One time at the recent Agri-Kapihan, a lady retiree asked how she could borrow from the Land Bank. She said she has been quite successful in growing vegetables in containers in her hometown in Bicol. She has put into practice some of the practical ideas she had learned from attending the farmer’s forum.
Her question was how could she borrow, say a hundred thousand pesos, from the Land Bank so she could expand her project and have some income for the family’s basic needs?
Immediately we told her that we are sure the Land Bank will not lend directly to her the amount she was intending to borrow. Usually, the Land Bank will lend the money to a cooperative in much bigger amounts than a hundred thousand pesos. We told the lady that she should become a member of a cooperative so that she can borrow from there.
But we hastily added that she does not have to borrow from the bank or from anybody else for her small project in the province, say a 2,000-square meter lot near her house. After all, she said she receives a pension of P5,000 a month.
We suggested that for a start, she set aside P500 for buying a kilo of seeds of upland kangkong (P250 a kilo) and for some other simple inputs. We suggested this particular crop because it is in demand in most places and it is also very easy to grow. It can be harvested in just 20 days after planting the seeds.
We soon cited the case of Rasol Rosales of Cagayan de Oro who has been growing upland kangkong during the last 13 years. He plants two kilos of kangkong seeds every three days on 120 square meters from which he can harvest 200 to 280 kilos. He does not have any problem selling his harvest because his wife has a stall in the public market which she rents for P14 per day. The rent is just equivalent to about a kilo of kangkong because she usually sells a kilo for P15 to 20 in Cagayan de Oro.
Another crop which the retiree could plant with practically no expense at all for the planting materials is camote. Camote tops are also saleable in the public markets, and even in supermarkets now. The good thing about camote is that harvesting could be continuous for many months.
Another crop she could plant for money is malunggay along the border of her lot. Ten trees could yield a significant amount of leaves every week which could be sold in the market. Of course, she can plant a much bigger number of malunggay trees. Once the trees are well established, harvesting of the leaves (or fruits if this is saleable in the area) could go on for many years.
Then there are the improved papaya varieties which will produce ripe fruits as well as green ones for use as vegetable. These are all in demand in the market if one is creative enough in selling the harvest. One lady we know from Iloilo makes pickles (atsara) out of green papayas and sells her product to vendors of roasted chickens.
Another crop that the retiree could plant in her lot is the Mama Sita banana which produces big bunches of fruit as early as one year from planting. The fruit is nice to eat as ripe fruit but it could also be boiled, fried or made into chips. It is not only the fruits that will give income to the planter. The Mama Sita banana produces a lot of suckers and these could be sold at a good price. Because it is new and outstanding, suckers sell for P50 to as much as P150 each.
We also remember a lady who was given P350 by her lawyer husband so she can buy some plants that could make her busy at home. That was many years back when the Kaumana Red anthurium was the only variety available in the local market. The lady bought 10 seedlings of the Red Kaumana which she multiplied in their spacious backyard. She kept on multiplying the plants without selling her propagations until she had a few thousand pieces. She only sold the flowers at first. The only time she started selling the plants was when she already had filled up their backyard with anthuriums of different ages.
When we interviewed her for a feature article, she already had thousands of plants of all sizes, estimated to be worth at least P350,000 at that time.
So you see, you can start your project small and expand from there. You don’t have to borrow from the bank. (This is a reprint from our article in Panorama several years back. The ideas are still very relevant.}