Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Visayan Seas Sustainable Management Framework Signed

Galunggong. Picture from Iloilo Metropolitan Times

The provincial governments of Iloilo, Cebu, Negros Occidental, and Capiz have committed to adopting a fisheries management framework that will ensure a sustainable fishing industry and protect one of the country’s major fishing grounds.

The management framework is known as the  “Commitment to Adopt and Implement the Management Framework for the Conservation, Protection, and Restoration of the Visayan Sea Fisheries Management Area,” is the result of collaboration between the national government, fisherfolks, local governments, scientists, the academe and civil society groups.

“We hope this historic milestone will pave the way for the official designation of the Visayan Sea as the first fisheries management area in the country with science-based management framework in place,” Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Ramos said.

The Fisheries Management Area or FMA espouses a comprehensive science-based fisheries management plan will be enforced to ensure sustained productivity and protection from overfishing, illegal fishing, and destructive fishing practices under the Amended Fisheries Code.

It is also hoped that this will be replicated in other fisheries dependent areas in the country. As of now, the Visayan Sea provides food and livelihood to 100,000 municipal fisherfolks and about one million rural folks in 33 municipalities in five provinces.

Friday, July 27, 2018

DA Approves Biotech Center

Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija. The site of the Crop Biotech Facility

A biotech center will be constructed in Munoz, Nueva Ecija that will serve as the nexus for the implementation of technological innovations that will benefit the Philippine farming sector.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol has approved the construction of the facility that will cost Php302 million.

The facility shall include laboratories, a theater and a multi-purpose hall that can accommodate up to 800 people. The target completion of the facility is 2019.

Most of the funds will come from the P277 million assistance from the US government through the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act.  The balance will come from the Philippine Rice Research Institute.

Aside from equipment and facilities, training and support will be provided to Filipino researchers in the field of biotechnology.

The facility shall also host biotechnology programs on other priority crops such as corn, coconut, coffee, sugarcane, and banana.

According to the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research (Searca), the application of biotechnology has resulted in higher and better that led to increased revenues for farmers. Also, it resulted in crops that are much resilient o pests and climate change.

Funding Acquired for PH Greenhouses

A memorandum of agreement was recently signed between the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) and South Korea via its  Korea Agency for Education, Promotion and Information Service in Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (EPIS).

The US$2.43 million grant will fund the development of greenhouses for high-value agricultural products. The greenhouses will enable farmers to control temperature, humidity and soil moisture for optimal growth.

This will enhance and increase the competitiveness of small to mid-size farmers via greenhouse technology.

“We have also committed that as soon as high-value vegetable farmers confirm the effectiveness of the smart greenhouses in increasing their productivity, we will propose the inclusion of the program for more greenhouses in the 2020 budget of the DA,”   Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol claimed.

The grant will aim to promote development and will help in raising additional revenues for farmers.

The pilot area shall be established in Benguet that will yield high-value vegetables.

Also, consultants and experts from South Korea will come to the country and Filipinos will train in Korea as part of the package. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Government to Boost PH Rubber Industry

The Philippine rubber industry is getting help from the government in order to make it a global industry player.

Rubber production I the agricultural sector in the Philippines lags way behind its neighbors such as Indonesia and Thailand which accounts for 25% – 34%  of world rubber production.

Possessing almost the same geographical features as those two countries mentioned above, the Philippines can also produce rubber for industrial and commercial use in the world.

According to Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the Philippine rubber agricultural industry is part of re-orienting and reformatting Philippine agriculture. Rubber can be grown in areas where the traditional crops such as rice and other fruit trees find inhospitable due to lack of water and soil erosion. This will give Filipino farmers an alternative that has vast promise in productivity and financial returns.

“The agricultural areas I’ve visited suffer from the same problems: soil erosion and landslides. These are indications of poor agricultural planning—where farmers are planting crops where we should be planting rubber trees,” DA Sec. Piñol said.

