Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Advantages of Native Chicken Farming

Growing native chicken is very common in the rural areas, particularly around the yards and in the neighborhood. The native chicken is considered as sturdier than the hybrid ones due to their daptability in adverse conditions in the farm – insufficient food, poor shelter, sudden weather changes, and diseases.

Government agencies that are into research and development (R&D) like the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) has initiated programs for native chicken.  DOST-PCAARRD’s  collaborating institutions implemented R&D programs focused on the conservation, improvement, and utilization of the native chicken’s genetic resources to produce specialty products.

One viable and profit-oriented product from the native chicken is its egg. Results of studies on native chicken production revealed that some breeds such as the Camarines, Darag, Manok Bisaya, and Zampen are ideal for egg production. A native hen of the said breeds can produce 120 eggs in a year and, the mortality rate of the said breeders is significantly low This translates to greater egg production

According to a study, feeding the native chicken with energy feeds (supplemental) which could be any or a combination of formulated ration, grains, and other farm products and by-products, can boost their health and egg-producing capacity. Given twice a day (morning and afternoon), this ensures proper nutrition, which plays a big role in egg production. A range area of at least two square meters per bird is also recommended.  Water for drinking should be made available at all times.

As an enterprise, day-old chick production involves breeding and hatchery management.  To produce good quality day-old chicks, young hens that are healthy and are similar in physical appearance, age and weight are selected. These hens should have the capacity of producing more eggs. Meanwhile, roosters should be of the same age as the hens and should also be of uniform physical appearance and weight.  A rooster to hen ratio of 1:5 should be maintained to ensure high possibility of hatching eggs. Egg production could be enhanced by extending the day length artificially by providing light during early  evening for at least four hours.

For those interested to venture into native chicken farming, check out the upcoming event called SIPAG-FIESTA. This, along with other technologies, will be featured on March 2-4, 2016. You can contact DOST-PCAARRD at tel. nos. (049) 536-7927, 536-1956, 536-2383, or send email to

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Composting Facilities Awarded To Bataan Farmers’ Groups

The Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM), in collaboration with the VillarSipag Foundation recently awarded 17 units of composting facilities for biodegradable wastes (CFBW) to farmers’ groups in Orani, Bataan to promote the use of organic inputs and bio-fertilizers in rice and high value crops production.
The awarding ceremony held at Hotel Stotsenberg in Clark, Pampanga was attended by 350 participants composed of officials and representatives from local government units (LGUs), officials of the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) Management Office, concerned government offices and farmers’groups.
In September 2015, the BSWM collaborated with the Villar SIPAG Foundation to orient LGU recipients on CFBW.
According to BSWM Executive Director and NOAP National Coordinator Silvino Tejada, out of 83 units of CFBW to be delivered, 38 units of community-based composting facilities have already been established in Cordillera Province, Ilocos Region, CALABARZON, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern and Central Mindanao, while the remaining 45 units will be completely delivered within the month of February 2016.
Orani, Bataan municipal agriculturist Arturo Matias said more than 800 farmers will benefit in the establishment of the composting facilities in their municipality and the use of the organic inputs will mean less expenses for the farmers.
Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairperson Sen. Cynthia Villar, meanwhile, said organic farming is one way of promoting sustainable agriculture wherein farmers get to produce their own fertilizers with the use of available biodegradable farm inputs.
"Ito po ang tinatawag nating sustainable agriculture at agro-ecology, kung saan hindi niyo na bibilhin ang inyong gagamiting fertilizer, bagkus kayo na mismo ang nagpo-produce on your own. This is what we are promoting, sustainable agriculture, through the establishment of these facilities in your community wherein you can produce one to two tons of organic fertilizer a month," she added.
“Considering that large amounts of biodegradable wastes come from markets and residences, there is a need to set-up composting facilities near markets, trading posts and residential areas that will convert those wastes into organic fertilizers/compost which could be used by farmers,” Tejada said.
In 2000, the Philippine Ecological Solid Waste Management Act was enacted and through this law, the use of environmentally-sound methods was put in place as a state policy to minimize the utilization of valuable resources and promote resource conservation and recovery where LGUs are deemed responsible for the implementation of the law. The municipality-wide utilization of the CFBW under the supervision of the DA-BSWM which will be monitored by the LGUsi s expected to help farmers and communities improve garbage disposal via proper segregation of wastes, and also promote sustainable agriculture while producing safer food.
"This is a continuing activity of BSWM and DA-Regional Field Offices to strengthen the institutional capacity of LGUs, farmers' organizations and all stakeholders to promote and promulgate organic agriculture throughout the country," Tejada concluded. (Loraine Cerillo, BSWM)

