Technical Panel for Agriculture reconstituted to make agriculture a poverty reduction tool, Gregorio appointed chief

August 18, 2020

A Technical Panel for Agriculture has been reconstituted by the government as part of an emerging trend to put agriculture as a preeminent policy tool in poverty reduction and economic growth that begins by massively hitching up intellectual capital.

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has appointed Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, director of ASEAN agency Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) as chairperson of its Technical Panel for Agriculture (TPA).

   “The reconstitution of technical panels is anchored on the need to align higher education to standards, priorities and needs in international, regional, and national settings. The experts from academe, government and industry will assist the Commission in policy formulation,” said CHED Chairman J. Prospero E. De Vera III.

   As agriculture remains a major engine of economic development in most Southeast Asian countries, Gregorio reiterated the strategic position of higher education (HEIs) to pursue initiatives on food and nutrition security.

   Development economists have long been proposing a reform in the country’s agriculture education as rural poverty has prevailed along with wealth distribution inequalities.

   Not only has interest among the youth to take a career on agriculture declined.  This has adversely affected innovation and technology development in the agriculture sector.  

   “Agricultural modernization is essential in the Philippines’ strategy for inclusive growth. The mandate of many public sector higher education institutions is to create a pool of skilled workers to increase the competitiveness of our agriculture and fisheries sector,” according to Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) President Gilberto Llanto.

   As early as in 2007, economists proposed  to former Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo three major components of the agriculture education reform. These are

policy research, institutional capacity enhancement for entrepreneurship, and support to agri-enterprise building in SUCs (state universities and colleges).

   “This program came about at a time when pressing issues on spiraling food prices, food security, climate change, and environmental degradation brought agriculture to the limelight. These have prompted calls to rethink development efforts in agriculture,” they said.

   “The support to this program recognizes that universities have a crucial role to play. Apart from being the knowledge and resource base in their localities, the SUCs should be able to churn out graduates as champions in fueling development and sustainability in the countryside.”

   Llanto said the decline in skilled labor force arising from a decrease in Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources (AFNR) enrolment makes Philippines’ future prospect in agriculture questionable.

   The proposal to Arroyo was supported by experts both from PIDS and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).

   “Now is the most opportune time to implement the long overdue rationalization of SUCs to allow them to offer agri-oriented Technical Vocational Education and Training programs, focusing on agribusiness-oriented agriculture,” according to Dr. Patricio Faylon in “Higher Education in Agriculture, Trends, Prospects, and Policy Directions.

   The country’s agility in designing curricular and extension programs (technology transfer from the hands of scientists to farmers) to produce professionals who can engage in achieving food and nutrition security goals is critical, Gregorio said.

    The diversification of the agriculture sector and AFNR-related programs will significantly address the changing needs of the local and global economic environment in employment and better income.

   “Agriculture diversification, agribusiness promotion, and investment in rural and market-related infrastructure should  be pursued,” said Faylon, a former PCAARRD executive director and five other co-authors in a separate position paper on “State and Future Supply and Demand for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Graduates in the Philippines.”

   A major component of the reform is the provision of venues for students to have practical training on entrepreneurship and technology business incubation.

   HEIs and SUCs must supply the needs of business and industry for skilled labor which consequently will prop up demand for agriculture graduates.

   “SUCs might need to reinvent themselves as producers of a new breed of students and graduates like agribusiness entrepreneurs engaged in lucrative enterprises. When wage employment prospects are dim, graduates can opt to employ themselves through their self-run agricultural businesses.”

   Faylon’s co-authors are Ruperto S. Sangalang, Albert P. Aquino, Melvin B. Carlos, Richard B. Daite, and Ernesto O. Brown.

   The students themselves should have “adequate immersion” in managing and operating actual enterprises.

    This includes introducing new modes of training through Educational Income Generating Projects (E-IGPs), Technopreneurial Learning Projects (TLPs),Technology-Based Enterprise Development (DATBED), and Technology Business Incubators (TBIs), according to Faylon’s group.

   The proposal to Arroyo  envisioned AFNR graduates as professional entrepreneurs capable of “exploring and exploiting business opportunities in AFNR.”

   The PIDS and PCAARRD experts stressed, “Economic theory suggests that formal education is a productive investment in human capital, an important determinant of economic growth (quoting other economic theorist Schultz, 1971 and Becker, 1975).”

