriate of Potash (0-0-60) per hill and every 3 weeks thereafter. Always cover the fertilizer with soil. d. Irrigation

o o

During the dry season, furrow irrigate every 10 days. During the wet season, irrigate only when necessary. Because ampalaya is vulnerable to water-logging, construct drainage canals to avoid flooding especially during the rainy season. e. Trellising

o o

Before the vines creep, construct vertical and overhead trellis. Layout the poles (2.5 m long and 2.25 inches in diameter) along the rows 4-5 m apart. Connect the poles within and between the rows by wire (#16) at the top of the trellis. Tie the top wire to a stake at the end of the rows to stabilize the construction. Connect the poles horizontally at the middle and bottom portion of the trellis along the row with Gl wire. Intertwine synthetic straw or abaca twine vertically from top to bottom wire. Allow one plant to climb up around a vertical string. Construct the overhead trellis by alternately running wires and straws lengthwise and crosswise at the top of trellis. f. Vine Training. Train vines to spread evenly across trellis to avoid dense spots. Repeat training the vines as they grow until they reach the top of the trellis. g. Pruning. Cut off lower lateral branches to encourage growth of the main branch towards the overhead trellis h. Weed control. Do a thorough weeding around the planted rows, and under brushing in large spaces in-between rows. i. Mulching. Mulch with rice straws or black plastic sheet to control weeds and conserve moisture. Layout the plastic mulch in the soil before planting. j. Insect Pest Management

o o

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o o

Fruitfly is the most destructive pest. Adult fruitfly lay eggs which hatch to larvae inside the fruit. The larvae feed on the inside flesh of the fruit causing premature yellowing of fruit. To control fruitfly, remove all infested fruits and bury. Do preventive spraying or use of attractant to kill adults. Wrap fruits with paper or net bags. This method is laborious but effective. k. Disease Management

o o

Ampalaya is susceptible to foliage diseases such as powdery and downy mildew. Control these diseases fungicides. Remove plants that are infected with virus, nematode, and bacterial wilt to avoid further contamination in the field. l. Pollination/Isolation

o o

Bees are the main pollinators of ampalaya and are important for increasing seed yield. If the bee population is low, employ hand pollination during early flowering to ensure adequate pollination. Due to the highly-crossed pollinated nature of ampalaya, an isolation distance of 500 m radius for certified seed production and 1,200 m for foundation seeds. m. Roguing/Field Inspection

o o o o o

Remove off-types. Conduct field inspection at early vegetative stage, flowering stage, and fruiting stage. At vegetative stage, check the leaf size, shape, color, vigor, and vine trailing habit. At flowering and early fruit development, observe for shape and color of the ovaries, shape and color of fruits, and general appearance. Do the final roguing when fruits are maturing for fruit shape and color. n. Harvesting

Harvest when fruits have turned yellow-orange in color or when portions of fruit have yellow streaks, which is about 23-25 days from flower opening. Post-Harvest and Handling a. Seed Processing

o o o o o o o

Cut off the apical portion or peduncle end of the fruit and split open the fruit to scoop out the seeds. Mash or rub the seeds unto a sturdy screen under running water to remove the red mucilaginous seed coat. Put clean seeds in a pail of water and allow the white, unfilled immature seeds to float. Pour the water together with the immature seeds, leaving normal seeds at the bottom of the pail. Repeat this process until seeds are free of mucilaginous coating and immature seeds. Air-dry the seeds for 2-3 days. Sundry the seeds gradually for 4-5 days. Seed yield: 100-300 kg/ha b. Packaging/Storage

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o o o

For home use, pack the seeds in thick plastic or paper envelopes and place them in large aluminum cans or large-mouth jars lined at the bottom with charcoal, lime, or silica gel. Seal the package well. Place the seeds in a cool, dry place. o o For large volume, pack the seeds in thick plastic or aluminum foil containers and seal tight. Keep in a cool, dry place or storage area. The drier the stored seeds and the cooler the storage area, the longer the life of the seeds.

Cost and Return Analysis (2008 data)

For more information, please contact: Crop Science Cluster-Institute of Plant Breeding College of Agriculture, UP Los Banos College, Laguna Tel. Nos.: (049) 536-5287; 576-0090 PCARRD, Los Banos, Laguna Tel. Nos.: (049) 536-0015 to 20 Email: pcarrd@pcarrd.dost.gov.ph Web: www. pcarrd.dost.gov.ph

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Livelihood Development Program for OFWs


Program Objective: To help OFWs and their families start or sustain their own business through access to credit, capability building, market linkage and other forms of livelihood or entrepreneurial assistance Target Clients: All active and former member-OFWs of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) OFWs' immediate family members (but only one family member per OFW can avail) Former OWWA LDPO borrowers with good records of repayment Loan Purposes and Repayment Period: For short-term operating capital of new or existing business -two-year revolving credit line to be availed of via 30 to 180 days promissory notes. For permanent working capital for purchase of stock inventory or cost of franchise - 3 years repayment including one-year grace period on the principal For asset acquisition or construction (except for purchase of land) - payable in 3 to 5 years including oneyear grace period on the principal Terms/Requirements Loan Amount: Individual Borrower - maximum loan of P200.000 Organized and Registered Group of at least five members -maximum of P1.0 Million. Interest Rate: NLDC to Program Partners Interest: 3% per annum to be amortized with principal Conduits to OFW borrower Interest: 9% per annum to be paid on maturity of short term loan or amortized with principal in case of 3-5 year loans Contact Details: National Livelihood Development Corporation 4th Floor, Hanston Building, F. Ortigas Jr., Road Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1605 Phone: (632) 914.7290 to 97 (632) 631.2955/57 Fax: (632)631.2953/54

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e-mail: nlsf-info@nlsf.gov.ph Web: www.nlsf gov ph

Agriculture Lending Program from Cooperative Bank


Program Objective: To expand lending of cooperative banks and increase their outreach to smallholders in the agriculture and fishery sector. Eligible Sub-Borrowers: Small farmers / fisherfolk Eligible Projects: Production of hybrid rice and certified seeds Corn production Fisheries/aquaculture production and marketing HVCC/Vegetables production and marketing Livestock production Terms and Conditions Loan Amount: Unsecured / non-collateralized loans - maximum of P30.000 Secured / collateralized - maximum of P150,000 Interest Rate: To end-borrowers (farmers / fisherfolk) - 12% to 20% p.a. (depends on the coop banks lending terms and conditions) Contact Details: Agricultural Credit Policy Council 28th Floor, One San Miguel Avenue Building, San Miguel Avenue Ortigas Center, Pasig City Phone (632) 634.3326- 634.3320 to 21 Telefax: (632)636.3393
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Web: www.acpc.gov.ph

Agri-Fishery and Micro-Finance Program


Program Objective: To create jobs and thereby increase the income of small agricultural households by providing financing not only for farming and fishing activities but for other alternative livelihood projects as well. Eligible Sub-Borrowers: Small farmers / fisherfolk Eligible Projects: Production, processing, storage, trading Acquisition of work animals, farm and fishery equipment and machinery Working capital for long-gestating projects Construction, acquisition, and repair of facilities Working capital for agriculture and fisheries graduates Agribusiness activities which support soil and water conservation and ecology-enhancing activities Privately-funded and LGU-funded irrigation systems Terms and Conditions Loan Amount: AFMP for Rice: Inbred - P37,000/ha; Hybrid - P42,000/ha Rural Household Business Financing - max of P50,000 per end-borrower Interest Rate: To borrower/institutions (lending conduits) - depends on Land Bank's prevailing interest rate rates To end-borrowers - depends on the prevailing terms and conditions of conduits Contact Details: Agricultural Credit Policy Council

