Thursday, October 29, 2015

Infestation Alert! Malaysian Black Bugs Present in Leyte

Motorists in Leyte province observed the presence of Malaysian black bugs, which are very harmful to the agriculture sector especially in rice production. City Agriculture Office (CAO) chief Joseph Cortez said in a telephone interview that so far, there are no reports or complaint yet receive by his office. 

But Judith Paredes, a Senior Agriculturist of the CAO said their office is well prepared in combating these bugs. She explained that the black bugs can be easily eradicated by a heavy downpour, but considering that the country is experiencing El Niño, the pests may remain in the province for some time. Paredes said their office will immediately inform rice producers in the city so that they can prepare.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Towards Competitive Philippine Corn in the ASEAN Integration

The integration of ASEAN economies in the immediate future poses challenges to the Philippine corn industry. The Department of Agriculture together with local government units are endeavouring to enable local corn farmers to attain sustainable production of high quality corn for both white and yellow varieties.

Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said that local governments are reliable and dependable partners in the implementation of strategies and programs that will enhance development in agriculture. It is with the assistance of local chief executives that national programs can trickle down to the rural areas and benefit those who really need assistance.

The DA launched the National Corn Quality Achievers Awards to give recognition to local government in mentoring and assisting the local corn farmers and other stakeholders in the industry. The local government unit that is most consistent in implementing the policies and programs that leads to increased productivity of high grade corn is cited for the award.

Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs) are those who quietly work in the background of the corn industry by serving as on-site teachers and providers of technical assistance to corn growers that range from production, post-production and marketing are given recognition for their efforts that mostly goes unnoticed.

Tomorrow, October 22, 2015, the DA awards one hundred men and women who continue to perform their duties and services to uplift the local corn sector.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cost of Agri Smuggling: Php182 Billion from 2010 - 2014

BOC seizes P85M worth of smuggled sugar at MICP
The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) claims that Php182 Billion in agricultural products and  were smuggled between 2010 to 2014. This nearly doubles the contraband amounting to php95 billion during the period 2005 – 2009.

An estimated Php80 billion was lost by the government with the smuggling of agricultural products. Said products included rice, onions, garlic, sugar, chicken and carrots. This comes in the heels of the attempted smuggling of sugar by Presidential pal, Virginia Torres last August this year.

Sinag decries that that this current dispensation has failed to curb smuggling that went under the administration of four (4) Bureau of Customs chiefs. “Since day one of his administration, we have urged President Aquino to look into the pestilence of this “daang madumi,” said Rosendo So, the chairman of Sinag.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mobile App as Your Farm Manager

A mobile application for smartphones will a virtual farming assistant for farmers is currently being developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute. AgriDoc App has farm journals, farm management tools as features and it can also control advanced instruments in farms.  

Targeted for launch next year, the AgriDoc App features knowledge links, farm journals, and farm management tools. It can also control advanced instruments in the farm. Users of the app can record farm activities, farm input monitoring, a scheduler for far tasking and activities sorting and can be used as a diagnostic tool in farm management.  

All of these can be considered the core function of the app,” Philrice researcher Nehemiah L. Caballong said.

The app’s ability to monitor and control advanced farming instruments are being worked on by the developers of the app.

Testing of the prototypes are now being conducted at FutureRicefram at PhilRice in partnership with the Climate Change Center and the Information Division.

A water level sensing device which collects real time data and monitors water deficiency in the rice field, a field weather monitoring station to gather weather forecast to warn users with heavy downpours of rain, and an agronomic data sensing device that detects paddy temperature are among its features.

Data collection can be maximized by using drone technology and also it tracks growth patterns, color detection for nutrient management and infestation my pests. There is also a CCTV system for security and monitoring. 

Marian Rikka O. Añora, field manager of FutureRice farm, said the app is also helpful for rice extension workers because the rice knowledge bank can also be accessed.

“It can be a model for IT experts or companies to replicate. We want people to know that there are business opportunities when IT and agriculture merge as one,” as disclosed by the field manager..

The AgriDoc App is funded under the project Improving Technology Promotion and Delivery through Capability Enhancement of Next-Gen Rice Extension Professionals and Other Intermediaries (IPaD) and Future Rice Program. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Goat Husbandry Tips

Common Goat Breeds in the Philippines

1.       Anglo Nubian

2.       Boer

3.       Saanen

4.       Toggenburg

5.       Alpine

6.       Native

Selection Criteria


1.       Does should be acquired from an area with similar environmental conditions.

2.       Native or graded does should not be less than 25 kgs.

3.       Udder should be palpated and examined for size, presence of lumps and other physical abnormalities

4.       Teats should be equal in length and big enough to facilitate ease in milking.

5.       Must have a healthy appetite with alert eyes and well formed pupils.

6.       Avoid purchasing breeders from the market.


1.       Breeder bucks should be 1 year old and should have at least mated once.

2.       Should have pedigree records.

3.       Should come from a line of good producers based on farm records.

4.       Buck must come from a doe with high twinning rate.

5.       Buck must be active and ready to breed-in-heat doe.

6.       It is advisable to replace breeder bucks every 3 years.

Structural Correctness

Structural correctness refers to an animal’s bone structure. A structurally correct goat should be able to hold its head erect with the neck extending out the top of its shoulders. Movement and stance should be wide and straight on all legs. Both rear  and front legs should be placed squarely below the body. Joints in the legs should not be stiff. Any stiffness in the joints will be manifested through irregular or restricted movement. Another sign of structural correctness is when a goat is able to smoothly fill in the footprints made by the fron feet with its back feet. A goat with disease or genetic structural problems may show stiff joints or sore feet.


