Private sector pressed banks to allot P1.1 trillion for agro-industrial business as PD 707 mandated

Private sector pressed banks to allot P1.1 trillion for agro-industrial business as PD 707 mandated
November 23, 2018

The private farm sector has pressed the banking industry to allot P1.1 trillion for agro-industrial activities as mandated by PD 717 in order to support industrialization and poverty reduction which can be accelerated through agriculture-based manufacturing.
The Philippine Chamber of Food & Agriculture Inc (PCAFI) urged banks to abide by the Agri Agra Law that mandates banks to allocate at least 25% of outstanding loan portfolio. Of this, 10% should be devoted to credit for agrarian reform beneficiaries.
PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said there remains an estimated P1.1 trillion, equivalent to 16% of banks total outstanding loan, that is not being aptly availed of by the agriculture sector.
Out of around P10 trillion total loan outstanding of banks as of end 2017, only 14% has been released for the farm sector.
“Banks’ loan portfolio has been growing through the years but not because of real, inclusive economic progress or reduced poverty. It’s merely because real estate and other industries are growing,” he said.
PCAFI has asked the Bangko ng Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to be updated on the status of Circular 908 which set up the Agricultural Value Chain Financing Framework (AVCFF).
Two years after an issuance on Feb. 24, 2016 of the lending features (Monetary Board Resolution 360) of AVCFF, the resolution has barely raised financing for agriculture value added manufacturing.
AVCFF was designed to reduce risks of banks that are lending to agricultural production.
In the sole nature of agricultural production, risks to banks of non repayment is relatively high. Pure agriculture production traditionally suffers from losses when a weather-related calamity hits.
But through the use of the value chain schemes, risks are significantly reduced.
In order to follow through the circular’s implementation, PCAFI asserts banks should have an Agri Banking Department, much as they have mortgage banking departments that assess collateral value in real estate lending.
It is imperative for government to strictly enforce each bank’s compliance with PD 717 if it has to take the path of manufacturing-based agro industrialization.
This is the solution that Thailand, Malaysia, and other Southeast Asian countries earlier took and should be embraced too by the Philippines.
“The solution that made an impact in our neighbors’ economy is they put agriculture in the forefront of their economy. They made it a tool for poverty reduction that results in increase in farmers’per capita income,” said agro-economist Pablito M Villegas, also PCAFI director.
“Investing in food and agriculture is the surest way to reduce poverty. But banks would rather pay a fine because they do not appreciate agro-based industries and its impact in poverty reduction,” he said.
PCAFI officials believe the budget of DA is severely low at P70 billion. Even over a 10-year period, this falls below the trillion level that should be channeled in loan by banks to the sector.
Even more deplorable, this yearly DA budget already includes the entire DA bureaucracy budget. It includes maintenance and operating expense for paying employees’ salaries and wages, utilities, and other operating expense.
“In reality, only around 50% or P35 billion of this DA budget goes to capital expenditure or investments in the farm sector,” said lawyer Elias Inciong, PCAFI director and United Broilers & Raisers Association president.
Banks should open their eyes on the opportunities from the agriculture value chain businesses rather than just assess the value of the collateral or assets of the farmer-borrowers that they may foreclose once repayment fails.
“Look at my business opportunities, rather than my collateral,” said Fausto, a farming entrepreneur. He founded DVF Dairy Farm Inc which produces “Gatas ng Kalabaw.
While poverty level in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam has already gone down to the 10% level because they bankrolled their agro-industries, Philippines’ poverty rate is still at a high 30%.
“President Duterte is targeting 20% poverty level. But our neighbors Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia have poverty level at just 10%. Malaysia’s poverty is even less than 10%,” said Villegas.