  “Education is deemed to increase the productivity and efficiency of the work force, thereby facilitating higher output, and consequently stimulating economic growth. At the micro-level, investment in education increases the potential for employment and enhances earnings of individuals ((Mincer 1958).”

   PIDS research experts said the role of agriculture and environment sectors in economic development has been placed in the backseat in favor of manufacturing and services.

   “More so is the importance of education and human resources development in the AFNR sea mctor itself,” said Roehlano M. Briones, PIDS senior research fellow.

Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio

    Gregorio said reforming the agriculture curriculum in the country’s HEIs is critical in making labor competencies more relevant to  future job markets.

   Other members of the TPA from the academe are Dr. Candida Adalla and Dr. Domingo Angeles, former College of Agriculture deans from the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, and Dr. Danilo Abayon from Aklan State University. Representatives from the industry are Nikole Ma. Nimfa Alicer, farmer and founder of Kalipayan Farms. Melody Mendoza Aguiba

Bayer partners with Temasek of Singapore for vegetable seed distribution in Ph in light of urban farming trend due to COVID 19

August 14, 2020

With an existing commitment to promote urban agriculture through its Bayer Kubo project in Taguig, Bayer is exploring new opportunities to grow food in limited urban spaces to bring food closer to consumers.

Leaps by Bayer, the impact investment arm of Bayer AG and Temasek, a global investment company headquartered in Singapore, recently announced a joint investment and formation of a new company, Unfold. The new venture will focus on innovation in vegetable varieties with the goal of lifting the vertical farming space to the next level of quality, efficiency and sustainability.

While most start-ups in the vertical farming market are focusing on the development of more efficient infrastructure, Unfold is the only company with unparalleled assets to unlock the genetic potential of vertical farming. By utilizing the seed genetics from vegetable crops, Unfold will focus on developing new seed varieties coupled with agronomic advice tailored for the unique indoor environment of vertical farms.

Unfold raised USD 30 million in the initial funding round and entered into an agreement for certain rights to germplasm from Bayer’s vegetable portfolio.

“Innovation that offers sustainable solutions for agriculture is one of the 10 areas of engagement and investment that Leaps by Bayer is focused on,” said Jürgen Eckhardt, Head of Leaps by Bayer, which was built to drive fundamental breakthroughs in the fields of health and agriculture through new technologies. “The investment in Unfold is a great example of a transformative, creative approach to developing agricultural products that meets the needs of consumers, farmers and the planet by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, supporting sustainably grown, hyperlocal production and addressing food security challenges faced by growing urban populations.”

Meanwhile, Bayer Crop Science in the Philippines had introduced urban agriculture in a densely populated community in Barangay Ususan, Taguig City early this year as its current local contribution to food and sustainable livelihood during the pandemic. Its 300-square meter Bayer Kubo may still be the traditional ‘horizontal’ urban farm, but it provides the opportunity for residents there to make productive use of their time in growing vegetables such as eggplant, tomato, pechay, sili, and different herbs.

“We’re fortunate that the community in Barangay Ususan continues to enjoy making their own food with the urban farm set up right inside their residential area,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead for Bayer Crop Science. “Filipino consumers have preference for fresh vegetables and this initiative caters to them. Obviously, vertical farming has the potential to increase food output in very scare areas for planting within highly urbanized cities.”

These urban farming investments align with Bayer’s vision of “Health for All, Hunger for None”, a commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals the United Nations has set for 2030, especially the goals of assuring healthy lifestyles and putting an end to hunger. 

Vertical farms, also known as indoor farms or plant facilities with artificial light (PFAL), utilize indoor growing facilities that leverage artificial light, reduce dependency on synthetic chemistry and other crop inputs, optimize water use and allow food growth in challenging environments with limited arable land. Vertical farms help crops grow more quickly, enabling the reliable growth of fresh, local produce anywhere, anytime utilizing less space and fewer natural resources while reducing the need for food logistics and transportation. Unfold will support the hyperlocal production of consumer-pleasing vegetables while also addressing the increasing need for a reliable and safe supply of sustainably grown produce, especially in food deserts and in times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Investment in the vertical farming market has increased significantly in recent years mainly due to decreasing arable land, increasing market demand for local, sustainable produce and migration towards mega-cities.

Singapore, where Temasek is headquartered, is one of many mega-cities experiencing an increasing demand for fresh, sustainable and locally grown produce that has a smaller environmental footprint, using fewer resources to grow and ship, offering peak freshness and flavor.

