From the Ed­i­tor: One ton of mel­ons worth R161,000 from just 60 sq.m. and other sto­ries from SIMA-Asean Agribusi­ness Trade Show in Bangkok

…and other sto­ries from SIMAASEAN Agribusi­ness Trade Show in Bangkok

Agriculture - - Contents - >BY ZAC B. SARIAN

PANU TAWEEPON, 37, is a happy bach­e­lor who grows mel­ons in his small farm in Su­rat Thani prov­ince, some 500 kilo­me­ters south of Bangkok. His NF Farm (New Farmer Farm) is just 3,200 square me­ters (two rai) but his in­come from this small par­cel could be much more than a rice farmer cul­ti­vat­ing sev­eral hectares can make.

In his small farm, he has sev­eral green­houses each mea­sur­ing just about 60 square me­ters. Do you know how much he makes from each green­house every growing cy­cle of about three months? From one green­house, he har­vests 500 mar­ketable fruits, each weigh­ing at least two ki­los. That means he can har­vest one ton from that lit­tle space. At 100 baht per kilo, that’s worth 100,000 baht or about R161,000 in Philip­pine money. In one year, he can grow three crops so that’s a gross of nearly half a mil­lion Philip­pine pe­sos just from one green­house.

We met Panu at the SIMA-ASEAN Agribusi­ness Ex­hi­bi­tion in Bangkok held on June 6-8, 2018 at the Im­pact Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­ter. He show­cased a pro­to­type of his green­house where he grows his mel­ons.

What’s in­ter­est­ing is that he op­er­ates his NF Farm by him­self with the oc­ca­sional help of his mother when he is away. That’s not dif­fi­cult for his mother to look after the farm be­cause the plants un­der green­house are drip-ir­ri­gated, so wa­ter­ing and fer­til­iza­tion are done by sim­ply open­ing a valve.

At the trade show, Panu’s video of his mel­ons was played non­stop which at­tracted many vis­i­tors. It is the same video that he posted on his Face­book ac­count which has been at­tract­ing buy­ers of his high-qual­ity melon fruits na­tion­wide. Panu said that he sells most of his har­vest to buy­ers who have seen his video on Face­book.

Panu said that he sells his fruits through­out Thai­land. He sends them by ex­press courier. “If you or­der and I ship to­day, you will re­ceive your fruits the next day,” he said. There’s no min­i­mum or­der re­quired. If the cus­tomer or­ders just one, that’s fine. The buyer will only have to pay the courier’s fee.

One typ­i­cal or­der is five fruits in a box weigh­ing about 12 ki­los (some fruits weigh more than two ki­los). The to­tal cost, in­clud­ing ship­ping, is 1,450 baht or R2,334.50 in Philip­pine money.

Re­ally, so­cial me­dia has rev­o­lu­tion­ized the mar­ket­ing of farm pro­duce. Panu Taweepon lives in a place that is far away from Bangkok, yet he is able to sell his har­vest with the help of his Face­book ac­count which is free.

We gath­ered that Panu’s lit­tle farm has be­come fa­mous be­cause of his beau­ti­ful mel­ons. Vis­i­tors are wel­come but if you want to

visit, you will have to re­serve one month in ad­vance. Too many vis­i­tors at one time could dis­rupt his work in his lit­tle farm.

There are im­por­tant lessons that can be learned here for lo­cal agripreneurs. It means that even if you have a very small farm, you can max­i­mize in­come if you can grow the right prod­uct or prod­ucts for the right tar­get mar­ket. The im­por­tant thing is that you have a thor­ough knowl­edge of how to grow and mar­ket the prod­uct you have cho­sen to spe­cial­ize in.

The oft-re­peated say­ing that “Small Is Beau­ti­ful” is once again demon­strated by Panu Taweepon. A small farm is eas­ier to man­age, es­pe­cially if you have mod­ern fa­cil­i­ties like drip ir­ri­ga­tion, green­houses for year-round pro­duc­tion, tech­niques of bal­anced fer­til­iza­tion ei­ther with or­ganic or non-or­ganic fer­til­iz­ers.

