Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Local sugar traders allowed to import 100,000 MT sugar to stabilize prices

MANILA, Philippines - Local traders were given the green light to import 100,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar to help stabilize the price, which fluctuated ever since El Niño hit the country and resulted to a tightness in supply.

Very recently, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) issued an order allowing traders and producers to start importing sugar.

According to SRA, it came up with such decision after some industrial consumers of sugar said that unless competitive priced sugar are made readily available to them, it will start shifting to alternative sweeteners or just bring in sugar containing finished products.

The agency said that this is because even if importation is already part of the government’s replacement program and that the supply in the domestic market was technically sufficient, the domestic sugar prices have remained high for the most part of the current cropping season.

A sugar crop year in the Philippines starts September and ends August.

A total of 96,000 MT of replacement imported sugar have already been issued release clearances. The balance of the replacement sugar were expected to arrive in April and May.

“It is emphasized that the sugar order shall cover only the increase of 0.738 in replacement ration, which shall be no more than 100,000 MT of sugar,” the SRA further specified in the new memorandum, adding that the imported sugar shall be in raw form or raw basis.

The government earlier allowed the importation of sugar as part of its replacement program in order to ease price fluctuations caused by drought.

As of last week, sugar output has already reached 2.21 million MT, exceeding the 2.134 million MT production estimate for crop year 2015 to 2016.

Source :

Related Post:

By 2022 There will be 89% Less Arable Land But 11% More Filipinos To Feed

We have just finished our elections and I am looking not just at the next six years but the milestone and challenge after six years in the year 2022.  I was scrounging around for a number, a percentage by which I can be comfortable with in terms of estimating the amount of arable land which will be lost to real estate development, conversion into other use, or affected by armed conflict.  The safest number I can pull out 11%.  Yes, whatever land we have allocated at this time to farming, will shrink to 89%... Read More

Friday, June 17, 2016

Farm Tourism: A New Boon for Phil. Agriculture

Farm tourism in the Philippines is being developed as a relatively new tourism product with the aim of not only attracting travellers but also helping local farmers diversify and supplement their agricultural income.

Although it  is still far from being a major contributor to overall tourism receipts, farm tourism aims to supplement the business model of farmers and explore new ways of generating income through tour packages that include planting, harvesting and creating value added products.

According to the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST),  the distance between the production and consumption of farm products gets closer to the market, consumers’ interest on how crops are produced are also being heightened.

Similar to ecotourism, farm tourism focuses on travel that is low-impact and empowers local communities socially and economically.

ISST president Mina Gabor said “ farm tourism attracts visitors and travellers to farm areas, generally for educational and recreational purposes that encourage economic activity and provide income to the community.

“It is one of the country’s sunshine industries which can be developed because of the agricultural nature of the economy,…It augments the farmers’ income when an activity in an area is used or visited by foreign or local tourists, “Gabor said.

She added that farm tourism encourages the younger generation to eventually venture into farming, which has been stereotyped as a low-level kind of job.

Farm tourism mainstreamed in 2012 starting with a single Department of Tourism accredited vegetable farm, Costales Nature Farm in Laguna and now has more than 100 accredited establishments nationwide, majority of which are located in Luzon.

Farm tourism is under the umbrella of nature tourism that holds around 20 to 30 percent of the overall tourism market in the country. On an average, a day tour covering three farms costs approximately P3,500.

Gabor, a former Tourism secretary,  is urging the incoming Tourism secretary to accredit more farms and include farm tours in travel packages  they promote.

“They need to give guests some farm experience. This is a new product for tourism and it facilitates more job generation,” she added.

The ISST contributes to the industry through training small and medium farms on how to create value added in their produce, improve the standards of farming, as well as marketing and promoting their products to a larger market.

It is hosting the 4th Farm Tourism Conference and Farm Tourism Market Festival on July 14-16 in Tagaytay City.

The conference aims to support and raise awareness on sustainable farm tourism activities, assist in marketing farm tourist destinations, highlight sustainable crops, and promote farm stays.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Wanted: Filipino Farmers

Despite being an agricultural country, the number of people entering the industry in the Philippines is decreasing, mainly due to various stereotypes about farming.

In an interview on dzMM, Dean Domingo Angeles of the UP Los Baños College of Agriculture said the country has more than enough graduates of agricultural courses.

The College of Agriculture in UPLB accepts 330 students annually.

There are also around 46,000 agriculture students from 112 state universities and colleges that offer agriculture courses.

However, most of the graduates do not actually end up as farmers.

"Most graduates go to the service sector. 'Pag sinabing service sector, nandun 'yung industry sa business, tapos 'yung government," Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Fred Serrano said.
He added that the average educational attainment of farmers is fifth grade. Seldom do they reach high school level.

