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.



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