Currently, there are 55,000 small farmers in the Philippine rubber industry and these are located mainly in Mindanao.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is also going to be active in enhancing the growth of this agricultural sector.  “This industry is critical in helping achieve President Duterte’s vision of real inclusive growth since the rubber production sector involves over 55,000 small farmers/growers,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez disclosed.

The gaps between local rubber farmers and opportunities present will be addressed by the DTI.  Investors will be brought in by DTI in rubber processing and rubber-based products such as tire companies and then links between the farmers and suppliers will be forged by DTI.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Use Technology in Agriculture – Experts

Currently, the average age of the Filipino farmer is between 57 – 59 years old. Clearly, there is not enough new blood entering agriculture as a profession. This is a bleak image of our country’s agriculture industry and national food security.

Profitability, intensive labor and sustainability give off negative indicators to many Filipinos. But experts at the recently held Innovative Olympics 2018 cited that technology can be and is the answer to these concerns. 

“This sad reality results in our young people’s disenchantment of pursuing a career in agriculture,” said East-West Seeds Philippines general manager Henk Hermans. Farmers are the second poorest sector in the country he also added.

The resistance of farmers in using technology also adds to the decline of agriculture and crop yields. Also, the continuation of outdated farming methods holds back productivity.

The Innovation Olympics aims to make agriculture attractive to the youth by showcasing technology and new farming techniques backed up by results of higher output and increased revenues.

By appealing to students and youth with various backgrounds that sustainable solutions can be made on agriculture, making farming a profession will be fulfilling for them especially if technology is utilized.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Php210 Million Assistance for Ilocos Tobacco Farmers

Filipino Tobacco Farmer

The Philippine Tobacco Industry is one of the pillars of Philippine agriculture. It is the crop where farmers of the Ilocos region largely depend upon. As such, the industry sector needs assistance in increasing its crop yield and production so as to sustain its viability and ensure the livelihood of the tobacco dependent agricultural sector.

Assistance worth Php210 million was provided by the National Tobacco Administration to tobacco farmers in Ilocos that will produce 6.5 million kilograms of cured tobacco. National production of tobacco is pegged at 45 million kilograms for this year and the assistance will account for 14% of that targeted national production volume.

Access to new technologies, extension programs, training and information, financial credit assistance and expedited payment of harvests will comprise part of the assistance. Of the Php 210 million, about Php115 million will be for land preparation, fertilizers and pesticides aside from suckerides.

The country posted earnings of US$344 million in tobacco exports last 2017. There are 8,331 tobacco farmers cultivating 5,143 hectares of tobacco farmlands under the contract growing system.

It is about time! Pension Plan for Farmers and Fishermen

The average age of the Filipino farmer is said to be 57 years old. That is 8 years away from the retirement age of most government and private sector workers. Unfortunately, the majority of Filipino workers are agricultural workers. They are farmers and fishermen that comprise 60% of the Philippine population that is located in rural areas.

Acknowledging this state of affairs, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is crafting and implementing a pension scheme for farmers and fishermen. According to DA Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) is planning a pension program that will benefit the agricultural sector.

“I have always emphasized that while government workers have the Government Service Insurance System and private company employees and self-employed workers have the Social Security System, farmers and fishermen are not covered by any pension fund,” Secretary Pinol said.

The PCIC is preparing a proposal of the pension fund to Congress so that legislation will be given with regards to the pension plan. It is initially called the Farmers and Fishermen’s Pension Fund (FFPF). This will enable farmers and fishermen to retire because of their advanced age.

Aside from a pension plan, health and accident insurance, crop insurance will also be part of the pension and insurance plan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Carrageenan as Fertilizer for Corn

Carrageenan has proven to be a versatile fertilizer or Plant Growth Provider (PGP). The first use for it was PGP for rice, then mungbeans and peanuts.

Now, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is conducting studies if carrageenan can also be used a PGP for corn farming.

Engineer Sancho Mabborang, DOST Region 2 director, stated that funding sourced from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), the Isabela provincial government and state universities and colleges in the region led by Isabela State University recently started the R&D project.

