TO SUCCEED in farming, one strategy is for one to develop his market first before going into full-blast farming. That way, he does not have to worry much about the market for his produce.
That’s exactly what Alfredo Rivera did before undertaking his own orchard operations. Mr. Rivera is an agriculturist who used to be employed in a big banana plantation in Davao. When he left his employment in 1980, he decided to go into the trading of pomelo, rambutan and lanzones. He bought the harvests of growers in Davao City and sold the same to traders in Davao, Manila and Iloilo where he hails from.
That trading experience gave him the opportunity to know the reliable buyers and also learned the ins and outs of marketing fruits.
His knowledge of the market prompted him to rent some neglected orchards for production of fruits he would supply to his network of buyers. Although he has had some bad experience in renting fruit tree plantations because of calamities such as bush fires that destroyed entire crops, the idea is very viable, he said.
Rivera pointed out that many landowners who planted pomelos, rambutan, lanzones and the like in their farms don’t have the time and know-how to make their trees productive. Thus, it would be wiser for them to rent them out to people who know how to take are of the trees.
One farm he has rented is a pomelo orchard. He pays the owner P60,000 a year and then spends about P200 per tree per year to maintain and make them fruitful. This requires some capital but in the end it is still profitable, according to Rivera.
He pointed that a well managed pomelo tree will easily yield an average of 200 fruits per season. The 500 trees could therefore yield 100,000 fruits. At just the very low price of P10 per fruit ex-farm, that would already give a gross of P1 million.
In 1993, Rivera started his own pomelo plantation in a 10-hectare raw land that he bought in Biao Valencia in Calinan in Davao City. He has planted 1,200 trees of the Magallanes variety. When we interviewed Fred in mid-1997, the trees were already productive. They were in their second fruiting and averaged 26 fruits per tree. As they grow older, their yield will correspondingly increase.
Rivera has also intercropped some 2,000 calamansi trees between the pomelos. They are now starting to produce and will certainly contribute to his income from his farm. He is keeping the calamansi trees low so that maintenance is convenient and harvesting would be easy.
He has also planted 1,000 young durian trees which will be another money-maker in the future. He also has 3,000 young lanzones,1,000 mangosteen, 100 mangoes and 200 rambutan of the Maharlika variety. He has also planted 10,000 Acacia mangium, bagras. mahogany and Gmelina trees which serve as windbreak for some of his fruit trees.
His big money-maker for the short term would be the 10,000 lakatan bananas he had just planted when we interviewed him in his farm. Aside from serving as nurse plants for his young durian trees, the bananas will produce income for him in just one year. He has his own practical system of growing lakatan bananas.