AT AN Agri forum sometime back, a gentleman (let’s just call him Roger) approached us. His brother, he said, has five hectares of land planted to sugarcane in Talisay, Negros Occidental. Apparently, the brother is not satisfied with the income from his farm. Now, Roger wanted us to recommend the best and most profitable crop his brother could produce.
Well, we told him we cannot give him a straight answer. First of all, we don’t know the resources of his brother other than the five hectares. We don’t know how much money his brother can allocate for his project. Most of all, we don’t know the capability of his brother. What skills does he have?
We are not also familiar with the possible markets in Negros for whatever product he will produce.
How about the high-value crops which we have read so much about? Roger asked. What is the best possible high-value crop his brother can grow.
That again, we told Roger, does not have a straight answer. There are so many high-value crops. We know that a lot of people in San Benito, Victoria, Laguna are making a lot of money from watermelons and honeydew. But I can’t just tell him to go into these crops.
High-value crops don’t only require ample capital. They also require the right technology. Planting materials are quite expensive. Honeydew melon seeds, for instance, may cost several thousand pesos per hectare.
Let’s say, Roger’s brother has all the money to invest. That’s not enough.Most high-value crops require the right know-how in germinating and taking care of the plants as well as proper timing of planting. Most of all, the grower of the high-value crops should be able to bring his produce to the market at a reasonable price.
Honeydew melon may be of high value, but if the consumers in the target market do not have the purchasing power, he will have a hard time selling his harvest.
One more thing about high-value crops. It is quite easy to have an overproduction. Maybe the first grower in the community makes a lot of money from sweet corn, for instance. When word goes around that there is money in sweet corn, a lot of other people will follow suit. There will come a time when the market can no longer absorb the production. When that time comes, many of the growers could lose money.
It is therefore very important to carefully choose the high-value crop to grow. Grow something for a particular target market. Visualize the volume that could be absorbed by the market at a given time and at a given price. Figure out also the competition so you can adopt the proper strategies. Maybe, you can plant your crop ahead of them or later than the other farmers to avoid harvesting at the same time.