In General, a goat that walks and stands wide will have heavier muscles. The animal should have deep legs and rump with heavy muscles. If observed from behind, the widest part of the leg should be the stifle. The goat’s back should be broad and thick. Loin should be naturally firm and hard handling. A good goat should be wide through its chest floor with bold shoulders and prominent forearm muscles. When judging thin goats, use the forearm as the best reference for muscling.

Volume and Capacity

This refers to the relationship of body length to body depth and body width. Goats should be long bodied, with sufficient depth and spring of rib. Avoid selecting goats that are shg\ort bodied, shallow bodied, narrow based and flat ribbed.


The size of the frame is a good indicator of a goat’s growth potential and maturity pattern. Do not choose goats with either very long or very short legs. The goat’s height measured at the withers should be slightly taller than height at the hips.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Patented! Tripling the Mango Yield in the Philippines


Mangoes are one of the world’s most prized tropical fruits. Indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, they are today cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions. Their unique flavor and richness in vitamins and minerals make them popular with consumers around the world.

However, erratic fruiting habits make mango cultivation challenging: being very seasonal, mango trees bear fruit only one month in a whole year. Sometimes they bear fruit well in one year, but do not bear fruit at all in the next year. To overcome these challenges and make mango cultivation more commercially viable, in the early 1970s Philippine horticulturalist Dr. Ramon Barba set out to develop a chemical solution to induce early flowering in mango plants.

Research and Development

Already as a student, Dr. Barba, who holds degrees in plant propagation and horticulture, was very interested in the problems of mango production: “We already had a unique practice in the Philippines of using smoke to bring on flowering. But it was a tedious practice, and expensive. So as students we were all thinking, ‘how can we make the mango flower?’”, he recalls.
His research activities at the University of the Philippines Los Baños established that the presence of ethylene in the smoke was responsible for the flowering effect. “But you cannot just use ethylene – it is a gas, you would have to cover the tree”, Dr. Barba points out. So, he started experimenting with other chemicals: “Potassium nitrate was low on the list, but I included it because I know from other studies that there is a link between potassium nitrate and ethylene”, he says.

The application of potassium nitrate worked, and Dr. Barba was amazed by the results: “The process was very simple. You just get one kilo of potassium nitrate, put it in 100 liters of water, spray it on the plant once – and within a week you can see the buds forming. In two weeks the buds are already forming into flowers. It was... unprecedented. I have never seen any reaction so spectacular.” Spraying mango trees with the liquid doubles or triples the yield, in addition to making them fruit at different times of the year.

In further research, Dr. Barba analyzed whether forcing mango trees beyond normal fruiting had any impact on them and found that they were affected: “After eight years of induction they are 15 percent smaller than those that are not treated. But there was no bad effect, no damage to the mango. Trees that have been sprayed with potassium nitrate for more than 30 years are still producing”, he reports.



Overjoyed with his revolutionary invention that any grower could use, Dr. Barba completely forgot to protect his discovery: “I forgot all about the patenting aspect – until I read in the paper that somebody else had patented potassium nitrate for mango flower induction. I said, ‘But how can this be? I think I discovered it; everybody in the scientific community thinks I discovered it; and here it is patented!’”

He immediately contacted the Philippine patent office, who confirmed that they had received an application, but that no patent had been granted yet. With the help of a lawyer, he applied for a patent and contested the existing application. “Fortunately because of the records I had, I could show that the invention was mine. So the process went through and the patent office gave me the patent”, he recalls.

However, he is well aware of the risk he incurred in not protecting his invention straight away: “If a patent had been granted, then the other person would own my invention. I would not be recognized as the inventor, so would lose the credit scientifically and lose any financial possibility”.

During the process, he learnt that patents can do many things: “Patenting both protects your rights and helps you make the benefits of your invention available. Patents give some inspiration because the reward is there, and the recognition. In the Philippines there needs to be more information, more education about it. If we could introduce the subject in school science classes it would be a big step”, he says.

Business Results


The use of potassium nitrate to induce flowering in mango plants has revolutionized the Philippine mango industry: “It has been said that no single plant commodity has benefited as much from a single technology as the mango has from potassium nitrate induction. From 1974, when it was virtually neglected, it has become our number one fruit crop”, reports Dr. Barba. “The effects are felt in all areas related to mango production. Everybody has benefited: the companies selling pest control chemicals, the people who harvest, the people who package, the people who bring the fruit to market, and the people who make baskets for mangoes”, he continues. Today, with an annual production of about 900,000 tons, the Philippines are among the top ten mango producers worldwide, making the crop one of the country’s top exports.

