In the Philippines, farmers grow strawberries in plots on the ground. This has been the practice for as far as we could remember. Oftentimes problems arise because the soil could be contaminated with harmful microorganisms that damage the plants.
In our visits to Israel and Taiwan in December 2011, we have observed interesting techniques of growing the fruit crop. In both places, there are planters who grow their strawberries above the ground, although under somewhat different systems.
IN ISRAEL, the plants are grown inside a greenhouse. They are planted in containers that are seated on long gutter-like platforms about five feet above the ground. The plants are drip-irrigated so that only the amount of water enough to wet the growing medium is supplied. Thus, there is no water dripping to the ground. The technique is also economical in terms of water use.
Because the plants are sufficiently supplied with nutrients during drip irrigation, they are very robust and fruitful. The fruits are hanging on the side so that they are very attractive to see. They are very clean and very tempting to eat. Because they are way above the ground, the pickers have an easy time harvesting the ripe fruits.
There are no insects inside the greenhouse so there is no need to spray insecticides on the strawberry plants. That’s one strong selling point for the harvested fruits.
For more information on the upcoming Agriculture Exhibit in Tel Aviv, Israel visit http://www.agritech.org.il
IN TAIWAN– The system that we saw in Taiwan is somewhat different, particularly in a one-hectare plantation in Yong Kang, Tainan district. This is the Ta An Strawberry Farm which translates into Great Peace Farm in Chinese.
The plants are grown in styropor planters that are somewhat like the familiar 6-inch hollow block but wider. These are filled with a growing medium that is rich in organic matter.
The planters are seated on steel pipe frames on three levels. The highest level is in the middle which is about five feet tall. In both sides are two levels, one of which is about one foot above the ground and about one foot from the center. The second tier is about a foot higher and a few inches from the center row.
The rows of multi-level planters are neatly arranged in long rows. Wide passageways are provided for the convenience of workers and visitors. The plants are watered and fertilized through drip irrigation so that watering is easy and convenient.
The Ta An Strawberry Farm is a tourist destination frequented by both local and foreign visitors. It is open on Saturdays and Sundays. Each visitor pays NT150 (equivalent to P235) as entrance fee. The visitor is then given a basket which he can fill with strawberry fruits that he himself will harvest. While harvesting, he can eat all the fruits he wants to without worrying to pay for it. But he will have to pay for the content of the basket that was given to him. The cost is NT150 per kilo.
The farm enjoys good business. The visitors obviously enjoy the experience of harvesting and eating what they harvest.
Maybe, strawberry growers in La Trinidad should consider adopting the systems in Israel and Taiwan. Such farms could attract a lot of visitors, especially those from Manila and other parts of the country.