By the way, Arse­nio “Toto” Barcelona of Harbest Agribusi­ness, one of the hosted vis­i­tors at the trade show, is now du­pli­cat­ing the tech­nique of Panu in growing his mel­ons. Toto has al­ready set up his growing sys­tem com­plete with all the nec­es­sary fa­cil­i­ties in growing his crop at the roofdeck of his new build­ing in Tay­tay, Rizal. The area is very spa­cious and Toto will also grow many other things in his rooftop gar­den. He will be growing trop­i­cal straw­berry, vine crops like cu­cum­ber in the mid­dle of an above-floor plant­ing bed, and leafy greens like let­tuce and oth­ers at the side to max­i­mize pro­duc­tion in every space. The idea, he said, was con­ceived by his son Julius, an Ate­neo grad­u­ate who is very much in­volved now in run­ning Harbest Agribusi­ness with his fa­ther. Many of his rel­a­tives call him Julius the farmer.

SILAGE MOWER CUTS AND SHREDS FOR­AGE While Toto Barcelona is in­ter­ested in Panu’s tech­nique of growing his mel­ons, Eu­gene Gabriel, one of the SIMA-hosted at­ten­dees, is very much in­ter­ested in the Enerossi Silage Mower show­cased at the trade show.

This is the dream ma­chine he has been look­ing for that can fa­cil­i­tate faster com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of silage in the Philip­pines. His com­pany, Right Agri has col­lab­o­rated with Dr. Ron­aldo Su­maoang of No­vat­ech Food In­dus­tries in the com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of af­ford­able silage for live­stock that in­clude dairy and beef cat­tle, goats, sheep and buf­faloes. They are al­ready pro­duc­ing silage for clients but the pro­duc­tion is not fast enough to meet the big de­mand. Aside from the usual silage, they are also pro­duc­ing TMR or To­tal Mix Ra­tion which is silage en­riched with en­zymes and ben­e­fi­cial mi­crobes that en­hance di­gestibil­ity of the feed.

The Enerossi Silage Mower can help lower the cost of pro­duc­tion be­cause the ma­chine can har­vest the for­age crop which it si­mul­ta­ne­ously shreds. The silage crops could in­clude Pak­chong 1 (Su­per Napier), corn, sorghum, sug­ar­cane, King grass and oth­ers.

What is usu­ally done at present in the Philip­pines is that farm

work­ers har­vest the stand­ing crop man­u­ally and then feed the same to a shred­der. The cut­ting of the corn or napier is very ex­pen­sive when done man­u­ally. It is not as fast as when a ma­chine like the silage mower is used.

The Enerossi Silage Mower is a durable and strong self-load­ing mower, per­fect for the for­age crops men­tioned above. It comes with a shaft drive, equipped with a sys­tem to sharpen knives. The ma­chine has 12 stan­dard knives on the cut­ter disc and six ven­ti­la­tion flaps for the cut prod­uct. It is also equipped with a gear set for ad­just­ing the cut­ter discs for eight dif­fer­ent sizes of the shred­ded ma­te­rial.

Avail­abil­ity of af­ford­able silage to Filipino farm­ers can re­ally help in­crease the live­stock pop­u­la­tion in the Philip­pines. To­day, thou­sands of back­yard farm­ers raise only one or two cows be­cause they don’t have enough feed for their an­i­mals dur­ing the dry months when green grass is scarce. With af­ford­able silage, they could raise more cows and other ru­mi­nants.

HAND TRAC­TOR SANS DRIVER Another ex­hibit that fas­ci­nated the trade show vis­i­tors was the video of a hand­trac­tor pud­dling the field for plant­ing rice with­out any driver. The ma­chine is be­ing op­er­ated by a guy sit­ting un­der a tree with the aid of a re­mote con­trol gad­get.

The tech­nol­ogy was show­cased by a farm­ers’ co­op­er­a­tive in Thai­land. While the tech­nol­ogy is not yet fully com­mer­cial­ized, it au­gurs well for other great ideas be­ing de­vel­oped for agri­cul­ture. Per­haps, the new tech­nolo­gies could at­tract more young peo­ple to get into agribusi­ness. With gad­gets such as the one show­cased, farm­ing in the Philip­pines could be more fun.

