A model farmer in Brgy. San Miguel, San Manuel, Tarlac has attained the highest corn yield he has ever achieved in his many years of planting corn.
By Zac Sarian
He is Juanito Rama, an enterprising rice and corn farmer who also put up a progressive cooperative that has become a federation of 19 farmers’ cooperatives all over Tarlac province. The record yield was achieved in Rama’s farm, which was harvested with a harvesting machine on March 21, 2014, supervised by Edwin Paningbatan, corn coordinator in Region 3 of the Department of Agriculture.
Rama got a record yield of 20.6 tons of grains with a moisture content of 13.5 percent per hectare. That is much higher than the highest yield of 16.8 tons per hectare that Rama previously got.
One possible contributor to the increased yield was the spraying of Power Grower Combo, a special fertilizer formulation which stimulates the plants to take up nutrients from the soil after the leaves are sprayed with the power fertilizer.
Rama said he sprayed his corn plants three times with the Power
Grower Combo. The first spraying using just a half-kilo pack was done
10 days after planting. The second spraying using two packs was done 25 days after planting, and the third spraying was done 45 days after planting, just before the plants started to flower.
Incidentally, the corn crops of the co-op members in Tarlac are virtually all planted under the zero-tillage system. Under this system, the soil is not plowed anymore. Instead, an instrument which Rama calls ‘asad’ is used to create a two-inch deep hole for the seed and another hole two inches away for dropping a pinch of chemical fertilizer.
The system is very economical, not only because there’s no more need to plow the soil but also because the amount of chemical fertilizer needed is much less. According to Rama, they used to apply 8 bags of chemical fertilizer per hectare during the first application. In the case of the zero tillage system, they only apply three bags per hectare at planting time.
Chemical fertilizer is applied two more times. The second application of a combination of one bag of urea and two bags of 14-14-14 (complete) is made 35 days after planting as side-dressing. And the third application of one bag of muriate of potash and one bag complete fertilizer is done by broadcasting 45 days from planting.
In zero tillage, the plants are spaced about 30 centimeters (cm) in the row and 60 cm between rows. There are about 80,000 plants grown on one hectare. Usually the total cost of production, up to harvesting, is 40,000 to 50,000 per
Right now, the selling price of grains with 14 percent moisture content is 13.50 per kilo. Thus a yield of 20.6 tons per hectare would really result in a very good profit for the farmer. That 20.6 tons is worth 270,100. Even if the total cost of production reaches 70,000, that still means a net profit of 200,000 per hectare.
WORKING TO HELP OTHERS – Juanito Rama formed the San Manuel Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative with 71 other incorporators. This grew and grew to the extent that 18 other farmers’ cooperatives in Tarlac
joined them to form a federation.
Rama is very transparent in his management of the cooperative. He shows the financial status of the organization without hiding anything. But he is also very strict in enforcing the rules and regulations of the organization. Anybody who tries to undermine the quality of their grains (say, they sell inferior grains to the cooperative) will be thrown out of the organization—and a few have suffered that fate.
A big majority of the members adhere to the strict rules of the organization because they also receive a lot of benefits.
Usually, every year, the cooperative that Rama started in his barangay
declares 50% dividends. Which means that if your share capital is
50,000, you will receive a 25,000 dividend at the end of the year. Of
course, many of them have hundreds of thousands of pesos in share capital.
There are other benefits that the co-op members receive. For instance, they
can borrow from the co-op the money they need to grow their crops. This has helped many of them to expand their plantings, according to Rama.
Before the co-op was put up in Rama’s barangay, most of the farmers
could only plant half a hectare to corn because of the lack of capital. Today,
he says, the smallest size on which their farmer members plant is three hectares.
The members are obliged to sell their harvests to the cooperative. That is
all right with the members because they, after all, get a premium price.
Right now, the federation is selling all its stocks to two big feed mills at
a premium price because of the high quality of the grains.
The members, according to Rama, produce at least 600 million kilos of corn per cropping. They use the Round-Up ready variety from Monsanto. This means that eliminating the weeds in the cornfield is very easy and economical. Because
the variety is Round-Up Ready, the corn plants are not affected by the
Round-Up herbicide even if the plants are hit by the weed killer as it is sprayed.
Using herbicide to eliminate weeds, according to Rama, is very cheap. One gallon of the chemical costs just about 1,000 today, and that is enough to treat one hectare.
Meanwhile, Juanito has greatly expanded his area for planting corn. His family now plants corn on 25 hectares. And because of his many activities, like conducting seminars for members of the federation, he has less and less time to attend to the day-to-day operations on the family’s farm.
Fortunately, he said, his wife Rachel has taken charge of many of the farming chores, and he is very thankful for that.
Rama’s federation of cooperatives, by the way, is a favorite of Land Bank of the Philippines because they always pay their loans on time. They don’t have any arrears.
This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s May 2014 issue.