Farming tips (and life lessons) from a dragon fruit grower

1. Maintain the quality, not the quantity. Silan Farm’s adherence to quality is one of the main reasons it continues to excel in the industry.

2. Focus on the variety or varieties which are saleable to the market to avoid incurring additional costs on non-income generating crops.

3. Continue studying and apply modern techniques and technology in farming that could help farm production.

4. Employ different technology/ies for every farm, that is, in terms of fruiting, taste, size, or stems (in the case of dragon fruit) to maintain in order for trees to receive sufficient nutrients.

5. Maintain lower posts (for dragon fruit production) for easier management; anyway, the yields (in terms of taste and other qualities) are still the same.

6. Establish your brand. Your customers will keep coming back for quality regardless of the presence of other traders offering the same product in the market. “When you get the Silan Agri Farm quality, then you could deliver to me,” recounted Eddie overhearing a conversation from one of his regular buyers and other suppliers.

7. Practice farm sustainability. “By that, we mean planting cash crops which could become an alternative source of income during the off-season stage of a farm’s major product. We cannot just layoff a farm employee readily just because we don’t have the production and resources for a particular season. We need to provide them as well with regular and sustainable income since they also have their families to provide for,” advices Silan. In his case, he is also thankful that dragon fruit is a sturdy crop that is able to withstand calamities which gives him guaranteed source of income during season.

8. Establish a good credit line. To win the trust of other people, especially those people who helped you get through along the way, do not forget to pay them back as soon as you have the capacity to do so.

9. Save up. Strive to acquire your own land for tilling (even parcel by parcel) as long as you have the capacity. Nothing beats the feeling of providing food for a larger scale.

10. Time is gold. Seize every opportunity where you can enrich yourself and apply it to your business.

11. Focus on sustainability and not just on establishing farms. Sharing best practices and learning new strategies is a way to attain and sustain food security.

12. Know your purpose. Silan says that one of the reasons why he pursues farming isn’t just for profit or to be well known in the field. It is to create partnerships and build friendship. That way, your reason for doing something worthwhile will be continuous.

13. Always thank God for blessings, whether trials or graces.

14. Always be determined to try and try until you get what you deserve.

15. Be a hands-on farmer. Always put your heart into whatever you’re doing.

This originally appeared as a sidebar entitled “Farming tips (and life lessons) from Eddie Silan” in Agriculture Monthly’s December 2019 issue. 

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