Reference: Dir. Silvino Tejada BSWM Executive Director Contact No.02-9230462

Friday, February 19, 2016

Amid Drought, Bohol Farmers Growing Yam, Not Rice

    TAGBILARAN CITY—Farmers Cipriano and Marcela Curay woke up early on Jan. 27 to prepare 20 baskets of “ubi” (yam) that they would bring by bus from their house in Alicia town to this capital city some 100 kilometers away.
    The distance was far from their mind. They have long been looking forward to the 16th Ubi Festival, which is held every January to showcase the yam, Bohol province’s revered and most important crop.

     Boholanos consider ubi a sacred crop, the only type of food mentioned in the provincial anthem “Bohol Hymn.”

   “They kiss the ubi when it falls to the ground [whenever they transport it],” plant pathologist Zenaida Darunday says. Not doing it is an act of disrespect and may bring misfortune, she adds.

     The local reverence for ubi traces its roots to stories about how the crop saved them from drought.

    “According to legend, there was famine in Bohol and [people] survived because they found ubi when they were digging the soil. Ubi survives during drought and famine,” Darunday says.

     “When they saw ubi, they praised God because it saved them from starvation,” she says.

     The food crop is grown in Tagbilaran and in 47 towns in Bohol, usually in May or June, and is harvested from December to January. Seventeen towns are considered the biggest producers—Alburquerque, Alicia, Antequera, Baclayon, Corella, Cortes, Dauis, Dimiao, Garcia-Hernandez, Lila, Loay, Loon, Mabini, Maribojoc, Panglao, Sikatuna and Ubay.

      Cipriano, 53, has been planting ubi in Alicia since 2010. He planted 50 kilograms of tubers in his 200-square-meter farm in July so he could harvest 650 kg by December, in time for the Ubi Festival.

      Each kilogram sells for P35 to P60. The most expensive is the “kinampay,” the so-called queen of ubi varieties and famous for its sweet scent.

      The Curays say the root crop has helped their family survive, especially as the dry spell continues to bring agricultural losses to the province. Drought has dried up rice paddies, prompting farmers to plant ubi tubers instead.

      “Ubi has been a great help to us. We cannot plant palay [because of the drought]. Only ubi can help us,” Cipriano says.

       According to Darunday, yam has nutritional values that can sustain families, especially during those times when they have nothing else to eat. It is an excellent source of vitamin A (beta carotene), a very good source of vitamin C and manganese, and a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron.

      “When you eat ubi, you won’t be constipated,” Darunday says.
The kinampay variety has anthocyanin, a strong antioxidant, she adds.

      “It’s a good alternative to rice. If we are trying to cut down on rice consumption, ubi is a substitute,” the scientist says.

       Ubi is also good for people with hormonal imbalance and for women with menstrual cramps.

       But all is not well in the ubi industry. In recent years, crop production has steadily dropped, which Darunday attributes to aging farmers and the disinterest of their children to follow in their footsteps.

       Although ubi thrives despite the absence of water, extreme weather brought about by climate change has disrupted production. Darunday, however, is confident that like ubi, resilient Boholanos will overcome the impact of the drought that has ravaged farms in the island-province.

       Ireneo Gabato, municipal agricultural officer of Sikatuna, says his office had given tubers to the local farmers to encourage them to produce more crops.