For Nonong Velasco, a consultant for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, having farmers with low educational attainment can be a problem since they also have to understand the business aspects.

Unfortunately, people do not think of agriculture or farming as a profession, which makes it less attractive for younger people, Velasco said.

"Bakit wala nang magsasaka? Kasi hindi ino-honor ang farmers. Hindi [sila] binibigyan ng halaga...there's something wrong in our society. We do not honor hardwork. We do not honor labor...parang palagi na lang sila ang na-aabuso, 'ika nga," Velasco added.

Domingo also explained that most Filipinos do not like to go into agriculture because of the level of difficulty and the supposedly low income being associated with it.

"Ang gobyerno, nagtatalaga ng wage policies. Kapag ikaw ay nasa agricultural sector, ang sweldo mo, ganito lamang. Kapag ikaw ay nasa industry, ang sweldo mo, ganito. So kung ikaw eh isang kabataan, saan ka pupunta? Siyempre doon sa trabaho na mataas ang sweldo. Hindi pa nadudumihan ang kamay, hindi ka pa nakabilad sa araw," he added.

This shows the government is not keen on giving incentives for farmers, unlike in other countries.

"Sa ibang bansa, meron silang tinatawag na, tulad sa Japan, income parity policy. Ang gobyerno, ina-assure, na kung ikaw ay mananatili sa farm mo, at magtatrabaho sa farm, the government assures you of an income that is at par, if not better, than what you will earn kapag ikaw ay magtatrabaho sa factory," Domingo said.


For Domingo and Serrano, understanding that agriculture industry is more than just farming can help people give more importance to this profession.

This can be done by re-orienting the educational system and including agriculture in lessons in elementary and high school.

"Ang pagtuturo ng agrikultura, mula elementary at high school, ay baguhin na natin. Ire-orient natin ang pagtuturo, bigyan natin ng parang science-based and technology-based education program ang high school. Hindi ho 'yung nagtatanim, kasi isang aspect lang ho 'yan ng agriculture eh. Pero 'yung entrepreneurship, or technopreneurship na sinasabi, we can introduce as early as high school. Baka 'yun ho ang maganda," Domingo said.

"Nagkaroon ng misinterpretation sa word na vocational. Ang meaning kasi ng vocational dito ay itinuturo mo siya hindi lang bilang trabaho, hindi lang bilang employment, kundi it’s a vocation, it’s a way of life. You teach a comprehensive view of life, meron kang leadership skills, cultural skills, scientific agricultural skills, pero noong nagkaroon ng science high school, kinonvert yan lahat, karamihan, naging science high school nitong mga schools na ill-equipped to teach science. Na ang naging orientation ngayon ay yung mga kukuha ng engineering, kukuha ng ganito, ganyan. 'Yun ang nawala na sa palagay ko, dapat irestore," Serrano added.


Government to Allot 18M For The Regulation And Control On The Operations Of All Soil Labs In Philippines

The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soil and Water Management (DA-BSWM) proposed at least 18 Million Pesos to strengthen the framework for the regulation and control of all soil laboratory establishments and operation in the Philippines under Presidential Decree 1435 (“AUTHORIZING THE BUREAU OF SOILS TO SUPERVISE, REGULATE AND CONTROL THE ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATIONS OF ALL SOIL LABORATORIES IN THE PHILIPPINES”), authorizing the BSWM as the lead agency.

BSWM Director Silvino Q. Tejada said that the BSWM has initiated Tier II funding meant to subsidize short and medium-term activities for the implementation of PD 1435.

"The BSWM as the leading mandated agency to implement PD 1435 is committed to capacitate all the Regional Soils Laboratories (RSL) to ready ourselves for this important undertaking which will be a close coordination between BSWM and RSLs," Tejada said.

The BSWM’s Laboratory Services Division (LSD) led by Dr. Gina P. Nilo guaranteed that LSD has developed and documented its quality control procedures, test methods, and manuals and that they have been implementing ISO-17025 since April 13 last year. Furthermore, the BSWM laboratory has already acquired a new set of laboratory equipment and has committed itself to upgrading laboratory facilities in order to enable the BSWM to certify applicants' capability to operate and establish a laboratory.

Under PD 1435, BSWM has to set and formulate comprehensive guidelines for the establishment of soil laboratories in the country in addition to supervising and coordinating the technical operations of all private and government-operated soil laboratories. BSWM will also impose fees on private soil labs.

