Friday, August 19, 2016

BSWM Conducts Technical Briefing on Soil Mapping Analysis in Davao Region


    "Change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle but gorgeous at the end," Bureau of Soils and Water Management  (BSWM) OIC, Director Sonia M. Salguero quoted Robin Sharma during the technical briefing on "National Soil Sampling and Testing for Fertility and Crop Suitability Assessment " held at the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office XI (DA-RFO XI) on August 10, 2016.

    In the course of the meeting, the BSWM discussed the project protocol in the conduct of simultaneous field survey and data processing. The outline includes procedures for sampling, testing, survey and mapping; institutional arrangements; terms of reference of Project Staff; and composition, roles and responsibilities  of regional field teams.

    Moreover, the BSWM urges the DA-RFO XI to use a template survey form where selected farmers shall be interviewed to determine the farming practices in the area particularly on the crops and varieties cultivated, the fertilizer usage and other relevant information.

    DA OIC, Regional Executive Director Ricardo M. Oñate, Jr., on the other hand, manifested his support by way of offering assistance to the BSWM on accommodation and vehicle support to the team during their field activity for the period of 22 days starting August 10.  

    Dir. Oñate also underscored that the implementation of the said activity is highly acknowledged as it will help boost and improve farmers’ productivity in Davao region.

    "Nagpapasalamat ako na maganda ang ating partnership. And definitely we would like na matapos po sana ang soil sampling activities dito sa aming area before the end of this month," Oñate said during the technical briefing with the BSWM.

    The Davao region is among the priorities in the programs of the new administration towards achieving "Available and Affordable Food for the Filipino." (Amelia M. Fermia DA-BSWM)




Thursday, August 18, 2016

Agricultural “Bagsakan” Planned for Metro Manila

Traditionally, agricultural products have their “bagsakan” or trading post at the Divisioria Market. But recent efforts in cleaning up the metropolis resulted in the banning of these vegetable markets in Divisoria itself. This has led to a drastic reduction in the incomes of farmers who relied on having their produce sold at Divisoria.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) plans to establish a “Bagsakan”  in Metro Manila next month (September 2016). This will serve as the delivery point for all produce from the provinces and will enable the farmers to efficiently market and sell their products.

“There is no estimate yet as to the  cost [of putting up the center]. But we’re initially looking at tents just so we could address the problems of farmers,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol sent in a text message.

“We will do our best to do it in one month,” the DA Secretary said.

The volume of vegetables was greatly reduced because of these new guidelines on cleanliness in the traditional markets in Manila.

“While this development may initially be considered a crisis especially by our vegetable farmers in the Cordilleras, I look at this as a development which offers windows of opportunities,” according  the DA Secretary.

“I have long planned the establishment of a Farmers’ Trading Center in Metro Manila to allow provincial food producers to display their products which could be sold on wholesale basis,” Piñol chimed in.

A government owned property in Metro Manila is being eyed by the DA for the trading center.

“If the space which the DA could locate would allow it, we could even put up cold storage facilities and chillers so that meat, fruits and vegetables would have longer shelf life,” Pinol added.

“Vegetables, fruits, native chicken, goats, pork, organic farm eggs and others could be put on display in the farmers’ trading center allowing the farmers to sell their produce without going through the rigors of looking for buyers and a place to sell their products,” Piñol disclosed.

Also live fresh seafood and dried acquaculture products could also be sold in the “Bagsakan” particularly from southern Luzon, Central Visayas and Mindanao




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

New Technology to Triple Philippine Onion Output

New farming technology from Vietnam will be tested in the Philippines for the first time. The Department of Agriculture will allow VietGrow, one of Vietnam’s biggest seeds  and fertilizer producer.

VietGrow developed the farming technology in its Mekong River Delta region where 7,000 hectares are solely for onion farming.

Current Philippine onion farming techniques allow only 1 seasonal harvest annually since it takes 6 months for the onions to ripen. The new technique will enable farmers to harvest 3 times a year, effectively tripling onion farm outputs.