      “We have a plant-now-pay-later scheme. If they plant 20 kg of ubi tubers, they should return 20 kg of ubi to our office,” he says.

      The Ubi Festival has become a venue for farmers and their families to learn how to improve their production and crop quality. It was first organized by Bohol Ubi Center Foundation Inc., but later events were by the provincial government, particularly its agriculture office.

       “I hope this becomes an avenue to invite farmers and attract young people to plant more ubi in Bohol. Young people should know the importance of ubi,” Darunday says.

By:  / Inquirer-Visayas

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

8 Disruptive Technologies in SIPAG-FIESTA of DOST-PCAARRD

The DOST-PCAARRD SIPAG FIESTA  will be held on March 2 – 4, 2016. This will feature the results of Research and Development between the Year 2010 to 2016 by the DOST.

SIPAG-FIESTA will include exhibits, techno forum, techno demo and activities that will showcase the best of R & D by the PCAARRD.

The DOST-PCAAARRD has indentified the 8 technologies that had the most impact during the above-mentioned period. These are:

1.    Lakatan varieties resistant to Banana Bunch Top Virus (BBTV) – UPLB developed Lakatan using irradiation that mede itresistant to BBTV
2.     Cavendish resistant to Fusarium Wilt. -
3.    Shrimp Biofloc Technology – Implemented by the UP Visayas, uses a microbial mat that decreases shrimps’ dependence on proteins from feeds.
4.    SARAI – Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate the Agricultural Industry – Helps farmers and decision makers  come up with science based judgments in certain situations.
5.    Swine Genomics – Use of gene marker technology will increase production and efficiency
6.    Coconut Somatic Embryogenesis – Tool for massive and faster propagation of the coconut that is resistant to disease and pests.
7.    Rice Mechanization – a Php65 million project that will reduce harvesting and threshing losses from 4.2% to 1.8% by the year 2020.
8.    Asexual Reproduction of Corals for Transplantation – Involves collection of dislodged coral fragments and attaching the to Coral Nursery Units (CNUs)

One of the highlights of the SIPAG FIESTA is the maiden opening of the DOST-PCAARRD Innovation and Technology Center (DPITC). As a technology diffusion platform, among other functions, the DPITC will house a modern exhibition hub, a digital library, a conference facility, and a business hub.

Dream Rice and the 2nd Green Revolution

A 2nd Green Revolution is at hand. During the 1960s, the projected Malthusian Theory of mass starvation was prevented by the strides in the increase in yields of grains and other staple crops brought about by advances in agro-technology such as the ability of crops to respond better to fertilizer. But these processes have reached their full potential while the global population still is increasing combined with decreasing land devoted to staple crop growth due to development, climate change and the availability of irrigation.

Now, genome sequencing technology is being utilized to increase the yield of crops and resistance to disease and pests. Also, this will enable varieties that are robust in the face of climate change.

With the massive bank of rice varieties in the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and technology from China, more than 3,000 of the world’s most significant types of rice have had their DNA sequencing completed.

This means, farmers and rice breeders will be able to increase the yield of new varieties more quickly and under conditions related to climate change. This will also include varieties that are resistant to disease and pests and will pack in more nutrients and vitamins.

“This will be a big help to strengthen food security for rice eaters,” said Kenneth McNally, an American biochemist at the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) here. Since rice was first domesticated thousands of years ago, farmers have improved yields through various planting techniques according to reports from Agence France Presse (AFP)

In the past, techniques were more of on a trial and error basis such as cross-breeding. But because of DNA mapping and sequencing, there is now knowledge that can facilitate faster the process because of these strides in molecular genetics.

Thus, better rice varieties can now be expected and developed and then transferred to farmers in the soonest possible time. It used to be 12 years and has been cut down to 3 years.

The process roughly compares with solving a giant jigsaw puzzle made up of billions of microscopic pieces.

A multinational team undertook the four-year project with the DNA decoding primarily in China by BGI, the world’s biggest genome sequencing firm.

