A model farmer in Brgy. San Miguel, San Manuel, Tarlac has attained the highest corn yield he has ever achieved in his many years of planting the grain crop. The record yield is 20.6 tons of grains per hectare, with moisture content of 13.5%.
The fellow is Juanito Rama, an enterprising rice and corn farmer who also put up a progressive cooperative that has become a federation of 19 farmers’ cooperatives all over Tarlac province.
The record yield was achieved in Rama’s farm which was harvested with a harvesting machine on March 21, 2014, supervised by Edwin Paningbatan, corn coordinator in Region 3 of the Department of Agriculture. The record yield is much higher than the highest yield of 16.8 tons per hectare that Rama got previously.
One possible contributor to the increased yield was the spraying of Power Grower Combo, a special fertilizer formulation which stimulates the plants to take up nutrients from the soil after spraying their leaves with the power fertilizer.
Rama said he sprayed his corn plants three times with Power Grower Combo. The first spraying with just a half-kilo pack was done 10 days after planting. The second spraying with two packs was done 25 days after planting. And the third spraying was done 45 days after planting, just before the plants started to flower.
Incidentally, the corn crops of the co-op members in Tarlac are virtually planted under the zero-tillage system. Under this system the soil is not plowed anymore. Instead, an instrument which Rama calls ‘Asad’ is used to create a two-inch deep hole for the seed and another hole two inches away for dropping a pinch of chemical fertilizer.
The system is very economical not only because there’s no more need to plow the soil. The chemical fertilizer needed is much less. According to Rama, they used to apply 8 bags of chemical fertilizer per hectare during the first application. In the case of zero tillage, they only apply three bags per hectare at planting time.
Chemical fertilizer is applied two more times. The second application of a combination of one bag urea and two bags 14-14-14 (complete) is made 35 days after planting as side-dressing. And the third application of one bag of muriate of potash and one bag complete fertilizer is done by broadcasting 45 days from planting.
In zero tillage, the plants are spaced about 30 cm in the row and 60 cm between rows. There are about 80,000 plants grown on one hectare. Usually the total cost of production, up to harvesting is P40,000 to P50,000 per hectare.
Right now, the selling price of grains with 14 percent moisture content is P13.5 per kilo. Thus a 20.6 tons per hectare would really give a very good profit for the farmer. That 20.6 tons is worth P270,100. Even if the total cost of production would reach P70,000 that will mean a net profit of P200,000 per hectare.
Juanito Rama formed the San Manuel Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative with 71 other incorporators in 2006. This grew and grew to the extent that 18 other farmers’ cooperatives in Tarlac have joined to form a federation.
Rama is very transparent in his management of the cooperative. He shows the financial status of the organization without hiding anything. But he is also very strict in enforcing the rules and regulations of the organization. Anybody who tries to undermine the quality of their grains (say they sell to the cooperative inferior grains) will be yanked out from the organization. And a few of them have suffered that fate.
A big majority of the members really adhere to the strict rules of the organization because they also receive a lot of benefits. Usually, every year, the cooperative that Rama started in his barangay declares 50% dividends. Which means that if your share capital is P50,000 you will receive a P25,000 dividend at the end of the year. Of course, many of them have hundreds of thousands in share capital.
There are other benefits that the co-op members receive. For instance, they can borrow from the co-op the money they need to grow their crops. This has helped a lot to expand their plantings, according to Rama.
Before the co-op was put up in his barangay, most of the farmers could only plant half hectare to corn because of the lack of capital. Today, he says, the least that farmer members are planting is three hectares.