Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Brewing success with Cordillera coffee farmers

Getting one’s daily caffeine mix seems to be a walk in the park for some--be it a cappuccino from a favorite high-end cafe or a simple instant coffee from home. But this is not the case for two long-time friends whose love affair with coffee moved to a whole new level.

Knowing that coffee is more complex in flavor than any other drink, Katherine Chelle “KC” Boter and Karen de Guzman are taking their beans very seriously.

Thus, they put up Figures of Beans with the aim of bringing responsibly-grown, skillfully roasted and expertly prepared premium coffee right to anyone’s doorsteps.

When KC left the private banking industry to do freelance work in 2015, she decided to partner with Karen who already had a bakeshop.

“Every time I work, I really need coffee. I don’t want instant coffee, I want quality coffee, the ones that I get from Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and the others,” said the 26-year-old KC who graduated with a degree in Psychology from the De La Salle University.
KC believes that making a good cup of coffee with the best ingredients is the bedrock of a successful business.

Figures of Beans sources its coffee from the Cordillera region, a major producer of international quality coffee beans.

The two girls set up the business at a time when the Philippines remains highly dependent on imported coffee beans.

Local production can hardly keep up with the continuous demand for coffee, prompting coffee-related businesses to heavily depend on imports from major producing countries such as Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India, among others.

“We import a lot of coffee so we tried looking for other sources where we can really get good local coffee. We saw the potential of the industry here in the Philippines,” KC said.

“Majority of our coffee beans comes from Sagada, some from Benguet. Before,  we used all imported coffee for our cupcakes and it was really expensive, about three times compared with the locally made,” Karen said.

With a seed capital of roughly P30,000, KC and Karen started Figures of Beans, an online store which offers Cordillera coffee in six variants --  Irony (Sagada dark roast), Oxymoron (Arabica Robusta), Paradox (Benguet Arabica), Understatement (hazelnut), Metaphor (caramel) and Euphemism (vanilla).

“We had to do the legwork since the brand was just starting. We had to approach stores one by one and talk to them about our products. It’s important that when they see our products, it is visually appealing but the end goal is to provide quality coffee,” KC said.

“We started in stores in Tagaytay through the pasalubong centers. Then from there, we saw the warm reception of the customers, once they see Sagada they want to get it, they associate it with the experience they had when they went there,” she added.

“We don’t take coffee literally. Coffee is so special from the production, coming from the farmers all the way to your cup, something that binds people together. For us, it’s not just coffee because there’s more to coffee,” KC said.

Figures of Beans has since attracted a significant following.  To further expand their products’ reach, the duo teamed up with several merchants which now include Kultura by SM and Manila Peninsula, their biggest brands to date.

“I handle all the big partners while Karen handles our online partners like Lazada, Shopinas, and Honestbee. Once we were out there online, other platforms saw us and they invited us to join,” KC said.

While Figures of Beans is almost two years old, the two think the growth of the business has been unexpectedly fast, allowing them to get the return of their investment in a span of one year.

“I think there is also the luck factor. When I started my own cafe, development was really slow. But with Figures of Beans,  we were able to partner with big brands,” said Karen, who has a Management degree from the University of Asia and the Pacific.

While Figures of Beans can be considered a pioneer for carrying the Sagada brand, a similar line of business sprang up, making competition tougher.

“When we started, it was only us but now, all of a sudden, there a lot of other brands. We really are the ones who started putting the Sagada coffee in retail stores. But we don’t really look at the competition because we want to focus on our own brand,” KC said.

Apart from the coffee itself, KC and Karen wanted to share to consumers the joy of brewing their own coffee in the comforts of their homes and offices through instruction manuals included in every purchase of their products.

“Not everyone knows how to brew. We are an instant coffee nation, that when we see ground coffee, we immediately assume that we can just mix it with water. With us, we want to encourage our customers to brew their own so they get to experience quality coffee,” KC said.

“We want to provide quality content to our customers and readers by providing tips on how to brew their coffee and give educational videos as well,” she added.

As of now, KC and Karen dream of expanding their business to other parts of the country and eventually building brick and mortar stores as well as tapping the international markets.

“We had a lot of milestones but I think there’s still so much to improve on especially our products’ reach. Not because you’re with Kultura, you’re already big. We want people to know that we have good coffee here since a lot of people think they can only get good coffee from other countries,” KC said.