In a survey conducted during the first orientation and consultation meeting for PD 1435 implementation, attended by regional representatives at Apo View Hotel in Davao City, it was found that there are at least 19 laboratories owned and operated by private sectors and at least 29 government laboratories operating nationwide. 
The Bureau will also provide recommendations for the appropriate use of fertilizers and methods to increase food production and properly identify soil amendments, fertilizers and inputs. In addition, a data banking system will also be established and put into operation.

The working Technical Evaluation Team (TET) is also responsible in drafting the IRR to be approved by the BSWM Director.

A second consultation meeting for the formulation of IRR of the technical working group is set to run on the month of June 2016 tentatively to ensure smooth and efficient implementation of PD 1435.

"Measures and guidelines for the effective utilization of soil and water resources as vital agricultural means to attain food security is being formulated by the Bureau and this undertaking serves to provide policy development and perform regulatory functions to serve our farmers and all other stakeholders," Tejada added.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

PCAARD Animal Epidemiology Training

PCAARRD conducted Training on Applied Veterinary Epidemiology and Animal Disease Diagnosis for Animal Health Research Personnel at the Guest House Conference Room, Munoz, Nueva Ecija, last 23 - 27 May 2016


The training workshop will be conducted to equip animal health researchers and concerned regulatory personnel and strengthen their working knowledge on appropriate epidemiological capacity concepts regarding animal disease diagnosis, monitoring and surveillance, outbreak investigation and disease control. 

This training will provide an in-depth review of how the different concepts on veterinary epidemiology, monitoring, surveillance, and disease control strategies are defined. As explained by Acta Veterinaria Scandinavia, monitoring and surveillance systems (MO&SS) involve measurements of disease occurrence. Meanwhile, the monitoring design will determine which types of disease occurrence measures can be applied appropriately in a given situation. Furthermore, the knowledge on the performance of diagnostic tests (sensitivity and specificity) is crucial in the estimation of the true occurrence of a certain disease. With these, participants will be reviewed on veterinary epidemiological parameters embedded in disease diagnosis, monitoring, and surveillance. 

Acta Veterinaria Scandinavia further states that it is generally accepted that both disease monitoring and surveillance involve the continuous collection of data. Dr. David Sherman, ASAP/DCA, defined disease surveillance as an organized, systematic means of detecting, reporting, recording, and analyzing the occurrence of disease based on evidence from the field. 

Furthermore, Acta Veterinaria Scandinavia explains that data collection is the core of disease monitoring and surveillance systems (MO&SS) and whenever data are used the data quality is of great concern. As with any other data collection, if the data on disease are collected accurately and representatively and the MO&SS is designed to monitor the disease the monitoring or surveillance may be referred to as active (primary data are collected). Passive monitoring or surveillance is then referred to when data collected for other purposes (existing or secondary data) are used.


The training course should be able to equip animal health researchers and regulatory personnel on:
1) Concepts on veterinary epidemiology;
2) Quantifying disease occurrence;
3) Designing epidemiological studies;
4) Demonstrating association and causation
5) Sampling animal populations;
6) Interpreting diagnostic tests;
7) Providing information on disease control and eradication;
8) Conducting disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, community preparedness and disaster management;
9) Understanding public health, and the identification and control of zoonotic pathogens.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Regenerative Living: Thriving Amid Climate Change

Quezon City - The Commission on Audit (COA) celebrated its 117th founding anniversary last May 2016 with week-long activities which highlighted the commission’s role as a preeminent partner in nation-building.

One of the activities that was highlighted during the anniversary week was the seminar on permaculture, a timely and relevant session because of the many concerns and problems the Philippines is currently experiencing due to the effects of climate change.

The seminar entitled “Regenerative Living: Thriving Amid Climate Change” is an introduction to the basics of permaculture also known as sustainable farming. Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.

The word permaculture originally referred to "permanent agriculture", but was later expanded to also mean "permanent culture" when people realized that to create truly sustainable development both technology and culture had to adjust.

COA Commissioner Jose A. Fabia graced the event and gave an inspirational message to the more than 150 attendees composed of COA directors, officials from different regions, and staff from the COA main office.

The Commissioner narrated how he was introduced to permaculture when he took a course in Australia, and that his interest grew when he saw the benefits of permaculture and made it his goal to try to apply what he learned.

According to Commissioner Fabia, we need to take control and responsibility of the food that we eat. Organic farming and designing systems are critical since these will ensure that we are eating natural food without any chemical or artificial contents.

Commissioner Fabia advocates permaculture or what he termed as ‘easy farming’ so that people can do their share in caring for the environment and help in mitigating the effect of climate change. He said that the Kidapawan incident would not have happened if the farmers practiced permaculture. He described permaculture as a "plant and forget" process which will give people varieties of vegetables they can eat for life.

