There's money in farming

If you’re a money-hungry youth, Jeff Arabelo will probably tell you to drop the corporate suit and pursue farming.
A graduate of Accounting, Arabelo worked in Metro Manila for 22 years but later left in order to cultivate the nine-hectare land owned by his parents in Bago City, Negros Occidental.
Arabelo was recently recognized by East West Seed as the Most Outstanding Farmer in Region 6 during its 30th anniversary in 2013.
East West Seed is a company that creates seed varieties which Arabelo patronizes for 10 years now.
He was chosen among 30 Hero Farmer awardees because of his unique success story as a farmer, he has helped the vegetable farming sector grow, has created jobs, has shared his knowledge to other farmers and has adapted improved technologies in vegetable production.
Jeff Arabelo of Bago, Negros Occidental
is Region 6's Most Outstanding Farmeer

Now at 67 years of age, Arabelo continues to enrich his knowledge.
“It really pays to continue learning the latest technology in farming. For example, whenever there’s an East West Seed activity, I attend and observe because they also share their technology, new varieties and how to care for them. The knowledge you get will help you a lot,” he said.
“Now, I plant vegetables anytime. In the past, I had difficulty rearing tomatoes during rainy days. But with East West’s Diamante Max, I can now grow all year round,” he said.
“Weather permitting, it also produces higher yield,” he added.
He has also shifted to using bio fertilizer in order to counter bacteria growth. “The bio fertilizer separates the bad bacteria. The first time I used it, I saw the benefits in just one cropping,” he said.
He revealed that bacteria usually comes from human visitors as well as smoke coming from cigarettes.
“Vegetable farmers hate bacteria. You have to wash your hands before touching anything in the garden. Also, avoid planting eggplants, ampalaya and tomatoes together to protect them from bacterial flight,” he said.
“Also, you have to study your market. Know when a certain time a vegetable is expensive,” he said.
For example, when he plants bell pepper on September, he will be able to harvest it November to January when the product is expensive.
“You have to consider what other farmers are doing. If you produce together, chances are, there will be too many of such produce in the market, thus the price will go down and you lose,” he warned, citing the law of supply and demand.
Arabelo also plants mangoes, rambutan, eggplants, tomatoes, ampalaya and corn.
“I just rotate them. For example, after I harvest palay and corn, I leave the lot vacant for a month. Then, I plant it with vegetables,” he said.

Ronald Tolentino, regional manager of East West Seed said that farmers deserve to be considered as “buhay na bayani” because they play a very important role in the economy.
Farmers provide food and raw products that can support other sectors.
There is also security in farming because it can be sustained as long as the farmer is able.
In addition, there is money in farming, Arabelo said.
“My farm, which has an area of 1,000 square meters, can earn P111,000 if the plants are cared well. I only spend P37,000 and wait for nine months to harvest,” he said.
Finally, what Arabelo is happy about is, a farmer owns his time.
Exposure to the sun may have rendered his skin dark and rough compared to fair-skinned yuppies, but Arabelo said, “Wala ko ya amo (I have no boss).” (Marie Katherine Villalon)

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