We got an email from Joel (let’s just leave out his surname) who has been working in Malaysia for 14 years. This year, he plans to retire and come back to his native Cebu to do some farming. He said he has bought 5,000 square meters of sloping land and he wanted our advice on what’s best crop to plant.
Of course it would be very presumptuous of me to recommend one particular crop or crops for you to plant because I don’t know much about your farm except that it is sloping. Is your land in Cebu City or some other town in Cebu province?
If in Cebu City, is it in the highland area where the temperature is cool? Or in the lowland where the weather is hot. We’ll have to know this because the crops for the highland are usually different from those for the lowland although there are crops that may be grown in both places.
Is the farm accessible by motorized vehicle like jeep, car, tricycle or truck? This is also very important to know because if it is not accessible, don’t plant crops that are perishable or are heavy to transport. If accessible, that would be great.
VERY IMPORTANT: Is there a source of water for watering or irrigating your crops? If none, don’t plant anything before you are sure of having water to water your plants. Find a way.
Joel, I have to know about your personal circumstances. What’s your job in Malaysia? Are you an engineer or technical person? A professor? A factory worker? Etc, etc. Are you now in your 60s? Younger? Before going to Malaysia, what income-generating activities did you do? All these are important to me to give you a more or less meaningful advice.
What’s really your purpose in getting into farming? Is it for pure enjoyment? And it does not matter whether you make money or not? That’s all right if you don’t need the income. But it would be good if your operation is profitable because that will help you sustain your farming and maybe make improvements. If your farm is profitable, you can pay your worker or workers more than the minimum wage. That will make them more conscientious in doing their assignments.
EXPENSIVE TO DEVELOP A FARM. We might as well remind you that it is not cheap to develop a farm, especially if it is raw land that you bought. Besides the water source that we mentioned earlier, you will have to spend on fencing so that stray animals will not enter to eat or destroy your plants. Make sure to recruit at least one reliable farm worker. Somebody who truly loves planting and caring for your plants.
FARMING IS NOT ENJOYMENT ALL THE WAY. We might as well remind you that farming is not pure enjoyment all the way. There are many frustrations. One time, a pilot who has a farm in Batangas confronted me. He said: “Zac, I thought farming is enjoyable. In my case, it is all headaches!” We asked why and he said that his caretaker does not take care of his fruit trees. He is always busy taking care of his gamecocks!
In two other cases, a lady lanzones farm owner called me up to ask what crops that thieves don’t steal. She revealed that poachers harvested her lanzones ahead of her. And she asked what crops or crop are not stolen. We told her to plant Siling Labuyo. In the other case, our friend Val was unconsolable. She expected to harvest a good crop of sweet corn. Then when she went for the harvest, she found out that thieves have stolen all her sweet corn. That was too bad because she had promised to give me some just a week before she expected to harvest.
MONEY MATTERS. Joel, I suppose you have saved a fortune from your long years of working in Malaysia. Keep in mind that too much money can sometimes mean disaster. You might be spending too much on things that are not necessary. So be more prudent in taking care of your expenses in developing your farm.
So long. There are so many other things to talk about in farming. Just keep visiting my blog, you might be able to pick up some useful ideas.