BSP has issued Circular 908 as a means to channel financing to agriculture and fisheries. It taps more sophisticated financing schemes that are extended to value chain players in other related agriculture manufacturing ventures.
“By encouraging linking of various actors, players in the agricultural value chain, credit risk of smallholder farmers can be reduced,” according to BSP.
“This is expected to further improve productivity in the agriculture and fisheries sectors and uplift the lives of these marginalized farmers.”
Credit products for farmers’beneficiaries are trade receivables finance and factoring (a business’ sale of its sales contract of goods or receivables to another so as to hasten cash turnover).
There is also the warehouse receipts—farmers and related value chain enterprises receive a receipt from a certified warehouse as a collateral to access a loan.

Loan disbursements

Another AVCFF financing program is Loan Disbursement. It may be cash—completed in one transaction or in installment. It may be loan proceeds to suppliers—suppliers of farmers (for example fertilizer, seeds) are directly paid by banks in order to control the loan’s use.
Another system is the use of an anchor firm which endorses a loan release to a farmer’s entity to ensure that the machine or technology to be acquired by the farmers are the proper technology to be used. This way, rejects are reduced and productivity is optimized.
Circular 908 also provided for the Disaster Contingency Mechanism (DCM). The DCM is an immediate financing relief to a farmer who has experienced a disaster in order to recover from losses resulting from weather or related calamities.
Circular 908 also provides for accountability schemes in the value chain system by allowing factors, aggregators to become directors of agricultural businesses. Melody M. Aguiba

Govt embarks on robust “genetic diversity” program on narra, industrial tree species rattan to reverse massive deforestation

PHOTO Saving Philippine Forest Trees Through Genetic Biodversity

November 20, 2018

By Melody M. Aguiba

The government has embarked on a robust “genetic diversity” program of the endangered narra and industrial tree rattan as a commitment to conserve forests amid seemingly irreversible deforestation that threatens economic resources.

The Ecosystems Research & Devt. Bureau (ERDB) has started carrying out DNA analysis of these economically important tree species as a long term support to the National Greening Program (NGP) of DENR.

Genetic variation is the basis of evolution and the catalyst for species to adapt to ever changing environment.

“Assessment of genetic variation among and within populations is essential for the success of any tree breeding and selection programs. It holds vast potentials for the preservation of the forest ecosystems,” said Dr. Sofio B. Quintana, ERDB Director.

Six provinces– Ilocos Sur, Cebu, Iloilo, Marinduque, Nueva Vizcaya and Quezon—has so far been identified as potential sources of good planting materials for narra reforestation.

“The genetic diversity analysis showed that the 6 populations of Pterocarpus indicus Wild (narra) from the 6 provinces have good levels of genetic variation and can serve as good sources of potentially useful genes,” according to ERDB genetic experts Maria Theresa A. Delos Reyes, Gracetine D. Magpantay, Aimee G. Cagalawan, Aida B. Lapis, and Nenita M. Calinawan.

Government has deemed a top priority to conserve forests as a top economic asset as Philippines that has among the most biologically diverse flora with 5% of world’s total.

Narra’s timber is prominent among importers in Asia, Europe, US, and Australia which “accept large volumes of sawn timber at high prices US$600 per cubic meter if it were available,” according to the “Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry.”
Narra is also known for its medicinal, ornamental, and nitrogen-fixing functions.

1.5 billion trees

ERDB’s project, “2018 Genetic Diversity: A Key Component for Conserving Philippine Forest Trees,” aims to identify trees with molecular markers that indicate high survival rate as part of planting the targeted 1.5 billion trees under the NGP.

“With the increase in global average temperatures, some species of forest trees fail to cope up to such changes. With more genetic variations, it is more likely that some individuals possess alleles (alternative form of genes) that better suit the environment,” said ERDB authors Karol Josef Lucena, Jordan Abellar and Jorge Cyril Viray.

Having less genetic diversity leads to uniformity, with population having individuals less likely to adapt and survive in the changing environment.
While monoculture in agriculture is good for harvesting a good volume of a single crop, it will be a problem when a disease or parasites attack the field in the long run.

