Thirty-two year-old Benjie Monsanto of San Fernando, Bukidnon, who gave up his job as a barangay bookkeeper in order to go into farming, is now a big time pumpkin farmer.

Benjie Monsanto poses with young squash plants in the field.

He is planting the Suprema variety on 50 hectares, some of which he owns, and the rest, he rents. He produces three crops a year and in each cropping, he can make a net profit of ₱150,000.

Like many other farmers, Benjie also made his own big mistake. That was when he felt the price of the F1 seeds of Suprema was too high and decided to buy the F2 (second generation) seeds which were offered to him at a very low price.

Buying the cheap Suprema seeds was his big mistake because instead of producing the first class pumpkins he wanted, he got a very low yield of inferior fruits. He barely managed to break even from that particular cropping instead of making a big profit.

But he has learned his lesson from that mistake, and today he only plants the first generation seeds even if they cost more. After all, they produce a high yield of quality fruits.

Benjie also encountered other challenges in the early years. He did not have enough money to hire harvesters and to haul the harvest to the access road. He also suffered from very low prices offered by buyers. However, he persevered and his tenacity paid off.

Monsanto, his wife Analie, and their four kids.

Today, because of Suprema, Benjie has gone a long way economically. Transporting his produce to the market is no longer a problem because he has bought a pick-up truck. And he is very proud that he has helped improve the economic status of many of his townmates who work for him. They have bought their own motorcycles and other amenities for a better life.
Benjie and his wife Analie have four children, all boys. They are Benjade Andrian, Keith Joshua, Benjames Harold, and Benjie III. They live in Purok 5, Little Baguio, San Fernando, Bukidnon.

SUPREMA – Suprema is the first squash hybrid developed in the Philippines by East-West Seed Company. It was released for commercial production in 1987, five years after East-West Seed was established. And since then, up to this day, Suprema remains to be the favorite of growers because it also happens to be the favorite of consumers.

Suprema is a high-yielding hybrid that produces high quality fruits. It is not only high-yielding it is also tolerant to viruses and fungal diseases. It also has a wide adaptation. Bukidnon has been the major producer of Suprema but there are also successful plantings in Nueva Vizcaya, Cavite, and elsewhere.

East West Seed is also responsible for many high-yielding hybrids. One of the big money makers of the company is the Red Pinoy onion, which has become the darling of onion growers over recent years. It is not only a money maker for farmers, it has also been the number one revenue earner for East West Seed for many years. Red Pinoy is outstanding in a number of ways. Its bulb has long storability. It is an early maturing variety, 95 days after transplanting, and its medium size bulbs are prized for their uniformity and deep red color.

Another onion bestseller by East West Seed is Nueventa, an early Red Creole variety which matures in 90 to100 days from seeding. It is recommended for direct seeding. It produces firm bulbs with very low percentage of splitting. Bulbs that split fetch a very low price.

There are many notable varieties developed by East West Seed. One of them is the Django finger pepper, which is very prolific and has made many farmers rich. Another is the Diamante Max tomato, which is a high yielder that can be planted during both dry and wet seasons.

Then there are many others, such as the ampalaya, eggplant, cucumber, sweet corn, watermelon, sweet pepper, hot chilli pepper, sitao, and leafy greens.

This story appeared in Agricultural Monthly’s February 2017 issue.