Monday, May 29, 2017

Bulacan farmers inch closer to rice self-sufficiency

The Duterte administration’s goal of hitting 100 percent rice self-sufficiency level in two years, to push the Philippines to reclaim its status as rice exporter, is now a step closer to attainment.

A recent partnership among the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office No. 3 (DOST III), the Philippine Sino Center for Agricultural Technologies (PhilSCAT), the Local Government of Pulilan (Pulilan LGU) and the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit No. 3 (DA RFU III) just might have proven that such a target could be realized.

The team believes that achieving higher rice yields is possible given the correct seed variety and quality, proper plant spacing, correct fertilizer timing and rates, and appropriate irrigation application.  That is the reason why the farmers who participated in a recent project were convinced to migrate from direct/broadcast seeding to mechanized transplanting; from using the usual inbred seeds to hybrid rice seeds, and from their old practice of applying four to six bags of fertilizer to the more intensive eight to 10 bags of fertilizer per hectare.

Under the umbrella of the DOST- Community Empowerment through Science and Technology project “Effective Translation of Science and Technology Intervention for Agricultural Productivity: The Case of Rice and Mango in Pulilan, Bulacan”, PhilSCAT director  Emmanuel Sicat who provided technical services, requested for hybrid rice seeds from DA RFU III Andrew Villacorta last year.

PhilSCAT immediately deployed its technical team led by  Carlos Abon and conducted trainings on seedbed preparation using double mulching technique in December last year, and use of mechanized transplanter in January this year.

The carageenan plant growth promoter developed by Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development, both of the DOST, was likewise sprayed at 14, 28 and 42 days after transplanting.

The 25 Pulilan farmers-participants in this endeavor were closely guided and monitored by the joint DOST-PhilSCAT team. 

Last April 18,  the farmers witnessed the combined harvester  churn out 177 cavans of Mestiso 78 palay (also known as Long Ping 937) at 70 kg per cavan from the 1.25-hectare farm of Lito Calderon.

The harvest reached 12.39 tons or 9.9 tons per hectare.  This year’s harvest is almost double compared with last year’s harvest of 6.597 tons of PSB Rc 218.

Meanwhile, Ponciano Mendoza harvested 140 cavans of SL8-H at 55 kg per cavan from his 7,500 square meter farm.  This is equivalent to 10.27 tons (or 205 cavans) per hectare which,  according to him, is almost double compared with his harvest last year of 80 cavans.

Rosalina de Guzman, also a farmer-participant, said: “ Because of the carageenan plant growth promoter, I actually had a very abundant harvest and I was able to save from fertilizer costs.

The initiative was spurred by the personal experience of Sicat himself, an agricultural engineer and a rice farmer, who was inspired by his harvest of at least 200 cavans per hectare in his rice fields at the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija in the 2015 and 2016 dry seasons.

After his abundant harvest, he was challenged by Mayor Montejo to help the Pulilan rice farmers achieve the same successful harvest.


Mobile Technology Helping Filipino Farmers

Grameen Foundation initiated FarmerLink back in 2016. This was in response with the needs of the Filipino farmer in coping with natural and man-made disasters that affects their livelihood and farm operations. This will enable the Filipino farmer to manage his farm and allow new techniques to be learned and applied to local conditions.

The backdrop to this was the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 when 33 million coconut trees were destroyed and severely affected the lives of over 1 million families that depended on the coconut industry. 

Almost at the same time, the coconut industry was also being devastated by the cocolisap infestation that affected coconut trees from Luzon all the way to Mindanao.  The infestation transcended both the past and present administrations. This was compounded by another naturally caused blow to the industry namely, a very strong El Nino phenomenon  during 2016 that resulted in low yields throughout the entire agricultural sector because of the droughts brought by it.  

This has brought to the fore another evolution that has been increasing in pace. Technology has grown by leaps and bounds and it is not only in finance, marketing and the manufacturing industry that mobile apps have found its place in solutions. The current problems in the country’s agricultural sector also presented opportunities for mobile technology to be a big part of the solution. 

FarmerLink aims to provide small farmers mobile based solutions for their farming operations by providing information to farmers at different points during farming operations from production to financial and even market access.  

An example of FarmerLink mobile solutions is an app that provides farmers with information with regards to threats posed by climate related diseases and pest infestations. This helps them control any outbreak with regards to the vulnerability of their farms and crops. This is enabled by the combination of satellite data and farm data collected by field agents using mobile technology equipment.

