Sunday, August 13, 2017

Smart Manage your Poultry Farm

The recent Avian Flu outbreak in Pampanga has brought the urgency to have better farm monitoring and management solutions. Technology together with traditional farm techniques must be brought together to gain further productivity and safety for both poultry and livestock and also with farm workers and owners.

In the Philippines, a Farm Management Solution was developed by a startup from the University of the Philippines. The system is called Farm Watch. 

Farm Watch features systems that include the following:

1. Essential Poultry Farm Monitoring System
2. Remote Monitoring
3. Emergency SMS Warnings and Critical Status Reports
4. Free Data Representation and Analysis Tools
5. Easy to Install and Configure System Operation
6. Has Back-up Power System
7. Modular, upgradeable and Extendable

It also has no need for farm-installed internet connection for remote monitoring since it is based on SMS updates and reports.

The system is composed of a wireless sensor hub, a remote hub and sensors installed in a standard 160m X 36m poultry building. There are six sensors installed in 1 building.

Farm Watch sensors monitor 3 critical aspects in a poultry building:


1. Temperature
2. Relative Humidity
3. Carbon Dioxide levels 
4. Ammonia levels

Health and Consumption

1. Weight
2. Feeds
3. Water


1. Fly Count
2. Hydrogen Sulfide levels

These will enable the farmers and workers to be given data critical to the above-mentioned aspects of a poultry farm.

Farm Watch contact numbers are (+632) 981-8500 local 3363

Farm Watch conducts free farm assessment. Farm Watch office is located at 3F NEC Building, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Avian Flu Outbreak in Pampanga

For the first time since the Asian Avian Flu epidemic in the early 2000s, the Philippines has its initial case of Bird Flu. The municipality of San Luis, Pampanga is the ground zero for the outbreak and an estimated 34,700 birds and fowls have already been registered as the first casualties.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Pinol in cooperation with the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Pauline Ubial has declared a 1-kilometer radius quarantine area in Barangay San Carlos and Sta. Rita, San Luis, Pampanga. The quarantine affecting the declared area means that all ingress and egress will be restricted.

A 7-kilometer radius that is designated as a “controlled area” will require disinfection of all vehicles coming out from within the radius.

According to the DA Secretary, the quarantine will remain in force for 90 days. 

All birds and fowl numbering 200,000 within the quarantined area will be culled and buried in a designated area that has been deemed the proper place for the disposal of the affected birds.

Also, the DA announced that no bird or fowl will be allowed to be marketed out of Luzon Island, the biggest island in the Philippines. In relation to this, Governor of Pampanga Province, Lilia Pineda has declared a State of Calamity in the province.

The DOH with the Regional Institute of Regional Medicine (RITM) confirmed that the virus identified as the H5 strain and all specimens submitted will have a result in 48 hours.  The H5 strain has a known 100% mortality rate in infected birds and fowls.

As this developed, the DOH accordingly has sent specimens to Australia to confirm what N strain the virus has. By discovering the N strain, it can then be determined if the viral outbreak can be transferred to humans as in the case of H5N1 and H6N1 virus strains. The results are expected within 2 weeks of testing.

The DA and DOH, however, stressed that as of now, there are no reported cases of the infection spreading to humans as evidenced by the workers and owners of the poultry farms that remain asymptomatic to Avian Flu disease.

The reports started last August 3 when 3 poultry farms had their entire chicken population die from as of yet undetermined disease and infestation at that time. By August 4, 2017, an investigation has already been started and the deployment of 90 quarantine officers together with policemen commenced. The DA and DOH are as of now conducting monitoring operations in the areas concerned.

The next step will be to introduce sentinel animals into the area to determine if the infections still exist and further protocols for controlling the outbreak will be undertaken.

The DA stated that the chickens affected by the outbreak are layers which mean that only egg production will be affected but no disruption in fresh eggs supply will be experienced in the markets.

The outbreak was first noted in late April 2017, when quails started dying off and then ducks we also affected. But these were largely unreported to authorities.

 The DA assured that chicken meat supply is still safe but strict monitoring is being implemented. 

Workers in the area are being provided by the DA and DOH so as to ensure their safety. Also, the DA stated that it has two theories how the infections occurred since it started with quails and ducks and Pampanga is known for its Candaba Swamp where migratory birds from Mainland Asia seasonally stay. The other theory is that imported ducks were the source.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How Philex is helping Benguet coffee farmers

Px Community Foods and Marketing Inc., the social enterprise set up by Philex Mining Corp.’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm Philex Group Foundation Inc. (PGFI), has entered into a strategic partnership with Ryokudo Eco-Services and Trading Inc. for the nationwide distribution and export of its roasted coffee beans.

