Agribusiness success story
Agri Plain Talk
By ZAC B. SARIAN
October 21, 2009, 3:32pm
One successful agribusiness venture that continues to surge is Harbest Agribusiness Corporation owned by our good friend Arsenio ‘Toto’ Barcelona. This company started in 1997 with the introduction into the local market of the hybrid seeds of Known-You Seed Company of Taiwan. Years before, another company tried to introduce the same but the venture did not last long.
It took a very determined Toto Barcelona to make Known-You Seeds become a byword among progressive Filipino farmers. At first, Toto had to contend with the high cost of the hybrid seeds that he was promoting. Many farmers complained that unsprouted seeds of hybrid ampalaya were costing as much as P5 apiece. But that did not discourage Toto to promote Known-You Seeds. He just had to show that by planting hybrid seeds, yield could be multiplied many times and in the end the farmers will make more income.
For a start, he had to buy initial seeds which were first planted in trials at UP Los Baños with the help of Dr. Diosdado Castro, former staff of the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) in Taiwan. As expected, the trials were successful and that gave him confidence to make the business an honest-to-goodness business. He also had to conduct field demonstrations in the provinces.
Among the seeds that have now become bestsellers are Red Lady papaya, Bright Jean sweet corn, Phoenix squash, seedless and other varieties of watermelon, honeydew melons, ampalaya, tomatoes, eggplant, various sweet and hot pepper varieties, patola, upo and others.
He had made collaborations with local government units as well as the SM Foundation in training farmers on the production of high-value crops.
How did he get the Taiwan connection? Well after graduation, he was hired by a friend to manage a donut factory in Taipei. The posting led to one business after another, including organizing farm tours in Taiwan for agribusinessmen from the Philippines. That eventually led him to recognize the potentials of Known-You Seeds. Today, aside from seeds, Harbest Agribusiness also distributes various farming inputs, including small tractors for land preparation in vegetable farms. The operation is now nationwide. A new office in Bicol was inaugurated just recently.
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AANI SEMINARS. This Saturday, October 24, Teddy Laurie will conduct a seminar on mushroom production at the AANI Urban Farm in Antipolo City. Then on October 31, Antonio S. Rola will conduct a whole day seminar on mango production at the AANI seminar room at the AANI Weekend Market at the FTI in Taguig City, located at the back of Sunshine Mall. For direction, log on to firstname.lastname@example.org.