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28th Floor, One San Miguel Avenue Building, San Miguel Avenue Ortigas Center, Pasig City Phone (632) 634.3326- 634.3320 to 21 Telefax: (632)636.3393 Web: www.acpc.gov.ph

Ampalaya Production in the Philippines


1 Introduction Ampalaya, amargoso or bitter gourd (Momordica Charantia Linn) is one of the most important commercial and backyard fruit vegetables in the country today. It has both nutritive and medicinal use. The fruit and leaves of which are used as vegetable and the latter are further used as a laxative for new born babies while the stem and roots as antidotes for fever. They are rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron, carbohydrates and vitamin B. It is also known to cure diabetes, arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, warts, and ulcer. The commercial cultivation of the crop is concentrated to Region II and IV. Generally two types are being grown the Sta. Rita type, which is long, dark green and less warty and the Pinakbet type which is short and warty and much bitter in flavor. Varieties Variety Sta. Rita strains Makiling Sta. Isabel Jade star (A, L, XL) Mayon Million Green Galaxy

Maturity (DAP)* 70-75 65-70 70-75 60-70 65-70 65-75 65-75

Remarks OP OP OP F1 hybrids F1 hybrids F1 hybrids F1 hybrids

* Days after planting Kishore Hemlani Climatic and Soil Requirement Ampalaya thrives well in all types of climates but high yield can be obtained during the cooler months because of more flower setting and bigger fruits. It grows in low elevation area anytime of the year. The

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crops grow well in any types of soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Higher yield however is attained on sandy loam soil. Soil analysis is a must for commercial planting. Land Preparation A good land preparation is very important in ampalaya culture. The field should be well prepared, plowed and harrowed twice to remove weeds and other plant debris in the field. Furrows are then made 3 meter apart. Organic fertilizer is applied at the rate of 5 tons per hectare during land preparation or a week before planting.

Plastic Mulching An improved technology in the Philippines for ampalaya production is the use of plastic mulch to cover the beds. Planting holes are bored into the plastic sheet base on the planting distance. It offers number of advantage, its control weeds, preserve soil moisture, prevent soil erosion and leaching of fertilizers and reflect light, serving as repellant to insect which hide under the leaves. To use the plastic mulch, stretch it over the planting beds, with edges held down by thin bamboo slats, staple well into the soil every 20 cm. Punch holes at 50 cm between plants in the row and 3 meters between rows. Planting Ampalaya can be direct seeded or transplanted. Direct seeding is most common, a hectare of production area requires 2.5 to 3.0 kilograms of seeds, Seeds are soak in water overnight or wrap in cheesecloth to facilitate water absorption. Seeds are planted the following day or as the radicle break. Transplanting can also be done specially when the seeds are scarce and during off-season planting. Seeds are planted in small plastic bags (1 seed/bag with soil mixture of 1:1 garden soil and sand/compost/carbonized rice hull) and transplanted to the field when the vine starts to grow. Pre- germinated seeds result in good seedling and an even crop establishment. Time of Planting Early planting in some areas is usually done during the months of October to December and the late planting are during the month of January to February. Rate of Planting The rate and distance of planting use by most farmers is three meters between furrows and 0.5 meters between hills with 3 seeds line at 4 inches apart. Other recommended spacing are: 30 m x 30 m with 1 plant/hill and 2.0 m x 0.5 m with 2 plants/hill. Trellising

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Bitter gourd or ampalaya grows best with overhead (balag type) trellis about 6 ft high. A lining of bamboo poles with abaca twine as lateral supports is done three weeks after germination. Lateral support of bamboo poles are spaced three meters between furrows and two meters between hills and the side support is place after the bamboo poles are constructed. The horizontal support of abaca twine is place before the vine reaches the top with a 6-inch mesh. Abaca twine is use as a lateral and horizontal support because it does not absorb too much heat however it is not reusable for the next cropping season. For plantation, the use of big wooden posts (kakawate or ipil-ipil) are dug into the soil about 1.5 to 2 ft at the four corners of the field and the posts are interconnected with G.I. wire stronger enough as main frame. The side support is used to prevent breaking down of the trellis. Vine Training and Pruning Train the vines on the vertical trellis regularly by tying the vines to the trellis. Lateral shoot/vine may be pruned every 4-5 days, leaving only the main stem. Initial pruning should be done one month after planting or when lateral vines appeared. Remove all lateral vines from ground level up to the top of the trellis and all ineffective lateral vines above the trellis at 15 to 20 days interval. Remove all female flowers below the overhead trellis. Allow branching and fruiting on the overhead trellis. Fruits may also be allowed to form just above the 10th node. Water and Weeding Management Ampalaya is a plant that requires an abundant supply of moisture for vegetative and reproductive development to maintain a good crop stand in the dry season. Furrow irrigation is done twice a week during vegetative stage and once a week during the reproductive stage or before each application of fertilizer. Weeding is done when need arises. Fertilization The use of organic fertilizer such as manure or compost about 5 to 10 tons per hectare with inorganic fertilizer is recommended. Apply basal fertilizer at about 25 grams/hill of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) or 5 bags per hectare. During dry season, sidedress 10-20 grams/hill of (urea 46-0-0) and muriate of potash (00-60) once a month. However during wet season, side dress 5-10 grams/hill of urea and muriate of potash every week. Pests and Diseases Control Powdery Mildew- It is cause by a fungus that appears as white powdery growth on leaves. Crown leaves are affected first and may wither and die. The fungus may be introduced on greenhouse grown plants or wind from areas infected with the diseases. Disease development is favor by high temperature.

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Downy Mildew-A irregular shaped yellowish to brown spots appears on upper side of the leaves, usually at the center of plants. Under moist condition, a purplish mildew develops on the underside of the leaf spots. Leaves die as spots increase it size. Spread is rapid from the crown toward new growth. Moist condition favors the development of the disease. Bacterial Wilt -The disease is characterized initially by wilting and drying of individual leaves, which also exhibit cucumber beetle injury. Later, leaves on one or more laterals or entire plants wilts. Wilted parts may appear to recover at night, but they wilt on successive sunny days and finally die. Several kinds of leaf diseases attack the plant and can cause yield reduction. Most often, the old leaves are affected; spraying of Fungicide is a preventive measure. You can consult your local inputs dealer on how and what fungicide to use. However crop rotation, field sanitation, and the use of resistant varieties is also highly recommended. Fruitfly- The fruitfly is one of the major insect pests of ampalaya. Adults lay it eggs on the young fruits. The eggs later hatch into small worms that starts feeding inside the fruits. Symptoms are deformed fruits, fruits with holes that turn orange or yellow prematurely. The insect can be control by removing all damage fruits from the field. Spray only after the removal of the damage fruits with insecticides recommended by your pesticide dealer. Wrapping young fruits with newspaper or plastic bags prevent the fruit fly from laying eggs on the fruits. Wrapping reduce the use of pesticides. Thrips- it is a very small crawling insect on that stays on the lower side of the leaves. It is recommended to spray during nighttime 2 t0 3 consecutive nights if infestation is severed. This was found to be very effective time to spray. The pest hides during daytime and cannot be control using contact insecticides. Neighboring plantation should also be sprayed at the same time. Consult your input dealer on what pesticides to use in controlling this pest. Harvesting Harvest when the fruits are green. Harvesting starts 45 to 50 days after seedling. It can be done twice a week. Harvest early in the morning to protect harvested fruits against rain, sun, and mechanical damage. Sort fruits according to marketable standards, and remove damage fruits. Pack in plastic or bamboo crates line with newspaper or bamboo leaves. Fruits can be stored for 2-3 days under this condition. Cost and Return Analysis Per Hectare
Activity Land preparation A. Labor cost (200/MD) Plowing Harrowing (2x) Bedding Manure application Planting Quantity Unit Amount/Unit (P) Total Amount (P)