FarmerLink also provides an Early Warning System for extreme weather conditions that will enable farmers to act proactively to real time weather advisories to protect their crops and their families. This will make the Filipino farmer more resilient and with its full range of services that includes customized farming techniques, and financial advice with regards to marketing of products.

Posted by The Mailman 5/29/2017 12:00 PM

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hard Look at PH Agri Policy

The past few weeks had rice importation, rice prices, rice availability and rice self-sufficiency always in the front pages and headlines of the news.

Rice has been the issue with regards to politics, the economy, social and cultural narratives of this country. Whether it be food prices all the way to land reform and the insurgency. Rice is connected to all of them.

Even all the way back during  the time of President Quezon, rice has become the “political crop” of the country. It was even a factor in the First Quarter Storm when floods ravaged Central Luzon and student volunteers saw their condition which led them to activism.

The timeworn mantra of Rice Self Sufficiency is still being bandied about for political purposes. 
Rice policy does not equate to Agrarian Policy and National Food Security.  The more we adhere to that the more the agricultural sector and the rural population will suffer.

The fact that Philippine geography militates against rice planting as the principal crop. The Philippines does not have the Mekong River Delta System that Vietnam and Thailand is blessed with. Their vast plains and natural irrigation is a competitive edge with regards to cost of production.

The current cost of production for 1 kilo of palay is now between Php16 – Php20 pesos while Vietnam has a cost of production of 6.54 per kilo of palay. That make locally grown rice uncompetitive. The price makes it unaffordable to even the farmers themselves. This is both anti-Filipno and anti-poor.

Insisting on the National Food Authority have the sole authority to import rice makes it only worse. The subsidies are all sourced from taxes. The Filipino gets to pay for expensive rice and gets taxed for it too!

The solution is to re-orient our agricultural policy so that the Filipino farmer will plant crops that will give him economic relief and higher revenues. It makes no sense asking the farmer to plant rice and then still remain poor. 

High quality charcoal produced from bamboo

The Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) has developed a charcoaling kiln to produce high quality charcoal from bamboo for industrial use.

Under the “High Quality Charcoal from Bamboo for Industrial Uses” project monitored and funded by the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), a team of FPRDI researchers led by engineer Belen Bisana innovated on an existing bamboo charcoaling kiln.

The bamboo charcoaling kiln can also produce pyroligneous liquor (PL) or wood vinegar recovered from the destructive distillation of bamboo when it is converted into charcoal.
The technology for making high quality charcoal and PL is deployed at the CS First Green Agri-Industrial Development Inc.

Bisana explained that when bamboo is used as a raw material, the resulting charcoal can perform like activated carbon. 

The improved charcoaling kiln can yield 34.56-44.50 percent of charcoal, compared with the traditionally used pit, drum, and brick kilns, which can only yield 25-31 percent.

To monitor and evaluate the project, the Forestry and Environment Research Division of PCAARRD conducted a two-day site visit in Bayambang, Pangasinan. 

Classified under PCAARRD’s strategic research and development banner program, the developed technology is envisioned to alleviate poverty by creating employment in rural areas. The next phase of the project is the development of products out of bamboo charcoal and bamboo vinegar.

DA to Boost PH Dairy Industry

The Philippines is not a major dairy producing country. 95% of the milk consumed in the country is imported. 

The Philippines imported 453,000 MT of dairy valued at $808 million in 2016. Thus, the inadequacy is glaring with regards to the demand of a growing population. This also affect the nutritional requirements of Filipinos especially children. Statistics point out that “stunting” among Filipino children is widespread and this will affect their physical health. This is also crucial in brain development.

To address the issue, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is creating a 10 year masterplan for the Philippine Dairy industry. This will lessen importation and at the same time mitigating the impact of insufficient nutrients in the daily fare of the Filipino.

“The local industry could hardly supply five percent of the milk and dairy requirements of the country, 95 percent of the milk and dairy products consumed by Filipinos is imported. Until today, no such industry blueprint has been designed, formulated and implemented,”  DA Secretary Many Pinol disclosed.

Aside from insufficient livestock for dairy production, the current system is even ridden with corruption according to the DA Secretary. This includes overpricing of dairy livestock and genetically inferior livestock imported into the country. These resulted in low production of milk.

