Bitter conditions in bitter gourd production
Tatay Kaloy is a 60-year old bitter gourd farmer in Southern Mindanao. He is landless and only rents a half-hectare land in order to farm. In an interview with him by comrades, he narrated how he suffered losses during the last planting season.
He said that the regular planting and harvesting cycle of bitter gourd takes about four to six months. During the last planting season, he spent at least ₱12,600 for farm inputs including seeds, fertilizer, pesticide, wires and straw ties. On top of this, he occassionally employs other farm workers to help him plant and harvest at a rate of ₱200/day. In the past, he was able to harvest 24 times and produce up to 336-408 kilos of bitter gourd. He sold his products at ₱35/kilo, enabling him to earn a net income of ₱14,208. Deducting the cost of production, he was left with almost no profit.
Tatay Kaloy is one of the many farmers who continue to suffer from the backward and manual farming in the country, and the lack of subsidy in the form of farm inputs, cheap credit and irrigation.