A RETIRED politician once approached us. He wanted to go into commercial fruit farming. What strategy could we suggest?
FOR A START – If you are going into commercial fruit production, we told him, better concentrate on two major crops first. Those that have high value, are relatively easy to take care, have long shelf life, and are in demand in the market.
RIGHT TECHNO NEEDED – The politician has plenty of available land that could be developed into orchard. Land is no problem to him. Water is not a problem either. So he has the necessary land as well as the financial capability to undertake commercial production. What he needs is the right technology, which could be had with the right advisers or consultants.
PLANT BY THE THOUSANDS – And what did we recommend to him? For a number of good reasons, we suggested that he plant thousands of jackfruit like the latexless variety with plump orange flesh. And why jackfruit? Jackfruit bears fruit any month of the year, depending on the care given to the trees. Thus supply can be throughout the year although there are also peak months.
WHY BY THE THOUSANDS? – That’s because if he is the biggest grower of jackfruit, he could become the Jackfruit King. Because of that, the big buyers will go to him to buy their requirements. And he could name his price that is reasonable to both. A big fruit processor, for instance, could buy all his harvests so marketing will not be a big problem.
LESS PROBLEMS THAN MANGO – Compared to mangoes, jackfruit has much less pest and disease problems. The mango is attacked by so many serious pests and diseases. You have to spray the mango trees to induce flowering. In the case of jackfruit, there is no need to spray flower inducers. Mangoes are also very perishable and the price can go very low during peak harvests.
GOOD JACKFRUIT PRICE – Jackfruit sells at a high price in the local markets, even if the quality is not so good. We see sliced jackfruit in the market that are miserable-looking which are being sold at P50 per kilo. One lady who had a thousand fruiting latexless jackfruit was so happy about her very fruitful trees when we met her a few years back. She did not only make money from ripe fruits. She sold the thinnings as vegetable.
CONCRETE EXAMPLE – The lady is Mrs. Naty Abrigo who has a farm in Calauan, Laguna. When we last met her, she said that her jackfruit trees were very fruitful because they were adequately fertilized with chicken manure and vermicompost. Because of profuse fruiting, she had to remove some of the young fruits for sale as vegetable. One sack, she said, sold for just P400 but then she sold so many sacks. And then the ripe fruits were her real money-maker. They commanded a high price from the viajeros who bought them in volume.
NEXT TIME – Some other time, we will tackle the other flagship crop for the retired politician to grow commercially.