By ANTONIO G. PAPA, Ph.D.
To be profitable in an agricultural enterprise, the entrepreneurs must both earn and save money from their farm operations.
As an innovative and enterprising agripreneur, they should have an eye for all the waste materials in the farm and know how to convert these farm wastes into money as profit for his farming business. This is the case of Edilberto R. Silan, the “Dragon Fruit King” of Cavite.
The farm waste materials include the pruned stems and rejected dragon fruit, animal manure, and weeds––all of these are made usable and convertible into money.
How does Silan do this as an enterprising and innovative agripreneur?
Pruned stems of dragon fruit. The matured and young pruned stems of his dragon fruit are not considered as waste, per se. According to Silan, “the quality matured stems, of specified length, is being sold as planting materials for other farmers, who would like to start establishing their own dragon fruit plantations and sold these at P100.00 per stem.”
The stems that do not qualify as planting materials are used as roughage for the cows, native pigs and native chickens. “The stems are very succulent, palatable and nutritious feedstuff,” says Silan.
Animal manure and other waste materials. The effluents of the animals, the used media from mushroom production, banana stalks and leaves, and weeds are being collected and are being used in producing organic fertilizer.
To use the twigs of some plants, “I have a shredding machine that is being used to convert these into small parts or pieces that serve as components for production of organic fertilizer through vermicomposting,” averred Silan.
The farm also hauls chicken dung from various poultry farms in the upland Cavite to fortify the organic fertilizer.
Silan is very fortunate to have a neighbor in the locality who is into commercial mushroom production. Its waste materials––the used media for mushroom production––are being delivered to his farm and served as immediate fertilizer for his crops. According to Silan, “the raw materials being used as media for mushroom culture are imported from Malaysia.”
Directly, Silan is mulching this material surrounding the dragon fruit plants. It is very useful for the plants because the decaying waste is greenish in the long run, thereby providing humus for the dragon fruit. In addition, the above-mentioned materials and the fresh banana stalks and leaves are also being utilized for vermicomposting production using the African night crawlers. According to Silan, the farm produces 50 tons of vermicast monthly.
Silan uses 80 percent of organic fertilizer in his plantation for vegetative purposes and an additional 20 percent complete fertilizer, to keep the big fruits of his crops in place until these reach maturity and are ready for harvest.
Whenever applicable, Silan averred that “I also apply foliar fertilizer for quality produce.” Reject fruits of dragon fruit. At Silan Agri Farm, the reject harvested fruits of dragon fruit are not wasted. Why? With the initiative of Silan’s wife, Shirley, they are processing these into various by-products.
Several processed dragon fruit by-products are being sold in the farm, namely: dragon fruit jam, vinegar, wine and beauty soap. Hence, value-adding through processing is being practiced in the farm.
Cooperating agencies. Silan would not be as enterprising and innovative as he is today if he did not heed and adhere to the advices of the authorities from the following government agencies: Local Government of Indang; Provincial Government of Cavite; Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development; Cavite State University; Southern Tagalog Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research, Development and Extension Consortium; University of the Philippines; Department of Tourism; Department of Trade and Industry; Bureau of Plant Industry; and Department of Agriculture in Region IV-A.
Silan said that “my collaboration and partnership with the abovementioned agencies are very crucial for what we are today.” On various aspects – from technical to financial support––these agencies in one way or another have been beneficial for Silan Agri Farm.
One of the approaches of the agritourism farm in this midland part of the province of Cavite is that farm wastes are converted into cash by selling organic fertilizer and processed by-products––thus earning profit, and saving 80 percent of expenditures for fertilizer by using the farm’s produced vermicast––saving money out of its farm operations.