On a larger scope, Karen and KC are urging the government and the private sector to help uplift the lives of coffee farmers and ensure a healthy supply of high-quality coffee for the future.
“The problem is that the younger generations do not want to farm anymore so the older ones can no longer pass on their knowledge. I think the government should provide programs to the farmers because we have enough space to plant but then again, we don’t have the programs to support them,” KC said.

“We want to make programs for the farmers to make it sustainable for them. Some are disheartened to continue since there is no support. The only way for farmers to continue producing local coffee is to simply support them,” she added.


DA goes all out for Agri-Tourism

It has been recognized that since 3 years ago, there is a market for Agricultural Tourism or Agri-Tourism. This country is fortunate that there is an agricultural sector with many success stories that prove that agriculture is sustainable and presents another facet for tourism.

In the case of the Department of Agriculture 9DA), the agency has already recognized the potentials of Agri-Tourism. The DA is converting one of its research stations into an Agri-Tourism site.  

The Davao Region Upland Agriculture Research Station (DARUARS) is set to convert the 429-hectare land into an agro-eco tourism area.

According to DA-Davao Region Research and Regulations assistant director Angelina Pancho “This has a big potential to become an agro eco-tourism area. We can conduct research about climate resilient crops here and put more buildings which can help the farmers and IPs (indigenous people).”

A multi-purpose building has been donated by the BAR which is a the P4-million multipurpose R&D building which plays a vital role in providing farmers the means of access to the various farming technologies generated from the works of the R&D community.

“We want to foster an environment that will facilitate the easier adoption of new technologies that contribute more effectively to tackling the emerging challenges in agriculture, not only in this region but in other places as well,” DA-BAR director Nicomedes Eleazar said.

PH Sugar in Doldrums

Sugar production in the Philippines suffered an 11% decrease by October 22, 2017. This was disclosed by the Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA).

Production fell to 100,995 metric tons (MT) based on data on crop year 2017 – 2018 wherein the spiral reached down to 2.01 million od 50kilogram bags from 2.3 million 50 kilogram bags in 2016.

It must be noted that the country's raw sugar demand was at 33% higher at 323,402 MT. This can be attributed also to the total number of sugarcanes milled at the same period that declined by 10% to 1.3 million MT. 

Eight mills have started milling as of October 22, 2017, namely Biscom, First Farmers, Hawaiian, La Carlota, Sagay, URC-Sonedco and Victorias, where more than half or 57 percent came from Victorias.

Another item to be considered is that in terms of refined sugar, production nearly tripled to 29,602 MT from 10,143 MT.

Sugar prices at the mill gate declined 19% to P1,229 per 50-kg bag.
Wholesale and retail prices for raw, washed, and refined sugar also saw lower prices.       

The Sugar industry sector has been beset by problems, particularly the issue of importation of corn-based fructose sugar that the local softdrinks industry saw as more cheaper than purchasing locally produced sugar from sugarcanes.

Rice Pests Return Causes More Losses

BHP Infested Ricefield. Losses have already amounted to Php17.87 million

The Philippines has suffered damages to its rice crop amounting to Php17.87 million currently. This was caused by the re-emergence of the Brown PlantHopper (BPH).

Last experienced in 2015, the BPH infestation called hopperburn has affected 4,000 hectares of ricefields in Samar. This worse than what was experienced last 2015 since the area now covered by the infestation is much larger than the nine provinces that experienced the hopperburn infestation in 2015 wherein 9 provinces were affected.

Currently, hopperburn has infested 18 provinces and has grown three times than the 2015 infestation.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary has voiced concern for the return of hopperburn. This was disclosed during the forum held at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol expressed concern over the re-emergence of BPH.

This has caused losses to farmers and the agriculture sector mentioned is distressed.

BPH also spreads viruses that causes rice ragged stunt and rice grassy stunt. BHP attacks the lower stalks that causes the leaves to turn brown and the rice husks have nothing inside them.

Current pesticides in use have detrimental effects since these pesticides also kill the natural predators of BPH. “Instead of reducing BPH infestation, heavy pesticide use can kill the natural enemies of BPH and allow them to multiply and destroy crops without let-up,” the DA Secretary disclosed.

