When we visited Nueva Ecija during the recent Hari sa Ani gathering in Talavera town, we had a fruitful conversation with Sergio Calma, 61, a public market stallholder, vegetable grower and rice farmer.
We asked him if there is any fruit vegetable that does not require spraying with pesticide. He readily answered that there is one. And that is gourd or Upo. He pointed out that crops like eggplant, ampalaya, patola, tomato and sitao are all susceptible to different kinds of pests and diseases. Not Upo. Come to think of it, with the hybrid Upo varieties which are very prolific, harvesting is every other day, sometimes every day, and the fruits are not damaged at all by fruitflies, hoppers and the like.
We remember interviewing a lady grower of Upo in Arayat, Pampanga. She said that you are like a pensionado if you plant Upo commercially because cash flow is every other day. Although the price is considered low at P7 per piece, a hectare of plantation can produce substantial income at very minimal expense. The main cost is the trellis. Harvesting is not difficult.