Inbreeding harm

Little genetic variation within a species impedes the process of healthy reproduction as evident by the expression of harmful traits in the offspring resulting from inbreeding (mating of genetically related organisms or in human, within one family).

Inbred trees grow slowly, are often deformed and many die suddenly and inexplicably before reaching maturity. Few inbred trees survive and reproduce in natural forest setting.

In 1890, an epidemic had spread across Panama wiping out hectares of banana production. Being genetically identical, banana plants are susceptible to the fungal disease, providing little to no resistance against the disease.

Such scenario ultimately leads to extinction of the population and eventually extinction of the species.

Genetic diversity

“Knowledge of the extent of genetic diversity in selected narra populations may be used in determining the susceptibility of these narra populations to pests like the ambrosia beetles which are the causative agent of fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum),” said the Delos Reyes, Magpantay, Cagalawan, Lapis, and Calinawan in a scientific paper.

Forestry experts use molecular markers as part of effective reforestation strategy because of the “ease, rapidity and reliability in producing results.”

“One of the factors that caused delay and failure to reforestation in the Philippines is the lack of proper evaluation of individuals (trees) of known origins, which includes both morphological and molecular characterization.”

With knowledge of superior traits of trees species, the combination of superior ones will be chosen as planting materials. Among desired traits are timber quality and durability, fast growth, and disease resistance.

DNA sequence

In order for plant geneticists to tell apart genetic variations, they use segments of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequence of the individuals to mine them out despite the limited availability of whole genome sequences from forest trees species.

These segments of DNA are called DNA-based molecular markers which are widely used in studying genetic diversity, as well as for identification of species.

According to Abellar, ERDB biologist, after collecting the plant material (leaf, stem, or root), careful optimization of protocols follows wherein the DNA of the material is isolated.

This process is called DNA extraction. The process involves breaking the cell wall and cell membrane (cell lysis), removing the organelles, and destroying the nuclear membrane. After these processes, the “purest” DNA can be extracted.

Having a desirable amount of DNA with superior purity, molecular biologists then subject this DNA to a temperature sensitive process that produces millions of copies of it in a matter of an hour or two. This copying process is called DNA amplification or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) discovered by Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis in 1985.

It involves a series of heating-cooling-heating the DNA.
These temperature changes allow the enzymes and other reagents to copy the target regions (molecular markers) of the DNA.

PCR is an indispensable technique known to be used in medical and clinical laboratory research including forensic science in crime scene investigations.

It also holds a potential swing in improving forensic botany for higher productivity and survivability of forest trees species and for the trees to achieve superiority in growth parameters.

Bataan, Ilocos

For rattan, the study found Bataan population holding the highest genetic diversity, therefore was rendered as a potential source of genes useful for tree improvement and breeding programs; while for Narra, Ilocos was the most genetically diverse population.

To date, de los Reyes said the diversity of five forest tree species (Narra, Benguet Pine, Bagalunga, Molave, and Ipil) are included in the study Assessment of Genetic Diversity of Priority Forest Tree Species through DNA Analysis of the Genetic Improvement of Priority Forest Tree Species for Quality Wood Production Project.

The species were selected based on the criteria stated in DAO 2010-11 “Revised Regulations Governing Forest Tree Seed and Seedling Production, Collection and Disposition”.

Using these molecular markers, the assessment of Kawayan tinik (Bambusa blumeana Schultes f.) was also completed. Results revealed that the Pangasinan population was the most genetically diverse (Delos Reyes M.A., et al., 2015).


The ERDB genetics researchers used a technology called Random Applied Polymorphic DNA or RAPD as a molecular marker in determining genetic characteristics of individual rattan trees because it is cheaper and simple to use compared to other marker technology.

Because of the limitations presented by RAPD markers, ERDB also utilized a new marker system called Simple Sequence Repeats (SSR) for its other genetic diversity studies.