“I am urging our farmers to organize and consolidate their efforts so that government could easily support them. We will also provide municipal multiplier farms and learning centers nationwide and financial assistance for feed mills,” said the DA Secertary.

One of the solutions is to have a national registry program that will track the genetic lineage of animals used in the dairy industry that includes, cows, carabaos and even goats.

A measly increase of only 4 percent was registered in dairy production for the year 2016 at 21,160 metric tons as compared to the statistics stated above as per Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) figures. In terms of value, dairy registered the highest increase under the livestock sector at 10 percent to P715 million.

Currently the Philippines sources its dairy requirements from Most of the imports were from New Zealand with 39 percent of the total and US (24 percent) and Australia and Germany.

DOST Intends to Boost PH Corn Production

Corn is the number 2 staple of the Philippine population. According to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Not only that but corn is also the prime component of animal feeds that the livestock industry uses.

In this regard, DOST Region 2 is endorsing the establishment of a Research and Development Institution for Philippine corn.

Introduced by the Spaniards from Latin America during the colonial period, corn has managed to be prevalently cultivated throughout the country because of soil conditions and climate.

“Corn is the second most important national food crop just behind rice. We have the Philrice or the Philippine Rice Research Institute despite us already being home to the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) but surprisingly, we do not have a PhilCorn or a RDI (R&D institution) specifically for corn,” according to Engr. Sancho Mabborang, DOST Region 2 Director.

.Engr. Mabborang added that other Philippie crops such as coconut, tobacco, sugarcane, abaca, and even livestock raising have their own R&D Institutes already.

Cagayan province in Region 2 is among the top corn producing areas in the country together with Isabela province which is considered as the Corn Capital of the Philippines.

That was the reason given for the establishment of a Research and Development Institution for corn by DOST Region 2.

Isabela province, being the country’s top corn producer is the logical choice to be the location of the proposed corn institution. The Isabela State University or the CVResearch Consortium of the Department of Agriculture can be the main office of the R&D institution.

But branches and/or satellite offices can be established since corn is widely cultivated in the country.

Along with the proposal is therequired funding of Php400 million as start up for operations and administration of the proposed PhilCorn Institute. This will unify, coordinate, fund and implement all projects and programs related to corn farming and systems.

This will also allow technology transfer and technology sharing to enhance and further develop the resources needed by poor farming communities so as to increase yeild and income. 

Sen. Grace Poe Encourages “Agripreneurship”

The Philippines has a population that is dependent on the agricultural sector for its livelihood. 60% of the Philippine population lives in the rural areas where the prevalence of poverty is the highest. The only way to bring inclusive growth t many Filipinos is by boosting the agriculture industry.

Sen. Grace Poe noted that the average age of the Filipino farmer is 57 years old. “If no one would go farming anymore in the next generation, where shall we get our food and how about the food security in our country?,” Sen. Poe said during the 17th Mango and Bamboo Festival helt at San Carlos City, Pangasinan last April 25, 2017.

Sen. Poe said that we need to raise a new generation of farmers that will employ modern technology and boost crop yields. This also dovetails with her encouraging farmers to be “agripreneurs” themselves so as to earn more revenues for themselves.

The festival was a good way to promote farming and agricultural ingenuity and Sen. Poe cited San Carlos City as one of the primary  trading centers in bamboo products as well as one of the top producers of the “Kalabaw” mango variety.

In order to provide the necessary help to agriculture, Sen. Poe has filed the Corporative Farming bill (Senate Bill 341) which seeks to boost public-private partnerships to enhance productivity in the agriculture sector,  as well as the proposed Integrated Urban Agriculture Act that aims to promote food production in urban areas, and the Credit Assistance to Farmers and Fisherfolks which seeks to amend the Agricultural Land Reform Code by requiring the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to reserve 10 percent of its loan portfolio for agricultural projects.

The livelihood of the people in the rural areas will benefit if such assistance is provided particularly to small farmers and micro, small and medium-scale enterprises. 

Sen. Poe stated that “This, my citymates, is what I want for our country: that all shall benefit from the resources of the country, all are robust and healthy and everybody is capable to achieve his or her dream because the government is concerned and gives what’s due them”.

Only if the rural population have gainful employment and livelihood in the agricultural sector will there be tru inclusivity in the growth of the economy and will drastically reduce the incidence of poverty nationwide aside from giving national food security.

