Agriculture - - Front Page - FROM THE ED­I­TOR >BY ZAC B. SARIAN

ED­DIE CAÑUTO is an en­gi­neer turned tourist farm op­er­a­tor who knows how to spot a project that pays well. For­merly in the lu­cra­tive con­struc­tion busi­ness in Manila, he gave up his busi­ness in 2005 and founded Ephrathah Farms in Ba­di­an­gan, Iloilo, which boasts of many money-mak­ing projects. One of his newer projects is tak­ing care of more than a thou­sand black Rhode Is­land lay­ers that pro­duce brown eggs.

He loves the brown egg-lay­ing chicken be­cause its eggs sell more than dou­ble the quan­tity of those from or­di­nary white leghorn eggs. He sells each at R12.50 in Iloilo. And from his flock of over a thou­sand lay­ers, he col­lects 700 to 800 eggs daily.

The fowls roam in a net en­clo­sure where they can pick small crea­tures from the ground as part of their daily meal. In the morn­ing and in the late af­ter­noon, they are fed with an­tibi­oticfree com­mer­cial feed. In be­tween, they are fed grasses and chopped banana trunk as their ‘snack’. That low­ers the cost of feed­ing.

His son Jonathan is a mar­ket­ing ge­nius who can sell all the eggs at a premium price to­gether with the many other prod­ucts that they pro­duce in their 16-hectare di­ver­si­fied farm that has be­come a tourist desti­na­tion. Ed­die’s new plan is to pro­duce a broiler type of col­ored chicken which he be­lieves could also be­come a best­seller in Iloilo. RED LADY IS KING – Ed­die ad­mits that his first four years in farm­ing were a dis­as­ter. He planted the wrong crops and he also did not know much about im­proved tech­nolo­gies. His big break came in 2009 when he met Arse­nio “Toto” Barcelona of Harbest Agribusi­ness who sug­gested to him to try plant­ing Red Lady pa­paya. Toto pro­vided him with a technogu­ide which Ed­die fol­lowed to the let­ter—then he be­came suc­cess­ful for the first time in his farm­ing.

From 2009 to this day, Red Lady re­mains as a top earner for Ephrathah Farms. SM City in Iloilo is prac­ti­cally buy­ing all the pa­paya pro­duced by Ed­die at a premium price of PhP 35 per kilo. Ed­die is lucky be­cause his pa­paya trees have never been in­fected by the ring spot virus.

As of this writ­ing (May 17), Ephrathah Farms has 1,000 fruit­ing pa­paya trees that pro­duced 1.6 tons in April which is below the re­quire­ments of SM su­per­mar­ket. Dur­ing peak months, the farm could pro­duce up to three tons a month, ac­cord­ing to Jonathan, who takes care of the pro­cess­ing and mar­ket­ing. The cur­rent in­ven­tory in­cludes 600 2-month-old Red Lady plants, 800 2-week old plants, and for June, 1,100 seedlings were be­ing read­ied for plant­ing.

Ed­die is re­ally up­beat about pa­paya pro­duc­tion. That is why he has rented two hectares for five years near his own prop­erty. The two hectares are per­fect for grow­ing pa­paya and with the ad­di­tional area, pro­duc­tion will be sig­nif­i­cantly boosted. LET­TUCE – Ro­maine and Green Ice are two money mak­ers at Ephrathah. Last April, 2.1 tons were supplied to the su­per­mar­ket at R130 per kilo. The let­tuces are grown in both open sun and un­der nets. Be­ing pre­pared as of this writ­ing is an im­proved fa­cil­ity for hy­dro­pon­ics pro­duc­tion. They have adopted a tech­nol­ogy from Viet­nam which is su­pe­rior to the cur­rent sys­tem avail­able in the Philip­pines. UNIQUE LIT­TLE PACKS – What fas­ci­nated us dur­ing our visit to Ephrathah are the small packs of high-value crops that Jonathan has been sup­ply­ing to his buy­ers. One

Ed­die Cañuto and his black Rhode Is­land lay­ers.

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