“Our partnership with Ryokudo comes at an opportune time as Philex has been robust on its goals to engage the Padcal community on our livelihood programs. We are confident that this partnership will further improve the economic condition of our local community members who are also our key partners in this endeavor,” said Paulino Buenconsejo, executive director of PGFI.

The joint agri-enterprise is hinged on providing a ready and fair trade market, technology knowledge transfer, and equipment for indigenous coffee farmers at the company’s host communities in Padcal, Benguet.

“In our last discussion, we also talked about exporting our coffee beans to the US, Japan, Thailand, and Hongkong,” Buenconsejo said.

PGFI will allot 50 kilos of roasted Arabica coffee to Ryokudo monthly.

“Meanwhile, our beans are also set for nationwide distribution not just in coffee shops and restaurants, but also supermarket chains, like SM, Robinson’s, Puregold, Rustan’s, Landmark, and NCCC,” he added. 

Each plantation will have a consolidated area of more than two hectares within Padcal and nearby areas such as Torre, Sante Fe, Ampucao, and Padcal.

Given the territorial limits, the project undertakes to respect the rights of the indigenous coffee farmers that inhabit the area, particularly in the area of Philex’s  Mineral Sharing Production Agreement.

In 2014, PGFI undertook a multi-year program designed to mentor select partner-coffee farmers on proper organic coffee farm management, harvesting techniques, and value-adding post-harvest activities that will increase the volume and quality of their produce. 

“The farmers are also trained to understand, appreciate, and apply the discipline required in engaging a coffee business enterprise” Buenconsejo said.

For his part, Philex SVP for public and regulatory affairs Michael Toledo said the strategic foray into agribusiness with Ryokudo underscores Philex’s corporate objective to sustain social services and job creation among its present beneficiaries.  

“This will further strengthen our social commitment: making good on a long-term promise made to the community,” he said.

“This is testament that mining, agriculture and other revenue-generating enterprises like tourism can coexist and actually support each other,” Toledo added.

Philex earlier announced that additional resources have been discovered in its Bumolo porphyry copper-gold deposit in Benguet which may extend its Padcal mine’s life to two more years to 2024.

“The development that we are discussing today is sustainability – at the onset, what the company planned, or the joint venture plans to address the immediate need for employment of the community, when the end of mine life comes,” Toledo said. 

The Bumolo deposit lies within the mineral production sharing agreement of Philex.


Emergency Rice?

Biotech Japan Chairman, Kiyosoda Egawa (Right) with the author at the NSTW.

Emergency Rice? Yes, you read that right. Rice that can be used for emergencies such as disasters and calamities. This rice comes in a package that is easily opened but has a shelf life of 3 ½ years. This can be part of emergency and disaster preparations and part of the relief packages that are distributed. This rice needs no longer be boiled or cooked.

Emergency Rice is but part of a line of products of Biotech Japan (BTJ). By using fermentation technology that uses 3,000 strains of lactic acid bacteria, Biotech Japan is one of the leaders in Food Technology that has a wide range of uses and benefits.

Such products are the following:

1. Protein Adjusted Food. This is for those who are needing food that will benefit their diet according to prescriptions by dieticians and doctors. 

2. Emergency Rice.

3. Echigo. A pre-cooked protein-reduced rice for patients with Chronic Kidney Disease.

4. Low-Cal Rice.  Intended for diabetics and those who prefer a low-calorie diet.

5. Insta-Rice. A pre-cooked rice with a 1-year shelf life.

Also, during the National Science and Technology Week, BTJ had in its display several products from its research facility in the country. It is undertaking research and development with PhilRice and has come up with products such as rice based bread and other rice based snacks that are considered health food.  

Further development of BTJs products will have a profound impact on healthy eating and benefits to disaster risk reduction and management.

Friday, July 7, 2017

9 Vegetables to Grow Indoors

Conservatories and windowsills are good sites for growing vegetables. Put heavy containers on the floor or a firm support. Some vegetable plants, including trailing species, are suitable for growing in hanging baskets fitted with integral drip trays. Mushrooms are straightforward if you have space in a dark cupboard. Some plants such as chicory and rhubarb can be forced to produce their crop earlier than normal.