Meanwhile, Ms. Cyrene O. Reyes, co-founder of the Pitak Project, an organization that promotes sustainable and regenerative living through natural building and permaculture, was the seminar’s resource person.

She defined regenerative living as becoming empowered and getting the most out of ourselves and life around us. Regenerative living describes the processes that restore, renew, revitalize your own source of energy and materials.

Ms. Reyes proceeded with the seminar by lecturing on the 18 basic principles and four categories of permaculture. She talked about the three basic ethics of permaculture.

These are:
1) care for the earth,
2) care for the people, and
3) fair share or return of surplus.

She gave examples on how they are able to practice these basic ethics with their Pitak Project program.

The four categories of permaculture are: energy, nature, component placement, and attitudinal. Ms. Reyes discussed every principle included in those four categories.

The principles under the category of energy includes: energy inputs, energy cycling, and efficient energy planning.

The principles under the category of nature includes: diversity, edge exploitation, small scale intensive systems, biological resource, and accelerating succession and evolution.

For the principles under the category of components placement, she discussed the relationship of stability, multi-functionality, support, and relative location to permaculture.

Ms. Reyes also gave examples of the attitudinal principles which include cooperation, positivity, yield, and proximity.

After her lecture on the categories and principles of permaculture, Ms. Reyes shared their practices and experiences with the Pitak Project.

The Pitak Project is actually a model farm in the village of Pideg in Tubao, La Union. The word “pitak” is an Ilocano word term for mud. Its Filipino translation is “putik.” They chose the word “pitak” to symbolize the bond of the rich soil and water that gives life. It also embodies their aspirations to build naturally and produce food the permaculture way.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Government Researchers Develop 3 Pure Lines of Mallard Ducks

Three pure lines derived from what is often called Pateros mallard (native itik) have been developed by researchers of the National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center headed by Dr. Rene C. Santiago in Lagalag, Tiaong, Quezon.

These are the black, brown and white lines which breed true to type, meaning that each line when multiplied come out uniform in the color of the feather, size and egg productivity. On the other hand, the native itik is variable in size and productivity.

The three new lines start laying at 18 weeks or when they are 4.5 months old. They have 55 to 72 percent egg production which means that in a particular day, out of 100 layers 55 to 72 ducks lay eggs. There are certain periods, however, when as many as 98 per cent of the ducks lay eggs. In one year, they can produce 255 eggs. On the other hand, the native itik only has a 50 percent egg production.

The new ducks weigh an average of 1.2 to 1.35 kilos each. This is an ideal weight for egg layers. They are not big which means they don’t also consume as much feed as the big fowls. The eggs of the new ducks are ideal for making balut and salted eggs, each weighing 68 to 70 grams.

The new lines could pave the way to eventually producing certified Philippine breeds of ducks and also other native animals, according to Dr. Santiago. The certification could be achieved after further research on the fowl’s performance under different situations in different localities.

By the way, the new duck lines were the result of a four-year-research study funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) which provided a R10-million grant. This was counterparted with Php5 million by  the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture. The research started in 2012 and will end in July this year.

As early as 2008, however, the NSPRDC started selection of native mallard from different provinces from which continuous selection was undertaken, resulting in the development of the three pure lines of black, brown and white itik.

Today, breeding stocks have been provided to five growers in Nueva Ecija, Batangas and Laguna who are multiplying the new duck lines for eventual commercial sale to the public.

The initiative, according to Dr. Santiago, was prompted by the fact that in the past several years duck egg production was getting lower and the duck farmers were losing money. Victoria, Laguna, used to be the center of duck production for many years. In all those years, the raisers fed their ducks with shells gathered from the Laguna Lake.

When Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) prohibited the gathering of shells for feeding ducks to prevent over-exploitation, the duck raisers shifted to commercial feeds which are much more expensive than shells. Because the native itik only had 50 percent egg production and the commercial feeds are expensive, many of the duck raisers lost money and had to give up their projects.

That started the search for better-performing ducks and less expensive feeds. While the current raisers under confinement use commercial feeds, they can reduce feed cost by giving azolla as supplementary feed. The NSPRDC has a showcase where they produce azolla as supplementary feed for ducks and other animals.

With efficient egg production, duck raising could be highly profitable. Ducks require less investment compared to commercial poultry. Duck eggs sell for R6.80 to R7 apiece today and balut is selling at R15 to R16 each while salted duck eggs sell for as much as R13 apiece.

Most of the ducks today are raised in Isabela, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga where the fowls are grazed in rice fields. There are, however two big raisers in Candelaria, Quezon and a few others in Victoria and  Pansol, Calamba City.



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