Cycling champ ventures into fish farming (Sports Feature)

July 15, 2011 11:10 pm 

By Ben Moses Ebreo

BAGABAG, Nueva Vizcaya, July 15 — After proving his cycling skills for years, he took time to slow a bit and refocus his other interest — fish farming.

But for 52-year-old cycling champ Lupo Alava, venturing into agriculture business also proved to be a good business and a good landing pad for retirement.

At the peak of his cycling career, going into a fishpond business did not cross his mind though he earned a degree in agriculture. His cycling stint earned him the Rookie of the Year title in the 1980 Marlboro Tour ng Pilipinas and participated in the annual cycling series from 1980 to 1985 and gained popularity nationwide.

In 1985, however, Alava left the rigorous cycling event, got married and decided to develop a 1,000-square-meter lot at Sitio Balete in Barangay Namamparan, Diadi town, upon his wife’s advice. The couple has three children.

“I started this venture because it is more profitable than ordinary farming,” he said.

Alava, however, did not totally abandon his love for bikes. In fact, he put up a bike shop and named it after him in Diadi town.

Venturing into fishpond was not easy for Alava. He experienced a fish kill due to overstocking, forcing him to attend seminars and trainings conducted by local fishery experts.

His first harvest convinced him to concentrate on the business. Slowly, he developed his main farm from another lot he inherited from his grandparents in 2003 in Barangay Villa Coloma Diadi.

The five-hectare, irrigation-fed fish farm also has a small impounding area that served nearby rice fields owned by other villagers. It has eight ponds with a size of 23,350 square meters each.

Alava harvests fish in four to five months. At most, his yield is eight tons per pond which he sells at a farmgate price of P58 a kilo.

“Fish farming is good. I even spend more hours here than in my bicycle center business. My full attention is here,” he said.

Being the largest producer of tilapia in the province, Alava is now developing a fish hatchery. Most fish farmers get their fish supply from the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija and in Isabela, he noted.

Alava said his love for cycling remains. Every weekend, he spends time on the road from Bagabag town in Nueva Vizcaya to Lagawe town in Ifugao or to Santiago City in Isabela.

He founded cycling and mountain biking clubs in Diadi to help and support local enthusiasts, among with other cycling sensations Domingo Quilban (now a retired police officer), Ariel Maraña who is based in the United States and Carlo Guieb (manager of a jeepney business).

Alava has outlets for his fish products in Villaverde, Solano, Bayombong, Bambang and his hometown Bagabag In Nueva Vizcaya, Lamut town in Ifugao, and Santiago City.

Many people want to go into fish farming but big capital is needed since it entails expenditures from pond preparation and management, he said.

Depending on the size of the ponds, a farmer uses up at least eight bags of feeds per 1,000 fingerlings for the whole season. Alava said he was spending P5,000 daily for feeds. He employs six workers and hires seven others for distribution.

Officials of the provincial agriculture office said Alava’s fish products have improved the local fish sufficiency level by 15 percent.

Last year, Alava was named outstanding fisherman in the fish category. (PNA) scs/LOR/SCD/BMEbreo/mba

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