DA Launches Farm Assistance Program

Farm inputs being distributed during SAAD Launch

In fulfillment of his campaign promise of helping the farmers of Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte through the Department of Agriculture (DA) launched the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program.

This was launched by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Agriculture Assistant Secretary Lerey Panes jointly launched in Buluan, Maguindanao.

In acknowledging that agricultural productivity goes hand in hand with peace and order especially in conflict torn areas where the ordinary farmers bear the brunt of violence and aggression, SAAD is the answer. This program seeks to address poverty and underdevelopment in rural areas.

Included in the SAAD is the funding for socio-economic interventions worth Php150 million will be made available to farmers in Mindanao. According to Governor Mangudadatu, this was also a way of President Duterte to give thanks for the overwhelming support given by the people of Mindanao during the 2016 elections wherein Duterte swamped his rivals.

The SAAD launch was also attended by DA Region 12 Director Milagros Casis and DA officials from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). 

The event also included the turn-over of farm inputs and farmer beneficiaries from Maguindanao. 

“We are thankful to President Duterte and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol for this good tiding,” Governor Mangudadatu said.

The SAAD program include technical support, educational interventions and socio-economic packages that will enable farmers to boost their production and crop yields.

Educational interventions include training in crop diversification so that farmers can supplement and increase their income by planting diverse crops aside from their traditional crops with proper environmental management practices.

The SAAD program is also being implemented in Apayao, Western Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, North Cotabato, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Sarangani.

In ethnic Maranaw, “saad” means equitable distribution”.  

Board of Investments Approves Coco Processing Plant

The Philippines is now the top coconut producer in the world. It has overtaken Indonesia in the production of coconuts. Coconut has a variety of uses ranging from food, cosmetics, industrial use and even pharmaceuticals.

While the Philippines continues t be the top coconut producer in the world for almost a century, the industry has been beset by problems ranging from ageing coconut trees to systemic industry uncertainty brought about by the Coco Levy issue for 4 decades now. This is also compounded by 2 years of Coco-Lisap infestation that has spread from Luzon all the way to the coconut plantations in Mindanao.

In order to optimize the coconut industry, efforts are being undertaken to enhance processing of coconut products within the country itself. This entails the creation and establishment of coconut milling and processing plants.

In this regard, the Board of Investments (BOI) approved a Php391 million coconut processing plant which is a project of the Ahya Coco Organic Food Manufacturing Corporation. 

“With growing demand for coconut products abroad, the country, as one the world’s largest coconut producers, hopes to address such demand,” Trade Undersecretary and BoI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said.

The project is included in the exports category of the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP). This is in line with the continued leadership of the country in coconut exports worldwide. 

Ahya is engaged in the production of canned coconut milk with an annual output of 7,286 metric tons annually, canned coconut water that has an annual production of 6,970 metric tons, Virgin Coconut Milk that accounts for 485 metric tons per year and coconut flour with a yearly production of 1,061.  

Ahya’s main source of coconuts are from the coconut farmers of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Davao del Sur. Production is geared towards exports to the US, Europe and China where demand has continued to increase.

The company sources its coconut requirements from the farmers in Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley Province and Davao del Sur. It will export 100 percent of its products to the United States, China and Europe.

Exports of coconut products amounted to $1.41 billion in 2016, a .4-percent increase from $1.4 billion in 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Research by DLSU to Fight Cacao Pests


The Philippines has the optimum soil conditions and climate to cultivate cacao. The country exports and imports cacao and cacao products which includes chocolate confectionery containing cocoa in various forms and sizes, other food preparations containing cocoa in various forms and sizes, other than chocolate confectionery containing cocoa in various forms and sizes, and other than chocolate confectionery containing cocoa in tablets or pastilles.

Total imports of cocoa and cocoa products in 2012 amounted to 3,662 tons, with CIF value of almost US$ 12 million. On the other hand, total exports in 2012 is 512 tons, with a total FOB value of US$ 1.8 million.

Cacao is produced by small farms and then supplies these to processors and manufacturers. The Department of Agriculture (DA) with its Philippine Cacao Roadmap estimates that by 2020, the Philippines can produce 100,000 Metric Tons.

But the nascent cacao industry is beset by problems caused by diseases and insect infestations that accounts for 30 to 40 percent in losses. This was disclosed by the International Cocoa Organization.