10 8 8 5 2

MD MD MD MD MD

200 200 200 200 200

2,000.00 1,600.00 1,600.00 1,000.00 400.00

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Mulching Fertilizer application Basal Side-dress Irrigation Trellising Vine training/pruning Weeding Spraying Harvesting Miscellaneous Sub-total B. Materials Seeds Animal manure Fertilizers 14-14-14 46-0-0 0-0-60 Trellis Bamboo post 2 uses GI wire 4 uses Abaca twine Pesticides Fuel and oil Miscellaneous Sub-total II.Fixed Cost Land rentals Depreciation Scythe (2 yrs) Hoe (3 yrs) Knapsack sprayer (5 yrs) Sub-total Total Cost

6 3 10 40 50 30 20 30 60 20

MD MD MD MD MD MD MD MD MD MD

200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200

1,200.00

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600.00 2,000.00 8,000.00 10,000.00 6,000.00 4,000.00 6,000.00 12,000.00 4,000.00 60,400.00 10,500.00 6,000.00 3,500.00 6,400.00 1,400.00 12,000.00 3,000.00 10,000.00 5,000.00 6,000.00 5,000.00 67,800.00 7,500.00

3.0 5 5 8 2 1,200 300 200

Kilograms Tons Bags Bags Bags pcs Kilograms Roll

3,500.00 1,200 700 800 700 10 10 50 5,000.00 6,000.00 5,000.00

5 3 2

pcs pcs pcs

12 125 800

63.00 375.00 1,600.00 9,538.00 137,738.00

Marketable yield of 10 to 15 tons hectare at P15 per kilogram Gross Income at 15 tons/hectare Total Cost of Production Net Income References
Ampalaya Growing Guide, Agriculture Monthly Magazine. April 2001

225,000.00 137,738.00 87,262.00

Ampalaya Production Guide, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forest and Natural Resources. Department of Science and Technology. Information Bulletin No. 156 / 2000 Estimated Cost and Return of Production of Fresh Vegetable for 2001. Bureau of Plant Industry. Crop Production division.

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M.E.C. Reyes. B.H. Gildemacher and G.J Jansen. PROSEA Vegetables. Plant Resources of Southeast Asia. Siemonsma J.S. and Kasem Piluek (Editors) Bogor Indonesia. 1994. pp 206-210 TECSON, AMELITA B., D.C. Reyes and R.T. Donato.1994. The effect of Pruning on the Production of Marketable Fruits of Ampalaya and Upo. The Philippine Journal of Plant Industry. Vol. 59., No. 3. Bureau of Plant Industry, Manila. pp 29-36

He retired to go farming
Posted on 08-09-2011

MANILA, Philippines One fellow who is proving that there is more money to be earned from farming than from ones employment is Reynaldo Hilario of Brgy. Caanipahan, Talavera, Nueva Ecija. He resigned his job as electrical control operator of the National Power Corporation after working for more than 17 years to concentrate on high-value vegetable production. He is farming on 3.5 hectares that his family owns, one hectare of which is devoted to rice while the rest is for vegetable production. One of the recent varieties he planted on 3,000 square meters was the Ambassador cucumber variety developed by the East-West Seed Company. From that crop, he was able to harvest 20 tons in a growing period of just over two months. Although he sold his harvest at only P5 per kilo, he was able to gross P100,000. He estimated that he spent only P16,800 that included the cost of seeds, fertilizers, labor and other inputs. Earlier, he had produced bumper crops of ampalaya, especially the Galaxy variety. He observes that Galaxy fruits are preferred by customers and command a premium price in the market. In addition, Galaxy is resistant to pests and diseases. Another variety from East-West that he plants is the Galactica which is resistant to the virus disease called namamarako. He plants this during the months of October to February. Rey has received awards for his achievements in vegetable farming. In 2009, he received the Natatanging Magsasaka Award from Talavera Mayor Nery Santos. And in recognition of his knowledge, he was named Magsasaka Siyentista by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD).

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Hilarios farm is now used as a science and technology-based demo farm for off-season production of vegetables. He is well respected in his community and fellow farmers regularly go to him for advice on vegetable production.

Ampalaya makes life sweeter for land reform beneficiary


Posted on 03-10-2009

He left his hometown to seek better pay in other towns. But after doing odd and low-paying jobs elsewhere, Claurencio Casio realized life could be sweeter back home. And he was right. After marrying Marie, Lenciong swore that he would do anything to give his family the comfort and education he didnt get when he was growing up. Thus in 1997, armed with just fortitude and hope, the newlyweds went back to Dibul, Saguday, a town in Quirino province, to start a new life out of the farmland awarded to Lenciong by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Making the most out of what he had, Lenciong studied the lands terrain and visualized what could be done to make a livelihood out of it. A portion that could be sustained by rainwater later became a riceland. The half-hectare portion near the water source was converted into a vegetable farm while yellow corn was grown on the rest of the land. The love for their children and their determination to change their economic status were the main driving force for the couple to persevere in farming. Three years after, the DAR included Quirino as one of the beneficiaries of the Agrarian Reform Communities Project (ARCP) which introduced the production of off-season vegetables, one of the first agribusiness projects implemented in the province. Through the project, the East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan, trained Lenciong together with fellow agrarian reform beneficiaries on modern methods of vegetable production. After the training, they put up their own demo farms in their respective communities using the technology they acquired from their training.

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Believing in the adage, strike while the iron is hot, Lenciong attended other DAR trainings such as organic farming technology and simple entrepreneurial courses. Before he knew it, he became one of the enterprising farmers in their community, ensuring ample supply of ampalaya, patola and upo in the market. Sensing bigger profit from these vegetables, he continued planting and even leased another half hectare near his farm which he made as alternate site for his ampalaya production. The highest gross income from his vegetable farm was recorded last year with ampalaya giving him the highest income of P120,000. After deducting the cost of production, he made a net income of P70,800. Patola, on the other hand gave him a net income of P9,450 while upo netted him P4,477. Looking back, Lenciong could only smile knowing that he and his wife made the right decision when they left his job in Tarlac and began farming again in Quirino. The income from farming now sustains the family and ensures the education of their two children, Marie Clarence and Tyrone. With a steady income from the farm, Lenciong was able to acquire farm implements such as a power sprayer, water pump and hand tractor. He also bought three cattle, two of which are used for breeding. In addition he also bought 22 goats, four of them for breeding. Aside from a bull, Lenciong also takes care of a carabao which he uses for land preparation. Marie is also grateful that the house where they used to stay has now been renovated. It is now comfortable with more space to move around. But the most fulfilling, according to Lenciong, is the feeling that they could help by providing jobs for their neighbors. Despite his busy schedule in the farm, Lenciong still finds time to be involved in the affairs of the community. At present, he is a member of the board of directors of the Dibul Farmers Cooperative and treasurer of the newly organized group of vegetable growers, the Quirino Fruits & Vegetable Producers Association(QFVPA).

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Production Guide on Ampalaya


Ampalaya, amargoso or bitter gourd (Momordica Charantia Linn) is one of the most important commercial and backyard fruit vegetables in the country today. It has both nutritive and medicinal use. The fruit and leaves of which are used as vegetable and the latter are further used as a laxative for new born babies while the stem and roots as antidotes for fever. They are rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron, carbohydrates and vitamin B. It is also known to cure diabetes, arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, warts, and ulcer. The commercial cultivation of the crop is concentrated to Region II and IV. Generally two types are being grown the Sta. Rita type, which is long, dark green and less warty and the Pinakbet type which is short and warty and much bitter in flavor. Varieties / Days After Planting Sta. Rita strains / 70-75 Makiling / 65-70 Sta. Isabel / 70-75 Jade star (A, L, XL) / 60-70 Mayon / 65-70 Million Green / 65-75 Galaxy / 65-75 Climatic and Soil Requirement Ampalaya thrives well in all types of climates but high yield can be obtained during the cooler months because of more flower setting and bigger fruits. It grows in low elevation area anytime of the year. The crops grow well in any types of soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Higher yield however is attained on sandy loam soil. Soil analysis is a must for commercial planting.

