Friday, March 31, 2017

More than 100 thousand coconut trees infested

The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) disclosed that more than 100,000 coconut trees are infested by the “cocolisap” in Zamboanga.

At least 100,000 coconut trees here had been infested with “cocolisap” as farmers struggle to secure chemicals to fight it, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

Farmers depended on the rains to retard the onslaught of the pests but summer is already here and the  problem is expected to worsen as evidenced by the leaves of coconut trees turning to yellow and then brown.

The PCA in the locality is acting on the problem but infestation has already affected 112,117 coconut trees. This represents 51 villages out of 98 that are already affected.

A state of calamity needs to be declared said Joselino Mirabuena, a PCA agriculturist. They are now limited to disseminating information and recommending that pruning be done by the coconut farmers.

Systematic application of pesticides are the only known solution to combat the infestation. The downside is the cost.  A sachet of the pesticide, which can be used on five coconut trees, costs P280. For the 112,117 infected trees, at least P6.3 million worth of pesticide is needed. Currently, the PCA has no funds set for the acquisition of pesticides.

Another solution is offered by City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat “We have made a local concoction, from vegetable oil and liquid detergent,” he said. “All you need is power spraying, long sturdy bamboo tubes and farmers who can climb coconut trees,” Palacat added.

The Philippines has been experiencing the “cocolisap” infestation since the year 2014 and has spread to other areas of the country.

The Philippines is the leading copra producer in the world and has already overtaken Indonesia in that category.

This compounds the problem of the coconut industry since the average age of the coconuts have exceeded 20 years old. The planned replacement planting has fallen short of target and a long term crisis is being forecasted if these problems go unchecked.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Northern and Eastern Samar farmers severely affected by crop infestation

The Eastern Visayas office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) disclosed that at least 4,000 farmers are experiencing losses due to pest attacks on their crops. 

Nine towns in Northern Samar and seven in Eastern Samar are affected by the infestation.

According to the DA report, bacterial leaf blight and brown plant hoppers have infested 10,291 hectares of rice farms.

The DA according to U-Nichols Manalo, the regional DA head has already offered help to the farmers by sending teams to deal with the infestation.

The teams advised that initial response be that palays that are unaffected be harvested immediately and the ricefields be drained of water.

The infestation has already costed at least 10,57 metric tons of palay that was planted on 3,935 hectares of farmlands. The farmers numbering 3,607 from the towns of San Julian, Sulat, Taft, Dolores, Arteche, Oras and Jipadpad of Eastern Samar were the worst hit by the infestation. The farms of Palapag, Las Navas, Victoria, Allen, Lavezares, Rosario, San Jose and even the provincial capital of Catarman in Northern Samar were also severely affected by the blight.

Some 375 farmers that planted palay to 309 hectares of land saw 234 metric tons of palay destroyed by the infestation.

Farms in the Samar provinces are ravaged by these infestations is due to use of nitrogenous fertilizers, high humidity, indiscriminate use of pesticides that causes ecological imbalance. The pesticides kill even the natural predators that kill the pests.

Northern Samar has 34,988 hectares of land while Eastern Samar has 26,737 hecatres devoted to rice farming.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Quandary of the PH Sugar Industry

Agriculture PH reported in February this year that the long drawn out issue about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) importation that is highly damaging to the local sugar industry has been addressed by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA). This was a result of pressure exerted by farmers and sugar industry associations.

The issue stemmed from the importation and use of HFCS in the softdrinks industry. The backdrop of farmers and sugar industry stakeholders having losses worth Php10. Billion annually since 2011 prompted the action. The SRA issued SO 3 that called for the implementation of guidelines in regulating the importation of HFCS.

In a sudden turnabout, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel F. PiƱol ordered SO 3 deferred since the SRA did not consult stakeholders, such as softdrinks manufacturers prior to its issuance of SO 3. 

“There’s a problem with SO 3 of the SRA because it regulates the importation of HFCS, which Coca-Cola uses in producing its soft drinks. Now, Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola appealed to me, saying  they were not properly consulted,” the DA Secretary said.

It was added that this will also affect the country's ties with China since HFCS were imported from China.

But it is not only with regards to its industry opponents that HFCS is the subject of recent controversy, another dimension is about its effects to health.