Moreover, transferability of these SSR markers to progenies planted in Progeny Test Plantation of the Progeny Tests Cum Seedling Seed Orchards study is being documented.

The genetic diversity of these plantations is also being assessed.

Limuan (rattan)

The ERDB biologists had found that Limuran Calamus (rattan) in Bataan, Camarines Norte, and Quezon showed enough variation in the populations, making the 3 provinces an ideal source for Limuran rattan planting materials.

Calamus is the largest genera of rattans with 388 accepted species names. Their canes are used for furniture, walking sticks, and flooring and implement handles. Limuran rattan also has potential pharmaceutical uses with bioactive components found to be anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrhetic. Melody Mendoza Aguiba

International conference on Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture to help boost nutrition-rich food production, cut malnutrition that affect 15-25% of population

PHOTO Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture
International conference on Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture to help boost nutrition-rich food production, cut malnutrition that affect 15-25% of population
3 November 2018

An international conference on Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture (NSA) will be held in the Philippines to help boost vitamins and minerals-rich food production and cut malnutrition that’s adversely affecting 15-25% of 105 million Filipinos.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), in a tieup with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will host “Strategic Approaches to Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems in Southeast Asia” on Nov. 7-10, 2018.
“Our food security ranking globally shrunk from rank 62 in 2011 to 72 in 2017 out of 109 countries. FAO through its Integrated Food Security Classification mapped the entire Philippines as food insecure,” according to a SEARCA NSA primer.
“Food security is continuously challenged by poor agricultural productivity brought about by climate change, environmental degradation, higher input cost, low farm income and lack of competitiveness.”
NSA is a concept that has recently emerged in light of the pervasiveness of malnutrition especially in developing countries as the Philippines.
It seeks to maximize a farming system that enhances nutritional supply especially in impoverished areas through provision of a variety of affordable, nutritious, culturally appropriate and safe food.
“It is generally recognized that addressing malnutrition requires an integrative approach in the food chain from production, processing, retail to consumption,” said SEARCA.
“Making agriculture and food systems nutrition-sensitive also requires that we have to address input quality, production, post-harvest handling, processing, retailing and consumption, and to deliver safe and nutritious foods all year round to the consumer.”
Also supporting the conference are the Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Food and Nutrition Security of the University of the PHIlippines Los Banos and Cavite State University (CvSU).
The conference will formulate polices and strategies to enhance NSA in relation to food and nutrition security.
In line with Food and Nutrition Security program in Southeast Asia, SEARCA has put in sessions on case studies on integrating nutrition into agriculture. It will focus success stories of addressing nutrition across stages of the food system.
Fisheries production—aquaponics, organic food farming, hydroponics, agricultural biotechnology, potato and mushroom production, nutrition in vegetables, plant factories in urban setting, Palaymanan, rice-corn blend for diabetics, and development of MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) are among the topics of the conference.
Dr. Marco Wopereis, Director General of the World Vegetable Center, will speak on nutritional power of vegetables; Dr. Leila S. Africa of Human Ecology-Institute of Human Nutrition and Food will present outcomes of Promoting Nutrition-Sensitive School Gardens and Feeding Programs through the School-Plus-Home-Gardens Project (in Laguna).
Dr. Wei Fang, director of the Center of Excellence for Controlled Environment Agriculture and Professor of Bio-Industrial Mechatronics Engineering of the National Taiwan University, will discuss how plant factories in Taiwan to promote food and nutrition security in an urban setting.
Other speakers are International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) Country Director Emily Monville (sustaining and scaling-up nutrition-sensitive agriculture); Rizal G. Corales, program lead, Integrated Rice-based Agribiosystems of Philrice, (Palayamanan as a strategy to promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture); and Dr. Mallikarjuna Swamy, Healthier Rice Breeding Group of the International Rice Research Institute (nutritional security through development of healthier rice).
It will be held at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City. (Growth Publishing for SEARCA) End
PowerPoint Presentation