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Land Preparation A good land preparation is very important in ampalaya culture. The field should be well prepared, plowed and harrowed twice to remove weeds and other plant debris in the field. Furrows are then made 3 meter apart. Organic fertilizer is applied at the rate of 5 tons per hectare during land preparation or a week before planting. Plastic Mulching An improved technology in the Philippines for ampalaya production is the use of plastic mulch to cover the beds. Planting holes are bored into the plastic sheet base on the planting distance. It offers number of advantage, its control weeds, preserve soil moisture, prevent soil erosion and leaching of fertilizers and reflect light, serving as repellant to insect which hide under the leaves. To use the plastic mulch, stretch it over the planting beds, with edges held down by thin bamboo slats, staple well into the soil every 20 cm. Punch holes at 50 cm between plants in the row and 3 meters between rows. Planting Ampalaya can be direct seeded or transplanted. Direct seeding is most common, a hectare of production area requires 2.5 to 3.0 kilograms of seeds, Seeds are soak in water overnight or wrap in cheesecloth to facilitate water absorption. Seeds are planted the following day or as the radicle break. Transplanting can also be done specially when the seeds are scarce and during off-season planting. Seeds are planted in small plastic bags (1 seed/bag with soil mixture of 1:1 garden soil and sand/compost/carbonized rice hull) and transplanted to the field when the vine starts to grow. Pre- germinated seeds result in good seedling and an even crop establishment. Time of Planting Early planting in some areas is usually done during the months of October to December and the late planting are during the month of January to February. Rate of Planting The rate and distance of planting use by most farmers is three meters between furrows and 0.5 meters between hills with 3 seeds line at 4 inches apart. Other recommended spacing are: 30 m x 30 m with 1 plant/hill and 2.0 m x 0.5 m with 2 plants/hill. Trellising Bitter gourd or ampalaya grows best with overhead (balag type) trellis about 6 ft high. A lining of bamboo poles with abaca twine as lateral supports is done three weeks after germination. Lateral support of bamboo poles are spaced three meters between furrows and two meters between hills and the side support is place after the bamboo poles are constructed. The horizontal support of abaca twine is place before the vine reaches the top with a 6-inch mesh.

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Abaca twine is use as a lateral and horizontal support because it does not absorb too much heat however it is not reusable for the next cropping season. For plantation, the use of big wooden posts (kakawate or ipil-ipil) are dug into the soil about 1.5 to 2 ft at the four corners of the field and the posts are interconnected with G.I. wire stronger enough as main frame. The side support is used to prevent breaking down of the trellis. Vine Training and Pruning Train the vines on the vertical trellis regularly by tying the vines to the trellis. Lateral shoot/vine may be pruned every 4-5 days, leaving only the main stem. Initial pruning should be done one month after planting or when lateral vines appeared.? Remove all lateral vines from ground level up to the top of the trellis and all ineffective lateral vines above the trellis at 15 to 20 days interval. Remove all female flowers below the overhead trellis. Allow branching and fruiting on the overhead trellis. Fruits may also be allowed to form just above the 10th node. Water and Weeding Management Ampalaya is a plant that requires an abundant supply of moisture for vegetative and reproductive development to maintain a good crop stand in the dry season. Furrow irrigation is done twice a week during vegetative stage and once a week during the reproductive stage or before each application of fertilizer. Weeding is done when need arises. Fertilization The use of organic fertilizer such as manure or compost about 5 to 10 tons per hectare with inorganic fertilizer is recommended. Apply basal fertilizer at about 25 grams/hill of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) or 5 bags per hectare. During dry season, sidedress 10-20 grams/hill of (urea 46-0-0) and muriate of potash (00-60) once a month. However during wet season, side dress 5- 10 grams/hill of urea and muriate of potash every week. Pests and Diseases Control Powdery Mildew- It is cause by a fungus that appears as white powdery growth on leaves. Crown leaves are affected first and may wither and die. The fungus may be introduced on greenhouse grown plants or wind from areas infected with the diseases. Disease development is favor by high temperature. Downy Mildew-A irregular shaped yellowish to brown spots appears on upper side of the leaves, usually at the center of plants. Under moist condition, a purplish mildew develops on the underside of the leaf spots. Leaves die as spots increase it size. Spread is rapid from the crown toward new growth. Moist condition favors the development of the disease. Bacterial Wilt -The disease is characterized initially by wilting and drying of individual leaves, which also exhibit cucumber beetle injury. Later, leaves on one or more laterals or entire plants wilts. Wilted parts may appear to recover at night, but they wilt on successive sunny days and finally die.

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Several kinds of leaf diseases attack the plant and can cause yield reduction. Most often, the old leaves are affected; spraying of Fungicide is a preventive measure. You can consult your local inputs dealer on how and what fungicide to use. However crop rotation, field sanitation, and the use of resistant varieties is also highly recommended. Fruitfly- The fruitfly is one of the major insect pests of ampalaya. Adults lay it eggs on the young fruits. The eggs later hatch into small worms that starts feeding inside the fruits. Symptoms are deformed fruits, fruits with holes that turn orange or yellow prematurely. The insect can be control by removing all damage fruits from the field. Spray only after the removal of the damage fruits with insecticides recommended by your pesticide dealer. Wrapping young fruits with newspaper or plastic bags prevent the fruit fly from laying eggs on the fruits. Wrapping reduce the use of pesticides. Thrips- it is a very small crawling insect on that stays on the lower side of the leaves. It is recommended to spray during nighttime 2 t0 3 consecutive nights if infestation is severed. This was found to be very effective time to spray. The pest hides during daytime and cannot be control using contact insecticides. Neighboring plantation should also be sprayed at the same time. Consult your input dealer on what pesticides to use in controlling this pest. Harvesting Harvest when the fruits are green. Harvesting starts 45 to 50 days after seedling. It can be done twice a week. Harvest early in the morning to protect harvested fruits against rain, sun, and mechanical damage. Sort fruits according to marketable standards, and remove damage fruits. Pack in plastic or bamboo crates line with newspaper or bamboo leaves. Fruits can be stored for 2-3 days under this condition. Herbal Benefits of Ampalaya Good for rheumatism and gout And diseases of the spleen and liver Aids in lowering blood sugar levels Helps in lowering blood pressure Relives headaches Disinfects and heals wounds & burns Can be used as a cough & fever remedy Treatment of intestinal worms, diarrhea Helps prevent some types of cancer Enhances immune system to fight infection Is an antioxidant, parasiticide, antibacterial & antipyretic In large dozes, pure Ampalaya juice can be a purgative and abortifacient. Preparation of Ampalaya: For coughs, fever, worms, diarrhea, diabetes, juice the Ampalaya leaves and drink a spoonful every day. For other ailments, the fruit and leaves can both be juiced and taken orally. For headaches wounds, burns and skin diseases, apply warmed leaves to afflicted area. For more information, contact:

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Bureau of Plant Industry 692 San Andres St., Malate, Manila Tel. No. (+632) 525-78-57 Fax No. (+632) 521-7650 E-mail: cu.bpi@da.gov.ph Web: www.bpi.da.gov.ph

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Farm Visits Are Very Educational