Demonstration farms would be established North Cotabato, Southern Leyte, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Ilocos Norte and Mindoro.

“Should the demo farms produce positive results, this would mean the end of the days when Filipino onion farmers are at the mercy of imported and smuggled onions,” Secretary Piñol disclosed

The traditional way of planting seeds would give way to using onion tubers as planting materials that could be harvested in two months instead of the current 6 months.

“The process starts with the intensive seeding of bulb onion seeds in a nursery area. When the bulb onions have grown to thumb-size, these are harvested and replanted to the propagation area at a ratio of one ton per hectare,” the DA Secretary said.

“The excess planting materials could be kept for as long as eight months thus giving the farmer the leeway to plant again as soon as he harvests the first crop,” Piñol said.

It is estimated that a hectare can earn Php720,000 to Php900,000.





Thursday, August 11, 2016

Enrollment of Agriculture at UPLB Decreases

The Philippines being an agricultural based economy has always been dependent on its the produce of its agricultural sector. This sector not only depends on the ordinary farmer but also on a cadre of agriculture professionals.

It was bared at the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (Sesam) that there is a decline in the number of students taking up agriculture. This does not bode well for the country’s food security.

At UPLB, there are only 4.7% of students enrolled in the agriculture course compared to 43% in 1995 and 51% in 1980. The professional labor force of the agricultural sector and that the BS Agriculture programs are becoming less appealing as a career choice. This were also buttressed from Commission on Higher Education (CHED)statistics showing a decline in the total number of students taking up the course.

In order to arrest the decline, one method is to bring elementary and high school students to successful farms. The youth must be presented with examples of a thriving agricultural business. 

“Exposing them to prosperous agricultural farms could be one approach. Promoting agritourism could make children have a feel of a thriving business and encourage enrollment in agriculture,” said Jesusa Coladilla of UP Sesam in remarks sent through a statement.





Farmers save rainwater for dry seasons.

Farmers in Brgy. Biclat, San Miguel, Bulacan are taking advantage of the rainy season by saving rainwater for their rice farms’ use during dry months. Small farm reservoirs (SFR) help them do so.

SFR, according to Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), is a water impounding structure with a maximum height of embankment of 4 meter and average pond area of 1,500 square meters. Farmers with areas no more than 2 ha of rainfed farms find the tool convenient to use.

“Almost every farm here has SFR since we have limited water resources and irrigation can’t reach us,” said Rodelio B. Viola, chairman of Biclat Farmers Field School Marketing Cooperative.

Farmers use SFRs as fishponds to give them extra income during the first cropping season.  They use the water from SFR for rice production in the second cropping season, particularly before or during summer.

For farmers who want to start their own SFR, they would have to spend more than P10,000.
“We rent digging equipment such as bulldozer or backhoe. In our area, the rent costs P2,000/hour,” said Florentino B. Salvador, a farmer and owner of three SFRs.

“Diggings are made every five years to maintain the depth of the structure as it becomes shallow with soil erosion. If the farmer has resources, he can dig it every year,” he added.
Experts at the Rice Engineering and Mechanization Division of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said that SFR is just one of the water harvesting techniques farmers can use during the rainy season.

Other technologies include small water impounding project (SWIP), diversion dam, dug-out pond, open ditch, and rain interceptor ponds and ditches.

According to Engr. Kristine S. Pascual, water harvesting techniques such as SFR, are important as there is a negative effect when rice is submerged in the water for a long time.

“Aeration will be an issue, resulting in poor tillering of the rice plant,” she said.

Pascual also gave tips on managing water in the rice field during the rainy season. “Dikes and irrigation canals must be fixed to make sure that the water flows to the drainage or any impounding structure,” she explained.

She added that farmers can avoid the onslaught of typhoons and floods by following a cropping calendar to guide them on the proper timing of planting rice.

