Philippines is a bountiful bosom of fruits, crops, and vegetables, with way over 50 species of fruits. The rich, fertile soils of our archipelago make all kinds of fruits grow – sweet, sour, bitter, chewy, crunchy, modest, and sizeable. We have it all!
Well, almost all. While our motherland has plenty of native plant species, there are a lot of others in the world that aren’t naturally found in the Philippines.
One innovative farmer in Digos City, Davao del Sur challenges the status quo.
Benzone Kennedy Sepe is a 29-year-old-farmer who tends an impressive grove of fruit-bearing plants. Benzone is bending the norm with his vast variety of fruit trees, berry bushes, and shrubs.
Sweet, sugary apples
The beloved apple is world-famous, yet it doesn’t grow naturally in the Philippines. It originated in Central Asia, and then propagated to Europe and North America. Nowadays, the beloved fruit is available commercially. However, commercial apples are seldom sweet and usually fall on the bland and sour sides.
Of course, this does not apply to the “Benzone Apple”, which is what Benzone Kennedy Sepe would hope to call his sweet apples should his farm reach export scale. Benzone Apples are indeed sweet – way sweeter than average market produce.
Benzone Kennedy’s trees first bloomed in 2018, and he took his apples to Davao del Sur State College, where he graduated Agricultural Technology. Here he had the Brix level of his produce tested. In short, Brix is the measure of sugar level in a fruit.
Benzone apples scored a surprisingly high 17.5 degrees Brix. This is significantly better compared to the market average of 13. In fact, these apples have the same Brix score as high-quality peaches and lychees!
Modest start and humble beginnings
Farmer Benzone Kennedy’s first apple tree was grown from supermarket Fuji apple seeds. In 2014, he planted three seeds in his backyard and only one grew.
Later in 2015, he went on a two-month trip to South Korea, where he got the inspiration to farm apples back in the Philippines. Upon returning home, he studied husbandry and apple growing.
The single sprout he had turned out to be a 1 in 10,000 seed, called “self-fertile seeds”, that could bear fruit on its own. Without any external pollination whatsoever, his single tree produced fruit buds.
“It felt like I hit a jackpot,” Benzone Kennedy said in an interview with MindaNews. From his first harvest, he picked 32 ripe apples, and now he has over 330 apple trees planted at the foot of Mt. Apo.
Farming a basket of foreign fruits
Since his success in apples, Benzone Kennedy has expanded his endeavors to other fruits. He concluded that his apples feasibly grew thanks to the Philippines’ favorable climate. Harvests are sweeter and more frequent than in countries with four seasons.
Following the development of his “Benzone Apple” tree orchard, Benzone Kennedy has started tending handfuls of other foreign fruits. He has since added raspberries, limes, kesusu, grapes, pears, and cherry blossoms to his expanding fruit basket.
He’s also cultivating local produce such as strawberries, dragon fruits, and pomegranates giving them the same care and treatment as everything else.
Furthermore, he has just recently grown Australian Figs, Kadota Figs, Valencia oranges, kiwis, olives, and blueberries – which are all healthily blooming.
These plants from overseas may just find a home in the Philippines, starting from the backyard of Benzone Kennedy Sepe.
Should you want to get in touch with Benzone Kennedy, you can contact him through various channels:
- Contact number: 0907-225-1386
- Email: [email protected]
- Facebook blog managed by Benzone: https://www.facebook.com/Benzone-Kennedy-F-Sepe-Agri-vlog-109215257539051/
- Youtube vlog channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCivyVmRQ4fWY8_jlZnrzccQ
- Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/benzonekennedy.sepe