Published at The Manila Bulletin: Plain Agri Talk By ZAC B. SARIAN March 15, 2012, 2:34pm MANILA, Philippines Not a few readers have been asking us how best they can start their own farm projects. They are either employees or professionals who would like to have a hobby farm or an honest-togoodness farm business. Some are young people while others are retirees. Well, it is very easy to commit mistakes in starting a farm. So I often tell those who consult us to visit as many farms as possible. I tell them to visit the type of farms that they would like to undertake. Oh yes, there are so many choices in farming. One can go into ornamental plants, fruit trees, vegetables, livestock and poultry, fisheries and so on. While it is a good idea to visit farms, sometimes it is difficult to locate one we would like to visit. Sometimes the owner might be reluctant to show his farm, especially to a stranger. In which case, it is a good idea to join a farm tour, just like what Agri-Aqua Network International (AANI) has been undertaking. For those who are interested in organic farming, for instance, AANI will be conducting on March 25 a farm tour of one of the best organic farms in the country the Costales Nature Farms in Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna. This was started in 2005 by Ronald Costales who was recently adjudged the First Prize winner in The Outstanding Philippine Organic Agriculturist Awards given by the Rotary Club of Cubao East. This will be the second time that AANI will conduct a farm tour of the Costales farm. Last March 4, more than 80 farming aficionados joined the tour. There, they tasted the organic vegetables and fish plus edible wild ferns for lunch. They were also given a lecture by Ronald himself on the techniques in organic farming that he has been employing in growing his crops, fish and livestock. The farm is now an accredited tourist destination by the Department of Trade and Industry.

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They Plant The Next Crop Way Ahead Of The Last Harvest Of Their Standing Crop
An interesting farming couple in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, have a smart way of maximizing production in the 11 hectares that they are planting to vegetables the whole year round. They plant the next crop way ahead of the last harvest of the standing crop on the same piece of land. They are the husband and wife team of Felipe and Jessilyn Ramos, 40 and 38 years old, respectively, of Brgy. Sumandig, San Ildefonso town. Felipe is an agriculture graduate who used to work for a multinational company distributing agricultural chemicals and corn and vegetable seeds. He was head of the Farmers Support Team (FST) in charge of helping farmers grow better crops with the use of improved farming technologies. While Felipe was employed, Jessilyn engaged in buying vegetables and selling them at the Clover Leaf Market in Balintawak, Quezon City. While Felipe received a decent salary from the multinational firm, he noticed that probably the farmers that they were helping were making much more money than he from growing vegetables. In 2004, he decided to give up his employment so that he could also grow vegetables in the one hectare that they owned. In October 2004, he planted his first crop of ampalaya, tomato and pole sitao. In that first cropping he was able to gross P300,000. It was an encouraging start. Today they are grossing much, much more. They have already bought three additional hectares with their income from vegetable farming. In addition, they are now renting seven hectares of other peoples farms which are also used for growing vegetables the whole year round. Jessilyn is in charge of marketing. She now has two jeeps at her disposal to transport their own harvest as well as those of some of their townmates to the Balintawak market. They now grow ampalaya, pole sitao, sweet pepper (Sultan variety), Django finger pepper (for sinigang) and upo. What is very interesting is how they maximize production in the farms that they cultivate. For instance, they dont wait for the last harvest of their standing crop before they plant on the same farm again. For instance, before the fruits of their tomatoes start to ripen they have already planted ampalaya seedlings on the plots mulched with black plastic. The bamboo trellis is also already in place. Thus by the time the last tomato fruits are harvested, the ampalaya plants would already be growing well. In a month or so, they would already start harvesting their ampalaya. And before the last harvest of ampalaya is made, another crop, maybe sweet pepper, would have been planted, and so on. They are able to grow their crops even during the rainy season because they elevate their planting plots and mulch them with black plastic. They make a canal between the plots for adequate drainage during the rainy season. During the dry months, they flood the canal with irrigation water to ensure adequate soil moisture and lush growth of their vegetable crops. The couple are always on the look out for ways to maximize yield or to cut production costs, thus improving profit. One way of producing much higher yield that they found lately is the use of Durabloom bio-organic fertilizer produced by Novatech. This is processed chicken manure with Biosec, a formulation of enzymes and beneficial microorganisms.

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A former colleague of at the multinational firm where Felipe used to work who is now marketing Durabloom convinced him to try the bio-organic fertilizer. At first, he was skeptical and reluctant to try because he thought that the unprocessed chicken manure mixed with carbonized rich hull that he was using was good enough. Anyway, he relented to try the new product. He set aside 1,000 square meters of his original farm for growing Galactica ampalaya, the latest hybrid from East-West Seed Company which is resistant to the Namamarako virus. For comparison, a similar area was panted to the same variety using his usual practice of applying unprocessed chicken manure mixed with carbonized rice hull (CRH). Felipe, Jessilyn and their workers got the surprise of their farming life. By the third week, the ampalaya fertilized with Durabloom were very much bigger and more vigorous than their counterpart in the adjoining field. What they did was to pinch the growing point of each plant so that two major vines would develop per hill. The leafy shoots of one of the vines were harvested for sale as ampalaya shoot in the market while the other vine was not topped and allowed to bear fruit. Jessilyn related that before the vines that were not topped started fruiting, they were already able to sell P40,000 worth of ampalaya shoots from the experimental area fertilized with Durabloom. Each one-kilo of ampalaya shoots sold for P40. The income from the shoots, according to Jessilyn, was enough to cover the cost of seeds, plastic mulch and bamboo trellis. Aside from being more lush, the Durabloom-fertilized plants have been producing much more fruits that are much bigger than those fertilized with unprocessed chicken manure and CRH. The first harvest of 120 kilos which sold for P40 to P50 kilo was made middle of November. Four days later the harvest increased to 280 kilos. By the third harvest, the 2,000 plants yielded 580 kilos, and more than 800 kilos on the fourth harvest. On the seventh harvest, the Durabloom fertilized plants yielded 1.28 tons, 1,000 kilos of which fetched P40 per kilo while the rest, which were considered second class, fetched P30 per kilo. These were the fruits that were not straight. Jessilyn related that during the first few harvests, the fruits of those fertilized with bioorganic fertilizer were really big. Many of them weighed 500 grams apiece or more. We visited the farm on December 19. The following day, the ninth harvest was scheduled, and according to the estimate of Gilbert Gallardo, one of the couples trusted workers, they will be able to harvest more than one ton again. Although the going price of ampalaya at that time had gone down to ?25 per kilo, the rate is still profitable considering the volume of the harvest. By the looks of the standing crop, many more harvests are expected from the Durabloom-fertilized plants. Obviously, three factors are contributing to their bumper harvest.? These are the superior variety planted; adequate irrigation, and bio-organic fertilizer. What did they do to establish the plantation and what are they doing now to maintain the productivity of the ampalaya plants? The field was thoroughly prepared, and elevated plots of 100 meters long were made and mulched with black plastic. When the bed was about six inches high, a layer of Durabloom (about half sack) was spread over each 100-meter plot. Then another layer of soil was placed over the fertilizer. Another half sack (25 kilos) of Durabloom was spread on top of the soil, then covered by another layer of topsoil. Finally the plastic mulch was installed over each bed.

