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 P18 per kilo. On the other hand, many traders offer mostly P2.80 to P3 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.
One of its special crops is onion. Its latest introduction is the Red Dragon, which is proving to be another bestseller. Farmers who have tried the variety in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Mindoro are all praises for the new variety. It is claimed to be high-yielding and has good resistance to diseases.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s November 2016 issue.