The DA secretary assured farmers that the DA is closely monitoring the situation and that efforts are being made to mitigate and alleviate the effects of the infestation.

The Acting Executive Director of PhilRice,  Sailila Abdula explained that BPH causes extensive sap loss owing to its feeding on the basal (lower) portion of the rice plant, resulting in drying or hopperburn.

“Farmers should be equipped with proper and timely interventions on how to handle pest management,” Abdula disclosed.

Augmenting PH Cattle Population

The Philippines Cattle Industry is the least developed in terms of technical, production and organization I the Agriculture Industry sector.

Declining cattle population in the Philippines has been noted since more than a decade ago and yet demand for beef continues to increase.

It must be acknowledged that since it is among the least developed sectors in agriculture, it needs to be upgraded. Currently, cattle raising is a privately held enterprise such as smallhold or backyard type of industry.

It is thus in need of technical assistance since most or 94% is of the backyard type. In ASEAN, the Philippines has the lowest growth rate in terms of cattle population, scoring a “negative” in growth in population rates.

The solution has been to import cattle from Australia and even India. Now, the Department of Agriculture is set to import cattle from Latin America. 

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) laid down guidelines that will allow the country to import the breeding materials.

The protocols have already been set by the OIE according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol. This will enable the country to import cattle from Brazil and Argentina without violating foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) free without vaccination status policy.

“It would involve the quarantine of the cattle for six months in an area to be cleared by the OIE before the animals are shipped to the Philippines,” Piñol said.

“It would involve the quarantine of the cattle for six months in an area to be cleared by the OIE before the animals are shipped to the Philippines,” Piñol said.

“Since all animals in both countries receive mandatory FMD vaccination, the six-month quarantine will be enough time to determine whether the animals are healthy or not,” the DA secretary stated.

Private sector investors will be provided with an area and support by the DA for the establishment of the breeding program.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Extension of Access to High Seas Tuna Fishing Ground Sought by PH

The Philippines is one of the top Tuna producing countries in the world with 1.6 million people whose livelihood is dependent on the industry. Tuna remains the top export in the Philippine fishing industry sector contributing to 1.6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Regulations in fishing for tuna in the high seas is monitored by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to ensure continued economic fishing activities.

The access to fishing for tuna in high seas pocket – 1 was granted to the Philippines in 2013 and will expire this year. The rights granted was for 5 years.

The Philippines is now negotiating for an extension to access the high seas pocket- 1. “We are negotiating continued access to high seas pocket 1 and the current terms and conditions of the existing WCPFC conservation and management measures on tropical tunas,” Agriculture Undersecretary and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources national director Eduardo Gongona said. 

“We want at least five years. We have to generate income, employment, and economic activities. We would like to continue that situation and we will negotiate that with the commission,” the Usec added.

“We are committed to our tuna catch where 75 percent of that goes to export and 25 percent are processed here and all of these linkages mean income and employment for the Philippines,” Gongona disclosed.

The high seas pocket – 1 was opened in 2011 after a 2-year ban on tuna fishing in all 4 high seas – pockets due to the declining tuna population. The ban’s objective was to make the tuna population recover and then implement regulations so as to assure sustainability.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations cited that markets for tuna products continue to increase based on the growth of consumption in new regions of the world and the dissemination of sushi as a global dietary trend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

DA to boost bangus production

The government needs to increase its budget to build more hatcheries nationwide to sustain the country’s demand for milkfish, the Department of Agriculture said.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said at least P30 million is needed to put up more than 30 hatcheries all over the country to increase local production.

Over the last two decades, the Philippines has become heavily dependent on imports of fry from Indonesia and Taiwan.

“We need at least 1.5 billion fry to just sustain the industry and more than two billion for it to grow. With the existing three hatcheries, we are barely producing 30 million fry a year which means that almost all our fry are being imported,” BFAR-National Inland Fisheries Technology Center chief Westly Rosario told reporters.

“But, the problem is imported fry has a survival rate of just 20 percent while locally-bred produce in our hatcheries is 80 percent,” he said.

The P30 million budget would be used for satellite hatcheries and the impact of the program can already be seen three years after.

However, this plan is unlikely to materialize anytime soon as the DA’s proposed budget for 2018 got a huge slash.

“Budget for technical centers has been lower. For the whole NIFTC, we will just be getting about P33 million and there are a lot of species. For milkfish alone, less than P3 million has been allocated,” Rosario said.