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The young plants were watered with two liters of Durabloom dissolved in 20 liters of water. Then when the plants were starting to flower, three handfuls of Durabloom was placed around each plant. Since the first harvest about two months from planting, a mixture of complete chemical fertilizer (16-16-16) and Durabloom dissolved in water has been applied after every harvest, which is every four days. One bag of chemical fertilizer and one bag of Durabloom are applied each time on the 2,000 hills. One big recycled sardines can (about half liter) is filled with the fertilizer solution and drenched through an opening in the plastic mulch about four inches away from the base of each plant. Irrigation is done right before harvesting. Water is passed through the canals between the upraised beds and then drained after the beds are thoroughly soaked but not waterlogged. Draining is usually done. after 36 hours from the start of irrigation. After draining, the fertilizer solution dissolved in water is applied. Aside from ampalaya, the Ramos couple are making money from Django finger pepper. Their standing crop at the time of our visit totalled almost 4,000 plants. On that day they harvested about 30G kilos which were sold at P30 per kilo. During certain months, the price could be as high as P70 per kilo, according to Jessilyn. Their standing crop of Sultan sweet pepper totals more than 6,000 plants. The prevailing price during our visit was P120 per kilo. Since one plant can yield an average of 1.5 kilos during its productive life, that means a possible gross of P180 per plant. Upo is another favorite of the Ramos couple. While the productive life is short, harvesting is done every two days, and they could harvest as many as 1,000 fruits every two days. When the fruit vegetable is in short supply, one fruit will fetch ?20, but during the time of our visit, the prevailing price was P8 per fruit. Even at that price, it is still a good money maker. Also good money makers are Diamante Max tomato and Elegante sitao. Like in their ampalaya, they are using Durabloom in growing their other favorite vegetables. Even if they are continually planting on the same piece of land, their farming is sustainable. Thats because they rotate the crops they grow in each area and by using bio-organic fertilizer.

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Successful vegetable farmer is earning millions!


You dont have to own your own farm in order to become a successful farmer. You could always rent some land for your own kind of farming. Thats the belief of Feliciano Ka Sano Linatoc of Sta. Teresita, Sto. Tomas, Batangas. He is considered the champion vegetable grower in his hometown, if not in the whole province, growing high-value vegetables. He has a few hectares of his own but he would rather rent land than buy it. After all, he said, there are lots of farmlands for rent in Batangas. The truth is, he said, one landowner was recently offering 43 hectares for him to rent. As of now, however, he has enough rented farms to keep him busy. Even if he would love to, he says he cannot do it because he does not have enough workers for such a big area. He already has over a hundred farmhands working for him in his rented farms. One farm he rented that is giving him a lot of income is a 9-hectare property in Brgy. San Pablo which he leased for P90,000 for one year. Last November 22 and 23, he harvested five tons of Galactica ampalaya worth P150,000. That was more than enough to pay for the one-year rent. He harvests his ampalaya every four days. He does not have any problem disposing his harvest because a lady assembler in Tanauan City takes care of everything. Ka Sano used to grow rice and corn in his own farm. However, 15 years ago, he turned to vegetable production and found out that vegetables are much more profitable than rice. Vegetables have a much shorter gestation than rice. And although vegetables require much more attention, the extra effort is compensated many times over. Usually, he produces vegetables in partnership with his children, children-in-law and sometimes friends outside the family. The partners chip in capital while he does the management of the project. Sometimes, he also puts in his share of cash. The ampalaya project in Brgy. San Pablo is in partnership with a former vice mayor of the town as well as Ka Sanos relatives. The sharing of the profits depends on the cash and efforts rendered by the partners. When we interviewed him last November 22, they were on their fourth harvest of the ampalaya. They expect to harvest a lot more because normally, one can harvest from one cropping 20 to 25 times. The harvesting time is perfect because it is within the Christmas season when the price is usually high. The price at the time of our interview was P35 per kilo, wholesale to the assembler. Tomato is one other profitable crop, especially if the timing of the harvest is perfect. A previous project where they planted tomatoes on four hectares was a most profitable one. The tomato seedlings were planted last June and harvesting started in August. Menardo Linatoc, one of Ka Sanos sons, said that they had a bumper harvest and a very good price. From the four hectares, Menardo said, they must have harvested no less than 4,000 crates of 20 kilos per crate. They were able to sell the harvests at P700 per crate. Thats a gross of P2.8 million from the four hectares in a matter of less than four months.

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The Django pangsigang pepper from East-West has been most profitable also for Ka Sano and his partners. They planted only one hectare to this hot pepper last August but they had a bumper harvest. From that planting, they harvested 18 times. The planting time was perfect because when they started harvesting, the price was P200 per kilo. One time they harvested 400 kilos from that one hectare. It was sold for a cool P80,000. Ka Sano and his sons have also planted snapbeans in another rented land. The plants are still young but they are expected to give some harvest before Christmas. This could be another money maker. Ka Sano provides livelihood to a lot of workers. More than a hundred people earn money doing various chores in the rented farms, including planting, fertilizing, spraying, harvesting and the like. Ka Sano owns a big tractor which he uses to prepare the land for planting. The reconditioned tractor which he bought for about P700,000 can plow five hectares in one day. By Zac B. Sarian

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New farming methods, fertilizer help increase corn production


(The Philippine Star) Updated April 08, 2012

Dr. Nenita de la Cruz, scientist and professor of Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in Nueva Ecija, heads the support group and experts involved in the field test and validation of the farm that yielded 16.2 tons per hectare, using the Masinag organic liquid based fertilizer. Dr. De la Cruz is shown measuring the diameter of the corn planted in an unplowed 2.5 hectares farm using the zero tillage farming technique. A farm nearby using previous corn farming practices was used as a control measure and basis of their scientific analyses and comparison.

MANILA, Philippines - A cooperative leader in San Manuel, Tarlac has harvested 16.2 metric tons (162,000 kilos) of yellow corn per hectare. The feat was called by experts as the highest per hectare yield recorded in the country so far. Posting the record-breaking harvest was Juanito Rama, head of the San Manuel Multi-purpose Farmers Cooperative. Rama volunteered his 2.5 hectare corn field for a demonstration test of a combination of cutting-edge farming practices including zero tillage or no plowing done, and the use of a liquid organic based fertilizer called Masinag. Based on the P12.50 per kilo farm-gate price of corn at the time of harvest, Ramas farm yielded a total of 405,000 kilos that fetched a hefty P5,062,500, in gross sales. The one-time yield made him a multi-millionaire. The farmer-leader said that he used hybrid seeds supplied by the countrys biggest corn seed breeder, and applied only six bags of complete commercial fertilizer plus six liters of the liquid organic fertilizer for each hectare of his corn land. He planted the corn seeds on unplowed land. The combination of those bold farming techniques, Rama testified, cut his labor and input costs by half and increased his net earnings to a record he never imagined could happen. A support group of experts including the Land Bank of the Philippines, scientist from the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, the Department of Agriculture through the new National Agribusiness Corp., (NABCOR) the seed supplier and the developer of the Masinag organic based fertilizer contributed to Ramas success.

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Dr. Nenita de la Cruz, leader of the team of farm scientists from CLSU involved in the field test, said that neighbors of Rama were skeptical when her group guided Rama in using the zero tillage farming technique. Direct seeding was done on the Rama demonstration farm without plowing the field. It was only cleared of the remaining rice stalks after the wet cropping season last November. A nearby farm where the prevailing corn farming practices were used was used by the farm scientists as a control and the basis of their scientific analyses and comparison. The yield in the control farm was 12 tons per hectare for inputs of 16 bags of commercial fertilizer. The newly planted corn was rained out and I feared the seeds would not sprout, but they did, Rama shared in recounting his experiences to representatives of the Federation of Tarlac Cooperatives on the day of the harvest. The farming technology on the Monsanto BT corn seed was used with some innovations, particularly the application of Masinag organic-based liquid fertilizer, and the zero tillage system. With the success of the field demo test, the package of technology applying the Masinag organic-based liquid fertilizer and the zero tillage system will soon be taught to other corn farmers, Dr. De la Cruz said.