Leaf tissue from the samples, drawn mostly from IRRI’s gene bank of 127,000 varieties were ground by McNally’s team at its laboratory in Los BaƱos, near Manila’s southern outskirts, before being shipped for sequencing.

A non-profit research outfit founded in 1960, IRRI works with governments to develop advanced varieties of the grain.
Source: Readings from AFP and

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Invisible War on Philippine Agriculture

Last year, the Philippine Industry and Services sector grew at 4 and 4.6 percent respectively. In fact, the Philippines was touted to be the second best performing economy in Asia. Credit upgrades from international rating agencies fell all over themselves in saying so. Such was that the Philippines was said to have beaten the “boom and bust” cycle that hounded it since 1986. But there were also loud calls for more inclusivity and that there was no “trickle down” effect. The Philippine Rural population accounts for 66% of the population and that explains the lack of inclusivity.

This is true. The agricultural sector lost 466,000 jobs last year. It grew by a dismal 0.2 percent which is part  of an entire 16 year span of an average industry growth of 1.6%. Economic number crunchers blame agriculture for dragging down Philippine economic growth figures. What happened to Philippine agriculture?

It is not that Filipino farmers are lazy. It is not that our soil is not fertile. It is not that our climate is not conducive to agriculture since the Philippines is cited as one of the countries with the most forms of biodiversity.

It is because of several systemic dysfunctions that have been around for most of a century when it comes to the agricultural sector. Of the favourite hobbyhorses of agricultural and economic planners from the 1960s to the 1980s have been Land Reform. It was believed that when farmers own their land, they would be more productive and thus would lift the agricultural sector. They came out with the Comprehensive  Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the supposed silver bullet to Philippine Agricultural sector woes. After almost 30 years it has proved a failure. Not because it was not done in good faith but it was not really “Comprehensive”.

Comprehensive in the sense that it did not consider the economies of scale needed to make the land grants sustainable. Having to Mekong River Delta System like in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, the need for natural irrigation was overlooked. Thus, a system where irrigation became and expensive farm input. The high yielding rice varieties needed fertilizers that again, the farmers had to finance out of borrowings. The susceptibility to pests were not factored in since pesticides needed additional finance. The Philippines is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world and an institutionalized crop insurance system was not established. The Filipino farmer was made even poorer since he got indebted way before harvest time.

This shows the need for easy access to credit to farmers. But since CARP had rules with regards to using the land as collateral, banks would naturally see farm finance as anathema, having a grim picture of the future of owning foreclosed CARP lands that when consolidated may be eligible to CARP. The Filipino farmer had to choice but go to the informal lenders with high lending rates. And thus a vicious cycle began wherein the farmer would go deeper in debt every year after the land grant.

What was needed was state financial intervention wherein GFIs would fill in the financing needs of the farmers. Unfortunately, these GFIs were under pressure from the Department of Finance to remit profits to the state coffers so as to finance other state projects and programs. It was never understood that these are needed subsidies so as to stabilize the agricultural sector first and then after a few decades the subsidies would naturally decrease. Those who made policy never had the foresight and the patience to support the Filipino farmer. All the GFIs eventually went into Universal Banking since they are now profit driven. Philippine Agriculture was left to fend for itself and thus 66% of the population remains mired in poverty.

The question is, why is this Invisble War being waged on those who feed us?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Philippines Needs a Pro-Agriculture President – Ateneo Economists

By Cai U. Ordinario

To achieve inclusive growth and enable farmers to compete in the global marketplace, Filipinos should elect a president who is pro-agriculture, according to economists from the Ateneo de Manila University.

At the sidelines of the Eagle Watch Briefing on Tuesday, Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development (ACERD) Director Leonardo A. Lanzona Jr. said no candidate for president has expressed that they are concerned about agriculture.

“We certainly need somebody who is pro-agriculture. Actually, [Rodrigo] Duterte might be good [only] because he comes from Mindanao [but he and the other candidates] have not talked about agriculture,” Lanzona said. “Everybody’s just talking about traffic.”