Studies showed that 20 years from now, the local demand for food would not come from crops, livestock and poultry, but from aquaculture.

“We have a huge coastal area compared to our land area therefore, that’s where we should focus. We need to support our aquaculture programs,” Rosario said.

Milkfish production managed to bounce back and record a nine percent increase to 110,000 metric tons in the second quarter, 99 percent of which comprised aquaculture.

The increase was attributed to improved stocking density from brackish water fishponds in Pampanga due to availability of quality milkfish fry, as well as bigger sizes of milkfish harvested.

By: Louise Maureen Simeon


Mango Industry to be Boosted by DA

Philippine Mangoes

In recent years, the production of Philippine mangoes continued to decline. Before mango production was at 1 million metric tons (MT) but currently, it has declined to as low as 600,000 MT. Mangoes have been one of the premium agricultural exports of the Philippines.

This was brought about by the infestation of the cecid fly that affected the top mango producing areas of the country.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is addressing the situations in the mango plantations starting in Davao del Sur.

The DA will commence with the rehabilitation of 110 hectares in the Davao region. In addressing the situation, the DA will be providing foliar and granulated fertilizers, flower inducers, insecticides, fungicides and even plastic crates to spur mango production.

DA High-Value Crops Development Program Regional Coordinator Melani Provideo stated, “The unproductive trees that will be rehabilitated should be at least 10 years old and above with location within the mango cluster areas.” 

“Farmers who intend to avail themselves of rehabilitation assistance must be accredited members of farmers organization or cooperative identified by the local government units,” Provideo also added.

Attendance of training will be required for the farmer-recipients of the program and the adoption of recommended technologies on mango production is another requirement. This includes appropriate fertilization and pruning and good agricultural practices.

Mango export volume has declined by more than 30% according to the Philippine Mango Exporters Foundation Inc. 

The DA is formulating a five-year master plan for the mango industry.

“We used to produce one million metric tons, now we are below 600,000 MT. It’s been going down 15 percent every year. Other countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico are already filling up the demand even with their less premium mangoes,” the Philippine Mango Exporters Foundation Inc. said.

WB Report: The Key to Mindanao Agri Growth: Connectivity

Agriculture in Mindanao

The infrastructure needed to link farm produce to markets in Mindanao has always been the bane of its development. Rich in natural resources, the infrastructure needed for harnessing its potential has been sorely lacking.

Way back in the Commonwealth era, the infrastructure plan was a combination of roads and railways. Unfortunately, WWII occurred and the resources needed for infrastructure development was siphoned off to rebuilding the country after the war.

Succeeding administrations have failed to address the situation and the current infrastructure in Mindanao has hampered its growth.

The World Bank in its Philippine Economic update emphasized the need to address the limited connectivity between the farmers to the markets. This will not only spur domestic development but also tap the foreign market potential for Mindanao’s agricultural products.

“Farmers are disconnected or misconnected with technical service providers, agro-enterprises, markets, and consumers, a problem that has multiple consequences. Many roads are in bad condition or congested, resulting in rejected agricultural produce, especially perishable commodities like bananas and other fruits and vegetables,” the World Bank report stated.

A seamless logistic network from farm to markets will require investments in infrastructures from the village to major roads. This will also induce more competition in the domestic shipping industry and with the new cabotage laws, the transport via domestic shipping will add to the fast and efficient conveyance of trade and merchandise. Port processes for import and export must also be streamlined.

“Lowering logistics costs would significantly benefit Mindanao’s agriculture value chains. An efficient logistics system is essential if Mindanao’s potential of becoming a global supplier of basic and value-added produce is to be realized,” the report noted.

The World Bank said there is an opportunity to expand the production of exportable agriculture products: aquatic, coffee and coconut products.

This involves linking farmers more closely with enterprises, as it is primarily agribusinesses that have the opportunity to differentiate or diversify product lines,” it added.

Increased productivity will reduce the prices of food and other commodities and improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector.

PH Scientists Awarded by Japanese Scientific Forum

Philippine Nuclear Research Institute

A team of Filipino scientists that developed the Plant Food Supplement (PFS) via the using radiation technology was awarded the  2017 Excellent Research Team of the Year Award by the Japan-based Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA).

