Agriculture Secretary William Dar and young agripreneurs, Jeffrey Fernandez and Rap Pelayo of Jelfarm Fresh Produce Enterprise led the initial shipment of 2 tons of okra (ladies’ fingers or ochro) to Japan recently at the Pair-pags Center, Pasay City.
“This is an indication that in spite of COVID-19, we are upping the game. Kagaya nitong okra export to Japan, this is a significant development,” Dar said.
JelFarm, one of the country’s leading okra exporters, will be shipping about 5 tons daily as the harvest season begins. Come peak season, with full blast operations, it can ship an average of 13 – 15 tons every day.
About 300 farmers are involved in the production of the export-grade okra products that are harvested from different farms in 14 barangays of Tarlac.
In compliance with the Good Agricultural Practices and sanitary, hygienic, and phytosanitary practices for safe, healthy and fresh okra, the products are allowed to enter the markets of Japan particularly in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, and Nagoya where there the demand is very high.
“We recognize the efforts of Jelfarm for increasing export of okra to Japan. Japan is a key market for our produce and they are fond of eating okra as part of their diet,” the agriculture chief said.
“It’s a win-win arrangement because the farmers planting these are getting higher levels of income compared to rice.”
“It’s a win-win arrangement because the farmers planting these are getting higher levels of income compared to rice,” the agriculture head added.
According to Fernandez, whose parents established the enterprise 10 years ago, his father was looking for alternative livelihood for the Tarlac farmers who were suffering from unstable palay prices throughout the year.
“Ang okra kasi, you can start harvesting within 55–65 days upon seeding and you can harvest it every day for 75 days straight,” he said.
“Okra farmers can harvest 500 kilograms up to 1 ton of okra per hectare for 75 days straight and earn a net income of P80,000 – P120,000.”
Accordingly, okra farmers can harvest 500 kilograms up to 1 ton of okra per hectare for 75 days straight and earn a net income of P80,000 – P120,000.
“It’s a fast turnaround crop, high-yielding crop, and a good source of income for the farmers,” Fernandez said.
Jelfarm will be expanding up to a thousand hectares for the production of export-quality okra in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and farming cooperatives.
Dar has committed to continue its support to the farmers and groups leading the exportation of okra and edamame (young soybeans that are also exported to Japan from Central Luzon) to enhance the country’s agricultural production and the livelihood of local farmers.