Dr. Barba’s mango flower induction method is now used in many countries around the world. He has received numerous prestigious awards for his research, including the IBM-DOST Award in 1989, the DA-Khush Achievement Award in 1995, the Crop Science Society of the Philippines Best Paper Award in 1974 and 1981, and the Gamma Sigma Delta Achievement Award in 1995. What he finds most rewarding is the impact of his discovery: “I am very proud of having invented the potassium nitrate technology. As a scientist, I feel that one technology that has a positive impact on agriculture justifies a lifetime of research”.

One Creative Idea, One Patent, Many Positive Effects


Patenting helped Dr. Barba disseminate his invention: the security that he had all the rights to his discovery enabled him to share his technology with a maximum number of people by choosing not to enforce his patent. His ingenuity has contributed to increasing food security and has benefited a wide range of communities involved with mango growing, in particular in developing countries, where most mangoes are grown.
This case study is based on information from:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Another Way of Spending 4Ps Billions

There’s another practical way of spending the billions of pesos allocated to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the 4Ps program of the government. The usual norm is to give cash to families so they can send their children to school. They also have to meet some  other requirements.
Now, here comes a novel way of helping the very poor by teaching the families to raise pigs for sale with funding from DSWD. The scheme was crafted by Ronald Costales, the award-winning organic farmer-entrepreneur who runs his farm in Majayjay, Laguna.
He has come up with a scheme that the DSWD gladly adopted for Region 4 or the Calabarzon area. Under the scheme, the 4Ps beneficiaries are provided with three weanlings to raise up to market size. The DSWD pays for the weanlings, the feeds, simple housing and the training conducted by Costales. No cash is released to the beneficiaries, only the material inputs.

The pigs are grown the organic way. And the beneficiaries are taught to concoct their own hog feed using locally available materials. Total cost of the package for one beneficiary is about P20,000. The cost includes the three weanlings, simple housing, feeds, and most important the training that is provided by Costales.
Growing pigs the organic way can be really profitable if the beneficiaries follow the techniques of Costales and Jess Domingo who initially enrolled in the seminar conducted by the Costales Nature Farms. Domingo who is an accountant has proof to bolster his claim that he can make a profit of more than P5,000 per head of fattener that he raises to a weight of 90 kilos. His cost of feed (fermented for 15 days) is just about P10 per kilo. One fattener, he says consumes about P3,500 worth of feeds up to market size. The other costs of production include the cost of weanlings, labor, electricity and some miscellaneous expenses which amount to a little over P5,000 per head.
When the pigs grown by the beneficiaries attain marketable size, say 80 to 90 kilos, Costales will buy back the organically grown pigs at a price that is P10 per kilo higher than the prevailing price in the market. In addition, Costales will set aside for the farmer P5 per kilo that he buys. This serves as a saving for the farmer. At the end of the year, Costales will give the amount saved to the farmer for him to celebrate the holidays or for other purposes.
At the end of the growing period and the hogs have been sold, the family keeps all the proceeds. Say the pigs weigh 80 kilos and the selling price is P120 per kilo liveweight, this means that the raiser will gross P9,600 per head or a total of P28,800 for the three porkers. Part of the money could then be used to finance the farmer’s next batch of fatteners.
There is another incentive for the hog raisers who are successful in their project, meaning they were able to raise their pigs to the desired weight at a profit. The DSWD will then provide them with 30 day-old chicks of the native breed which they can raise in their backyard. The farmers will also be trained on the basics of raising the native chickens the organic way. And if they will have extra eggs to sell, Costales will also buy them.
The hog raising scheme was implemented about a month ago and so far there are 50 families participating. More will be recruited who will have to undergo training to make sure that they will take good care of their pigs.

Written by:  Zac Sarian

Monday, October 5, 2015

El Niño to cost 1 million Agricultural Jobs this year

The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics has released data that as of April this year that there was a marked decline in the number of agricultural workers by 400,000 from 11.8 million last year 2014. This was caused by the intense heat generated by the El Niño phenomenon that greatly affected the crops and fisheries subsector.

There is a clamor from the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) that the government include the agricultural workers sector it in its El Niño rescue plan. This is also to arrest the pattern of decline in the number of agricultural workers that started in 2011. Records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicated that there were 12.2 million agricultural workers in 2011 then a continued decrease to 12 million in 2012, 11.83 million in 2013, and 11.8 million by 2014.

In July this year, unemployment in the sector rose to 755,000 workers. The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) also cited the El Niño phenomenon with the contraction of the Philippine agricultural industry. According to PAGASA, 58% of the country is currently affected by El Niño and that it is projected that by February 2016, 85% of the country will be affect.

The El Niño phenomenon is caused by the warming of the waters off the coast of Peru because of the eruptions of an undersea volcano. This causes changes in sea water temperature that results in changes in the currents of the oceans and the jetstream in the atmosphere. Severe weather is one of the causes and that reversal of climate behaviour are felt all around the world that affects agriculture.


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