LA UNION, Philippines – Clobbered by liberalization, grape farmers in the beach town of Bauang, La Union, have resorted to following the gimmick of upland strawberry farmers – they let tourists do the picking.
Even during the rainy season, you would see signs like “Grape Picking” in Barangay Urayong or men in motorcycles willing to bring you off-road for some purple adventure.
Sonny Acosta, owner of Acosta Farms, said tourists wouldn’t mind shelling out P300 per kilo as long as they do the picking themselves.
He said that during the weekends, he can sell as much as 100 kilos of red cardinal grapes.
He said that he was working as a bus conductor when he was egged by his uncle, Avelino Lomboy, to go into grape production. He and his brother, Conrado, divided their tobacco farm and followed suit.
Lomboy, whose name means “grapes” in Ilocano, is the provincial agriculturist of La Union who decided to venture into grapes – probably because of his name but surely also considering profitability.
He grew the red cardinal and the smaller green variety in his 20-hectare farm in Urayong and was soon the sole local producer of grapes in the country.
And then trade liberalization came in after the ouster of the Marcos regime and grape production in Bauang was trampled.
Lomboy Farms, now under his daughter Gracia, decided to go into grape picking, and business slowly returned. Soon, other farmers in Urayong and nearby barangays also ventured into grape production.
Acosta also went into brewing his own grape wine, although a brewer in Benguet does the brewing and bottling for him. He has also ventured into guyabano (soursop) farming and also bottles his own guyabano wine. His neighbors also went into growing dragon fruit, papaya, and mangoes. – Rappler.com
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