PhilRice breeders also suggest that farmers can plant flood-tolerant varieties such as NSIC Rc194 (Submarino 1) which has an average yield of 3.5 t/ha and matures in 112 days.

For more information on water harvesting techniques, farmers may contact the PhilRice Text Center at 0920 911 1398.

Source: http://www.philrice.gov.ph/farmers-save-rainwater-dry-seasons/#sthash.nru9KDCl.dpuf





Rice Prices based on Adequate Supply

Prices of milled rice declined by two percent in the first half largely due to adequate supply despite the negative effects of El Niño, according to the National Food Authority.

NFA administrator Tomas Escarez said the ample supply during the six months through June was “attributed to the output from the summer travel harvest from February to April, and the timely arrival of rice imports before the lean months of July to September.”

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Agency, the national average price for well-milled rice was P41.13/kilogram in the first quarter as against P42.68 during the same period in 2015.
For the second quarter, prices of the nation’s major staple amounted to P41.3/kg versus P41.81/kg last year.

The NFA placed the current national rice inventory at 3.08 million  metric tons, sufficient for 96 days. Of this volume, 913,500 MT belong to NFA, good to last for 28 days, while 994,700 MT are commercial stocks, and 1.168 million  MT are household stocks.

Escarez said the decline in rice prices “highlights the significance of prudent buffer stocking, market positioning and monitoring by the agency so that availability, accessibility and affordability of the staple food are continuously safeguarded and maintained across the country.”

“Being the basic food of Filipinos, rice traditionally comprises about 30 percent of every Filipino family’s food basket, thus a stable price and supply, more so a decrease in prices, always redound to the greater benefit of majority of our populace, especially the poor,” Escarez said.

Source:  http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2016/07/31/1608324/rice-prices-fall-adequate-supply






Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Piñol orders release of P2B worth of idle equipment

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has ordered the distribution of around P2 billion worth of equipment which were allegedly kept in various warehouses of the Department of Agriculture.

“I issued a directive that all equipment kept in all DA compound all over the country must be released within a period of two months. I ordered to start the distribution today,” Piñol said.

The agri chief issued the directive after reports confirmed that an estimated P2 billion worth of farm machineries and equipment were not distributed to farmer groups and local government units.

Piñol added the regional directors were at a loss on how to handle the distribution of equipment.

The regional office failed to distribute the equipment because farmer groups were not able to provide a 15 percent cash equity.

Farmer groups were supposed to shoulder 15 percent of the cost of the equipment under the guidelines issued by former DA Secretary Proceso Alcala.

 “I had to ask the opinion of two lawyers of the DA to determine whether the 15 percent equity to be paid by the beneficiaries directly to the equipment suppliers was legal,” he said.

Pending the resolution of his legal question, Piñol decided that the equipment must be immediately released or the government would be put at a disadvantage.

Farmer beneficiaries will just be asked to sign a deed of undertaking which says that if the 15 percent equity is legal, it will be paid by installment over a period of four years.

“I issued a stern warning to the regional directors that I will not allow the procurement of any other equipment without sufficient validation on the capacity of the beneficiaries to handle it and exhaustive social preparation,”  he said.

Just earlier this week, Piñol ordered an investigation of officials of DA-South Cotabato for failing to distribute around P100 million worth of equipment to farmer groups.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2016/07/24/1605870/pinol-orders-release-p2b-worth-idle-equipment





Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Php20 million allotted by DA for School Gardening Program

During the 1970s as an offshoot of the Green Revolution Program, the Youth Civic Action for Progress (YCAP) was established. Part of this program would be cultivating plots of land inside the premises of all schools. These included planting crops such as tomatoes and corn. This became part of the curriculum and also taught even urban based students the rudiments of farming. It was incorporated also in science subjects and scouting.

Taking a page from history, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is allotting P20 million to create a national school gardening program in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd).

