DAVAO CITY -- How do we keep the doctor away? By eating an apple a day, so goes the traditional saying. That's because apples contain antioxidants and phytonutrients which may help reduce the risk of developing diseases.
However, apple trees don't usually grow in tropical countries like the Philippines and apples that are sold in the market have to be imported from other countries.
But a third-year Agriculture student from Digos City, Davao del Sur has proven that growing apples in the Philippines is possible.
While eating an apple back in 2014, Benzone Sepe decided to plant three seeds in their backyard in Barangay Kapatagan, Digos.
After a few months, the two plants died while the only surviving one was still not able to bear fruit.
But Benzone did not stop there as he did further research on apple growing.
"I pruned the plant but it did not end there. I found out a proper way in the internet and that the branch should be bent for sunlight exposure," he told ABS-CBN News.
Last January 2018, he noticed flowers from the apple tree, and the following month, Benzone found four hanging pinkish and fist-size apples.
"I cannot see any difference between that and a commercial apple because the juiciness and crunchiness is still there," he said.
According to agriculturist Dr. Alexander Campaner, based on the genetic characteristic of an apple, it requires 7 to 12 degrees Celcius temperature for it to grow.
"Based on the studies that I conducted in Benguet, they planted apple trees, but the result is not as good as ours," Campaner said.
That made it possible for apple trees to grow in the highlands of Digos.
According to Bong Oñate, regional director of the Department of Agriculture XI, this is the first successful apple tree in Mindanao.