Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol on Wednesday said the Philippines has been exporting okra (lady finger) to Japan in bulks for 30 years.
“The export of okra from Tarlac [City] to Japan started 30 years ago with nary a help from the government. Almost daily, nililipad ng eroplano ang tone-toneladang okra (they send out tons of okra almost every day),” he said in a post on social media.
The former agriculture secretary made this comment as he corrected a report from a local news agency that announced on Tuesday that it was “the first time [that] the country exported okra to Japan due to its high demands, as Japan is known to include the flowering plant in their daily diet”.
On Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar accompanied farmer entrepreneurs Jeffrey Fernandez and Rap Pelayo of Jel Farms from Tarlac at the Pairpags Center, Airport Road in Pasay City before exporting their fresh okra to Japan.
A press statement said two tons of okra were harvested from different farms of Tarlac including 14 barangays in Victoria, Balayang, Palacpalac, Batang Batang, Lalapac, Mayang, San Pascual, Villa Bacolor, Matayumtayum, San Jose, San Manuel, Balingcanaway, Cutcut, and Lapaz.
Fernandez, in a YouTube video, said their okra farming business was established in 2010 by his parents Larry and Joy Fernandez.
“It was pretty much built on assisting farmers by helping them learn more or acquire new technology, new developments, and even new procedures to try,” he said in a video posted in June 2019.
In the video, Fernandez, who was a former chef based in the U.S. was recalled by his parents here to take over their business “some 30 years ago”.
The family’s farm in Barangay San Manuel in Tarlac City exports 13 to 15 tons of okra every day to Japan, he said.
Meanwhile, Dar said okra farmers’ profit could easily reach up to PHP120,000 per hectare for both okra and young soybean (edamame).
This, considering the farmers have access to cold storage, which he assured, would be DA’s priority. (PNA)