Success in using carrageenan as PGP will mean increased yield in corn farms in the region and can be replicated all over the country. This will mean a significant increase in the income of farmers.

The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute had developed the carrageenan PGP through a project also funded by PCAARRD. The PNRI had used its state-of-the-art electron beam facility in Diliman, Quezon City to irradiate carrageenan and come up with the plant food supplement.

Mabborang said that corn is the second most important national food crop after rice.

He pointed out that corn, particularly yellow corn, was the main component of up to 75 percent of formulated feed for livestock, poultry, and aquaculture fishery.

White corn, the variety for human consumption, is the staple food of up to 20 percent of the Philippine population, he said.

The Cagayan Valley region is the top producer of corn in the country and is now lobbying that it be the site of the center for research and development for corn.

According to Mabborang “If we can further increase our corn production, this will mean bigger profits for our corn farmers. And an adequate, if not a surplus supply of corn in the country can have a positive impact on the country’s livestock production.”

Local Goat Breeding Gets Boost

PH Goats getting "Milked"

Goats which are classified under small ruminants will get additional technical support from the Isabela State University (ISU).

Artificial Insemination (AI) will be the method employed but will be enhanced via the research and development (R&D) to be conducted by ISU.

This effort will be endowed with funding by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), the ISU’s Cagayan Valley Small Ruminants Research Center (CVSRRC) will utilize advanced biotechnology to boost local goat breeding.

The program will have a funding of Php64 million via a grant from the PCAARRD that will draw up the protocols for embryo transfer of prolific and resilient goat breeds in ISU.

This will build upon the foundations on goat breeding earlier established by the research center that had earlier funding from the PCAARRD.

Embryo transfers are already being practiced in other countries such as Australia, US and New Zealand and that goat production can be maximized by harvesting the goat embryos and implanting them in surrogate goat mothers.

The method is faster since embryos can be easily transferred on selected does. Purchasing laboratory equipment is currently being undertaken and the set up of the laborotary will quickly follow.

In another effort, a New Zealand based scientist/embryologist is being enticed with the DOST’s Balik Scientist Program so as to further facilitate the embryo transfer R&D project.

It is not only in goat meat production but also in goat milk production where the program will have a significant effect.


First Smart Farm in the country

(Photo from DOST-PCIEERD)

The Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE) facility will be soon established in the DOST-ASTI Complex in Quezon City. This program is under the Nursery of Indigenous and Endemic Plants with funding of Php128.00 million.

SPICE aims to take the lead in research and development (R&D) for the standalone urban farming system that will elevate the efforts in urban farming promotion and high-tech plant conservation.

This is a result of the cooperation between the  UP Diliman Institute of Biology (IB) and Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI), and UP Los Baños Institute of Biology. Aside from urban farming, the program includes the establishment of protocols for micropropagation, cryopreservation, and nursery management of rare, endangered, and economically valuable native plant species.

“The core of this project is not only the development of new technology but, on a macro perspective, to ensure that we can protect our country’s rich biodiversity,” DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara said.

In line with efforts in national food security, this will harness the potential of urban farming to augment traditional agriculture in the rural areas. This employs modern farming methods such as vertical farming, micropropagation, cryptopreservation and even hydroponics. These techniques are used in conjunction with the use of lighting, irrigation and climate monitoring by utilizing sensors, electronics, and automation.

It is also intended that the facility include a “Living Laboratory” wherein the technologies employed can be observed by visitors and also fresh produce that is grown on-site can be bought in the facility’s own store.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

DA allots P500 M for rice-corn blend

The Department of Agriculture (DA) plans to spend at least half a billion pesos to facilitate the entry of the rice-corn blend in the local market.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the agency has committed an initial P50 million to the Philippine Maize Federation (PhilMaize).