“The global food challenges we increasingly face require us to rethink traditional farming practices. We need to ensure secure farm-to-fork supply chains in urban settings while we also work to reduce the overall environmental impact of farming. Reducing food waste and improving the safety, traceability and nutritional value of food are all the more important as populations grow and demands for food expand,” said John Vaske, Head of Agribusiness at Temasek. “Investments in companies such as Unfold allow us and our partners to support innovative, sustainable solutions that will benefit all of us over the long term.”

Led by CEO John Purcell, Unfold will be a U.S. entity headquartered in the Davis, Calif. area with commercial and research and development operations in both California and Singapore.

“What sets Unfold apart is its unparalleled investment in germplasm and crop growth models best suited for vertical farming environments, an area currently largely underserved,” said Purcell. “As a company fully focused on the vertical farming industry, Unfold will combine leading seed genetics with the best agtech experts in order to dramatically advance productivity, flavor and other consumer preferences. We look forward to serving the market through partnerships with vertical farming operators, technology providers and others across the produce supply chain.”

VCO introduced by Filipinos now part of a global Mito Food Plan as anti-inflammatory, therapeutic food

August 11, 2020

The virgin coconut oil introduced to the world by Filipinos 20 years ago has become part of the “Mito Food Plan,” an anti-inflammatory, therapeutic diet that boosts energy for chronic disease patients and anyone health-conscious.

   The Mito (mitochondria) Food Plan (MFP) is now prescribed to patients going through treatment in Functional Medicine.  This is a twentieth century medical field that claims to address root causes of complex diseases.

   That appears to be conflicting with modern medicine, a discipline more focused on finding symptoms and treating such symptoms. But in fact, Functional Medicine supports modern medicine.

   A Filipino Functional Medicine specialist revealed VCO now significantly accounts for the essential fatty acid component in MFP.

   VCO is from coconut oil which is abundant in the Philippines where Dr. Raymond Yee Escalona, co-founder of the Life Science Center,  practices Functional Medicine.

   Yes VCO is fat. But isn’t fat bad?

   After several decades when some advocates of the sugar industry promoted fat as bad and carbohydrates as good, now scientific evidences show otherwise.

  This fat, VCO, is a now a major component too of the ketogenic diet, a more popular nutrition plan that is similarly high in fat as the MFP. 

Mito Food Plan-Institute of Functional Medicine

   However, the good news about MFP is it may be the more appropriate diet for more people to boost the immune system, stay healthy, and maintain high level of physical and mental energy.

   It may be used for the long term, whereas the ketogenic diet can just be apt for a shorter term, after achieving a certain goal.

   With MFP, patients have kept normal blood sugar, blood pressure, triglycerides, and other health parameters with the body’s production of ketones as energy source in the diet.

   As an alternative fuel to generate energy, ketones improve health better  compared to glucose, the fuel produced from the intake of carbohydrates.

Functional Medicine

   Functional medicine involves a combination of many treatment-related activities–  diagnostics, detoxification, treatment of fungi, yeast, and harmful microorganisms, identifying cause of inflammation due to patient’s genetics, lifestyle, and environment. It involves fixing hormonal imbalance, and supplementation of macronutrients and micronutrients from food as medicine.

   VCO has a unique role in MFP.  It has the needed  macronutrient fatty acid found to facilitate speedy production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the unit of stored energy in the body.

Food’s 50%  role

   Food, particularly in MFP, plays up half of the role in the treatment of patients, said Escalona.

   “And it’s the most powerful medication in the planet (accounting for) 50%  (treatment ) of patients.  That nutritionally balanced plates, with whole live, unprocessed, toxin-free, culturally and locally available food is where we should be leading our patients,” said Escalona in his World Coconut Congress paper on “Twentieth Century Medicine.”

   Mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell,  has more presence in important organ systems of the body that need energy—muscle, liver, and brain.

   “What we know is that to produce energy in the mitochondria, we need these fatty acids.   Coconut comes into the fatty acid macronutrient,” said Escalona.

   VCO contains around 60% MCT (medium chain triglyceride)– fatty acid molecules that are absorbed more easily into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract.

   “Coconut oil, a brain-healthy saturated fat that contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), supports mitochondrial function and may help to improve cognition and modulate inflammation,” according to the Institute of Functional Medicine.