DRONES FOR FAST SPRAY­ING Another equip­ment that fas­ci­nated the vis­i­tors at the trade show was the drone that can be used for spray­ing crops in the field like rice, corn, ba­nanas, fruit trees, and many more. The ma­chine could be used to spray fo­liar fer­til­izer as well as pes­ti­cides.

Do you know how fast it can spray one hectare? It takes just 10 to15 min­utes. Toto Barcelona is al­ready or­der­ing a cou­ple of units which he will use for rental spray­ing. Gabriel said that he will be buy­ing one for use in Is­abela.

PEO­PLE LOVE THE LATE THAI KING It is easy to un­der­stand why the Thais re­ally love the late King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej now known as King Rama IX. At the trade show, a co­op­er­a­tive promi­nently dis­played the King’s por­trait in its ex­hibit booth.

We per­son­ally know that King Rama IX had helped Thai co­op­er­a­tives in a big way in his long years as monarch of Thai­land. For in­stance, the big­gest dairy co­op­er­a­tive in Thai­land, the Nong Pho Dairy Co­op­er­a­tive, is un­der Royal Pa­tron­age. The King him­self put up about half of the cap­i­tal­iza­tion of the co­op­er­a­tive that had a rev­enue of 1.7 bil­lion baht dur­ing our visit about five years ago. He re­ceived an­nual div­i­dends but he gave that to the co-op for the schol­ar­ship of farm­ers’ chil­dren, for R&D and ex­ten­sion ser­vices.

We also vis­ited his Chi­tral­ada project in Bangkok within the 100-hectare palace grounds where a vir­tual agri­cul­tural sta­tion has been set up com­plete with a dairy op­er­a­tion that pro­duces

fresh and pro­cessed cow’s milk, rice byprod­ucts re­search (bri­quettes out of rice hull), many va­ri­eties of mush­room, ve­tiver grass for ero­sion con­trol and many more.

The co-ops at the trade show dis­played var­i­ous fruits that in­cluded man­goes, many va­ri­eties of ba­nanas, pro­cessed farm pro­duce, hor­ti­cul­tural crops, and many oth­ers.

HEALTHYFUL RICE MILK One new prod­uct de­rived from rice is Di­a­mond Fresh Rice Milk Drink which was show­cased at the trade show. No, the prod­uct is not a con­coc­tion of rice and milk from dairy cows that you may be think­ing about. It is an ex­tract from young rice grains in their milky stage which is 7 to 12 days after pol­li­na­tion. The prod­uct is claimed to con­tain bioac­tive sub­stances such as an­tiox­i­dants, non-starch polysac­cha­rides, plant sterol, oryzanol, en­zymes and vi­ta­mins that are good for hu­man well­ness.

The Rice Milk Drink is con­sid­ered an or­ganic prod­uct which con­tains low su­gar, low fat, low glycemic in­dex. It has a pleas­ant taste and is easy to di­gest. Rice Milk Drink comes in plas­tic bot­tles with two vari­ants. Berry Rice is de­rived from col­ored rice. The other comes from Jas­mine rice. One bot­tle costs 40 baht or the equiv­a­lent of about R65. There’s an 8-pack handy car­ton which is per­fect for gift giv­ing.

Di­a­mond Fresh was sup­ported by the Agri­cul­tural Re­search De­vel­op­ment Agency (ARDA), and the In­sti­tute of Agri­cul­tural Prod­uct In­no­va­tion.

It is cer­ti­fied or­ganic by ACT, In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Or­ganic Agri­cul­ture Move­ments (IFOAM), and EU Equiv­a­lent.

CHI­ANG MAI BLACK PIG The Chi­ang Mai Black Pig was de­vel­oped into a big swine by cross­ing two na­tive pigs from Thai­land with im­ported breeds. The re­searchers crossed the Pi­etrain with the na­tive with brown­ish coat. On the other hand, the Meis­han pig, also a na­tive, was crossed with Duroc. The pur­pose was to pro­duce a pig with black coat that is big­ger and with ex­cel­lent eat­ing qual­ity for niche mar­kets.

All along, the crosses with black coat and good phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics were se­lected for fur­ther cross­ing. The se­lected an­i­mals in the fifth gen­er­a­tion of the Pi­etrain x Na­tive were crossed with the 5th gen­er­a­tion of the Duroc x Meis­han crosses. The re­sult is the Chi­ang Mai Black Pig.