The team from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) garnered the award. 

The potential of the project in spurring the development of Philippine agriculture towards national food security was recognized by the Japanese government. Also, the project can help mitigate the effects of El Niño and climate change that ravage farmlands in the countryside.

The research team is led by Career Scientist Dr. Lucille Abad who heads DOST-PNRI’s Chemistry Research Section. With just 3.2 liters per hectare of water mixed with the right proportion of the PFS, the formulation was proven effective in increasing the yield of rice, mung bean, and other crops by over 20 percent. 

With the application of the PFS in field tests, it was determined that PFS enhanced resistance against tungro bacilliform virus and bacterial leaf blight. Further, fields sprayed with PFS had higher survival rate after a violent storm compared with nearby fields that were not treated with PFS. 

Launched in November 2015,  DOST started the widespread testing of PFS in Luzon, Panay Island, Zamboanga, and Davao. The experiments showed proof the advantages and benefits of PFS.

PFS is developed from carrageenan, a common industrial ingredient made from seaweeds. Subjecting to radiation the polymers of carrageenan it formed natural bioactive agents that can improve the health and increase the growth and yield of various crops.

Carrageenan has already been used as organic fertilizer in rice crops before but this is the first time that radiation exposure was utilized in enhancing its potentials. The carrageenan used for the PFS was irradiated at PNRI’s  Electron Beam Irradiation Facility in Diliman, Quezon City, the first and only facility of its kind in the country dedicated to semi-commercial services.

Eventually, several tons of PFS from PNRI was deployed for field test purposes and these were applied to thousands of hectares of rice fields in selected provinces of Regions 2 and 3, specifically in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Ilagan, Isabela and in Pulilan, Bulacan.

Php30 million for Iloilo Agri Finance from DA

Dumangas, Iloilo. Photo courtesy of SEAFDEC

The Production Loan Easy Access Program has been made available to the Municipality of Dumangas and Passi City as part of the efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in further spurring the development of agriculture in these localities. 

A Php30 million loan fund and Php10million loan fund for Dumangas and Passi City respectively will be made available for farmers and fishermen for the localities of Iloilo is expected wherein farmers and fishermen will be able to get financing amounting to Phpo5,000 to Php25,000 with no collateral requirements and will have a payable term of two years.

According to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, the lending program will be available through local cooperatives and rural banks and the maturity will depend on the kind of agricultural commodity.

This will reduce the dependency of farmers on government subsidies and dole outs, and contribute to the administration’s target of reducing national poverty by the year 2022.

A grains processing complex for the milling, packaging, and marketing of Passi City’s produce, as well as a tissue culture laboratory and organic fertilizer processing facility, is also planned by the DA.

In Dumangas , 500 hectares of abandoned fishponds  wll be converted into mangrove replanting areas that will benefit  one of the richest oyster production areas of Panay Island. Protection of to fishponds, oyster farms and hatcheries is being backed by the DA to protect it against the construction of an environmentally and ecologically unsafe fuel depot in Dumangas. 

“I already signed an endorsement of the BFAR position paper to Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor. While the town is interested in inviting investors to come to the town, we should respect the position of the people who depend on the sea for their livelihood,” DA Secretary Pinol stated. 

Avian Influenza Outbreak: Not Likely from Migratory Birds

The recent outbreak of Avian Influenza in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija was not likely brought by migratory birds. This was disclosed by Carlo Custodio, a consultant of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) said. 

In a roundtable discussion organized by the National Research Council last month, it was stated that migratory birds should not be automatically blamed for the spread of Avian Influenza. 

“Avian influenza in the Philippines is not traceable to migratory birds. Do not blame the migratory birds as they are victims, too (of the infection),”  Custodio said. 

Entitled “Avian Influenza – How do we Prevent its Entry and Spread: Policy Implications Towards Early Detection, Management and Mitigation,” the forum was held on last month at the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila.

The first and last recorded incident of Avian Influenza was in 2006 and yet migratory birds have been annually migrating to the country from temperate climes. 

Custodio said that global multi-agency Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds had issued a statement against unjustly and unfairly blaming wild birds for AIV incidences around the world.

According to the Scientific Task Force’s statement, the H5N8 Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreaks are associated with intensive domestic poultry production. The statement was   issued last December 2016

The effect of the wrong attribution of Pathogenic Avian Influenza to migratory birds have resulted in mortality and conservation issues.

