Why Ubi Seedling Producers Failed: First, They Should Have Put Up A Showcase Ubi Farm

A very purple variety of Ubi like this is preferred by processors, especially those who export their products. Buyers abroad frown on artificial coloring.

In the past years, circa late 1990s, several micro entrepreneurs tried to make a business out of producing Ubi (purple yam) planting materials. Some of them resorted to tissue culture although most of them propagated by means of dividing the Ubi tubers into several pieces and sprouting them.

The propagators used to sell their planting materials at the weekly Agri-Kapihan in Quezon City which we used to manage. Some tried other marketing outlets. To this day, we don’t know of any Ubi seedling propagator whose business flourished. Along the way, they lost interest and abandoned their project. 

Why? They didn’t have the right strategy to keep the interest of buyers. How? First, they should have developed a farm even if it is just a small one of 1,000 square meters. Here, they should have showcased how to grow Ubi in growbags using the right mix of growing media that could consist of old chicken manure or processed organic fertilizer, carbonized rice hull or coco peat and some other available materials. 

When Mrs. Soledad Agbayani was still active, she proved that one Ubi grown in a sack of rich growing media can yield as many as 10 kilos. She sold her harvest at P40 a kilo and so it was worth P400 per plant. At that time, P400 still had a high purchasing value.

The Ubi farm should not only make seedlings available. For the convenience of hobby farmers, for instance, they would like to have in the same farm for sale growbags, growing media, fertilizers, trellising materials and other inputs. Maybe even processed Ubi food products.

The Ubi farm could become a tourist destination and a learning center for prospective growers. It could become a technology provider to government agencies like the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and TESDA. That would become a source of income that will sustain the project.

Of course the owners of the Showcase Farm should be continually innovating, looking for practical interventions to make Ubi production profitable, especially for those who grow Ubi as a business.

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