Panu Taweepon, 37, is a happy bachelor who grows melons in his small farm in Surat Thani province some 500 kilometers south of Bangkok. His NF Farm (New Farmer Farm) is just 3,200 square meters but his income from this small parcel could be much more than a rice farmer cultivating several hectares can make.
Beautiful melons in Panu Taweepon’s little farm of 3,200 square meters.
Zac B. Sarian (left) and Panu Taweepon in his exhibit at the SIMA-Asean Agribusiness trade show in Bangkok, June 6-8, 2018.
In his small farm, he has several greenhouses each measuring just about 60 square meters. Do you know how much he makes from each greenhouse every growing cycle of about three months? From one greenhouse he harvests 500 marketable fruits, each weighing at least two kilos. That means he can harvest one ton from that little space. At 100 baht per kilo, that’s worth 100,000 baht or about P161,000 in Philippine money. In one year, he can grow three crops so that’s a gross of nearly half million Philippine pesos just from one greenhouse.
We met Panu at the Sima-Asean Agribusiness Exhibition in Bangkok held on June 6-8, 2018 at the Impact Exhibition Center. He showcased a prototype of his greenhouse where he grows his melons.
Newly harvested melons in the farm of Panu Taweepon in Surat Thani province.
Panu Taweepon’s melons at the trade show.
What’s interesting is that he operates his NF Farm by himself with the occasional help of his mother when he is away. That’s not difficult for his mother to look after the farm because the plants under greenhouse are drip irrigated so watering and fertilization are done by simply opening a valve.
At the trade show, Panu’s video of his melons was played non-stop which attracted many visitors. It was the same video that he posted on his Facebook account which has been attracting buyers of his high-quality melon fruits nationwide. Panu said that he sells his harvest to buyers who have seen his video on Facebook.
Eugene Gabriel (left) of Right Agri Company and Panu Taweepon at the trade show.
Panu said that he sells his fruits throughout the whole of Thailand. He sends them by express courier. “If you order and I ship today, you will receive your fruits the next day,” he said. There’s no minimum order. If the customer orders just one, that’s fine. The buyer will only have to pay the courier’s fee.
One typical order is five fruits in a box weighing about 12 kilos (some fruits weigh more than two kilos). The total cost, including shipping, is 1,450 baht or P2,334.50 in Philippine money.
Really, social media has revolutionized the marketing of farm produce. Panu Taweepon lives in a place that is far away from Bangkok but he is able to sell his harvest with the help of his Facebook account which is free.
We gathered that Panu’s little farm has become famous because of his beautiful melons. Visitors are welcome but if you want to visit, you will have to reserve one month in advance. Too many visitors at one time could disrupt his work in his little farm.
There are important lessons that can be learned here for local agripneneurs. It means that even if you have a very small farm, you can maximize income if you can grow the right product or products for the right target market. The important thing is that you have a thorough knowledge of how to grow and market the product you have chosen to specialize in.
Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness and Panu Taweepon at the trade show.
Little girl poses inside Taweepon’s greenhouse in Surat Thani province.
The oft-repeated saying that “Small Is Beautiful” is once again demonstrated by Panu Taweepon. A small farm is easier to manage, especially if you have modern facilities like drip irrigation, greenhouses for year-round production, techniques of balanced fertilization either with organic or non-organic.
There are many other interesting stories that we gathered from the SIMA-Asean Agribusiness Trade Show. Keep posted for our succeeding reports.