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Archive for 2014

The Pili Nut Farm – Philagrivest, Inc

Monthly Farm Manager Report

by: Jerry M. Navarro

Philagrivest Irrigation-00

Irrigation/Fire Mitigation – The newly installed High-Pressure Water Pump is now operational. This will provide additional water supply for the farm during hot weather. The pump supplies water to the Farm’s new Concrete Water Tank located at the upper most part of the farm. From there water will be driven by gravity to a supply line which terminates to water hydrant type outlets. (This concrete Water Tank is in its final construction phase. Due to strong winds, heavy rains and typhoons, construction was slowed.)

This Supply line runs at the ridges of the farm. It will serve two purposes, for irrigation and to supply fire hydrants during grassfires. A fire-hose can be placed on several points along the Line.

 

Salad Tomato – The Farm’s Salad Tomato production resumes in October and harvest is expected by Late November or Early December.

A panel of the greenhouse roof was damaged during one of the recent Typhoons and repairs are being done. (Replacement Roofing Materials are en route as of this writing.)

Sanitation and planting preparations have been completed. All previously used beds and planting media are replaced. Irrigation hose/Drip lines have been flushed and sanitized. It is anticipated that these extra steps and measures have eradicated the Bacterial Wilt that plagued the Greenhouse in prior croppings.

 

Pili / Garden – Transplanting of the remaining Grafted Pili Seedlings continues in and around the Garden. Transplanting areas are focused on the low areas and areas where shrubs and trees are abundant. These areas offer good protection for the newly planted Pili Seedlings.

Significant number of the Old Pili Trees have started fruiting and identification of female trees continues.

Veggie planting has also resumed as preparation for the Farm’s Agri-Tourism plan, Veggie Planting will be patterned after the Folk Song “ Bahay Kubo”. The centerpiece of the vegetable garden will be a native hut and around it different vegetable and fruit trees will be planted.

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New Project of “The Pili Nut Farm”™ (Philagrivest, Inc)

In prior newsletters, we have written about the company’s plans to apply for Department of Tourism approval to quality the farm as an Agri – Tourism development.   This has a two fold purpose

  • firstly, to generate additional revenues for the farm and
  • secondly, to enable the company to get title to the farm land transferred to the company.

As most of you know, neither an individual nor a corporation is permitted to legally take title to more than 5 hectares of agricultural land in the Philippines – even if the individual or the corporation is a Filipino.

Yes, one can enter into a Deed of Sale and back that up with a Tax Declaration, which is ample documentary evidence to show ownership in the Philippines.

However, having title in one’s name is the ultimate, inconvertible, legal basis and proof of ownership.  There is one exemption to this restrictive land ownership law – by having the land approved by the Department of Tourism to be an Agri -Tourism qualified project.  Hence, the company will overcome this restriction by getting Agri – Tourism qualified.

Will and his management team have been working on the overall Agri – Tourism development plan for several months now, to include

  • development of hiking and biking trails,
  • walking paths,
  • building of a canteen,
  • souvenir shop, and
  • an initial villa for accomodating overnight tourists.

Also part of the plan is the addition of a petting zoo, equestrian center with riding trails, cattle, and other farm animals for tourist interaction.  This will all be integrated around the existing pili nut planting areas.

Coincident with this site planning work, our continuous monitoring of our pili nut growth in the different planting areas of the farm as clearly revealed that those trees planted on the higher elevations are somewhat stunted and not growing as rapidly as those at lower levels, and especially when compared with those planting areas where there is more foliage.

Further, Will and his farm team continue to receive inquiries from farm visitors as to whether we will consider building hillside villas at The Pili Nut Farm ™.  Those of you who have visited the farm understand that question, as the ocean views from the farm are incredible, and because it is elevated, there is always a gentle, cool breeze.

It therefore became clear to Will and the board of directors that as we embark on the changes to the farm to qualify for Agri -Toursim approval, now is the time to “put all the pieces together” and convert the less desirable pili nut growing higher elevation and into a higher and better use – the development of a limited number of hillside villas for sale to those seeking.

  • an “upcountry”, hillside, cool, panoramic coastline view
  • flexibility as to Villa design and size
  • elevated, so always a cool breeze
  • minimal homeowner association rules
  • large (minimum 1,000 sqm) lots, and privacy
  • all at an estimated price range of P5 to P7 million (USD $116,000 to USD $163,000)
  • Reciprocal right to use of Sunset Beach Villas clubhouse and pool

Tablas Hillside Villas

(Images are for reference purposes only-not the actual plan)

The plan is to initially build one villa which will be used for tourist overnight accomodations + be used as a sales model to show prospective buyers.  The project will be done in clusters/phases of 7 villas at a time.

