Another post in my series on Philippine agriculture — this one includes the basics of the Central Plains.
As I mentioned before, the host for part of my vacation owns a seed company in The Philippines. We were excited to be going to a field day his company was hosting. I didn’t know what the drive up would be like so I brought my Ipod. Even though the drive started early in the morning, I was alert! It was amazing what we drove past and the folks at Allied had given bus tour guides some notes to be sure we understood what all we were seeing. Needless to say, I didn’t put it on til late that night as I collapsed happily exhausted on the way back to Manila.
Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Willy (our host for the Manila part of our trip & president of Allied Botanical Corp.) had mentioned this trip to us more than two years ago. He and the team at Allied worked hard to create a great celebration. On our bus were people from The Philippines, Germany, Singapore, The Netherlands, Japan, China and the US. There were several buses driving from Manila because some of the company’s best customers were coming to the capital to celebrate the 25th anniversary. Willy did an incredible job helping those of us who hadn’t been to the area or hadn’t been there much understand agriculture in the areas we were driving through.
We went up the central plains through rice areas, to sugarcane fields that surrounded the former Clark Air Force Base, to a more diversified area that was home to the Allied Botanical’s research farm. Some of the notes from the drive include:
- Philippine provinces are similar to US counties. We went through Luzon which is a major ag area.
- We drove across a long bridge (reminded me of driving to New Orleans on I-55). that bridge is 5 kilometers (3 miles). The area flooded a year ago and the raised road was one of the few places people could flee the flooding.
- In that area, while temperatures would be warm enough for year round cropping, typhoon/flooding season leaves people here unable to produce food. For that reason, people began growing a lot of onions as they store well. That elevated bridge lets them get food in from other areas now too.
- Rice, sugarcane, vegetables (like curcurbits) are all grown in the central plains.
- There are volcanos on either side of the valley. The one to the west is the one I recognized the name for, Mt. Pinotubo.
- Willy had been working in the field with onions several years ago when Pinotubo began erupting, he was in the air. One of the last planes to get in — landed around 12:30 midday and it was dark. It was the worst volcanic eruption of the 20th century and it devastated Clark Air Force Base.
- You can imagine this area has fields and areas that nature needs to bring back. Some great soils covered by volcanic ash/sand.
- We saw a lot of people doing hand work in rice fields.
- As we went north, more sugarcane was planted on the sandier soils.
- When we got to the Pungosinan area it was a more diverse cropping area — corn, tobacco, sugarcane, mango, high yield rice, etc. This is the northern end of the plains.
- When a major typhoon hit here recently, people ended up living on the roof of a mall to escape the flooding. That was in October 2009.
And Willy & his incredible team did a bang up job on hosting us — they even had a band and flag corps greet us. You will see I took LOTS of photos. This is a small fraction! I’ll write another one about the field day itself cause I think some of you will really enjoy that!
I think this is a good start on this topic but will write something more specifically about the field day itself as I really am enjoying reviewing my notes & photos!
This is the third in a series of posts on Phillipines ag info picked up during a recent vacation.