“We will start entering the commercial markets in the second quarter. For this year, our target is to infuse 500,000 metric tons of corn component into our staple food supply and that should effectively cover whatever shortage we have in grains,” Piñol said.
As part of the Marawi rehabilitation, the DA is developing 10,000 hectares of white corn farms in Lanao.

The DA will also ensure the availability of quality corn seeds and provide capacity building, farm mechanization equipment, and post-harvest facilities.

The rice-corn blend will be available in NFA outlets in Metro Manila and in major supermarkets including SM, Rustan’s and Robinson’s.  It will be priced lower than the average retail price of rice.

The average price of regular-milled rice is P36 per kilogram.

PhilMaize, on the other hand, will supply quality rice-corn blend.

Last year, domestic consumption of rice reached 12.9 million metric tons (MT) while production was only 11.5 million MT or a shortfall of 1.4 million MT.

The local industry is promoting the rice-corn blend as a health food because corn has a lower calorie and carbohydrate content compared to rice.

Studies also showed that corn contains more vitamins, minerals, and proteins than white rice.  Blending the two will give more nutritional benefits to consumers.

One in five Filipinos eats white corn grits as staple food next to rice.

In the Zamboanga Peninsula alone, the per capita consumption of corn at 160 kilograms is higher than the national per capita consumption of rice at 110 kg.

Corn was considered as a “poor man’s rice” in the 1960s when rice shortage forced many Filipinos to eat inferior rice mixed with rough corn grits.

Approximately one-third of Filipino farmers, or 1.8 million individuals, depend on corn as their major source of livelihood.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2018/01/14/1777457/da-allots-p500-m-rice-corn-blend

Mushroom Industry for Pangasinan Town

One Town One Product (OTOP) is being pursued by a municipality in Pangasinan in order to for it to be a focal point in mushroom production in the country.

Sta, Maria, Pangasinan is the site of the Mushroom Research and Development Center of the Pangasinan State University and is casting its lot in producing mushrooms for enabling it to produce mushrooms the whole year round.

The center wherein there is a 4,000 square meter lot with a laboratory room where strains of cultured mushrooms are produced and stored aims for having a sustainable mushroom production capacity that will be at the forefront of a national mushroom industry.

The production of high quality and adaptable mushrooms strains that will be available to farmers, growers, students and researchers and even entrepreneurs who wish to go into mushroom will be part of the center.

 The town grows Pleurotus- oyster mushroom and Volvariella-button mushrooms.   

To further the promotion of its mushrooms, the municipality has declared  Feb. 14-22, 2018 and every year thereafter as Mushroom Festival week. 

Locally grown mushrooms have a price of Php 150m-200 per kilo and This agricultural town is now aggressively promoting mushroom production.

This cash crop will enable mushroom farmers and growers to have a year round crop that will be a source of revenue for them and the template can be replicable anywhere in the country.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Laser leveling technology for agriculture

Laser Levelling Technology being utilized in a farm

Agricultural producers must embrace revolutionary strategies to increase productivity, deliver cost-effective technologies, and ensure sustainable food supply.

The International Rice Research Institute, in cooperation with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), conducted a training on basic tractor operation, maintenance and implementation of laser-assisted land leveling.

This initiative is part of the work package output of the water-efficient and risk mitigation technologies for enhancing rice production in irrigated and rainfed environments or WateRice project.

The project aims to teach the  Department of Agriculture (DA) extension agents about basic operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of the laser leveling system, a farming technique that uses laser-assisted system and a drag bucket to make precise leveling of the field.

This technology makes farming efficient by reducing water requirement during land preparation and labor requirement during weeding operation. It also improves rice crop establishment, uniformity and maturity.

As part of the training, participants had a hands-on exercise on basic tractor operation and an orientation on conducting pre-maintenance checks to ensure the equipment’s proper and long-term functioning.

They were also taught how to perform a topographic survey on the field, which is an important step in the leveling process.

The activity’s highlight was an actual engagement in leveling operations. Participants were given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with laser leveling equipment, and were encouraged to raise questions regarding its use.