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant: These easily raised tender crops are favorites for a sunny windowsill and can be grown from seed or small plantlets. For window boxes or hanging baskets, choose pendent varieties such as Tumbler tomatoes. Train cordon varieties such as Sweet Million tomatoes up canes or string in a conservatory, where they will produce long trusses of tasty, decorative tomatoes for several months. Peppers and aubergines are less prolific.

Carrots and radishes: Most root crops need greater depth than you can provide indoors, but radishes, especially round or globe varieties that do not root very deeply, grow well in boxes, troughs and pans. Seeds can be sown from late winter until mid-autumn, often producing usable roots 21 to 25 days later. Round carrot varieties are also successful in pots and boxes.

Potatoes: Seed tubers used for outdoor plantings are easily grown in large pots, buckets or even plastic sacks, and produce worthwhile yields of tasty new potatoes. When planting the tubers, leave space at the top of the container for adding more compost to earth up the plants as they develop. The top of the sack can be rolled down to start with, then rolled up, as required.

Mushrooms: Mushrooms are an ideal indoor crop for any time of year. Prepared bags of special compost with mushroom spawn only need watering before being left in a draft-free, dark place such as an attic or cupboard. Keep at 50 to 60ºF (10 to 15ºC) and mushrooms should be cropping a few weeks later. Alternatively make your own compost with straw and a purchased activator. Pack this mixture in a sterile container, such as a large plastic bucket. When the initial heat has died down and the mixture is turning into compost, add the spawn.

Beans and peas: Dwarf french beans can be sown in pots from late winter onwards for early pods. Dwarf broad beans and dwarf runner beans crop well indoors, too. Tall runner beans grown on cane wigwams or on string up the side of a sunny conservatory are decorative as well as productive, and both dwarf and tall mangetout peas will do well as houseplants. Pick the pods while they are young, tender and juicy.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Veggie production program makes school children taller, heavier

Hundreds of public elementary school pupils and high school students in six pilot towns in this province have become taller and heavier, thanks to a School Garden Program being implemented jointly by government agencies and a Philippine-hosted Southeast Asian center based here.

Officially named “A Participatory Action Research on School- and Community-based Food and Nutrition Program for Literacy, Poverty Reduction, and Sustainable Development,” the program is now on its penultimate phase and is expected to be completed this June.

Involved in the program’s implementation are the Department of Education (DepEd)-Laguna, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the University of the Philippines -Los Baños (UPLB).

Launched last year, the program was supported in its initial phase by the Asian Development Bank and the Thailand-based Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Secretariat. The seeds used in the vegetable production activities were provided by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry-Economic Gardens in Los Baños.

A memorandum of agreement for the implementation of the program was signed by DepEd-Laguna through Schools Division Superintendent Josilyn Solana, SEARCA director Gil Saguiguit Jr. and UPLB chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr.

The accomplishments of the multi-agency project are now being assessed. Initially, the program covered as pilot sites one elementary school each in Alaminos, Cabuyao, Majayjay, Nagcarlan and Pila, and a public high school in the Laguna capital town of Sta. Cruz. The local government units of these municipalities were also harnessed.

Subsequently, 18 more elementary schools in the province were covered as the program was scaled up.

Assessing the achievements and outputs of the activities recently, the program measured the heights and weights of the school children involved in the gardening activities. From the start, the program had used the garden produce in DepEd’s School-based Feeding Program.

The results were encouraging as the school children showed progress in terms of height and weight, SEARCA said.

The program has also been developing lesson plans integrating science and education and related fields in the  school curricula.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Disease Control for Philippine Onions

Philippine Onions

Ilocos is the top producer of onions in the Philippines. Accounting to 99.8% of the much sought after spice. This is then translated as an economic boon for the countries that plant and harvest onions.

With an output of 9.22 thousand metric tons, Ilocos is top in onion production. But recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) disclosed that there is a decrease of 5.1% in the production of native onion registered in the 4th quarter of 2016. This can be attributed to production and post-production factors.

These can be attributed to climate and weather conditions, dearth of planting materials and disease and infestation.

One of the diseases is “Twister Disease”. It causes having the plants produce slender bulbs thus greatly reducing the yield. It has affected not only the Ilocos region which is the top onion producing region but also Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon.

Scientists at the Central Luzon University (CLSU) in Nueva Ecija are conducting research with regards to managing the disease.