De La Salle University (DLSU) is leading the research in addressing the concerns of the industry. DLSU will explore, identify, mass rear, and release biological control agents against cacao pod borer (CPB) and cacao mirid bug (CMB).

Cacao beans become malformed because CPB feeds on the cacao bean pulp that also results on the bens being undersized. The results of severe infestation includes small flat and stuck together beans, yellowing, uneven or premature ripening of pods.

Funding for the project is being provided by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

Traditional cures for infestation has been chemical pesticides but in this case biological controls will be utilized in arresting the infestations.

With biological control, natural predators to the insects will be introduced, the use of natural parasites to the pests as well as other natural bio-controls.

The project will cover Quezon, Bicol and Davao, regions which reported infestations. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

PH Scientists tackle Aquatic Resources Sustainability

The Philippines being an archipelago makes fishing and aquaculture as one of its main industries. This does not only apply to coastal communities but also in lakeshore communities and inland waterways, fishponds in brackish water and other aquatic food sources. Thus, a big portion of the population rely on aquaculture and fisheries.

What is alarming is that the value being produced has been declining since 2013 wherein it posted revenues of Php244,551,675.07 for 2013; Php241,943,849.72 for 2014 and Php239,702,373.57 for 2015. 

This alarming decline was acknowledged by the relevant government agencies and that will explore various opportunities in the fisheries industry.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) conducted a meeting in Cebu that included 300 scientists, researchers, academics and government agency representatives that will be the precursor of a larger scientific confab on July 2017.

It will focus on the two-fold sustainable development goal of conservation and sustainability of the aquatic industry in the short and medium term.

This was composed of presentation of researches in fisheries and aquatic resources. Speakers include academics Rhodora Azanza and Gisela Concepcion who discussed seaweed culture and quality education for sustainable development.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was represented by Usec. Marlo Mendoza discussed clean water and sanitation is fishing while DENR biodiversity management bureau executive director Vincent Hilomen tackled climate change and fisheries.

The wholistic approach also included disaster resiliency since the aquatic industry is one of the most affected by disasters and climate change. This was presented by DOST Undersecretary for disaster risk reduction Renato Solidum. 

“At the end of the two-day event, there will be a consolidation of all discussions and recommendations that will be presented to policy and decision makers for further consideration in line with the national agenda of the government towards achieving the sustainable development goals,” the DOST statement concluded.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Boosting the Philippine Salt Industry

During ancient times, salt was equivalent in its weight in gold. The Romans paid their legions in the form of salt, that is why we have the word “salary” today. Salt was not just a flavor enhancer, it was a means of preserving meat and fish before the age of refrigeration. It was also used to clean food since bacteria and viruses cannot live in a salt environment.

The means to get salt then was to mine it from underground. That was why the term “back to the salt mines” became synonymous with hard work. Now salt is not only mined, it is harvested in salt beds wherever there are geographical conditions that allow for it. Salt harvested from the sea also contains iodine that is not present in salt that is mined. Iodine is a much needed nutrient for the human body.

The Philippines, being an archipelago is abundant with the geographical means to harvest salt. In this endeavor, Rep. Josephine Sato asked the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to create research and development programs that will increase the income and productivity of salt farmers.

“It is time we put more science to salt production. We are rich in saltwater, but we need to get a clear and more accurate picture of how the government can help boost the industry. This is where research and development should come in,” said Rep. Sato who hails from Occidental Mindoro.

Occidental Mindoro accounts for 40% of the Philippines’ salt production. The DOST is active in assisting her province’s salt farmers but she also sought that salt production be increased in all other regions in the country. This can be done systematic assessment of the salt industry, identification of the proper technology and much needed technology transfer.

The DOST can assist in modernizing salt production with regards to new technology in crystallizing salt that will increase salt production and income by salt farmers.

Budget allocation can also be streamlined and enhanced so as to optimize productivity as well as legislation to promote and protect the industry.

“Being an island archipelago surrounded with abundant saltwater, our country has the potential of developing a dollar-earning industry through science and technology,” Rep. Sato said.

The government can be instrumental in offering production incentives and help the industry in marketing and distribution. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

PHL Pineapple Production Boosted

The Philippines is the 2nd largest pineapple producer in the world. Philippine pineapples are exported to China, Japan, South Korea, Middle East (Sharjah, Jabel Ali, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait), New Zealand, Hong Kong, Qatar, Canada, Guam, Russia and Germany. 

