When we interviewed Simon N. Groot, the founder of East-West Seed, last January (2018), he revealed that it was not easy to sell to farmers the idea of planting hybrid seeds. It took the company about ten years before 20 percent of local farmers finally appreciated the advantages of planting hybrid vegetable seeds. After that, it was fairly easier to convince more farmers to grow hybrids.
Well, if only as a consolation, he said, it took 18 years for 100 percent of corn farmers in Iowa in the United States to embrace hybrid corn seeds. It is of course understandable in the Philippines where the small farmers are usually short of cash so that they hesitate to purchase the more expensive seeds. But now so many of them are convinced that growing hybrids is the way to go.
One of the beneficiaries of East-West’s hybrid crops is Renato C. Rabanera of Alaminos City who is now considered the Watermelon King of Pangasinan. He was once a small scale planter of rice and watermelon. But with the good income from watermelon, he was able to increase his production and, of course, his income. Last cropping season, he was able to harvest 120 tons of Sugar Ball watermelon that earned him P1.8 million.
As a result of his good income, he has adopted improved techniques of crop production. He has bought a tractor not only for preparing the land for planting but also for hauling his harvest; a truck to deliver his watermelons to the market; additional hectares for a bigger operation; adoption of drip irrigation, germinating seedlings in seedling trays; use of plastic mulch and others. Above all, he was able to send his four children to school.
According to Mario M. Bibat of East-West who has been in close contact with him, he loves planting the Sugar Ball hybrid because it is a vigorous variety that produces big fruits and is resistant to diseases.(Reported by Mario M. Bibat)/strong>