Grow­ing fields of gold

Agriculture - - Contents -

WHO DOESN’T DREAM of sud­denly find­ing great trea­sures of gold and sil­ver in their fields and back­yards? For two sim­ple farm­ers, that dream be­came true, though not in the way they ex­pected. In­stead of dig­ging up trea­sure from the ground, they grew their for­tune.

Mario Payumo is a se­cu­rity of­fi­cer at the Pan­gasi­nan State Univer­sity - Bayam­bang Cam­pus (PSU) while his wife Aida is a col­lege li­brar­ian. With four chil­dren and their fam­i­lies to sup­port, it was hard to make ends meet. Still, he took pride in work­ing for a pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tion; it was hon­est work, and re­spectable.

His op­por­tu­nity came in 2013 when PSU de­cided to lease out some of its idle prop­erty. While it was a bit of a risk, Payumo de­cided to try his luck at grow­ing crops. He had heard sto­ries of farm­ers down in the cen­tral plains mak­ing good money from the pro­duc­tion of high-qual­ity hon­ey­dews, and reached out to KnownYou Seed Philip­pine’s lo­cal tech­ni­cian Aubrey Ancheta.

Payumo fell in love with the Bril­liant va­ri­ety of hon­ey­dew, which has bright yel­low-gold skin. He also learned that grow­ing hon­ey­dews was no joke. They were easy enough to grow, but it was very hard to pro­duce qual­ity fruits with­out proper care and main­te­nance. While the plants could sur­vive and pro­duce fruit with­out any prob­lems, get­ting the right sweet­ness and fla­vor was the hard part.

With just a hectare to start with, their strug­gles be­gan, with them need­ing spe­cial tools such as plas­tic mulch and lots of fer­til­iz­ers. Payumo crammed as many plants as he could into the prop­erty he leased, try­ing to waste as lit­tle space and money as pos­si­ble. The hard­est part, he says, was find­ing peo­ple they could re­ally trust to care for his Bril­liant. As an em­ployee of PSU, he could not aban­don his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to work in their field full-time.

It was easy enough to find peo­ple will­ing to work for them; many claimed they were ex­perts at grow­ing hon­ey­dew, only to dis­ap­point when push came to shove. Sell­ing his Bril­liant was a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge al­to­gether. Be­ing new to the mar­ket, many un­scrupu­lous peo­ple took ad­van­tage of their rel­a­tive ig­no­rance of the mar­ket for hon­ey­dew, and of­ten bought their pro­duce at out­ra­geously low prices. Some­times he would come to an agree­ment with a buyer, only to be left hang­ing when the time came to sell. Buy­ers claim­ing that his pro­duce was “sec­ond-class” made him doubt him­self quite of­ten, and he came dan­ger­ously close to giv­ing up. But as Payumo says, “If you love what you do, there’s no rea­son to give up.”

So he per­se­vered, and one day, he re­al­ized that he could make the most out of his Bril­liant by sell­ing his en­tire har­vest whole­sale in­stead of

try­ing to get the best price per kilo­gram of fruit. He also started de­vel­op­ing the skills of peo­ple who could grow Bril­liant for him in­stead of try­ing to find and be dis­ap­pointed by peo­ple claim­ing to be ex­perts.

Payumo’s per­se­ver­ance and pa­tience paid off tremen­dously. In just two years, he has ex­panded to three hectares crammed full of Bril­liant hon­ey­dews, and he has added other Known-You Seed va­ri­eties such as Sweet Fla­vor mel­ons and even other hon­ey­dews like Jade Lady.

His ad­vice to new farm­ers? Never cheat your part­ners and the peo­ple who work for you. Fruit traders from Manila, Pam­panga, and Nueva Ecija all keep com­ing back to him be­cause they can trust that he will have the best qual­ity Bril­liant ready for them.

Payumo is rather shy when asked about how much he makes per hectare of Bril­liant, but he notes with pride that he and his chil­dren all have houses to call their own—these were built lit­tle by lit­tle with each pass­ing sea­son.

Thus the hap­pi­ness of his smile as he sur­veys his fields, the glint of gold fruit swelling from un­derneath leaves of green.

Bril­liant Hon­ey­dew is a prod­uct of Known-You Seed Philip­pines, Inc. and has been dis­trib­uted in the Philip­pines for the past 18 years by Harbest Agribusi­ness Corp. For in­quiries and or­ders, please call 0917.320.1689 (Globe) or 0999.968.0630 (Smart and Sun), fax (075) 632.1785, or email “Like” them on Face­book at www.face­

Grow­ing gold is se­ri­ous busi­ness. Mario Payumo checks his har­vest care­fully to en­sure only the best qual­ity of fla­vor and sweet­ness can be found in his Bril­liant hon­ey­dews.

Payumo’s planters check and se­cure the Bril­liant hon­ey­dews be­fore trans­port­ing them to clients.

Payumo shows off his Bril­liant hon­ey­dews to­gether with Aubregyn Ancheta, Deputy Sec­tion Head of Mar­ket­ing of Known-You Seed Philip­pines, Inc., and his friend Efren.

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