DILIMAN, Quezon City—Imagine an environment where the agricultural ecosystem is self-sufficient, and growing produce draws inspiration from nature and is based on crop diversity, resilience, natural productivity, and sustainability.
This cycle is possible through permaculture which is at the core of the practices at Habilin Farms in Tayabas, Quezon.
In the 108th episode of the Agricultural Training Institute’s (ATI) teleradyo program “Agri Asenso”, Habilin Farms owner and digital marketing expert Ben Francia talked about his passion for farming and their mission to take good care of the farm as something entrusted to them by nature.
The 2.2-hectare farm grows lanzones, langka, rambutan, avocado, coffee, cacao, and other fruit trees, native trees, and indigenous forest trees. They also have a small fish pond enough for the family’s and visitors’ consumption, as well as free-range chickens, native pigs, ducks, and stingless bees.
One of their priority crops is ube which, according to Francia, takes about six to eight months to grow and is best planted during summertime.
“When I first arrived on the farm, I surveyed the land and looked at what used to grow here. Surprisingly, I saw some wild purple yams growing in our property. I did some research and found out that ube is really high-value. In fact, the market value is good and the demand is very high. The potential of ube is big not just locally, but also internationally… That’s why we decided to try and plant ube,” Francia shared on air.
Francia said that ube does not require a lot of water and thrives better when it is left to grow on its own, provided that there is a tree or a wall beside it where its vines can climb on. The ube plant also grows under any soil conditions, but the sandy loam type produces better quality crops.
Likewise, growing ube does not require fertilizers most of the time. However, Francia advised the listeners to apply organic fertilizer if the soil requires more nutrients.
To prevent pest infestation, Francia stressed the importance of multi-cropping and ensuring that there is distance between the crops. Alternate-planting different varieties may reduce the presence of pests.
In the latter part of the program, Francia urged farmers and even those in the backyard-scale to grow ube because it is not high maintenance, requires low investment, and has high demand locally and internationally.
Francia said that they themselves are planning to grow more ube so that they can start their own value-adding initiatives, focusing on the production of ube chips.
Francia’s interview on “Agri Asenso” was aired on DZRH last April 22, 2023. Visit https://fb.watch/k5DjsOiozC/ for the full episode.