Vicky Motril in her
 squash plantation.
Lady farmers can be at par with, if not better than, many of their male counterparts. One very good example is Victoria A. Motril, 61, of sitio Pag-asa, Cr. Rubber in Tupi, South Cotabato. She is one of the outstanding farmers who will be honored by East-West Seed Company as “Farmer Hero” on December 12, 2012 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the company.

Vicky, who finished an elementary education course, is a widow. She and her late husband were overseas workers (OFWs), first working in Jedda and then in Athens, Greece.

When the couple returned to Cotabato in 1990, they decided not to go abroad anymore. With their savings, they bought six hectares for their farming project, later increased to 8 hectares. Because her husband passed away not long after, she had to do the farming herself. And what a model farmer she has become.

With the guidance of the East-West technicians, she was able to master the ins and outs of the vegetable business. She has been planting the improved varieties developed by the East-West plant breeders. The latest that she planted this season is the Engrande squash which is supposed to be an improvement of Suprema, the long-reigning squash variety of the company.

She has not only mastered production techniques like the use of improved seeds, plastic mulch, trellising, proper irrigation and pest and disease prevention or control. She has also been creative in marketing her own produce as well as those of others with whom she has formed an association.

They have become concessionaires in five supermarkets in Cotabato where the members bring their produce for sale. Thus, they are assured of the right price for their harvests.

Vicky devotes six hectares to vegetables. She is an advocate of organic farming so she produces her own organic fertilizer through vermiculture.

To minimize damage by pests and diseases, she practices crop rotation.  Vicky plants eggplant, ampalaya, squash, tomato, different varieties of peppers, carrots and several others.

Nothing is wasted in her farm. She classifies her harvests. The Class A are sold to supermarkets and malls. Those that are deformed or have some other defects are processed into vegetable pickles, candies and powder products. She has the training for these because she majored in home economics at the Silliman University. The processed products are also saleable in the market.

Squash is one vegetable fruit that she makes into powder when the price is low. She said that when squash is in short supply, one kilo could fetch P15 to P20. But the price can tumble down to P2 per kilo. That’s when she makes her squash fruit into powder, which she sells to bakeries to enhance the eating quality and nutrient content of their pan de sal. She sells her powdered squash at P400 per kilo. Ten kilos of fresh fruits, she says, make one kilo of powder.

Vicky says there is practically no waste in her farming. The peels and vegetable trimmings are fed to her earthworms for the production of vermicompost.
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