MAYOR HAS KEEN AGRIBUSINESS SENSE

Mayor Celestino Aguinaldo produces 10,000 coconut seedlings a year. Some are bought by the Philippine Coconut Authority.

The new mayor of Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte is not only a farmer at heart but a farmer in deed. He is Mayor Celestino Aguinaldo, a former municipal judge in the circuit trial court in Bangui of the same province.

FARMED WHILE STUDYING – Even while he was studying law in 1957, the year he got married, Aguinaldo was already engaged in farming. He started with a small garlic farm which he also planted to rice and corn when it was not garlic season.

BREAD & BUTTER – Today, garlic is still his bread and butter. He devotes two hectares to this spice crop each year and averages 10 tons from the area. His harvest in 1992 season was in storage when we visited him in June. He was waiting for the price to go up as the planting season in November to December neared. If he were to sell his garlic at that time, he could have easily gotten P130 per kilo or P1.3 million for the total harvest.

COST HIGH – He revealed, however, that the production cost of garlic is quite high, especially when one buys the planting materials. It usually costs him P75,000 to grow one hectare of garlic. But in general, he says, garlic is a profitable crop to grow. It is only when smugglers bring in garlic from foreign sources that prices in the local market go down and the producers lose money.

BIG IN COCONUTS – Mayor Aguinaldo has a keen business sense in farming. That is why he is growing a lot of coconuts. He says that coconut production in Ilocos Norte is not enough to meet local demand so that the price is high. At the time of our interview, a mature nut retailed at P10 each while the “buko” or young coconut retailed at P7 to P8 each.

1,000 FRUITING COCO – Today he is the biggest coconut grower in the Ilocos. He has 1,000 fruiting trees and 4,200 younger ones that will start bearing in one or two more years.

10,000 SEEDLINGS – He does not only produce nuts for sale. He also grows seedlings for sale to growers not only in Ilocos Norte but also in Ilocos Sur and Cagayan. Each year he produces no less than 10,000 coconut seedlings which he sells at P20 to P50 each, depending on the size and the variety. The Philippine Coconut Authority buys from him some P75,000 worth of planting materials each year.

IMPROVED VARIETIES – Mayor Aguinaldo grows the improved varieties, including the Mawa hybrid, the Catigan, the Malaysian Dwarf, the Aromatic Coconut and latest hybrid of the PCA called PCA-15-1.

CATTLE UNDER COCO – Under the fruiting coconuts, he raises breeding as well as fattening cattle. He was fattening 25 head of Brahman under the coconut trees when we visited him and had 20 head of breeders. He had recently sold 10 yearlings at P8,500 each when we were there.

GOATS FOR GOODWILL – In one property, he raises goats which he finds easy to grow and multiply. But it is not as big a money maker as cattle and garlic. Besides, goats are usually given away for goodwill purposes, especially if one is a politician like him.

CO-OP ADVOCATE – Mayor Aguinaldo is an advocate of cooperativism. In fact, he was the organizer and president of the Davila Small Coconut Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative engaged in cattle breeding and fattening, piggery, rice growing, garlic production and aquaculture.

LAND BANK LOAN – The co-op started with only P85,000 in 1990 but today, two years later, it has assets of more than a million pesos. In fact the Land Bank was so confident of its projects, it recently gave a loan of P3 million for lending to its 121 members.

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