Lanzona said a pro-agriculture president can look at the agriculture sector as a means to lift millions of people from poverty and as a means to improve competitiveness.

Eagle Watch Senior Fellow Alvin Ang said that while agriculture only accounts for 10 percent of the country’s GDP, its share in employment is 30 percent.

They said the slow growth of the farm sector in the past three decades has made it difficult for farmers to increase their incomes and get out of poverty.

Lanzona also said the country’s food manufacturing sector is dependent on agriculture and could have a significant impact on exports.

Citing data from McKinsey & Co., Ang said the Philippines has a competitive advantage in food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing, compared to its neighbors in Southeast Asia. “Actually, I would think that our biggest sector is really agriculture. We’ve been talking about being competitive. You can never be competitive in the agricultural sector, there’s no way you can be competitive if you look closely at what we’re doing,” Lanzona said.

Lanzona added that a pro-agriculture president can also address problems in agrarian reform. He said that, while the country has been able to distribute lands, farmers have encountered problems in terms of the lack of financing and machinery to maximize the land granted to them.

Instead of just distributing lands, Lanzona said the government can consider taxing landowners and provide subsidies to spur innovations in farming. “Certainly, we need to innovate not only technologically but also in terms of agriculture and I think that would be the key if you want to sustain our growth, you want to be competitive,” Lanzona said.

Apart from agrarian reform, the next president can also focus on financing other crops aside from rice and corn—two of the country’s staple crops. Lanzona said the country missed out on export opportunities in global and regional trade due to its focus on a few commodities. He also agreed with former Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan who said earlier that the Aquino administration’s focus on rice self-sufficiency “was a mistake.” Balisacan said the government’s self-sufficiency policy has been very costly and even contributed to the increase in poverty incidence in 2014.

“I think one of the key mistakes in the current administration is the focus on rice sufficiency and it was really a bad decision. The thing is, rice can easily be bought outside of the country,” Lanzona said. “If you look at the Department of Agriculture, it’s just a rice and corn department.”

Studies including those made by Philippine Institute for Development Studies Research Fellow Roehlano Briones said the government’s resources were largely focused on rice, a water-loving crop. Briones said the government’s rice spending reached P37.44 billion in 2012, almost half of the government’s total agriculture spending for that year.

Data showed the government spent a total of P62.64 billion for agriculture-related programs and projects. This was significantly higher than the P14.38 billion spent in 2005. Government spending for other crops, like corn, amounted to only P951 million in 2012; high value crops, P1.63 billion; coconut, P2.08 billion; livestock, P2.72 billion; and 3.308 billion for fisheries.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2nd National Organic Agriculture Scientific Conference 2016

THE 2nd National Organic Agriculture Scientific Conference will be held on Feb. 16-20, 2016 at the Visayas State University in Baybay City, Leyte.

The event is under the auspices of the Organic Agriculture Society of the Philippines (OASP) headed by Arsenio “Toto” Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness Corporation, a distributor of various agricultural products that include seeds, drip irrigation systems, farm machinery, organic pest control products, plastic products and more.

The association membership consists of scientists from state colleges and universities, students, researchers, organic farmers, inputs suppliers, traders and other stakeholders.

A total of 200 to 300 participants are expected to attend the conference at VSU. Speakers will tackle various aspects of organic agriculture.The first Organic Agriculture Scientific Journal will be launched published by OASP together with Benguet State University. The Young Organic Farmers Club will also be launched with Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat as guest of honor.

In charge of the OASP Secretariat is Dr. Francisco Gabunada who could be contacted at 0905-913-2929. VSU President Jose L. Bacusmo can also be contacted at 0917-310-8076.