During one of the Cabinet meetings, Agriculture chief Emmanuel Piñol presented to Education Secretary Leonor Briones the idea of bringing back basic gardening as a special activity for elementary school children in both public and private schools nationwide. “She liked the idea and so we agreed that DA and DepEd would work together to implement a national school gardening program,” the DA said.

This program will make basic gardening a special school activity which is unlike the 70s program that included it in the cuirriculum. But the intention is also beneficial to all students who will participate since farming is a life skill that will be carried over the entire life of the student participant. The DA will provide the technicians, gardening tools, seeds, organic fertilizers and even irrigation equipment. 

“Most Filipino children do not even know how to plant vegetables or even just basic gardening. For many, the closest they get to farming is by playing Farmville in the computer,” Piñol said.

Funding for the program will be included in the proposed 2017 budget of the department.





BSWM, Takes Key Steps Towards Accomplishing National Soil Testing

    In keeping with the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol's order to complete the soil mapping analysis, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) started to mobilize the DA-Regional Field Offices (RFOs)  and Local Government Units (LGUs) for the Phase 1 implementation of the "National Soil Sampling and Testing for Fertility and Crop Suitability Assessment."

    The BSWM OIC, Director Sonia M. Salguero manifested her full and active support to the programs of the new administration towards achieving "Available and Affordable Food for the Filipino" by targeting the development of a web-based interface for enhanced access by farmers and other stakeholders of the color-coded maps.

    "We need to extend our help to the farmers and provide them with up-to-date and accurate data for them to easily  determine what kind of fertilizers to apply and which crops are suitable to plant in their areas," Salguero  said.

    For the period 2010 to 2015, the BSWM with counterpart-funding support from the DA-RFOs and responsive LGUs has completed soil fertility assessments in 12 provinces, 1 municipality and 1 city. These are located in regions 1 (Ilocos), 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas) and 11 (Davao), mainly covering rice areas.
    Moreover, in the same period, the BSWM, with funding support from DA-RFOs and LGUs, undertook crop suitability assessment in 6 provinces, 7 municipalities and 4 cities covering more than 2 million hectares. The map outputs included suitability map for major crops in their locality such as rice, corn, coconut, banana, vegetables, pineapple, fruit trees and even agro-forestry.

    "Sa misyon na ito, tungkulin natin ang makapagbigay ng tama at agarang aksyon para tugunan ang pangangailangan ng ating mga magsasaka sa tulong ng makabagong teknolohiya," Salguero added.

    The top 47 major rice producing provinces were considered for Phase 1, however, 8 have already been updated (2014-2016) thus the BSWM will undertake suitability assessments to cover the remaining 39 provinces. (Amelia M. Fermia DA-BSWM)

                        ###





Monday, August 8, 2016

Government bent on providing free irrigation by 2017

The government is bent on providing free irrigation to farmers starting next year, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.

Quoting President Duterte, Pinol said: “I have not forgotten. That’s a commitment which will be fulfilled.”

“The President’s commitment of free irrigation will certainly be realized. When Duterte makes a promise, he makes sure it is fulfilled,” the Agri chief added.

Duterte reminded rice farmers to organize themselves and make sure irrigation canals are well maintained as the government pushes through with its plan to provide irrigation water for free.
Piñol has proposed an additional P4 billion in the 2017 budget of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to ensure free irrigation in 2017.

The NIA had earlier suggested a budget of P36.8 billion for 2017. If the additional funding is approved, the agency’s allocation will amount to P40.8 billion.

“By providing an additional funding, NIA will no longer depend on the collections from irrigation fees of farmers for the salaries of its officials and employees and for its operations,” Piñol said.

NIA spokesperson Filipina Bermudez earlier said the 2017 budget is allotted for the construction, restoration, and rehabilitation of irrigation projects and existing irrigation systems.

“The GAA (General Appropriations Act) for 2017 is not for PS and MOOE (personal services and maintenance and other operating expenses). It should be explicitly stated that part of the P40 billion is for PS and MOOE,” she added.

