Thursday, May 7, 2015

Urban Agri Trade Show a Big Success

Sen. Cynthia Villar looking at fruiting figs
Urban farming and gardening is becoming more and more popular than you and I would think.
One good indication is the Urban Agriculture Trade Show that was staged by Agriculture Magazine of the Manila Bulletin on May 1-3 at the Rockwell Tent In Makati City. Right on opening day, the event was literally swarmed by attendees.
We didn’t expect that the event would attract people from faraway places. Among the first arrivals were Ernesto Dancel and his wife Maritess. Ernesto is an OFW from Dubai. After planing  in and checking in at a nearby hotel with his wife who met him at the airport, they immediately proceeded to the Rockwell Tent to attend the trade show. They were particularly interested in exotic fruit varieties. They didn’t only attend the first day, they also came back the next day to buy more fruit tree planting materials.
Others who came from distant places included Dr. Wilfredo Tiu of Dinagat Island in Mindanao; Al Balce and Lourdes Lobregat who operate the Abundant Orgnic Enterprises Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Zamboanga City; Wilhelmino R. Mendoza of Cagayan de Oro who is a banker but interested in farming; Nestor Archival of Cebu City who came to watch the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight at Rockwell and to attend the trade show; William and Zenaida Miranda of Alaminos, Pangasinan and many others.
They came to attend the trade show to find out what’s new and what’s workable in urban farming. They were not disappointed because there were so many doable things that they can adopt in their own brand of urban farming. There were also a lot of ideas discussed in the seminars which were all free.
STARTER KIT – Carlo Sumaoang of Novatech has come up with his vegetable starter kit which could entice the young and not-so-young to try growing vegetables. We saw Sen. Cynthia Villar and Sister Ping Ocariza of the Daughters of St. Paul showing a lot of interest in the starter kit. One kit in a box consists of a biodegradable coco husk pot, potting medium of coco peat and organic fertilizer, and instructions from the beginning up to harvest time. In fact, there is also a recipe at the back of the instruction manual.
GROW BAGS FROM MACONDRAY – Macondray Plastic Products, Inc. demonstrated how one can grow so many leafy salad vegetables and herbs on just three square meters. This is by using their grow bags which can be installed on a rack (see photo). The company also has a bag for making silage out of corn stover or napier grass.
PLANTS IN SODA BOTTLES – Then there is the technology of Dr. Eduardo Paningbatan Jr., a retired professor and soil science researcher from UP Los Baños. He grows vegetables and herbs in soda bottles using potting medium and nutrients that he himself developed. He has also developed a technique in aquaponics whereby he “seats” plants grown on paper cups on a horizontally-halved drum filled with water. His plants in recycled soda bottles were the bestsellers in the trade show.
SELF-WATERING POTS – Mary Ann Wu of Ever Rich Nursery also showcased her self-watering pots which will enable urban gardeners who are holding office to take care of plants without having to water them every day.
VEGGIES IN A CABINET – One company also displayed how urban dwellers can grow plants inside their homes in what look like common cabinets with glass door. Lettuce and herbs grow well under artificial light in the cabinets.
GORGEOUS LETTUCE FROM ALLIED – Easily one of the best attention-getters was the display of Allied Botanical Corporation which was dominated by green and colored lettuce plants as big as the head, grown in black plastic bags. Aside from that, they exhibited fruits of their new tomato and pepper varieties. One of the most notable was the tomato Rugantino that weighs 150 to 200 grams per fruit. The fruit is in the shape of an ox heart, excellent for salad because it is tasty and fleshy.
Space is limited so we will tell you more about interesting observations at the first Urban Agriculture Trade Show organized by Agriculture Magazine. Watch for the second staging of the show which could even be more successful.

Written by: Zac Sarian

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