What started as a hobby of a government agriculturist in the 1970s has turned into a successful and rewarding business and now provides a sweet surprise to local and foreign tourists in Urayong, Bauang, La Union.
Avelino Lomboy, manager and founder of Lomboy Farms in La Union, planted 20 grape cuttings procured from Cebu as a hobby in 1972.
After two years of research and experimentation, Lomboy, a provincial agriculturist, was able to harvest 11 grape bunches which he donated to the Bauang town fiesta.
“To be a trailblazer in unchartered territories was such a strong driving force to start the grape business. A whole industry was built from a simple hope and vision, toughened by hardships and trials at a tender age,” Lomboy says.
Lomboy stopped his piggery business when the grape farm expanded. He resigned from his government post and concentrated on grape culture.
His hard work and perseverance paid off, as his farm bested all other grape producing provinces nationwide, earning him the moniker “Philippine grape king.”
Lomboy’s grape venture, cultivated through hardwork and research, has served as an inspiration to other farmers who have followed in his footsteps.
Lomboy says many grape varieties actually adapt to Philippine weather conditions. He says among the varieties cultivated at Lomboy Farms, the most adaptable are Cardinal, Ribier, White Malaga and Brazilian Hybrid.
In the late 1980s, Lomboy also engaged in guapple production brought about by the changes in government policies that liberalized the importation of fruits.
Lomboy, through his research, pioneered the “drawfing” culture of the guapple tree. Many farmers also adopted and benefited from the method.
Later on, Lomboy Farms diversified into other high-value commercial crops such as mango, banana, dragon fruit and papaya.
The farm employs inter and multi-cropping techniques to improve land utilization, practices and sustainable farming methods.
Lomboy Farms also provides value-added services such as farm tours with fruit picking activities, farm immersions, lectures and farm demos.
Lomboy believes that urbanization and dwindling arable land and natural resources and sinking profits have forced farmers to seek alternative approaches for maintaining profitable enterprises such as agri-tourism or farm tourism.
The decision to venture into “agri-tourism” and seek formal accreditation from the Tourism Department was founded basically by Lomboy’s desire to improve the local grape and farming industry.
Lomboy Farms is now a landmark and a top tourist destination in Region 1. It also serves as a training ground and demo farm for government agencies and individuals who desire to venture into grape and guapple production.
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