As early as 4:30 in the morning, sugarcane planter and former Sugar Regulatory Administrator Nicolas A. Alonso discusses the day’s tasks with his partner Kabankalan District Chairman and Association President Luis “Nene” Azcona over coffee. The two are already in the sugarcane fields before sunrise giving out instructions to ensure that farm operations are running smoothly.
Alonso is one of very few sugarcane planters who live on their 350-hectare farm in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental during the workweek. “The best part is just to be in the farm, where you see for yourself what works and what doesn’t,” Alonso said. “The owner’s eye fattens the horse,” he added.
Armed with decades of experience as a planter and farm management specialist, and agricultural courses at the University of the Philippines Los Banos, he is one of the most progressive farmers in his district. In the last crop year, Alonso’s average yield was 103 tons cane per hectare, which he attributes mostly to his use of high yielding varieties of sugarcane (HYVs). VMC 86-550 and VMC 84-524, acclaimed top-yielders in Negros, are the only varieties planted in his farm.