NIA collects up to P3 billion in irrigation fees annually and relies on the fees for employees’ salaries and allowance, as well as funding for operations and maintenance of existing irrigation systems in the country.

To achieve the government’s goal of free irrigation, Piñol sought the support of the Senate to implement the plan and fortunately gained positive feedback from Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senators Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, Koko Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano, Manny Pacquiao and Kiko Pangilinan.

Piñol said Congressmen from different provinces including Leyte, Samar, Biliran and the Bicol region have expressed their support to the government’s free irrigation project.

“I expect the free irrigation commitment of the president to sail through both the lower and upper houses of Congress smoothly,” he said.

Aside from beefing up the budget, Pinol is proposing to amend the NIA’s charter in the long run so that “providing free irrigation to farmers will no longer be just a political decision of a president who cares for the poor but a policy of government.”

President Duterte issued his first executive order early this month, reorganizing the the Office of the President and reverting the NIA and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority to the Department of Agriculture.
By: Louise Maureen Simeon (Philstar)







Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Philippine SC Reverses GMO Ruling

The Philippines Supreme Court has reversed its decision to halt field trials of GMO talong, also known as brinjal and eggplant.

The July 26 decision allows the government to resume the process of deregulating Bt talong — eggplant genetically engineered to resist the fruit and shoot borer, the most destructive eggplant insect pest throughout Asia.

The ruling follows an appeal by farmers, scientists and other agriculture advocates, who successfully asked the high court to reconsider its December 2015 ruling permanently stopping Bt talong field trials.

The high court initially upheld the Appellate court ruling, but today granted the motion for reconsideration and reversed its decision. It found that the case should have been dismissed for mootness since the field trials had already been completed and the associated biosafety permits had expired, according to a press briefing released by the court.

“These effectively negated the need for the reliefs sought by respondents as there was no longer any field test to stop,” the briefing stated. “Hence at the time the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision dated May 17, 2013, the reliefs respondents sought and which were granted by the CA were no longer capable of execution.”

“The Court explained that it is not empowered to decide moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles or riles of law which cannot affect the result as to the thing in issue in the case before it,” the briefing stated. “An action is considered moot when it no longer presents a justiciable controversy because the issues have become academic or when the subject matter has been resolved.”

The Court further found that it should not have acted on the Constitutionality of the  Department of Agriculture’s Administrative Order No. 08, which authorized the field trials, “as this matter was only collaterally raised.”

Bt brinjal has been engineered to express a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium widely used for pest control in organic farming.  Bt brinjal is currently being grown only in Bangladesh, where farmers report reduced pesticide use, better yields, excellent consumer response and higher profits.

Its introduction to the Philippines has been fought by Greenpeace. In May 2012, the international activist group  successfully petitioned the  Court of Appeals to halt the field trials, which are conducted in a controlled, isolated setting to show the crop can be grown safely and successfully in local conditions.

Results from trials over three seasons in the Philippines demonstrated that Bt brinjal provides outstanding control of the fruit and shoot borer and eliminates the need for additional sprays. Studies have also confirmed Bt eggplant is safe for the environment and humans.

Source: http://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/philippines-supreme-court-reverses-gmo-ruling





Monday, July 25, 2016

Free Irrigation Instructed by Pres. Duterte



Rice self-sufficiency has been the aim of every national administration since the founding of the Republic. But several factors militated against achieving the goal. These are:

1.    Decreasing land for rice planting due to land conversion
2.    Increasing population that outstrips rice production
3.    Geography

In terms of geography, the limited and decreasing land available for rice cultivation and planting is further exacerbated by the lack of natural irrigation.

Unlike Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos that benefits from the natural irrigation brought by the Mekong River Delta System, the Philippines does not have such a river system notwithstanding that it is an archipelago.

The countries mentioned above have three planting seasons because of the Mekong River Delta System. The Philippines, in order to have 2 planting relies heavily on man-made irrigation systems that the farmers pay for. This irrigation system is administered and maintained by the National Irrigation Authority (NIA). This further adds to the so called “farm inputs” that also raises the cost of production, making Philippine rice uncompetitive in the market and also cuts into the income of the farmers, thus making them economically disadvantaged.