The task force has said that attributing the spread of HPAI viruses to wild birds has resulted in mortality and conservation issues.

“The specific role of wild birds particularly in the long-distance transmission of the virus, if existent, remains unclear,” Custodio disclosed and was based on  the task force’s Dec. 20, 1996 statement.

The outbreak led to the deaths of 34,000 chickens and another 500,000 were culled so as to prevent the spread of the virus to other poultry farms.

Standardized Mechanization Program Pushed by DA

100% National Rice Self-Sufficiency can be attained and that is why the Department of Agriculture is pushing for standardized mechanization in agriculture.

This particularly important in the rice-producing sector of agriculture since standardized mechanization will reduce post-harvest losses and would lead to the above-mentioned objective. The reduction in post-harvest losses will ameliorate the three million metric tons (MT) of rice losses annually.

 “Japan, for example, has a 16 percent mechanization rate while our country has only two percent mechanization rate. If we can lessen post-harvest loss by at least six to eight percent, we can already achieve rice sufficiency,” DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.

 “If we wish to help farmers increase their productivity and income, let’s give them the best, so we can also change their mindset,” the DA Secretary further added.

This standardized mechanization program will also be complemented by the use of high yielding hybrid rice varieties that will translate to increased production and higher quality of rice yields.

 “By simply planting hybrid rice on our farms, we can increase harvest and income. We don’t even have to expand production areas,” Piñol disclosed.

The objective is to increase the level of mechanization to 4-horsepower per hectare as what is standard in ASEAN countries according to the Philippine Center for Post-Harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech). 

Currently, the average horse[power per hectare in the country is 3-horsepower per hectare.

According to PhilMech, a boost in the budget for mechanization will enable Filipino farmers to be at par with the farmers in Thailand and Vietnam, both rice exporting countries.

“Our new advocacy is to develop and commercialize the technologies where stakeholders will be the ones to tell us what they want and need, then we will address their concerns,” PhilMech stated.

Standardized Mechanization together with the use of hybrid rice varieties as adopted by farmers and agricultural cooperatives will make the target of National Rice Self-Sufficiency attainable soon.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

PeacePond: Sustainable Organic Farming

A 2-hectare organic farm in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental is proving the sustainability of best agricultural and environmental practices.

PeacePond rose from what was formerly a fishpond that dated back to the 1960s. The fishpond then used chemical fertilizers and is the direct opposite of what it is today. 

Typhoon Frank devastated the fishpond in 2008 and the farmers noted the environmental concerns that went with it. They then transformed the once chemical dependent fishpond into an organic, environmentally friendly farm with five fishponds.

The organic farm is surrounded by coconut trees which is included in the entire 5-hectare farm wherein the 2-hectare organic farm is located. One of the 5 ponds has been converted into a mangrove plantation.

PeacePond is a showcase of best practices in farming such as crop rotation, intercropping, ran shelter, terracing, and multi-cropping. Year-round crop rotation of vegetables and is based in the Calendar for planting provided by the Department of Agriculture. 

One of the notable features of the farm is its Zero-Carbon Footprint for its irrigation system. Not using electric pumps for water distribution, PeacePond utilizes recycled bicycle parts in delivering water to 3 reservoir drums to 40 vegetable plots. Also, a rain catchment drums are utilized in providing water to the Organic Food Garden and the Organic Fertilizer Production.

Fertilizers are produced from agricultural wastes that are also used for pesticides, rodenticides, and compost.  

PeacePond also manufactures its own vinegar from coconut so as to utilize his important component in making pesticides as well as using natural insect repellents such as lemongrass in insect and pest control. 

PeacePond also conducted eco-tours that were undertaken last October 2016 to July 2017. The harvest from PeacePond includes the following:

1. Coconuts
2. Copra
3. Bangus
4. Virgin Coconut Oil
5. Vegetables
6. CocoSugar
7. Vermicast
8. CRH

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

PH Rice Must Be More Competitive – PhilRice

Rice at Php 27 – Php31 per kilo. That is the price of Vietnamese and Thai imported rice without the Quantitative Restrictions imposed on it. This is a looming fact when the ASEAN economic integration eventually is implemented.