Currently the largest plantations are found in Mindanao run by two transnational corporations. These are the biggest contract growing plantations in the country. The non-contract growers are found in Cavite and Camarines Sur.

Del Monte Pacific Ltd. (DMPL) is one of the two transnational corporations with the biggest plantations and it is planning to increase production by one million tons in the next five years. The target for 2017 is 750,000 metric tons.

 “We continue to expand our production facility. We will do 750,000 metric tons (of pineapple),”  said DMPL chief operating officer Luis Alejandro during the  listing of the company’s dollar-denominated preferred shares on the Philippine Stock Exchange last April 7, 2017.

Initially, DMPL’s Cagayan de Oro plantation was at only 23,000 but has now increased to 450,000 metric tons. 

Pineapple production at DMPL’s Cagayan de Oro plantation has grown from 23,000 MT to 450,000 MT.

Aside from the Philippines, Del Monte intends to increase its production in the US, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

"There is a huge demand now for fresh pineapples in China prompting agribusiness companies based in Mindanao to expand their capacities," disclosed Francisco A. Ramos, the agriculture marketing assistance service director.

According to the Philippine Postharvest Industry, a huge percent of total production is lost due to damage sustained by crops during hauling, transporting, and rat infestation. Other major problems facing the Philippine pineapple industry are the high cost for sorting, unstable prices during trading, the seasonality of harvest, and the limited extent of village-level processing activities.

The plantations in Mindanao account for 90% of Philippine pineapple production.

Seaweed Production to Increase

The Philippines used to be the number 1 producer of seaweed or carrageenan since the early 1990s. Seaweed farms ranged from Northern Luzon to Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. The sea between Cebu and Bohol had seaweed farms in the middle between the islands.

Seaweed production was hampered starting in the early 2000s when funding from financial institutions shrank. The Development Bank of the Philippines (DPB) with its Export Finance Unit used to finance seaweed farms and processors based on Letters of Credit. The dynamics of financing and economic policy took its toll when Indonesia overtook the Philippines in carrageenan output in 2008.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) aims to increase output by 5% annually from 2017 to 2022.

“We want to bring back the country as the world’s leading producer of seaweeds such as Euchema and Kappaphycus,” National Seaweed coordinator Irma Ortiz disclosed.

Limited access to financing and credit, dependence on just supplying raw dried seaweed, stunted research and development that benefits seaweed production, lack of market promotion on seaweed products, poor aquaculture support infrastructures and mechanisms and climate resilient technology are cited for the decline in seaweed production. 

BFAR intends to meet these challenges via a 3 point program.

1. Training for seaweed farmers
2. Climate resilient species propagation
3. Training in entrepreneurship for farmers with the aim of being Export Champions

Carrageenan has also been developed into organic fertilizers for rice fields. Now, carrageenan are planned to be used for animal feeds.

This will boost the demand for seaweeds products making the sector more productive and adding to the income of the farmers.

The seaweeds for animal feed come from Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos Norte. The by products are already being used in the United States and Canada.

Last year, the country’s seaweed production slid 10.3 percent to 1.4 million MT due to the unavailability of planting materials of Cottonii variety, occurrence of disease, decreasing price from traders and high cost of planting materials.

As with regards to the environment, seaweeds contribute to carbon dioxide capture and oxygen generation. The presence of abundant seaweeds reduces organisms that infest other marine life.

Seaweeds are used as extenders, suspenders in beverages and is also utilized for bio-medical requirements

Climate Change Resilient Hybrid Rice

The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Annually, an average of 20 tropical cyclones affect the country making floods and landslides a yearly event. Owing to its geography, the most productive areas are of course the plains that is also flood plains that floods exacerbate due to the deforested mountains surrounding them.

Its agricultural sector is the worst hit by these climate related phenomena such as severe floods and periods of drought. Rice production is thus one of the hard hit sectors in agriculture. 

The traditional varieties of rice planted can no longer cope with the change in climactic and environmental conditions and the losses suffered by the farmers themselves only contributes to their economic distress. 

Current rice varieties suffer due to lack of irrigation or floods that reduce rice ready for harvest reduced to black grains. By then it is already too late. The farmers endure losses and national rice production, rice being a staple in the Philippines critically affected. This result in importation of rice that also affects the balance of payments of the country notwithstanding food security for the entire population. 

