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Sturdy ampalaya is a money maker

March 19, 2010



December 30, 2009, 3:10pm

Typhoons Pepeng and Santi nearly ruined the ampalaya crops of two vegetable farmers in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija. But these resulted in veggie supply shortages, so they were able to sell ampalaya at a higher price.

After the typhoons, said farmers Roberto Gregorio and Jojo Angeles, viajeros bought ampalaya at P70 per kilo. And even if the farmgate price is now down to P45 per kilo, “it is still a very good price.”

Gregorio, 56, planted the Poseidon ampalaya variety through direct seeding in plots covering a 1,000-square meter area in his farm in Barangay Mahipon. And although this is just his second year of planting ampalaya after being perennially frustrated with sitao and tomato, he has grown 720 plants at a planting distance closer than the recommended 75-centimeter-to-100-centimeter spacing.

“I shortened my planting distance so that even if some of my plants died, my plots would not look too sparsely planted,” says Gregorio.

Direct seeding made his plants grow vigorously, especially since he followed the recommended fertilizer applications. He also saw to it that his plots were well watered from a large, deep pond dug nearby. He built strong trellises, too, as his farm is on an elevated part of Mahipon where strong winds blow.

“I thought I was going to lose my crop when Santi came along with its winds,” adds Gregorio. “The plants were just beginning to fruit then. It would have been a disaster if my sons and I had not put up on time an improvised windbreak made of stakes, empty feedsacks, and rope.”

On the first month of harvesting every three to four days, Gregorio sold more than 2,300 kilos of first-class ampalaya, which were brought to Balintawak Market in Metro Manila.

“I grossed about P107,000 but netted less than half that amount because of expenses for land and trellis preparations, seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, even diesel fuel for my irrigation pumps,” he said. “But all in all, ampalaya has so far been a good crop to me, and has helped me financially support my son in taking up engineering.”

The daughter of Angeles, on one hand, wouldn’t be able to graduate from college if not for his earnings from Poseidon ampalaya, which is bred by Allied Botanical Corporation (ABC).
His planting area is just half of Gregorio’s but he has more experience; he has been into ampalaya production for five years already. So his neighbors look up to him as a model.

Angeles is also a cooperator of ABC in its field trials for the three new ampalaya varieties it has developed. But he said he will stick to Poseidon as the variety is “vigorous, prolific, and highly resistant to pests and diseases.”

“You can start harvesting fruits that are plump and heavy 60 to 65 days after transplanting, and every two to three days after that,” he added.

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