The campaign promise of President Duterte to provide for free irrigation to rice farmers is one of the cornerstones of his agricultural program. The president has ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to initiate the provision of free irrigation according to Secretary Emmanuel Piñol of the DA. The marching order was given to the Secretary of the DA during the last Cabinet meeting.

“It’s a commitment to the farmers that we have to fulfill,” Piñol quoted President Duterte.

In order that free irrigation be institutionalized, it has to have a law behind it so as shield it from political decisions in the future.

The DA Secretary proceeded to get the support of Congress and the Senate for such a policy driven law. Support was given by Representatives Edcel Lagman and Joey Salceda and lawmakers from Leyte, Samar and from Central Mindanao.

He said as soon as he received “that clear directive,” he immediately talked with lawmakers and sought their support for a measure that would mandate free irrigation to poor farmers.

The Senate also supports the proposed law and support was acquired from Sen. Frank Drilon and Sen. Loren Legarda

The free irrigation bill in the senate will be filed by Sen. Cynthia Villar, the chairman of the senate Agriculture Committee. Support is also expected from senators Koko Pimentel, Francis Pangilinan, Manny Pacquiao and Alan Cayetano.

There are two ways that the free irrigation bill can be funded.

1.    Additional funding of Php4 billion to the NIA so that farmers no longer need top pay for irrigation.
2.    Amendment of the NIA charter so as to be it under the DA and no longer an independent Government Owned and Controlled Corporation.







Saturday, July 23, 2016

Itik Pinas to boost the balut industry through increased duck egg production


Itik Pinas to boost the balut industry through increased duck egg production

Written by Alfredo Ryenel M. Parungao, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Service

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) has partnered with the National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center-Bureau of Animal Industry (NSPRDC-BAI) to develop the Itik Pinas, which can produce 50 more eggs than the traditional Pateros duck.

Itik Pinas is a genetically superior breeder duck which has a higher average productive period of 70% in a year, compared with 55% for the old breed. This translates to an increase in egg production of at least 50 quality eggs per duck per year or an additional income of at least ₱300 per duck per year. Moreover, Itik Pinas produces eggs at an average of 65 grams a piece, consistent with the requirement of the ‘balut’ industry.

Itik Pinas can adapt to local environment conditions and can perform well even with simple housing and low-cost feeds.

The strains of Itik Pinas are products of organized breeding and selection that focuses on the uniformity of physical characteristics, higher and predictable egg production performance, and consistent egg quality.

Itik Pinas is an output of DOST-PCAARRD’s Duck Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP), which aims to develop science-based interventions for increased egg and egg weight. Moreover, the program addresses the decline in number and quality of breeders as well as the lack of stable supply of ready-to-lay pullets, among other challenges.

DOST-PCAARRD will launch Itik Pinas during its fifth anniversary that will be held on July 28, 2016. The Council will also feature this commodity, along with its leading R&D initiatives in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources (AANR) sectors during the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) on July 25-29 at the Council’s complex. This year’s NSTW adopts the theme, Juan Science, One Nation.

The Council’s anniversary will also highlight the National Symposium on Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research and Development (NSAARRD) in the morning of July 27, 2016 and awarding of papers in the afternoon on the said date. The NSAARRD showcases the most outstanding contributions of individuals and institutions in improving the state of the AANR sectors through research and development.

Source:  http://www.pcaarrd.dost.gov.ph/home/portal/index.php/quick-information-dispatch/2751-itik-pinas-to-boost-the-balut-industry-through-increased-duck-egg-production?platform=hootsuite





Wednesday, July 20, 2016

30,000 FARM TECHNICIANS TO 'RETURN' TO AGRI DEPT.


DA, DILG, LGU Agreement: 30,000 FARM TECHNICIANS
TO 'RETURN' TO AGRI DEPT.

