In farming, you usually don’t hit the jackpot right away. You could make mistakes for one reason or another. That’s all right. After all, you also learn from your mistakes. What is important is that you don’t repeat those mistakes.
To be sure, it pays to know people who are in the know. That could save you from further mistakes. And that’s what happened to Eddie Cañuto when he met Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness in 2009. The meeting turned Eddie’s losing farm operation into a winner.
What happened? Well, in 2005, Eddie gave up his construction business in Manila so he could go into farming in his hometown in Badiangan, Iloilo, one of the small towns in the province. He started to develop Ephrathah Farms in a 16-hectare idle upland that his family inherited from their grandparents by planting bananas. It was a miserable failure because pests and disease devastated the plants. He also went into piggery which was also a losing proposition. The feeds were simply too expensive to make any profit. So he gave up his piggery in 2008.
It was very timely that he met Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness in 2009 who advised him to go into high-value crops. One such crop that Toto recommended was the Red Lady papaya, a hybrid that is very fruitful. For a start, Eddie planted 300 papaya seedlings. By following the planting protocol that Toto gave him, he really produced beautiful papaya fruits that were very saleable in the market. He said that in two years of productive life, each papaya tree can give an average of 120 kilos. So the 300 trees could have yielded 36 tons before they were phased out. Since 2009 up to this day, Eddie has been making handsome money from Red Lady papaya.
Now he has systematized his papaya production so that he has a steady supply of fruits throughout the year. Every four months, he plants 1,500 papaya seedlings in one hectare. From the time the land is prepared for planting, he follows the recommendation on fertilization that includes the application of vermicompost, complete fertilizer, potash and others.
The planting beds are mulched with plastic sheet to prevent weed growth and at the same time conserve moisture in the soil during the dry season. During the rainy season, the plastic mulch helps prevent waterlogging in the planting beds. He has also installed drip irrigation so that timely watering whenever it is needed is done.
Eddie does not have much problem in marketing his papaya fruits. He supplies four SM supermarkets in Iloilo. In one month he usually delivers to the four SM outlets five to six tons at a very good price of P35 per kilo.
As in many farm operations, there are some fruits that don’t meet the standards of the supermarket like the misshapen ones. These are not thrown away. Mrs. Rose Cañuto and daughter Ainah make them into pickles or atsara. On the other hand, the overripe ones are made into jam. These are also saleable to visitors in their farm which has been accredited as a tourist destination by the Department of Tourism.