What It's Like to Develop a Seed Production Business


Arnel Tandang hadn't always planned on building a livelihood around the plants. In fact, his childhood dream had nothing to do with these.

"Actually, ang pangarap ko talaga ay talyer kasi bata pa 'ko, mahilig na 'ko sa mga mechanics, sa mga sasakyan," he tells the OG team

All that changed when his father wanted him to study college at the University of the Philippines. He would graduate with a degree in Agriculture, majoring in Plant Pathology.

The birth of AGT Seedlings

Eventually, he would gain experience as a salesman for a pesticide company, and then as a Sales and Marketing Manager for a seedling company, where he would project sales and come up with sales strategies. With the encouragement of his daughter, Arnel later on opened his own seed production business, AGT Seedlings, in Masiit, Calauan, Laguna. 

"Kaya seedlingan, ako nga ang Sales and Marketing Manager ng isang seedling company so ako nagpo-project ng sales nila, 'saka ako rin yung gumagawa ng plano kung papa'no yung benta," Arnel explains. "Naisip ko, kahit makuha ko lang ang 1% nitong benta nila sa Luzon o dito sa CALABARZON, malaking kita na,"

Setting up the biz wasn't a walk in the park, of course. Badly hit by the pandemic, Arnel and his family had to use what little money they had to get by. It was also a challenging time to find clients as there were other more established seedling production businesses and farmers weren't earning as much. Even if there were no orders, they kept planting to cater to walk-in customers, plantitos and plantitas, who were beefing up their backyard gardens.


"'Yon ang tumawid sa amin, yung mga backyard gardening," Arnel says. "Kung makita niyo yung ibang background natin, mga ornamentals. Ang nangyari nung pandemic, ang malakas mga plantito plantita. Kaya nangyari, naglagay na rin kami dito ng konting pang-mga ornamental. Bale sa anak ko yung ornamental o kaya sa asawa ko."

Getting started

Their initial investment was around P800,000—P300,000 for a delivery van, an additional P300,000 for the construction of a small office, and P200,000 for equipment. They also started renting a lot for their greenhouse, half of which houses seedlings, and half which contains their ornamental plants. Their monthly rent costs P16,000, and they earn anywhere between P10,000 to P83,000 a month, depending on the season. 

Their earnings are also influenced with whatever is priced high at the moment. "Ang malakas sili, sili na tingala," Arnel shares. "'Yon ay tinatawag na tingala kasi nakatirik siya. Kasi depende sa presyo, kasi minsan kung nagtaas ang presyo ng kamatis, kamatis. Kung mataas ang presyo ng sili sa farm, sili. So walang panahon kundi wala siyang specific na panahon depende sa farmgate price na mga commodity."

To those interested in starting their own seedling production biz, Arnel says entrepreneurs should carefully consider and study their market. 

"Kagaya nito, nung ginawa ko 'to, kinuha ko yung lugar," he notes. "Sa mga nakalugar, ano-ano ba yung nakatanim? Ilang ektarya yung tinataniman ng ganito? Gano'n ako mag-project kung kaya kong gawin. Kasi kung alam mo yung market dito pero yung susupplyan mo ay maliit o baka yung babayad mo sa tauhan mo, lugi ka pa." 

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Steph Esguerra Olarte
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