During the exchanges, participants learned valuable information about the technology such as the costs of laser leveling per field, the length of time it takes to laser level certain areas, and the best time of the season to conduct it.

 “Through the training, we were able to witness how laser leveling is done, and how useful it will be to the farmer,”  said Jerry Batcagan of Philrice Isabela.

For her part, Dianne Gabriel of WateRice  said: “This new technology will help women to easily participate in field work. Now, nobody can say girls can’t deal with machines.”

 “The WateRice project encounters problems during the dry season, such as water shortage and high cost of leveling. In other countries, technology is made available to small holder farmers through the private sector and service providers. We are happy that finally, we have the approval of the Department of Agriculture to acquire a laser leveling unit so we can start implementing the technique in our programs,” said Roger Barroga, head of PhilRice’s Information Systems Division.

The training was attended by 36 technicians and researchers from the DA’s field offices in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija; Isabela and Batac.

Source: http://beta.philstar.com/business/agriculture/2018/01/07/1775264/laser-leveling-technology-agriculture#s67rQihq4GHxkMmH.99

Cocoa industry boom to spur Philippines farm tourism

Philippine Cacao

The Philippines’ fast-growing cacao and chocolate industry will boost a promising farm tourism industry that caters to foreign and local visitors looking for wholesome fun and adventure in the countryside.

“Farm tourism in the country has thrived on the best practices and growth of the cocoa industry,” said Sen. Cynthia Villar in her keynote address to over 2,000 cacao growers and entrepreneurs during the Kakao Konek 2017 exposition held at SMX Lanang in Davao City.

Villar authored Republic Act 10816 or Farm Tourism Development Act, which mandates the promotion of tourism at agricultural destinations through partnerships with private stakeholders.

Davao City boasts of vast greenery, including nature park and farm resorts, like the Malagos Resort, Eden’s Nature Park, Hijo Banana Resort, Gumamela Caverock Farm Resort, Pearl Farm, among others.

During the two-day conference and exhibit, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte and officials of the Department of Tourism  led the launch of the “Chocolate Tour Overload” that featured Davao City as the “Cacao Capital of the Philippines.”

“Accounting for 90 percent of the local cacao production, the spotlight is now on Mindanao with Davao as the country’s chocolate capital, even as the farmers face the challenge to meet the growing demand for Philippine cacao, indicating international recognition of its quality,” Duterte said.

“We believe in the perfect marriage of farm and tourism as showcased by the sweet success our cocoa growers and chocolate producers, like the Malagos chocolate,” said DOT Assistant Secretary Eden Josephine David.

David noted that the Malagos Puentespina chocolates, produced in a self-sustained 12-hectare cocoa farm resort in Malagos, Davao City, was among the top 50 awardees of the Salon de Chocolat held in Paris recently.

“The challenge of achieving 100,000 metric tons of cacao by 2020 stays, and this can only be achieved with both private and government sectors working together,” said Dante Muyco, president of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, the event’s main sponsor.

Also present during the conference was Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol who lauded the best practices of Davao’s successful cacao growers and chocolate producers.

Source: http://beta.philstar.com/business/agriculture/2018/01/07/1775265/cocoa-industry-boom-spur-philippines-farm-tourism#HhXKrJb4mTqDMuRg.99

Organic Seed Production Boosted by Government

It is acknowledged that organically grown agricultural produce is a healthier alternative. Also, organic farming is considered ecologically sound as far as farming techniques are concerned since chemicals that eventually find its residue in the eco-system are non-existent.

But it is not only in the growing of the agricultural products that organic farming is all about. The production of organic seeds is the first step in organic farming and the government recognizes this.

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is endeavoring in this direction with its funding of the  “Development of Organic Seed Production System of Lowland Vegetables and Field Legumes  and Strengthening Partnership in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and the Bicol Region.” The aim of the project/program is the establishment of a national organic seed production area and at the same time expand the science based technology on organic seed production.