By: Secretary Manny Piñol
Department of Agriculture

In a move which could tremendously boost the country's food production and agricultural programs, an estimated 30,000 farm technicians and extension workers will soon "rejoin" their former "mother unit" - the Department of Agriculture (DA).

This is expected to happen very soon after Dept. of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno, himself a former governor and real farmer, agreed to my proposal to enter into a tri-partite Memorandum of Agreement with the DA and the Local Government Units (LGU) to re-assign the thousands of farm technicians and extension workers now under the LGUs back to the agriculture department as "detailed" workers.

Actually, these technicians and extension workers were originally DA employees assigned to the provinces and municipalities who were "devolved" to the LGUs upon the passage of the Local Government Code.

While the intent of the Code was noble, their transfer to the LGUs effectively paralyzed the DA and caused a great disconnect in the implementation of the department's agriculture and fisheries programs because the technicians and extension workers were getting orders from the mayors and governors.

Also, the LGUs do not have enough funds to ensure that the technicians and extension workers would be able to perform their tasks.

So, what eventually happened was that many of these agriculture workers stayed in their offices wearing crisp and dandy office uniforms, some of the women even wearing make-up and high-heels, instead of going to the fields.

Some of them are assigned to do odd jobs like tax collectors, market supervisors and even security officers, jobs totally unrelated to agriculture.

It is simply an untenable situation where talents and skills are wasted.

I presented the idea of the "detail" of the agriculture workers back to the DA during my consultations in Bicol, Samar, Leyte and SOCKSARGEN region and the proposal was roundly accepted by the LGU executives.

With this development now, the DA will shoulder the allowances, per diems and trainings of the agriculture workers and they will receive directives and orders from the DA regional offices.
The DA could even give them back the privileges of having bicycles, motorcyles or even 4-wheeled vehicles so they could do their job effectively.

Upon the signing of the MOA, the agriculture and fisheries sector will effectively have an additional workforce of about 30,000.

Expect the farms and the coastal areas to be bustling with movement of agriculture and fisheries technicians in the days to come.





Monday, July 11, 2016

Urban Agriculture: P75 Million allocated by Department of Agriculture



Urban Migration is a reality here in this country. Although according to NSO Statistics, 60% of the 100 million Philippine population still resides in classified “rural” areas, this does not mean that they are not subject to urbanization.

In a span of 20 years, seemingly rural areas have become “urbanized”. Also, known lands once classified as agricultural has been converted into residential and even commercial use.

The effect of the success experienced by rural citizens in education their children who in turn never returned to do agricultural work but instead went into other urban based livelihoods and jobs is adding population pressure in urban centers in the country.

The effects are the following:

1.    Increase of urban population and migration
2.    Shift in livelihood from rural (agriculture) based to urban based (Services and Manufacturing)
3.    Migration abroad (OFW)
4.    Decrease in available land for agriculture  and thereby decrease in agricultural and food production.

Noting the increase of urban population and the decreasing food production, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has embarked on a program to augment food production using the urban areas.

Using Israeli Agritech methods and demonstrated in areas in Davao, the DA has allocated Php75 million this year in  starting urban gardening programs.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol calls the project Vegetable Gardens in the City. This will be done in partnerships with the local government units (LGUs) and urban poor families will be the participants.

The project will be initially implemented in Taguig, Manila and Quezon City. The DA will provide technical, financial and marketing support. The Israely mode of Greenhouse farming will be utilized. Such greenhouse technology has been a mainstay in Israel and has been successful in boosting the yield of crops and is even based in the Negev Desert.






Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Local sugar traders allowed to import 100,000 MT sugar to stabilize prices

MANILA, Philippines - Local traders were given the green light to import 100,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar to help stabilize the price, which fluctuated ever since El Niño hit the country and resulted to a tightness in supply.

Very recently, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) issued an order allowing traders and producers to start importing sugar.