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An ampalaya farmers frustrations over


Ronnie Pacatang is a farmer who lives in a simple hut atop a hill on his rolling land in Barangay Cebulida in Laak, Compostela Valley.Three years ago, in an attempt to improve his farms productivity and his income, he began to apply new farming technologies that he learned from representatives of farm input firms whom he managed to contact. For instance, he started planting seeds of hybrid vegetables because these promise higher yields and are resistant to some pests and diseases. At the trading center in Tagum, Davao del Norte, which is only 60 kilometers away, he saw that there was a big demand for ampalaya, so he bought seeds of a hybrid variety and planted them in a 3,000-squaremeter portion of his land to coconuts, bananas and yellow corn. Unfortunately for him, he did not get even a quarter of what he had expected to earn from his new crop in the more than two seasons that he grew hybrid ampalaya. The main reason was the variety that he planted is susceptible to the dreaded pamamarako, a virus disease that adversely affects the crops yield. When his ampalaya vines were about a meter long, many of these began to show signs of stunted growth, and leaves near the vine shoots, which noticeably grew very slowly, were small and malformed. When the infected vines bore fruit, these were also small and malformed. Not being able to improve my income frustrated me no end, says Pacatang. I wondered how I could recover from my failure. At least I knew in my heart that I could. Before long, an agronomist of Allied Botanical Corporation heard about his plight, endured the trek through hilly terrain to visit him, and told him about the companys hybrid varieties that it had developed with built-in resistance to several virus diseases and had successfully tested under various conditions throughout the country before making seeds of these available to farmers for commercial planting. The near-desperate farmer listened and agreed to try out ABCs Condor Poseidon ampalaya variety as cooperator in a demo trial, with the cultivar that he had first planted and a new hybrid from the same seed brand to serve as test control varieties. Under the ABC agronomists supervision, Pacatang sowed two seeds each of the three varieties in seedling trays that he had filled with fine topsoil mixed with compost. One week after sowing the seeds, he noticed that those of Condor Poseidon had a better germination rate than the other two varieties, and that the Poseidon seedlings showed much more vigor. When the seedlings had formed four to six true leaves, he thinned them to one plant per seedling pot. He watered the young plants every morning, seeing to it that the soil remained moist but not soaking wet. Two weeks after sowing seeds, he transplanted the seedlings in beds that he had prepared beforehand. He saw to it that the seedlings root balls were intact, as bare-root plants will not survive, the agronomist told him. He spaced his planting holes at 75 cm apart and three meters distant between rows. He planted the Poseidon seedlings in 70 holes. Once every week, he drenched the holes with a mixture of 100 grams of 14-14-14 fertilizer and 16 liters of water. Later, he reduced the 14-14-14 portion by half and added 50g of 46-0-0 to the mixture. In another two weeks, Pacatang saw that the Poseidon plants were so vigorous that they thickly blanketed his trellises. The Poseidon vines vigorous growth made it very enjoyable to stay under them, he says. It was as if I had built a living room, which my hut did not have, to rest in during midday. More important, there was no sign at all of namamarako in the vines, thank God.

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Forty-six days after first sowing seeds, Pacatang began picking large and uniform-sized fruit from the Poseidon vines. For the two other varieties, he had to wait several days more before he could harvest fruits from the vines, many of which he had had to uproot and burn because of the namamarako infection. Condor Poseidon also proved to be a more prolific bearer, he says, with nearly all of the fruits falling under the primero category, ensuring more earnings from this crop. Source URL: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/258036/an-ampalaya-farmer-s-frustrations-over Copyright 2012. Manila Bulletin

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Bitter gourd or "ampalaya" sweet for the pocket


By Mabelle R. Ilan

Wrinkled and bitter yet nutritious and highpriced. Ampalaya is the precious gem for Armando Velasco of Bagumbayan, Bula, Camarines Sur. He is one of the farmers who engaged in planting this crop on a bigger scale. President of the municipal vegetable growers association and former municipal agriculture and fishery council chair, Mang Mando is an enterprising farmer and businessman rolled into one. He planted a hectare of ampalaya in Fabrica Bula in a lot used to be planted with rice. Planting on a bigger area is a gamble. Despite the risk he still pursued this enterprise. Mang Mando said that he has to shift to vegetables because he believes that the income is higher. At first, it was merely a wishful thinking to plant vegetable on a wider scale. It was not easy for him to put this into reality since it requires higher investment on inputs. Today, his dreaming is a reality. He planted 800 grams of ampalaya seeds at a distance of 3 meters between rows and 60 centimeters between hills. The height of his trellis is 6 feet. He adopted a wider distance of planting to facilitate farming activities. The secret in ampalaya production is a well drained soil and soil rich in organic matter, he says As a farmer, Mang Mando's goal is to produce quality and safe vegetables. He applied combination of organic and inorganic fertilizer and practiced Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Every morning he visits his farm and monitors pests that may infect his crops. His hardwork paid off because he is now harvesting his ampalaya. His harvest averages 600 kilos every three days. He harvests twice a week at Ps 30 per kilo gives him an income of Ps 42,000 per week. He expects this to increase because he is just starting to harvest. He classifies his harvest to command better price. Curled, short and small are considered rejects but still he could sell these at a lower price. His wife and son deliver the harvested ampalaya to nearby markets. He hopes he will be spared from too much rains, pest infestations and typhoons and for him to hit the "jackpot". A plus point for Mang Mando is the strong support of the LGU technicians in Bula. Judith Almoneda the Agriculture technician in the barangay provided him with new technologies and

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seeds. He also obtained some of the seeds from the Gulayan ng Masa Program of the DA. Mang Mando proudly relates that his neighbors are now planting vegetables. This made him happy because they are now learning that there is money in vegetable. Meanwhile, former Bula Mayor Julieta A. Decena and currently the first lady of said municipality said that the Local Government Unit is promoting Sustainable Agriculture project in order to generate additional income for the families and also create more jobs. She lauded the efforts of Mang Mando for setting the example in his barangay. Finally, Mang Mando cited that it is important that when choosing a commodity is should be market driven. Farmers should not only plant one kind of vegetables. "It's bad economics and bad decision making" he says. That's why he also planted other vegetables like pepper, upo, and eggplant.. He explains that if one fails, he still have a fallback. Monocropping is not advisable. Plant a variety of crops and you'll never lose and could even hit the jackpot.

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kishore hemlani

kishore hemlani

kishore hemlani

Getting to know a veggie farmer


By Mabelle R. Ilan

For vegetable grower like Henry Recreo economic crisis and global retrenchment will not bother him at all. He believes that growing vegetables would answer all his family needs. Indeed, for nine years he has been growing vegetables and he has mastered growing this commodity. He was inspired to grow vegetables when one day he saw a farmer in Bula harvesting ampalaya. From then on, he decided to plant ampalaya. He asked the assistance of the technician in Nabua and started with 500 square meters. His first attempt was not good because the fruits were affected with fruitflies. But he was able to recover his expenses. The incident did not discourage him; instead he was challenged to plant again. This time, he obtained higher yield. He admits that it is important to use quality seeds and couple it with proper technology, in order to obtain higher yield. Mang Henry also practices crop diversification. With his 4.5 hectares he planted corn, rice and vegetable after rice. He disclosed that he obtained higher income from ampalaya than growing rice. Besides the price of ampalaya never goes down compared with other vegetables. He disclosed that in his 500 sq. meters he initially obtained 40 kilos then it gradually increased to 100 kilos and during peak fruiting he could harvest 600 kilos. The price of ampalaya ranges from Ps 30-38 pesos per kilo. He emphasized that it is important to harvest every four days to avoid matured or overgrown ampalaya fruits. He applies a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizer to his plants. He also revealed, that consumers need not worry because his ampalaya are safe from chemical residues. He practices Integrated Pest Management and applies pesticide judiciously. Aside from ampalaya he also planted white gourd or "upo". According to him upo is not labor intensive. It requires less fertilizer, minimal pesticide but it is not as saleable as ampalaya. He also planted okra, tomato, eggplant and pechay.

