There are more opportunities in urban farming than many would think.
This could be producing agricultural products for one’s personal use or as a business.
If you are an expert in growing fingerlings in an aquarium, you can make a business by buying what they call "tiny" lapu-lapu fingerlings. These are about 3/4th inch in length. They may cost P5 or P7 each but there could be a big mortality if one is not proficient in taking care of them. However, if one is experienced and can achieve a high percentage of survival, it could be highly profitable to grow them into bigger sizes which commercial fish farms are buying.
Dr. Ruben Tan of Macalelon, Quezon, for instance, buys a lot of large fingerlings which he stocks in his fish farm. At any one time, he has 10,000 pieces of different sizes. That enables him to deliver 300 pieces of live lapulapu (500 grams each) to his two buyers in Manila every week.
Dr. Tan buys the 5-inch fingerlings at P35 each. The XL and XXL which are 6 to 7 inches in length are bought at P55 to P60 per piece. So there is a good margin for the fingerling raiser. The good thing about this business opportunity is that it can be undertaken even in the home without a very big space.
One other viable money-making opportunity in the urban setting is growing edible herbs. One such herb is the Gynura nepalensis (synonym: Gynura procumbens). This is a recently introduced herb that could be grown in the ground as well as in containers. The tender leaves can be prepared in a very simple manner. They could be stir-fried in vegetable oil with garlic. The young leaves can also be eaten fresh. One good thing about this edible herb is that insect pests donit seem to like it. At this time, producing planting materials for sale could be profitable.
Even the lowly camote can also be a money-maker in the urban area. The beauty about this plant is that it can be grown easily in the backyard. If there is a vacant lot in the subdivision where you live, you can plant camote not for its tubers but for its tender tops. The tender tops are highly saleable in the local market. One ladey we know harvests just the tender tops about four inches long. She makes four small bundles out of one kilo, then sells each bundle at P10. That’s P40 per kilo.
Other old favorites that could be grown for the local market are alugbati, malunggay, finger pepper, siling labuyo for its tender shoots, and many others. Even growing hybrid papaya and lakatan banana can be rewarding.
Prolific hot pepper from China
This is a variety of hot pepper from China introduced by Adela Ang of EDSA Garden House in Quezon City. It is a prolific variety with upright fruits that are very colorful when they mature. This can be grown in containers as well as direct in the ground. It can be both decorative and economic.
Former MNLF rebels into aquaculture
A member of the SapuMasla Fisherfolk Association (SMFA), an organization composed of 50 former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) combatants, holds a humpback grouper which the association has cultured in the pristine waters of the Sarangani Bay in Malapatan, Saranggani. The fish, which sells at R2,000 per kilo live, is in growing demand in major Asian markets such as Hong Kong and China. USAID’s Targeted Commodity Expansion Program (TCEP), which is being implemented by the Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program, introduced members of the SMFA to high-value aquaculture production and provided them with fingerlings to start the initial production cycle. GEM also assisted the SMFA in marketing its initial harvest of ten kilos to a leading fishing company based in General Santos City. GEM has trained more than 9,400 former MNLF combatants - who are graduates of USAID’s Livelihood Enhancement and Peace (LEAP) Program - in the production of other high-value commodities such as vegetables, cardaba bananas, mangoes, peanuts, prawns, catfish, grouper and tilapia. GEM is being implemented under the oversight of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo). (GEM Program)
Console Farms into leafy greens
A new project of Console Farms in San Miguel, Bulacan, is the growing of leafy greens under greenhouse. These include lettuce, pak choi and others. Console Farms’ major business is poultry layers and hatchery but is also into other agricultural projects such as mango and other fruits, sheep, aquaculture (tilapia and Pangasius), and into ornamental plants. Photo shows Mrs. Soledad Agbayani, proprietor, inside her greenhouse planted to leafy greens. She sells her vegetables at the AANI Weekend Market at the FTI Complex in Taguig City as well as at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.
Source: Zac Sarian, Agri Plain Talk, Manila Bulletin Online, 1 November 2007