HFCS causes the following: 

1. Weight Gain – A Princeton University study discovered that HFCS causes more weight gain than use of refined sugar
2. Cancer – American Association for Cancer Research found that fructose in HFCS promotes cancer growth specifically pancreatic cancer.
3. Fatty Liver and Liver Stress – Fructose causes fat accumulation in the liver. Fructose also overwhelms the liver’s processing capacity. 
4. Increased Cholesterol Levels

Aside from an ambiguous agricultural industry policy that is detrimental to the local sugar industry, the health issue is also a significant and crucial factor to be considered.

Given such, the importation and use of HFCS comes with too high a cost for the country.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dagupan City to be an Aquaculture Zone

Dagupan City, known as the bangus capital in Northern Luzon is now being considered as an aquaculture zone by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

PEZA officials led by Emmanuel Lopez discussed the hosting of an aquaculture zone by the city with Dagupan City officials. 

Dagupan City known for its Bonuan Bangus may enter into packaging and branding the bangus as Dagupan’s Best.

This is but one step in strengthening the aquaculture industry of the city and synergizing the other strengths of Dagupan that includes its current demographic sweet spot in human resources that is backed up by its reputation as a center of education in Northern Luzon owing to the 3 universities, several colleges and other educational institutions in its premises.

He said strengthening the city’s aquaculture industry was a step in the right direction.

This will enable Dagupan City to be technically prepared to meet the demands of the future owing to economic, technological and social dynamics that are ever changing. The technical skills improvement required will be provided by the educational institutions.

This is complemented by the Comprehensive Land Use Plan CLUP of the city that was developed and crafted by the city administration led by Mayor Belen Fernandez. The CLUP is just awaiting approval by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

A CLUP guide the city in maximizing its land utilization by assigning areas that will complement each other with regards to human settlement, economic development, disaster risk reduction and management, utilization of natural resources and general economic improvement.

This also addresses on how to optimize the human resources of the city not only for the present but also for the future.  “Sooner or later, artificial intelligence will replace the traditional call centers and we need to be ready for it,” Lopez discloed.

 At the end of the day, what Dagupan needs is a system that works to be a potential economic zone, Lopez said. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Conference for Small and Family Farmers

The 1st National Small & Family Farmers; New & Beginning Farmers Conference will be held on March 20-21, 2017 at SEARCA at UPLB Laguna. This is for all small farmers and farms that are family run.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) the average small scale farms have an average size of 1.29 hectares. Even so, of all the 5.56 million farms 38% are half a hectare or less in size. 

Given this backdrop and also according to the PSA, 60% of the Philippine population resides in the rural areas and thus have agriculture as the main industry for their livelihood, the economic upliftment of the country is now dependent of how the agricultural sector contributes to the national economy.

This serves as the impetus in having a comprehensive developmental plan for the agricultural sector with emphasis on small and family farms of the above mentioned scale. 

Thus, the The 1st National Small & Family Farmers; New & Beginning Farmers Conference, brings together for the first time stakeholders of this very important yet often neglected segment of our agricultural industry. 

Historically, agriculture or farming started out even in pre-historic times wherein the pressure of population gave the necessity of having farms together with the hunter-gatherer segments of a tribe and even a family so as to sustain its food supply.

This changed the usual nomadic existence to a more stable gathering of people for common security and food supply sustainability. Early farms were family owned and run farms. Owing to the size of the family, they can only manage efficiently a relatively small piece of land for their food needs. This form of subsistence farming still continues to this day in the Philippines.

The current small and family farms are run not only for family subsistence but also in integration with a modern economic system and thus also in the context of a modern social and cultural system that integrates domicile, recreation and even education.   

The objective of this conference is promote the creation of systems of farming capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to the community. The central theme of this conference is how to mobilize our small and family farmers; new and beginning farmers for food security, sustainable tourism and rural development.

This conference is organized by a network of family farmers advocating promotion of family farming.

The conference aims to bring together a diversity of stakeholders primarily from the grassroots farming community together with professionals and leaders from academia, non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies and policy makers, whose goals and activities support the sustainability of small & family farmers and encouragement of new & beginning farmers. The conference aims to strengthen collaborations and partnerships among stakeholders, and will provide an opportunity to share new ideas in research, extension, and outreach that aim to build resilient farming systems and the quality of life within communities. 

The conference will have plenary sessions, breakout sessions, poster, exhibits and success stories presentation. Pamiliyang Magsasaka Nights

For online registration, please follow this link :


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