ABOUT SIMA The Paris-based Sa­lon de la Ma­chine Agri­cole (SIMA), one of the big­gest agri­cul­tural trade show or­ga­niz­ers in Europe, staged the Asean edi­tion of the trade ex­hi­bi­tion for the first time last year in Bangkok. The sec­ond edi­tion was held last June 6-8, 2018. It is a promis­ing trade show that will keep the Asean farm­ers abreast of the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in agri­cul­ture. Among the SIMA of­fi­cials we met in Bangkok were Jean Hugues Bar­sot, key ac­count man­ager, and Gil­laume Coin­t­ereau, com­mu­ni­ca­tion man­ager. So­phie Huoch, a young staff co­or­di­na­tor, was most help­ful in at­tend­ing to the needs of the hosted vis­i­tors.

SIMA was cre­ated by the French As­so­ci­a­tion of Agri­cul­tural Ma­chin­ery Man­u­fac­tur­ers un­der the com­pany called Ex­posima. The SIMA Europe is staged in a 30-hectare venue every two years and the 78th edi­tion will be held in Fe­bru­ary 2019 in Paris. In 2017, the show was at­tended by 232,000 vis­i­tors from 145 coun­tries around the world. The ex­hibitors, on the other hand, num­bered 1,270 com­pa­nies con­sist­ing of big names in farm mech­a­niza­tion and other sec­tors.

The trade shows have con­trib­uted tremen­dously to the wide­spread dis­sem­i­na­tion of the lat­est tech­nolo­gies in agri­cul­ture around the world. And of course, it is a prof­itable busi­ness for the or­ga­niz­ers. It is also a win-win sit­u­a­tion for the farm­ers, busi­ness­men, and other stake­hold­ers.

Panu Taweepon’s mel­ons un­der green­house.

Out­side view of Panu’s green­houses in Su­rat Thani prov­ince.

Toto Barcelona (left) will du­pli­cate Panu’s sys­tem of growing melon in his rooftop gar­den in Tay­tay, Rizal.

Sam­ple of Panu’s mel­ons for sale at 100 baht per kilo. One fruit is usu­ally two ki­los.

Taweepon (right) and Zac B. Sarian in­side Panu’s green­house at the trade show.

Panu Taweepon, 37.

Har­vest­ing corn for mak­ing silage by man­ual la­bor is slow and ex­pen­sive.

The Enerossi Silage Mower cuts and shreds the for­age crop si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

Dairy cows love to eat silage.

Hand­trac­tor pud­dling the rice field with­out a driver. It is run by a re­mote con­trol.

The op­er­a­tor of the driver­less hand­trac­tor sits un­der a tree.

Eu­gene Gabriel (left) and a Thai of­fi­cial of the Thai Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture look­ing at the hand­trac­tor equipped with re­mote con­trol tech­nol­ogy.

The drone can spray one hectare in just 10 to 15 min­utes.

Sarian ad­mir­ing the por­trait of the Thai King at the trade show dis­played at the booth of a co­op­er­a­tive.

Big mango fruits with blush­ing skin dis­played at the co-op booth.

Gabriel pos­ing with var­i­ous ba­nanas and mango at a co-op booth.

Philip­pine at­ten­dees at the trade show sam­ple rice milk drink.

Nam dok mai mango at the trade show.

Beau­ti­fully packed Nam dok mai mango for gift giv­ing.

Gabriel eat­ing a pack of sliced Nam dok mai mango and gluti­nous rice.

Boom Non­niphat show­ing a pack of rice milk drink.

Huoch (right), co­or­di­na­tor of the trade show, smiles as she poses at the booth of an ex­hibitor of seed sort­ing ma­chines.

Mem­bers of the Philip­pine del­e­ga­tion to the SIMA-Asean trade show.

Sarian (right) in­ter­view­ing Gil­laume Coin­t­ereau and Jean Hugues Bar­sot of SIMA at the trade show.

Al­ban Si­monte, So­phie Kuoch of SIMA-Asean Agribusi­ness trade show and Sarian.

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