By Zac B. Sarian
After losing on his tomato crops for two consecutive years, Victor Arvisu, 45, of Liliw, Laguna decided not to plant tomatoes again. Instead, he is now focusing on crops that can be harvested within a short time and are less expensive to grow. Moreover, they have less volatile prices.
The trouble with tomatoes, he said, is that while the price could be sky-high during off-season, the price could tumble to unprofitable levels when the supply is plentiful. Like last April-May, 2018 when the price of tomato ex-farm in Liliw was as low as P4 per kilo for the small and P6 to P8 per kilo for the 50 grammers. With the high cost of production, the farmers were losing money. Ironically, the price in Manila at the time was still high at P80 per kilo. In a supermarket that we checked, 5 pieces in a small
plastic bag had a tag of P8.
One of Victor’s favorite crops is radish like the varieties Mt. Data and Valiant distributed by Ramgo. He has good reasons for liking radish. It is very cheap to produce, according to him. The seeds are only P170 per can and this can already produce 400 kilos of marketable roots in a growing period of 40 days. Unlike tomatoes and vine crops, there’s no need for trellis.
The expenses for growing one can of radish seeds is just around P500, according to Victor. This is for the seeds, plowing, weeding and chicken manure. From one can of
seeds, he usually makes a net of P4,300. Last March, he planted 20 cans so he could have made a profit of P86,000 in one cropping cycle. Victor usually plants radish three times a year.
Last February, he planted 16,000 cabbage on a 1.5-hectare land that he rented for P16,000. By April, he harvested 16,000 cabbage heads that he sold at P25 apiece. Like radish, cabbage is not expensive to produce. It does not require any trellis and the price is good enough. Mario Cortez, another cabbage grower from Ilayang Sungi, said that he sells his cabbage at P40 per kilo.
Victor also loves to plant cucumber, particularly the Jen Jen variety which produces dark green fruits. Although this crop requires trellis, it is profitable to grow. The crop has a short gestation period of 45 days and its fruits sell for P30 per kilo ex-farm. Jen Jen is a high-yielding variety.
In November 2017, Victor planted ampalaya on one hectare that he rented for P5,000 in a place with lower elevation than where he planted his radish and cabbage.
From that crop, he was able to harvest a total of 8,000 kilos. He sold some at P55 per kilo (the highest) whereas the lowest he got was P25 per kilo.
Let’s say he got an average price of P35 a kilo, that would be a gross of P280,000. The
total cost of production, including seeds, rent, land preparation, trellises, fertilizers, pesticides and labor was P140,000. So he got a good profit from a crop he grew for less than four months.
Victor Arvisu is a high school graduate. He started farming on his own when he was 25 years old. Before that, he earned money as a farm worker for other farmers. That’s where he got the experience in growing vegetables. He does not have land of his own but he rents farms in six places for his favorite crops.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2018 issue.