5 Paradigm Shifts that should have been made for Agriculture

By. Celito F. Habito

If our economy’s brisk economic growth of late has failed to uplift the lives of far too many Filipinos, we only need to look at our farms to see why. Our country’s perennial difficulty in achieving a dynamic farm sector is, to my mind, the main reason our economic growth has not been inclusive these past years. To be sure, much higher budgets have been thrown the way of the Department of Agriculture, heeding the persistent clamor from sector advocates. But if we just do the same things that never got us anywhere again and again, we’d only be throwing money into a bottomless pit—or, as recent events suggest, into undeserving pockets.

Nearly four years ago, I led a team tasked to advise the DA as it prepared to update its Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Plan. The team summed up its recommendations in five paradigm shifts that must transpire if Philippine agriculture is to get moving. The needed shifts were: (1) from self-sufficiency to food security as a goal, (2) from a production focus to a holistic value chain perspective, (3) from targeting production levels to controllable performance indicators, (4) from top-down management to province-led devolution, and (5) from commodity- and project-oriented to function-oriented budgeting. There is little to suggest that such shifts in approach have since occurred.

The top DA leadership politely rejected the first paradigm shift; they were so certain then that rice self-sufficiency could be achieved by 2013. We were bothered by the usual questions on feasibility (could it really be done?), resource implications (at what cost?), and advisability (would it really serve our best interests?). We cited how Malaysia, with similar natural endowments and far greater budgetary resources, had always deemed it wise to target only 65 percent rice sufficiency. They are, nonetheless, much more food secure and their farmers have a much higher standard of living than ours. Their farm sector has progressed so well they can now raise their rice target to 80 percent, yet still well short of the 100-percent sufficiency we so doggedly pursue (or claim to) at the expense of the rest of our farm sector. Years of research by Professors Ramon Clarete and Arsenio Balisacan, among others, have in fact shown that our fixation on rice self-sufficiency undermines food security, and is costly, ineffective, and ultimately anti-poor. Food security must also look beyond rice, and address protein and other nutrient requirements as well.

The needed shift in focus from the production system alone to the entire value chain won’t happen for as long as the rest of that chain outside of the farm is considered the domain of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Such turf compartmentalization will not work in a government not known for strong inter-agency coordination. We could take the cue from Vietnam, Israel, Poland and many other countries that have a Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, or Malaysia, which has a Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, rather than just a Ministry of Agriculture. This way, agriculture could be addressed and managed more holistically in the wider context of managing the rural economy, rather than as a production system alone.

The performance of the agricultural bureaucracy has always been measured in terms of levels of production of various crops and commodities, especially rice. Yet production is not something the DA can directly control; it is farmers and farm enterprises who do. At budget hearing time, our lawmakers must shed the habit of putting the DA to task for how much (or how little) of certain crops were produced. Instead, they should be rating the DA on things it can control, like “How widely accessible is food?”, “How stable and affordable are food prices?” and “How have capacities of local government units (LGUs) for agricultural support been strengthened?”

The fourth paradigm shift, from top-down planning and management to province-led devolution, was also rejected by the DA leadership, which was even bent on pushing to re-centralize agricultural extension services. We suggested that the DA’s effective leadership of the sector is best exercised by “steering,” while leaving the “rowing” to the LGUs that are much closer to problems on the ground, and can be more responsive to actual needs. We argued that the DA must focus on its core functions of regulation (standard-setting, quarantine, inspection, licensing and certification) as well as capacity-building for LGUs. The latter should worry about front-line delivery of public goods and services, extension and making inputs more accessible to farmers, with provincial agriculture offices coordinating the lower levels.

Finally, the DA must get away from commodity- and project-oriented budgeting, and organize its budget to primarily support its core functions described above, including technical support for LGUs so they can do their “rowing” job well.

Scholars like Professors Cristina David, Rolando Dy and Eliseo Ponce lament how more than half of the agriculture budget has focused on rice even as it accounts for less than one-sixth the value of total farm production. Meanwhile, public spending has been modest for exportable farm crops, major import-competing ones like corn and sugar, and those where poverty incidence is highest, i.e., coconut and fisheries. A more function-oriented budget could correct this.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. It’s time for more sanity in Philippine agriculture.


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