The project’s objective is  increasing the production of certified organic seeds of NSIC varieties and promising lines of field legumes and selected vegetables, maintaining organic certification from Organic  Certification Center of the Philippines  for the organic seed production system, strengthening partnership with identified organic stakeholders in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and the Bicol Region, and disseminating organic seed production technology to farmers and interested individuals in said regions.

The target is production area for tomato, eggplant, squash, ampalaya, bottle gourd, sponge gourd, mustard, okra, pole sitao, and cowpea consists of a three-hectare land inside BPI-LBNCRDC.

The project was initiated in 2013 and it led to the expansion of the organic seeds production area. 

More than 2,000 farmers and technicians trained on organic seed and vegetable production were the beneficiaries of the project. The trainings were conducted in Palawan, Albay, Sorsogon, and Oriental Mindoro, which led to the identification of possible collaborators of the project.

Russian Technical Assistance to Help PH Agri

Current PNRI Irradiation Facility

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST)  will get technical assistance from Russia with regards to increasing the number of irradiation facilities for agricultural use.

The assistance will come from the Russian government that will add more electronic beam facilities for use by fruit and vegetable exporters. This was disclosed by DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña.

This will considerably increase the capacity of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) in handling the irradiation of agricultural products for export.

“We are short of capacity in terms of irradiating products particularly those for export. Today, we have to irradiate potato, mango… because this is a requirement of importing countries. We only have one facility in QC, in the PNRI compound. It’s running 24/7, and still cannot cope,” Dela Peña said. “So there is an urgent need to set up more facilities.”

Increased demand for Philippine vegetable and fruit exports has resulted in the demand of the irradiation facility that will improve shelf life and disinfect the fruits and vegetables to be exported.

Currently, there is only one facility of the PNRI that conducts such process and there is a backlog even though it is already operating at full capacity 24 hours and 7 days a week.

This will be undertaken via a local firm, A Brown Co. Inc. (ABCI), that has partnered with Rusatom Healthcare, a division of Russian State Atomic Energy Corp. Rosatom, to build a network of agro irradiation centers in the Philippines starting this 2018 to help improve the country’s agribusiness sector and its capacity.

Irradiation or electronic beams for agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables eliminate bacteria and germs, prevent the spread of pests, and delay or prevent ripening or spoiling during transit and storage. The process reduces the risk of food-borne illnesses and increases longevity and shelf life. The process does not make the produce radioactive and is considered safe.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Asian Fisheries Academy Honors 2 Filipino Aquaculturists

Dr. Guerrero and Dr. Maximo Abesamis being feted by he AFA

Rafael Guerrero and Maximo Abesamis received citations at the Asian Fisheries Academy (AFA). The honors were conferred by the Society of Aquaculture Engineers of the Philippines (SAEP) and the Philippine Aquaculture Society,  Inc. (PAS). 

Rafael Guerrero is considered as the promoter of all-male tilapia culture in the country. Together with his wife, Guerrero in the 1980s formed a research and development company that provided sex reversal feed that will boost commercial production of tilapia despite the fact that the tilapia were all male.

This was from his doctoral dissertation at Auburn University during the 1970s and then was continued at the Central Luzon State University. This resulted in increased yields in tilapia farms.

Guerrero is a recipient of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award and has also received various recognitions and awards from local and international institutions.

Maxio Abesamis introduced the modular system in milkfish culture. Abesamis has also been instrumental in introducing Gusathion and Brestan to control snails and other microorganisms that are harmful to milkfish culture and farming. His system was proven to be efficient that up to now, almost all fishpond operators are using the same method. 

An awardee of the Ten Outstanding Young Scientists (TOYS) award in 1980 conferred by the National Science and Development Board (NSDB), he pioneered the system of bangus production in fishpens that were initially undertaken in Dagupan City, Pangasinan which was widely replicated in the country. 

But Abesamis also discovered that bangus and salmon had similar characteristics and it was also applied to mass producing salmon in ocean cages.

These contributions led to sustainable growth in the fishing industry.


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