A former OFW who worked for five years as a construction worker in Saudi Arabia is proving that he can make more money by growing papaya and other high-value crops in Brgy. Kaingin, San Rafael, Bulacan.
He is Johnny Gatuz, 55, who worked in Saudi Arabia from 1990 to 1995, in the beginning receiving as little as the equivalent of P10,000 a month. He and his wife, Marivic, also a former OFW in Singapore, are doing a good job at farming although they are renting the lands they till. They prefer renting land since there are many farmlands for rent at P20,000 per hectare per year in San Rafael.We visited Johnny’s plantation of 1,000 Red Royale papaya from East-West Seed that he planted on January 20, 2017. By May, he started harvesting, not the ripe ones but the green fruits which he sells to his regular customers.
Since then, he has been harvesting 200 to 300 kilos of green papaya every two days which he sells at P8 to P9 per kilo. The better fruits sell for P9 a kilo so that he actually makes more than P1,600 to P2,400 every two days. Harvesting 200 to 300 kilos every two days is perfect for Johnny. It is a simple operation that is very convenient for him to do. No hassle in harvesting and selling his green fruits which are used as vegetable – as ingredient for tinola, atsara and other preparations. Johnny likes producing green papaya rather than ripe ones. For one, green papaya is not as delicate as ripe papaya to transport. Green papaya is not yet affected by fruitfly. And the papaya trees tend to produce more fruits because the fruits are not allowed to mature. Johnny also finds selling green papaya advantageous. As he harvests the fruits every two days, he has a constant cash flow which he can use in growing other crops like tomato, eggplant, squash and others. At first, Johnny did not have any experience in growing high-value crops but he was able to learn the improved techniques by attending seminars given by government agriculturists and private companies like East-West Seed.