We have started a “wait list” for those interested in considering the project for our investment portfolio, or as a retirement home, or second home.  Currently, we are just in the overall design and costing phase.

Once we have more details such as renderings, lot sizes, amenities, pricing, etc, this information will be released first to those on the reservation “wait list”.
The project will be low density, as you can note by the lot size, and we estimate there will be no more than 40 to 50 (maximum) hillside villas developed.

Construction start date is planned for March 2015 (much faster tracking than Sunset Beach Villas, as this type of project does not require DAR conversion, HLURB approval and a LTS, and other myriad of condo villa subdivision approvals – it also helps to reduce the price per unit, as the permitting process is quite expensive in addition to taking lots of time).  Sellout and completion of the project is estimated to be by the end of 2016.  Payment plans will be developed to assist with buyer’s cash flow budgets.

Posted in: Farm Development News

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Significant Tablas Economic News

Airline service to Tablas Island is starting up again in the 4th quarter of this year – with Sky Jet being the first to start operations.   A major push by the government and leading businesses is to have Cebu Pacific picking up 3 flights to Tablas starting in the second quarter of 2015.


2GO boat service to Tablas (from Batangas) continues to flourish; however it does take the better part of one full day to get to Tablas this way, whereas by air it is a brief 40 minutes flight from Manila.

“Romblon – Next In Line” was the cover page of the June 8 issue of Starweek, the Sundaymagazine of the Philippine Star newspaper.  The article reads:

Romblon’s Hidden Promise
Just an hour away from Boracay lies the province of Romblon, which has three major islands. Tablas is the biggest, Romblon the smallest, and Sibuyan, supposedly the most beautiful and pristine.

People who have had enough of Boracay can explore the hidden promise of Romblon, described as “exciting and fascinating”… click here for more reading – Romblon’s Hidden Promise

So being the one with overall responsibility for operations at “The Pili Nut Farm” ™ and at Sunset Beach Villas, Will is excited to see we are very close to being up and running again with flights to Tablas.

For others operating businesses on Tablas, this is also great news.  For any of you who have been holding back from an investment in Tablas or in starting up your own business on Tablas “until the time is right”, now is the time to get up and running and get your foundation in place:

  • The ongoing new road and bridge building infrastructure work is nearly complete

  • The government has signed a contract with SUECO to for a major expansion in electrical generating capacity for the San Andres and Agpudlos area of the island
  • Existing electrical rates on Tablas are the lowest in the country (due to subsidies from the national government afforded less developed provincial areas)
  • Land values have been steadily increasing; once Agpudulos has been officially rezoned from agriculture to residential, prices will rise even further
  • Philagrivest is now frequently receiving inquiries from major international investors and food importers seeking to tie up with the company for tie up of commitments for its future pili nut harvests
  • Philagrivest’s agri-tourism project will be launched in early 2015 (see details below), which will bring additional visitors and revenues to Philagrivest
  • Philagrivest received the “green light” from the board of directors to proceed with its Hilside Villas development project, which will bring additional income to its shareholders (see details below)
  • More foreigners are moving in and opening “expat friendly” retail goods, services and restaurant facilities
  • The island is rapidly approaching the “tipping point” where investor interests and activity goes from those brave “pioneers” and “early adopters” to the mature investors.  The greatest gain always goes to those who enter the market just before it becomes a mature market.
  • Discussions continue among key parties for the development of a major new golf resort, as well as for a private yacht marina on Tablas.
  • This road goes to Mablaron Falls – major San Andres tourist attraction.

Tablas is finally being “discovered” by the local and international investor community – long overlooked by this community and by the tourism industry, it seems almost every day there is an announcement of a new project on Tablas.

Posted in: Farm Development News, General Tablas News

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Philagrivests Updates

Farm Manager’s Annual Meeting Report

BoardReport Jerry annual mtg 2014-1

In the recent Annual Stockholders Meeting of PhilAgrivest held last April 26, 2014 in our newly relocated Makati office, Mr. Jerry Navarro, the Farm Manager gave a very factual report of the on going and past developments and challenges in our farm operations. Here is a link to the digital file of his report in PDF format that you can download. Click the image on the left to get the PDF link and download or read it from there.

Latest Numbers

The farm is now approaching its short term goal of having 12,000 pili trees planted by the end of this year.  Due to the differing methods of planting in the early years of the farm’s development, some of the earlier planted trees are larger than others and will be ready for harvest before others.

In this past year, the farm has fully embraced the planting of only grafted seedlings, which reduces the harvest time by 2 to 3 years.  With our own seedlings nursery in place now, and our staff trained on grafting, our success rate in planting grafted trees is quite high (versus grafted trees shipped in from outside areas).

