What Ramgo anniversary is all about, variety of catered vigorous plants, and what the people could benefit from the anniversary celebration in the farm. 

by Zac B. Sarian

Bestselling, high-value crop varieties as well as new ones under field trial were showcased during the three-day golden anniversary celebration of Ramgo Seeds International. The event was held last January at the company’s Research Farm in Brgy. Antipolo, Bongabon, Nueva Ecija.

Pamela Ong Chan with the new red mustard.

And what are the bestsellers that Ramgo president Pamela Ong Chan is very upbeat about? She is very proud of the Heartland hybrid carrot that has a vigorous growth with uniform roots and dark orange skin with a crisp and sweet taste. The roots weigh about 300 to 350 grams each, maturing as early as 85 days from seeding. It is also resistant to leaf blight.

Heartland can be a profitable crop to grow. Seeds worth ₱600 can yield as many as three tons of roots which can be worth a small fortune even at only ₱15 per kilo at farmgate.

According to Pam, they are number one as far as carrots are concerned. Ramgo has other carrot varieties, including Terracota, Improved Kuroda, New Kuroda, and Firewedge.

Pam is also very upbeat about their Superex onion, which is a yellow granex that produces big bulbs preferred by a well known food chain. It is used for making sandwiches, burgers, salads, onion rings, and sauces. Fredelyn Vinoya, onion specialist, says that Superex is very high-yielding. When seedlings are transplanted, one pound of seeds can yield 400 bags of 30 kilos each. That’s 12 tons from just one pound of seeds.

A newly introduced onion variety also has farmers excited. At the Ramgo anniversary celebration, we met Marcos Manzano, 46, a big onion planter from Bayambang, Pangasinan. He is excited about the Red Dragon variety, which he claims to be perfect in a number of ways. The plant is vigorous with thick leaves, which means high yield. The bulbs are bright red, compact, and uniform. The variety is also claimed to be resistant to bulb rot, purple blotch, leaf miner, leaf twisting, and “lis-lis.” And it has a long shelf life of eight months under cold storage.

A display of green and colored leafy vegetables.

In 2016, Manzano planted Red Dragon on 15 hectares and got 1,000 red bags of 25 kilos each per hectare. That means 25 tons. Total expenses per hectare is ₱250,000. That means a cost of ₱10 to produce one kilo. Manzano made a fortune because he was able to sell his harvest at ₱30-31 per kilo. He was so happy with the result of his first planting that this season, he planted Red Dragon on 50 hectares of mostly rented farms. He is scheduled to harvest his crop in late March or early April.

THE FIRST DAY – On the first day of the celebration, no less than 500 farmers trooped to the anniversary celebration site. They came from as far north as Cagayan and all over Central Luzon. They were not disappointed because they saw beautifully growing vegetables and other high-value crops, including flowering ornamentals.

Superior varieties of salad veggies, ampalaya, cucumber, tomato, mung bean, sweet corn, waxy corn, kale, melons, sunflower, and many more were grown in the ground as well as in containers.

Pam, who took over management of the company about 30 years ago, thanked the visitors for their continuing support for the company. She said that the company started very modestly. Her father Ramon was a one-man seed seller in the beginning. When she took over in 1986, there were only about five employees. She did not expect that the company would grow into what it is today: one of the big players in the seed business in the Philippines.

Chan addressing the big crowd on the first day of the celebration.

NEW VARIETIES – We saw three very interesting new varieties you’d love to grow in your garden or farm once they are released for planting to the public after some field trials.

RED MUSTARD – One variety that we saw for the first time is red mustard. This has wide leaves which are just like the green variety you and I are familiar with. But the big difference is that the leaves are solid red.

And what could that mean? The plant could be loaded with anthocyanin, which is good for your health. Fruits and vegetables that are colored (red, purple, black) are said to be rich in anthocyanin, which fights free radicals that destroy our body’s cells.

LACEY-LEAVED MUSTARD – Another mustard that is under field trial is a colored variety with leaves that have a lacy appearance because they are variously divided.

Mustard makes very good pickles. The colored pickles should make a good conversation piece. Mustard can also be used in various dishes, including soups.

CURLY KALE – Kale is a fountain of many health benefits. However, the kale that is available in the market is very expensive. In health stores, a kilo could be priced from ₱500 to a thousand pesos.

Well, the good news is that Curly Kale thrives well under the lowland conditions in Bongabon. There should be no reason why growers in many parts of the country cannot grow it, either for their own consumption or for sale in the market.

According to Pam, Curly Kale can be grilled; made into soup, juice, salad, or chips; boiled; or sautéed.

There’s no harm trying to grow these varieties. It could be rewarding health-wise, money-wise, or otherwise.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s March 2017 issue.