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kishore hemlani

kishore hemlani

kishore hemlani

For Henry Recreo vegetable growing is his bread and butter. He was able to send his six children to school and was able to construct a house. He was able to purchase farm equipment like tractor, sprayers out of his income from vegetable. He was also a recipient of one unit shallow tube well from the Department of Agriculture. This he uses to water his vegetables, rice and even corn. Neighboring farmers also benefit from the STW. To facilitate transport of his produce to the he also bought a tricycle. Marketing is not a problem because he has established a marketing linkage as "viajeros" directly go to his farm. Today, Mang Henry has about hectare planted to ampalaya. Despite the heavy rains and the strong winds the past months he was not at all discouraged. He is optimistic that his plant would recover. This is what he says: Mang Henry is currently the barangay kagawad of Inapatan and at the same time the Barangay Agriculture and Fishery Council chair. "It pays to be updated" says Mang Henry. He regularly attends training and has a regular subscription of agriculture magazine as reference. He was also a recipient of the seeds for enhanced vegetable production of the DA and the Gulayan para sa Masa being supervised by the agriculture technicians in Nabua. For Mang Henry, it is not only the yield that matters to him, but in the final analysis it is both the yield and the efficient utilization of inputs that must be taken into account. He concluded that industry and perseverance are the twofold characteristics farmers must possess in order to win the battle against poverty.

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kishore hemlani

kishore hemlani

kishore hemlani

Bicol farmers coop turns idle land into veggie farm.


Pamplona, Camarines SurHarnessing the rich soil, a farmers cooperative here converted an idle, seven-hectare land into a vegetable farm. That was last year. The group now expects to earn about P2 million from the sale of ampalaya grown at the vegetable farm. And to think that the ampalaya plantation is only 1.5 hectares, the rest of the land planted to eggplant, okra, string beans and cassava intercropped with corn is expected to yield bigger returns, perhaps more millions of pesos, according to Diego Tud, the Pamplona municipal agriculturist. Indeed, there is money in vegetable farming and the experience of the Pamplona Farmers Cooperative (PAMFACO) in barangay Tambo would attest to that, Tud said on Wednesday. The cooperative got the land through a P10,000-a year lease agreement with a private owner and invested P120,000 for land preparation, production inputs, labor and planting materials. They first focused on ampalaya. Six months later, the first harvest yielded about 8,000 kilos of the vegetable sold at the wholesale price of P13.00 per kilo in some bagsakan centers in Metro Manila, Tud said. That would be the case each month this year as they are still harvesting the fruits of the first crop nowadays and considering the fact that the economic life of the ampalaya lasts for 20 harvest-months. At P104,000 per harvest-month, the cooperative stands to realize total sales of some P2 million from this vegetable alone, he said. The other crops would soon start to be harvested, giving the cooperative more income, Tud added. He said the economic benefits for members of the cooperative would spread to other residents of barangay Tambo as PAMFACO employs over a dozen people from the community. They do various farm activities like weeding, planting, spraying, hauling, fertilizer, harvesting and packing. Apart from the seven-hectare vegetable farm, PAMFACO also maintains a 38-hectare cassava plantation. The land is owned by members of the cooperative. PAMFACO has a marketing deal with San Miguel Corp.s B-Meg Feed Mills in Pili, Camarines Sur which uses the yield from the plantation for its livestock feeds factory, Tud added.

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kishore hemlani

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There's money in vegetable farming


What was once an unproductive unutilized cogonal land has now become a luxuriant scenery of vegetables. The members of the Pamplona Farmers Cooperative, Pamplona Camarines Sur, put in their technical expertise, finances, and time to develop the 7 hectare open land at barangay Tambo which they leased for P10T per year. The coop has utilized the area for vegetable and rootcrops production. Already, the coop members have invested P 120, 000.00 for land preparation, labor, production inputs and materials. Crops grown in the area are ampalaya (1.5 has.), eggplant (1.5 has.), okra (.50 has.), string beans (.50 has.) and cassava intercropped with corn (3.5 has.) The newly developed area has initially given the coop- members an income of P8, 000.00 from the sale of ampalaya. Harvesting of ampalaya is done twice a week- on Wednesday and Saturday. A local vegetable trader transports ampalaya to manila two times a week. The municipal agriculturist of Pamplona Diego Tud said at the peak of harvest, they expect to get 100 sacks per harvest or an average of 1,000 kilos.

The ampalaya fruits are classified into large, medium, small. The quality fruits are the ones sold to Manila while the small ones are sold at the local markets. The fruits are packed in plastics, each weighing 36-38 kilos. The current wholesale market price of amplaya in Manila is P13.00 per kilo. Based on mathematical computation at 8,000 kilos per month at P13.00 per kilo, the coop members stand to pocket P 104,000.00 monthly income. At 20 harvests, the economic life of ampalaya, this would mean a whooping income of over P1M. That is from ampalaya alone. The coop expects to get more as they start to harvest the other crops in the farm. The project of the coop is a job generating project in the community. It employs 10 laborers who help in various farm activities like weeding, planting, spraying, hauling of farm produce, application of fertilizer, harvesting and packing. In addition, PAMFACO has a38 hectare standing crop on cassava by the members. According to Tud, the coop provides its members 2,500 planting materials to be paid an equivalent of 5,000 planting materials after harvest. The coop has a marketing tie-up with San Miguel Corporation.

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kishore hemlani

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Ampalaya Proves A Winner For Ex-Rice Farmer


Camarines Sur farmer discovers money in ampalaya farming BULA, Camarines Sur An enterprising farmer in this hinterland Bicol town has discovered growing in commercial scale the bitter tasting and wrinkled-looking yet nutritious vegetable called ampalaya a profitable venture. At first, the venture was a gamble for Armando Velasco of Barangay Bagumbayan. From rice farming, he shifted two years ago to this another high-value crop, also known as bitter gourd, with his one-hectare farm applying the latest technology in vegetable production learned from municipal farm technician Judith Almoneda.

November 23, 2009

He planted the area with 800 grams of ampalaya seeds at a distance of three meters between rows and 60 centimeters between hills. Kishore Hemlani Velasco adopted this wider distance of planting space to facilitate cultivation activities. He obtained the seeds from the Municipal Agricultural Office (MAO) under the Gulayan ng Masa Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA). One secret in ampalaya production is a well drained soil rich in organic matter. The height of my trellis is six feet and I applied the combination of organic and inorganic fertilizer then practiced an integrated pest management, he bared to PNA over the weekend. Velasco also applied integrated pest management by way of constant monitoring of his plants for pest infestation and prompt application of pesticides. Kishore Hemlani All these produced for him good quality ampalaya fruits that commanded higher prices in the local market. During my first harvest six months after I started with this new found goldmine, my first deliveries to the local market earned me an income of P42,000 for my 600 kilos of good quality ampalaya fruits harvested and sold within a week," he said. Harvest period in a single cropping season lasts for six weeks making for him a handsome amount of P250,000 gross earnings from a single cropping, he added. Velascos success in ampalaya production inspired other farmers in the village and neighboring barangays, making the municipality the new top producer of this crop in the Bicol region, according to former town mayor Julieta Decena who had encouraged him into the venture during her incumbency over two years ago. Our municipality now produces over P3 million worth of ampalaya every cropping season owing to over a dozen of farmers who shifted to this crop on observing Velascos success, Decena said.

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kishore hemlani

kishore hemlani

kishore hemlani

He had also earned the respect of his fellow farmers who elected him this year as president of the Municipal Vegetable Growers Association (MVGA) after his stint as chairman of the Municipal Agriculture and Fishery Council, Decena said. MGVA is a municipal government-supported organization as part of the local governments program towards poverty alleviation and food security through sustainable farming, she said. Velasco serves as the role model for our farmers as he set an example of a successful vegetable grower by adopting the modern technology, proper farm management and practicing an admirable industry, the former mayor, who is now the towns first lady, added. Humbly, he told the PNA that its being market-driven is an important consideration in choosing a commodity to produce. "It is bad economics and wrong decision to grow crops without basing it to its demand and sustainability" he said. (PNA) Kishore Hemlani

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