This will obviate efforts for national rice self-sufficiency and will further impoverish rice farmers in the country.

In order to do this, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) disclosed that a national average of 6 metric tons (MT) per hectare must be the yield of Filipino rice farms with a cost of production of Php8.00 per kilo. 

Local current production costs are at the Php12.00 per kilo and yield per hectare is only at 6 MT.

 “With the ASEAN integration, the Philippines is confronted with a different economic scenario. Targeting rice self-sufficiency is no longer enough,” PhilRice senior socio-economist Flordeliza Bordey said.

It would entail strategic government intervention in the medium term to make the industry and Filipino farmers more competitive.

Higher yield per hectare and reduced production costs would result in higher revenues for Filipino farmers and sustainable rice farms.

“This scenario is favorable to consumers, especially for poor families, but this will have a negative impact on the income of rice farmers as lower prices of imported rice will also reduce the price of locally-produced rice,” Bordey said.

Financing for farmers at low-interest rates for farm inputs can be provided by the government and use of hybrid seeds with higher yields are recommended.

This will be complemented by more efficient marketing methods and more machine-intensive farming practices that will also be part of the government program.

 “Farmers who incur higher production costs and are farming in less favorable areas where it is more difficult to increase rice yields, may go out of the rice business,” Bordey said, emphasizing that the  government should provide safety nets.

Also, programs for farmers to plant crops that are more conducive to their geographical locations, livelihood trainings and diversified skills trainings will benefit the farmers.

PH Poultry Industry Recovering

The resiliency of the country’s poultry industry is now showing. This is despite the avian influenza outbreak in Pampanga last August 2017. 

This was disclosed by the Samahan ng Industriyan Agrikultura (SINAG) Chairperson Rosenda So. 

Citing that prices of poultry have returned to normal and that sales have been also normal.

The only factor left is that the sale of oversized chickens has yet to normalize. These were left in freezers during the crisis and that consumer behavior preferred chickens that never exceed 1 kilo. This was cited since it is more consumers prefer to buy those weighing 1 kilo due to budget constraints.

The poultry industry was hit by avian influenza that necessitated the quarantine of San Luis, Pampanga when 3 poultry farms registered 100% mortality in their farms due to the avian influenza epidemic.

This also resulted in the prohibition of shipping poultry from Luzon to other islands in the country. This resulted in the live weight of chicken being sold to as low as Php32.00 per kilo during the time.

The Department of Agriculture  9DA) and the Department of Health (DOH) quickly managed the outbreak and has prevented the spread of the epidemic.

It was also determined that the flu strain does not affect humans. But still, quarantine procedures were effected so as to prevent the spread of the outbreak.

In a show of support for the poultry industry, even President Rodrigo Duterte partook of chicken meals so as to assuage fears that poultry products are dangerous.

Nevertheless, 200,000 chickens, birds, and other fowls were culled in the affected areas. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Experimental Integrated Farm in Northern Luzon

An experimental integrated farm is being developed in Northern Luzon. The 10-hectare farm will be one of the first such integrated farms in the country. 

Tha main feature of the integrated farm is that it will harvest fruits and crops the whole year round. Unlike traditional farms, it is not subjected to 2 farming cycles. The integrated farm will have vegetables as well as fruit trees that will provide a year-round harvest for the farm.

Already, the farm has planted vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, eggplants, ampalaya (bitter gourd), as well as spices like onions and garlic, sili, sitaw and kalabasa.
Sitaw Poles

Aside from the vegetable, fruit trees have already been planted that is projected to yield harvests of mangoes, lanzones, grapes, Dragon Fruit, Durian, Rambutan and other fruit bearing trees. Legumes such as peanuts have also been planted.

The technological advantage is that it has 3 deep wells for irrigation that will be wholly powered by solar panels to be installed in the far, experimental wind driven turbines are also being considered for its off-grid power supply. Also, newly developed monitoring systems for measuring soil moisture and even rain forecasting equipment will be part of an integrated monitoring system. 

Aside from fruits and vegetables, livestock such as goats, carabaos, and cows are already in the experimental farm. 

The first harvest is expected this October 2017 and a cycle of 3 months harvest for the vegetables is expected.

The current experimental location for the fruit bearing trees is 800 square meters.

Also, a golf driving range is already existing in the development.

Lanzones seedlings ready for planting


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