(Sabi ni Manong Bal)
Q&A with Engr. Baltazar J. Gumana
Magsasaka Siyentista, WESVARRDEC
Recipient, Science and Technology-based Farm (STBF) by PCARRD, 2010
Interview by the Regional Applied Communications Group (RACG)
March 2010, General Luna St., Iloilo City
What are three qualities of a good cut flower farm?
- Organized and well-planned
How will the farm become a self-sustaining and profitable investment?
The farm can be a self-sustaining and profitable investment through gradual steps.
- Mono cropping has its benefits but you may practice intercropping.
- Invest in other amenities. Prioritize the water source.
- The farmer’s presence is essential to maintaining the farm.
- Be in the lookout for in-demand plants.
What problems do you foresee in establishing the cutflower farm? How do you solve them?
- Problem—Some land areas have dry soil. Solution—The farmer should research about farming and planting. He should study the topography of the area before determining what to plant. He must fence the entire planting area in order to prevent pilferage or vandalism.
- Problem—Maintaining a cutflower business with containerized ornamental plants needs a big capital. Solution—The cut flower farmer should have a good capital investment to facilitate startup of business. Planting short-gestation plants will help defray the farming expenses.
- Problem—Cutflower business demands full-time, hard labor. Solution—Know your plants. Be in the farm most if not all the time. Schedule planting in anticipation of agri-fairs and horticulture fairs.
How does a cut flower farmer profit from the farm?
- Attend and participate in seminars and trainings on plants culture. Share your knowledge and experience on cut flower farming.
- Prepare plants for sale during garden shows and agri-fairs.
- Make available flyers, leaflets, ads, handouts, etc. to promote your plants.
- Network with local DTI and DA offices for project grants and technical assistance. Establish ties with your local and regional horticulture organizations and federations to access business opportunities.
- Establish your own garden center when it is practical.
- Expand. Aside from cut flowers, be able to breed and develop a market for specialty plants and flowers.
What are the indicators of a socially responsible cut flower farm?
- Sharing of information on the technology is indispensable.
- The farm must be convincing for visiting farmers, entrepreneur and agri-tourists.
What are your top technologies on cut flower farming?
- Growing Anthuriums
- Propagation of Dracaena cultivars, other ornamental plants and fruit bearing trees
- Planning, presentation and establishment of gardens and orchards
What are your farming practices?
- Know the suitable crops for your area. Always consider the climatic conditions
- Learn the technology.
- Mulching. Use a plastic mulch to ward off nematodes and fungi and weeds to produce quality plants.
- Mass propagation of Dracaena
- Faster and better way of grafting and inarching of ornamental plants like Adeniums and fruit trees.
What are your unique cut flower farming practices?
- Planting a single node of Dracaena allows more plants and yield. The usual practice is planting Dracaena using 3 nodes.
Mulching and anthuriums
- Anthurium plantlings are not directly placed to the ground. Encasing them in plastic mulching helps protect the plants from nematodes. This practice reduces expenses for weeding and insecticides.
- Learn about the plant itself first before you plant and cultivate. Common knowledge on plants is not enough. It will help future farmers to read up on farming practices they engage in.
What could be done to Philippine agriculture in the next five years?
- Because the LGU’s economy is anchored in agriculture, the task is to make agriculture attractive to all to the extent that—“kahit hindi farmer pwedeng mag-farm.” A national program—government policies and programs must be in place—should give incentives to farming.
- There must be a national effort to retool technicians to beef up their expertise and skills on what is supposed to be their basic roles.