It was discerned that frequent rains and high humidity greatly contribute to the spread of the disease. Twister Disease” is a fungal infection and thus humidity, length of exposure to moisture, exposure factor to light and even temperature are factors.

Inoculated onions were thus introduced and trials were undertaken so as to know the parameters wherein the disease will proliferate.

Samples were gathered from tye onion producing areas os Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Batanes, Mindoro Occidental, Nueva Vizcaya, Tarlac, Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija.

The findings from these experiments will decide which management and protocols can be used for optimum  effect with regards to proper fungicides and gibberellin inhibitors that will effectively control twister disease in onions.

The research is being supported and funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR). 

Record Rice Yield Posted by SeedWorks

A “Rice Derby” among palay seed varieties was conducted in Cotabato, Mindanao and the winner is Seedworks Philippines. The yield was certified by the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 12.

TH-82 hybrid rice variety posted a yield of 8.05 metric tons per hectare. This is double the average production in the Philippines by other hybrid rice varieties. 

The hybrid rice developed by SeedWorks Philippines Inc. posted the highest yield among other hybrid palay seed varieties during a rice derby held in Cotabato, Mindanao.

Seedworks’ TH-82 hybrid rice yielded a total of 8.05 metric tons per hectare, double the reported average production.

The rice derby was held in Region 12 where farm owners and rice growers allowed their farms to be used. This was done in support of the rice hybridization program of the government.

TH-82 posted a yield of 8.05 MT as compared to other varieties developed that gave a yield from 4 – 6 metric tons. 

Another hybrid rice variety developed by Seedworks performed exceptionally well, the variety called US-88 yielded 6.03 MT per hectare. It has long grains and excellent eating qualities. 

The 4th National Rice Technology Forum ‘s theme is  theme “Increase Production through Hybrid Rice Technology, Mindanao: Mag-hybrid na Kita!”

It was participated in by farmers, seed producers and government officials.  The event that spanned 3 days were supported by the the Rice Productivity Advocacy, Inc. (Rice Board), the SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos) region, the DA National Rice Program, the provincial government of Cotabato and the municipal government of M’lang.

This is inline with the government’s efforts in national food security, self – sufficiency and is a pillar of the administration’s economic policy program also known as “Dutertenomics.”

The winner, Seedworks is engaged in breeding, marketing and production of hybrid rice, corn and vegetable seeds. The programs of Seedworks are based in India, Thailand and the Philippines.

SeedWorks  is a company that breeds, produces and markets hybrid rice, corn and vegetable seeds. The company invests a significant amount of its annual revenues on research and development to provide a continuous stream of exceptional products. Its research and breeding programs are based in India, Thailand and the Philippines.


DA set to boost piña fiber industry

Red Spanish Pineapple variety

Not all pineapples are equal. Mostly what the world knows is that pineapples are tropical fruits and they are much sought after in temperate countries such as the United States, Europe and China.

The Philippines is one of the top pineapple producers in the world. It is one of the top agricultural exports of the Philippines with Mindanao wherein plantations of multinationals account for the bulk of production.

What is little considered is that fiber is also much sought after for clothing such as the barong and also for other commercial uses. The red Spanish pineapple is the source of the piña fiber. The red Spanish variety does not count much for its taste. Smaller than the more well-known Hawaiian variety, its course taste does not appeal much to the palate. But its spiny leaves does grow up to 2 meters in length. That is the source of the piña fiber. The fruit is thrown away.

In order to maximize the potential of the red Spanish Variety and enable farmers to increase their revenues, Department of Agriculture (DA) Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol tasked the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) “to lead research initiatives on how to improve the size and the quality of the red Spanish pineapple.

Stakeholders were then convened by the BAR together with experts and representatives from Aklan State University (ASU), DA-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 5, DA-RFO 6, and the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) to conduct and finalize research and development for improving te quality and the size of red Spanish pinapples. 

The aim is to conceptualize actions and implement the results of the research so that the size and quality of the said variety will improve but the quality of the fiber will still be retained. 

This will include market studies that will justify the large scale cultivation and planting of the variety thus boosting the supply of the fiber and also making the fruit palatable for consumers. 

The result will be maximizing the red Spanish pineapple and revenue optimization for farmers. 

The piña fiber industry used to be a lucrative enterprise but falling production of the red Spanish variety has led to decrease availability of the fibers.

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”.  


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