Meeting ordinary men and women who are eager to learn improved farming techniques always gives us a wonderful feeling. It means there are people who are determined to improve their economic status by getting into some kind of farming or gardening.
That’s what we felt when we attended the harvest festival culminating the season-long training of some 118 men and women who comprised the 89th batch of the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan vegetable training program of SM Foundation in collaboration with Harbest Agribusiness.
The harvest festival was held in Brgy. Kaypi-an in San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan. The trainees were so proud in showing their harvests of vegetables and other crops that they planted and took care during their 12 weeks of attending weekly lectures and actually tilling the soil.
The KSK program is now on its eighth year, and there is no sign of its stopping. That’s because the sponsors continue to witness the impact of their program on the lives of the less privileged members of society.
In the 89th KSK batch, women outnumbered the men participants. Many of them are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Sa Kahirapan program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The good thing about vegetable production is that it can be undertaken by both men and women even in a limited space. It can be undertaken, of course, as a big venture or just a small part-time job for those who are employed or are doing some other livelihood projects.
Many of the participants did not have previous experience in growing crops but they have proven that they can produce marketable harvests through the guidance of a capable technician. This is with the use of the right varieties and other improved techniques in farming.
Among the varieties that they successfully produced are a honeydew melon and watermelon. The Brilliant honeydew melon is one variety that can produce a good income. This bears fruits weighing 2 to 3 kilos each in a growing period of 75 days.
The beauty of this variety is that it can be grown during the dry season as well as in the rainy season. An off-season crop could be produced during the rainy season that could command a high price. In the supermarkets, one kilo may fetch more than a hundred pesos. Another variety that they successfully produced is the Diana watermelon. This has a yellow skin and red flesh that is sweet and juicy.
One crop that can be produced in just a matter of 20 to 25 days from sowing is the upland kangkong. This also has a big demand in the market. It was also suggested during the forum that vegetable shoots used in cooking can also be profitable to grow. These include camote tops, alugbati, talinum, spinach, malunggay and others. The important thing is that the fellow should be creative not only in producing the same but also selling in them in the market.
Toto Barcelona, president of Harbest Agribusiness and a partner of SM Foundation in implementing the training program, talked about the money-making possibilities of vegetable production but he emphasized that quality is very important to be able to penetrate the supermarkets and get a good price for their produce.
Ms. Cristie Angeles of SM Foundation also emphasized the importance of the members in the community cooperating with one another so that they can program the production of crops that a particular target market requires. The big markets, for instance, want a steady supply of quality farm produce and this could be achieved if the growers form an association that will be able to meet the requirements of their buyers.
Ms. Angeles also emphasized the importance of undertaking their production of vegetables as an honest-to-goodness business. That is why after the graduation from the production side, the participants will attend further training in business practices such as accounting.
Running their vegetable production as a business will help assure them of success in their projects.