By Zac B. Sarian

An enterprising organic farming entrepreneur is now producing processed organic pork products. Called Porkganic, the processed pork products were showcased at the recent Urban Agriculture trade show in Quezon City.

The processed organic pork products include tapa, tocino, and longganisa. Of course, there are fresh organic cuts like pork chops, liempo, pigue, pork legs for crispy pata, head and neck for sisig, and many others. For a start, these are now delivered to clients in Metro Manila and some distributors in provinces around the big city.

Commercial production of organic pork is the latest idea of Ronald Costales, the fellow who gave up a high-paying job at an IT company to become an organic farmer, starting with a modest farm in 2005 in Majayjay, Laguna.

He has since become the most popular commercial organic farmer in the country who has received various awards for excellence in organic agriculture. What is remarkable about him as an entrepreneur is that he keeps on offering new products and services.

At the start, he specialized in salad vegetables which he supplied in big volumes to upscale restaurants in Metro Manila. Eventually, he found out that his customers didn’t only need organic vegetables, they also wanted to have, on their menu, organic eggs, chicken, beef, and pork.

To raise organic pigs, he formulated his own fermented feeds using rice bran, molasses for fermenting and a lot of nutritious forage crops like Super Napier, Madre de Agua, and Indigofera. With the fermented feeds which are all natural, the pigs grow fast at less cost than when ordinary commercial feeds are used.

In the beginning, he used to sell only fresh cuts of pork to his clients, which included a well-known store of healthy food. He also supplied organic lechon. When he observed that there was a ready market for healthy organic pork (organic), he put up a modest piggery that could meet the demand at that time. Then he realized that there was excellent potential in adding value to his pork.

That is why he has come up with processed ready-to-cook pork. A favorite is the organic pork tapa. There’s much value added when the meat is processed. A choice cut of fresh pork usually sells for about Php300 a kilo. But when made into tapa (via a minimal processing cost, its value easily doubles. At present, a 250-gram pack of tapa sells for Php150, which translates to Php600 per kilo. Costales also makes organic tocino and longganisa. Just the same, there is significant value added.

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A few months back, Costales was just slaughtering two or three fatteners a week. Today, they are butchering an average of 40 head a week. And the number is expected to increase soon because he has just started signing up distributors in provinces near Manila like Bulacan and Pampanga and will soon set up a distribution center in Quezon City.

He is very confident that organic pork will also sell in the provinces where there are well-to-do people. And the distributors will work hard in selling these because they receive a lot of incentives, according to Ronald.

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Ronald is not worried that he will run out of a supply of organic pigs. He is expanding his own pig farm.

And under a project financially supported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 40 families have been trained by Costales to grow organic pigs, and he is buying all their production at a price higher than the prevailing price in the market.

“Porkganic” is a bright idea, if you ask us.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s April 2016 issue.