Pili Seedling-JN01

We are therefore well on our way to having 20,000 trees planted and ready for harvest by year 2020 (note however that our updated financial projections through to year 2021 only shows the harvesting of 12,000 trees – this is because the projection was conservatively based only on trees we currently have in the ground)

Prices and costs

Although the company is not yet harvesting and processing pili nuts, we keep a close eye on the domestic and export pricing of drupe, nuts in the shell and processed nuts.   And, as written before, the price of the nuts varies significantly throughout the year due to supply and demand (prices lower during the harvest season and higher during the “off season”).

Currently, in the Bicol region, processed nut prices per kilogram have dropped to around the P600 to P700 price range for bulk sales since we are now in the harvesting season, but still they maintain a healthy close to P900 price for small snack, low volume sales.    And each year, as demand continues to rise, one might think prices will continue to rise – however, future price increases may be offset or mitigated by a greater supply entering the market, should more pili nut farms be developed.

Costs of basic inputs have remained basically the same over the past several months:

  • seedlings from Bicol landed in Tablas still cost around P15 each
  • farm labor still remains at minimum wage
  • electricity rate has remained steady
  • petrol cost per liter has remained relatively stable

Our vermicasting nursery area is in the process of major expansion – all new seedling plantings are now fully supported by organic fertilizer coming from our own vermicasting facility (Vermiculture).

Vermiculture

Vermicast is an organic/natural fertilizer that is created by using composting earthworms. The worms are placed in a container which is filled with compost. The worms make their way through the food and excrete what is called “vermicast”.

Vermicast enriches the soil and helps to ensure that plants receive all the nutrients they need to grow successfully. Vermicast renews the soil and is used as a natural fertilizer. It is made by recycling organic waste which is transformed into natural fertilizer by using these worms. The process uses a variety of left over products such as vegetable cuttings and manure from cattle, pigs, dogs and chickens.

Fire Prevention and Irrigation

In view of the ongoing “El Nino” conditions, and ever increasing number of pili plantings, the board of directors in their May meeting approved expansion of the farm’s irrigation activities, to include additional reservoirs, pumping equipment

(for water from the stream to the reservoirs), an extensive “fire hydrant” type system of readily available water to support fire mitigation, additional communication equipment, additional 24 hour quard/observation posts, and all terrain vehicles to more quickly move a fire fighting team to hot spots.

CPA Annual Audit Report

The annual audit of the companies by the independent CPA firm is just beginning.  Their work was delayed this year primarily by the interruption of our office activities when we moved from the Mall of Asia Two Ecom location to our present new address in the Makati address.  We were effectively “without” a brick and mortar office for about 6 weeks, operating on a “virtual” basis.  That was a difficult period as it is normally when the books are being closed for the year.

We now anticipate their onsite work to commence in July and to be completed within 4 to 6 weeks.  Upon receipt of the final audited report, it will be made available to all stockholders wishing to receive a copy.

Export Sales – Joint Venture

The company, by way of its joint venture with a processor in the Bicol Region, is in discussions currently with numerous potential buyers, and working through issues such as package design, pricing, purchase volumes, product type, etc.  The company fully anticipates its first sales in July, which is consistent with the projections provided at the annual shareholder’s meeting.

Posted in: Farm Development News, Farming, Pili Nut

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Vermiculture

Vermiculture

Vermicomposting

Vermitea

Vermiculture – (from Latin word vermis, meaning worm) is the intentional rearing of earthworms to produce more earthworms. It involves the mass production of certain species of this annelid worm by providing them appropriate food and optimum conditions for their growth and reproduction. 

Vermicomposting– it is the non-thermophilic process by which organic materials are converted by earthworms and microorganisms into rich soil amendments with greatly increased microbial activity and nutrient availability.

African Night Crawlers – The African night crawler (ANC), known scientifically as Eudrilus eugeniae, is considered as the most efficient epigeic or composting earthworm in the tropics (Guerrero 2009).

The farm at present produces about 30 sacks of Vermi-compost/ Vermi-cast from its 6 compartment Vermiculture Shed per month.

Philagrivest Vermiculture

This nutrient rich combination of Organic Material and Worm Casting is used extensively at the Farm’s Cash Crop Production.

The farm also produces Vermi-Tea or Worm-Tea. Worm Tea contains 77 trace elements that nourish and build the plants immune system. Its high microbial count combats scale, mites, aphids, fungus, mealy bugs, black spot on roses, Thrips to name a few.

The Farm started its Vermiculture / Vermicomposting production in 2011 with a handful of African Night Crawlers.

This is in line with the Farm’s Organic Farming Plan.

Vermiculture-05

Posted in: Farm Technology

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