Agriculture - - In Love - BY ZAC B. SARIAN

JORGE “GE­ORGE” EDRADA, 44, used to work for a con­struc­tion com­pany in Sau­dia Ara­bia. When his over­seas em­ploy­ment ended af­ter four years, he de­cided to re­turn to the Philip­pines to be­come a full-time farmer. He has now re­al­ized that farm­ing, af­ter all, can pro­vide a bet­ter in­come than work­ing abroad.

In the be­gin­ning, he tried plant­ing egg­plant and other veg­eta­bles af­ter rice, but that did not suit his lik­ing for long. What he found more prof­itable was to grow green corn for boil­ing through­out the year, and one crop of rice for home con­sump­tion.

Green corn for boil­ing has its ad­van­tages over other crops. It is saleable and it can be grown through­out the year. The turnover is also fast. What Ge­orge has been do­ing is to plant corn on 5,000-square me­ters on a stag­gered ba­sis. This way, the cash flow is more or less con­tin­u­ous through­out the year.

He used to plant white waxy corn, which was also a good source of in­come. How­ever, when the new bi­color va­ri­eties were in­tro­duced, he dis­cov­ered that the multi-col­ored waxy corn is even bet­ter. The traders who go around to buy the farm­ers’ har­vests now pre­fer to buy the bi­color corn. It is claimed that the pur­ple col­oration of some of the ker­nels is good for the health be­cause they con­tain more an­tiox­i­dants.

The Vi­o­leta waxy corn can be har­vested in 65 to 70 days af­ter plant­ing. From the 5,000 square me­ters that Ge­orge plants reg­u­larly, he can make a profit of at least R40,000. He lim­its his plant­ing to that size be­cause it is very man­age­able. The mar­ket can eas­ily ab­sorb that quan­tity. When there is an ex­cess sup­ply, buy­ers will usu­ally of­fer a low price for the pro­duce.

Ge­orge ob­serves that boiled corn is most in de­mand in Pan­gasi­nan dur­ing spe­cial oc­ca­sions. One such oc­ca­sion is All Saints’ Day, when peo­ple from the city go home to the province. Th­ese re­turn­ing city folks love to eat boiled corn, ac­cord­ing to him. Dur­ing this time, har­vest­ing of the waxy corn starts as early as Oc­to­ber 28.

An­other oc­ca­sion, as ex­pected, is the Christ­mas hol­i­days. It is also at this time that many peo­ple from the city go back to the province for a va­ca­tion and they love to eat boiled corn. Sum­mer is also a good time for sell­ing boiled corn be­cause the stu­dents usu­ally go back to the province from the cities. While waxy corn can be grown through­out the year, the best crop is of­ten made dur­ing the sum­mer months as long as the field is ir­ri­gated. This can be achieved by pump­ing wa­ter from shal­low tube­wells or from other sources of wa­ter like rivers, ponds, or creeks.

The usual prac­tice of sell­ing used to be by the ear. To­day, the prac­tice of sell­ing by the kilo is get­ting pop­u­lar, and that is con­sid­ered a bet­ter sys­tem be­cause one gets paid by the ac­tual weight rather than by the num­ber of ears. When waxy corn is in de­mand, the ex­farm price is usu­ally R18 per kilo. On the other hand, many traders of­fer mostly R2.80 to R3 per ear ex-farm, which is not as good as when sell­ing is by the kilo.

There are ac­tu­ally a few va­ri­eties of bi­color waxy corn of­fered by a num­ber of seed com­pa­nies. Ramgo Seeds, how­ever, claims that their va­ri­ety is the most pre­ferred.

Ramgo, by the way, is one of the old­est seed com­pa­nies, spe­cial­iz­ing in in low­land as well as high­land veg­eta­bles and other high-value crops. It will be ob­serv­ing its 50th an­niver­sary in 2017, and a big cel­e­bra­tion is be­ing planned, to be held at its ex­per­i­men­tal farm in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija.

Ge­orge Edrada and his fa­vorite Vi­o­leta bi­color waxy corn.

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