Monday, October 15, 2007

On Being A Farmer

I always wanted to be a farmer. I thought it would be cool to have "Farmer" as occupation in my passport.

My grandfather was a "gentleman" farmer. With his Spanish mestizo looks, he looked dashing and in command. And the mangoes! There were baskets and baskets under the dining room table and every available surface. We had mangoes before, during and after each meal and never tire of it. During avocado season, we'd just go outside and get breakfast from the fruit that fell overnight. In between, we had guava and cashew we picked ourselves. Being a farmer to me meant having lots of good stuff!

Then the awful lahar came and everything turned gray, literally. My Lolo was gone by then but I remember thinking how difficult it would have been for him. It was about a decade later that the mangoes started to come again, though not as much as before. Thankfully, we still have a couple of baskets each during harvest. I silently thank Lolo for his foresight.

I got my own farm in an unbelievable manner. It deserves a separate post. Last summer, I planted 23 seedlings. They say that each full-grown mango tree yields enough fruit worth PhP50,000.00 per harvest. If my math is right, that's just 20 trees to get a million annually! And to think that some farmers get their trees to bear fruit twice a year.

I would have added about 30 more seedlings this year but there was a severe drought followed by floods. Another story. You'd need just 10 square meters per tree. The area of an Olympic-size swimming pool is 1,250 sqm. Now, YOU do the math! And that's just mangoes. Bamboo grows much faster and is in constant demand. Mahogany is worth its weight in gold (well, almost!) and very low maintenance. That's not even the "cash" crops, like calamansi and black pepper. Within a short period, these give you income continuously. Who doesn't need these few hundred pesos every few days?

We all have a piece of idle land somewhere. It can be in your back yard or a spot at the ancestral home. It may be a hectare in a fifth-class municipality, like mine. Just take the initiative and do a little research. Use some of your Christmas bonus/cash gifts and get a seedling for a mere 100 a pop. In many parts of the country, you can find someone to look after your trees for an equitable split of the profit. And this is AFTER the first harvest, which may take years. Not only do you have a life, you add to someone else.' It can't get any better than that.

Now if every ten year old boy or girl planted a few trees, they would have enough money after college for graduate school or a comfortable nest egg. So, who wants to be a millionaire?

No comments:

Post a Comment