Scientific and technological advances call for a rice variety that is resilient to these factors. Taipan Brand Farm Inc. recently launched PAC 801, a hybrid rice seed from Advanta Seed International (ASI), in several provinces across the country.  This is part of TBFI and ASI’s commitment to providing high quality agricultural seeds to the Philippines.

These hybrid rice varieties were distributed in in Luzon, Occidental Mindoro, Bicol, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Pangasinan, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija, Leyte and Iloilo, Lanao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and North Cotabato.

TBFI disclosed the advantages of the hybrid rice variety PAC 801 Hybrid Rice. These are:

1. Adaptable to wet and dry seasons. The potential of 220 cavans per hectare even through all weather conditions.
2. Longer and slender grains adding to quality

These went along with knowledge dissemination on seedling care, water management, pest and infestation management and even harvesting techniques.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Food Lane Project in Metro Manila

The traffic situation in Metro Manila has gone from bad to worse. Billions of pesos are lost because of traffic in terms of lost man – hours at work, fuel wastage and reduced ability to transfer goods and service. 

The economic effect also include the transport of perishable agricultural and aquacultural goods. The spoilage of these products are due to increased transport time as a result of traffic.

In order to address this problem, a memorandum of agreement has been signed by the Department of Agriculture (DA), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)  establishing food lanes for carriers of these products in Metro Manila.

These food lanes will be located along designated thoroughfares, streets and highways in Metro Manila.

 According to Department of Agriculture Secretary  Emmanuel Pinol, these designated food lanes aims to ensure efficient delivery of agri-fishery commodities, reduce post-harvest losses and transportation costs through eliminating additional fees and unnecessary checkpoints.

“The project is in line with President Duterte’s campaign against corruption and kotong cops by ensuring the elimination of additional fees and checkpoints which actually add to the cost carried by farmers and fisherfolk,” Secretary Piñol disclosed.

The memorandum of agreement among the different government agencies will accredit transport firms, individuals and companies that transport farm and fishery products to enable them to use the food lanes and will be exempted from the currently implemented truck ban.

The Bureau of Animal Industry will register carriers and transports of livestock, poultry and meat products as a requirement for food lane accreditation.

Current data cited that the project will decrease post-harvest losses and other informal transport costs.

There is a need to institutionalize distribution of goods from production sites to the markets in the National Capital Region and adjacent regions.  

The DILG will work with local government units so as the food lane project be given proper cooperation between the national and local governments.

The agri and aqua products covered by the project include fresh fruits and vegetables, livestock and poultry and by-products, eggs, fresh and frozen meat, fish and marine products, processed food products, feeds, fertilizers, seeds among others.

Kalinga Coffee Industry gets Boost from the World Bank

The Philippine Coffee industry started in 1740 when the Spanish colonists planted coffee beans from Mexico. The first coffee plantations were located in Lipa, Batangas. The coffee plants were then introduced in other adjacent areas such as Cavite.

By then, the Philippines was the 4th largest coffee producer in the world. When coffee rust infested the plantations in Brazil and Africa, between 1886 to 1888, the Philippines was the only source of coffee in the entire world. Lipa, Batangas was then the coffee capital of the Philippines.

But the coffee rust infestation reached the country by 1891 and devastated the huge plantations and caused the coffee industry to collapse since coffee farmers resorted to planting new crops. 

It was only in the 1950s that coffee plantations started to recover when Americans introduced new strains of coffee that was resistant to pests and coffee rust. But by then, the Philippines, once ranked at No. 4 has now slipped to No. 110 in worldwide coffee production.

Coffee has been diversified into other regions in the country and is no longer concentrated in the Southern Tagalog Region. One of these regions that plant coffee is the Northern Luzon province of Kalinga.

With the aim of assisting and boosting the coffee industry in the province, the World Bank (WB) has identified five coffee cooperatives that will be the recipient of Php14.8 million in financial assistance.

The five cooperatives are the Dupligan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Tanudan Savings and Lending Coop, Mananig Multi-Purpose Coop, Gawidan Malin-awa Marketing Coop, and Nambucayan Agricultural Cooperative.

The P14.8-million project cost was approved by the Kalinga Coffee Cluster (KCC) as sub-project under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP)’s enterprise development component that covers production, pre-processing and consolidation of green coffee beans and unroasted coffee.

This is also done in cooperation and coordination with the national government, provincial government that also contributed into providing the funds for the project. 


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