According to SRA, it came up with such decision after some industrial consumers of sugar said that unless competitive priced sugar are made readily available to them, it will start shifting to alternative sweeteners or just bring in sugar containing finished products.

The agency said that this is because even if importation is already part of the government’s replacement program and that the supply in the domestic market was technically sufficient, the domestic sugar prices have remained high for the most part of the current cropping season.

A sugar crop year in the Philippines starts September and ends August.

A total of 96,000 MT of replacement imported sugar have already been issued release clearances. The balance of the replacement sugar were expected to arrive in April and May.

“It is emphasized that the sugar order shall cover only the increase of 0.738 in replacement ration, which shall be no more than 100,000 MT of sugar,” the SRA further specified in the new memorandum, adding that the imported sugar shall be in raw form or raw basis.

The government earlier allowed the importation of sugar as part of its replacement program in order to ease price fluctuations caused by drought.

As of last week, sugar output has already reached 2.21 million MT, exceeding the 2.134 million MT production estimate for crop year 2015 to 2016.


Source :  http://www.mb.com.ph/local-traders-allowed-to-import-100000-mt-sugar-to-stabilize-prices/#IXLcodqP6oCm3KYK.99







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By 2022 There will be 89% Less Arable Land But 11% More Filipinos To Feed

We have just finished our elections and I am looking not just at the next six years but the milestone and challenge after six years in the year 2022.  I was scrounging around for a number, a percentage by which I can be comfortable with in terms of estimating the amount of arable land which will be lost to real estate development, conversion into other use, or affected by armed conflict.  The safest number I can pull out 11%.  Yes, whatever land we have allocated at this time to farming, will shrink to 89%... Read More




Friday, June 17, 2016

Farm Tourism: A New Boon for Phil. Agriculture




Farm tourism in the Philippines is being developed as a relatively new tourism product with the aim of not only attracting travellers but also helping local farmers diversify and supplement their agricultural income.

Although it  is still far from being a major contributor to overall tourism receipts, farm tourism aims to supplement the business model of farmers and explore new ways of generating income through tour packages that include planting, harvesting and creating value added products.

According to the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST),  the distance between the production and consumption of farm products gets closer to the market, consumers’ interest on how crops are produced are also being heightened.

Similar to ecotourism, farm tourism focuses on travel that is low-impact and empowers local communities socially and economically.

ISST president Mina Gabor said “ farm tourism attracts visitors and travellers to farm areas, generally for educational and recreational purposes that encourage economic activity and provide income to the community.

“It is one of the country’s sunshine industries which can be developed because of the agricultural nature of the economy,…It augments the farmers’ income when an activity in an area is used or visited by foreign or local tourists, “Gabor said.

She added that farm tourism encourages the younger generation to eventually venture into farming, which has been stereotyped as a low-level kind of job.

Farm tourism mainstreamed in 2012 starting with a single Department of Tourism accredited vegetable farm, Costales Nature Farm in Laguna and now has more than 100 accredited establishments nationwide, majority of which are located in Luzon.

Farm tourism is under the umbrella of nature tourism that holds around 20 to 30 percent of the overall tourism market in the country. On an average, a day tour covering three farms costs approximately P3,500.

Gabor, a former Tourism secretary,  is urging the incoming Tourism secretary to accredit more farms and include farm tours in travel packages  they promote.

“They need to give guests some farm experience. This is a new product for tourism and it facilitates more job generation,” she added.

The ISST contributes to the industry through training small and medium farms on how to create value added in their produce, improve the standards of farming, as well as marketing and promoting their products to a larger market.

It is hosting the 4th Farm Tourism Conference and Farm Tourism Market Festival on July 14-16 in Tagaytay City.

The conference aims to support and raise awareness on sustainable farm tourism activities, assist in marketing farm tourist destinations, highlight sustainable crops, and promote farm stays.

Source: http://beta.philstar.com/business/2016/06/12/1592306/farm-tourism-new-bright-spot-philippine-economy






 

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