  “All organic and unprocessed coconut-based foods (oil, milk, water, grated, flour) have benefits, but caution should be used with sweetened versions. The oil, however, has more of the high quality fats we are striving for.”

   MCT has smaller and lighter molecular weight. 

   They “do not require bile or pancreatic enzymes, are directly absorbed into portal circulation bound to albumin, and do not require carnitine for transport into the mitochondria. (Shah, et al).”

    Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) in the body are absorbed directly from the intestinal lining into the portal vein and sent into the liver for oxidation and used as energy source.

    “Where glucose metabolism is believed to be impaired, and energy demand is high, alternative ketones from ketogenic diet and MCFAs can be taken up.  They bypass the channel,” said Escalona.

Mito Food Plan

   The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) described the Mito diet as an “anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic, gluten-free, low-grain, high-quality fats approach to eating.”

Raymond Y. Escalona, MD, Life Science Institute founder

   Under MFP, the use of MCT oil has to go with feeding the body with every micronutrient it needs.

   “The body needs all the micronutrients and antioxidants –magnesium and carnitine;

iron and glutathione; Vitamin B2 and manganese; Vitamins  B1, B5, B6, Vitamin C, and other nutrients to boost energy,” Escalona asserts.

   The MFP uses a “whole food,” plant-based diet –raw or cooked food at their most natural form– as cure or prevention for disease.  Intake of processed, preservatives-laden salty foods is discouraged.

   Functional medicine considers in its treatment epigenetic (non-genetic) factors in the patient– nutrition,  infection, toxic exposure .  These factors contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

   Functional medicine even looks into the environment the child was into while in conception.

   “We have differences in short and long term development.  By pre-programming genetics, we can have a good environment upon conception, we can pre-program health, said Escalona.

   “(With) poor environment upon conception, maladies are preprogrammed – affecting development of the brain, metabolic system, and development of chronic disease,” said  Escalona.

   The practice starts with a comprehensive look into the lifestyle, eating, exercise, work habits, and stress factors surrounding the patient.

Genome sequencing

   Functional medicine developed as the genome wide association sequencing genome (GWAS) technology came up in 2003 when the human genome was mapped.

   “All the scientists in the world hugged this genome sequencing machine and decided to sequence everything in the human body.”

   Scientists sequenced the DNA, RNA, protein metabolites, and specific macronutrients carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

   The Functional Medicine concept relates that genetics takes up about 20% of the blame for the disease, and  the environment, 80%.

Life Science Center, Makati City

Cell-level treatment

   When the treatment goes down to the cellular level, when genetic factors are considered, then the condition of mitochondria, the center of  production of ATP, is targeted.

   “At cellular level, we’re looking more into mitochondrial dysfunction—fatigue, low energy in the cell.  We’re looking into high loads of immune response, toxin overload (mercury, aluminun, antimony), and hormonal imbalance, food sensitivities,    infractions in the breath (oxygen in the body) and sleep,” said Escalona.

   Stimulation of the brain cells is also important.

   “We need to stimulate the neurologic system to exercise brain function.   The moment you stop is the moment you start losing  brain cells.” 

   Glucose, in the form of sugar intake, should be regulated.  Sugar consumption should not be excessive so as to avoid ups and downs of glucose level that causes  loss of energy when it is in the down level.

Health restored

   Escalona himself has seen MFP restore patients’ health. 

   One of his patients confesses significant health recovery after a year and a half of treatment under Functional Medicine,    “Some days I wake up, and I feel I never had been sick in the first place.    I’ve been to more than 10 doctors.  And with Functional Medicine, I’m now able to drive.   I’ve also started going back to the office—one to two days a week.  The other day I was able to walk in front of my house for the first time in three years.”    

   In MFP, doctors approach patients’ treatment at the cellular level.

   “We’re trying to create more synaptic integrity, more neural networks.  We’re trying to create more bioenergy. We’re trying to reduce the toxin loads or reactive oxygen species.  And that’s settled in this neuroprotection.  (We facilitate)  mitochondrial resuscitation because every cell in our body has mitochondria,” he said.

   Along with enough supply of macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates), MFP provides one with ample amount of B vitamins, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), and antioxidants.

   The right food includes a combination of phytonutrient-rich vegetables and fruits, fats and oils.

   The following is a guide on the Mito diet by IFM.

  1.   Certain vegetables, spices, and quality proteins enables one to obtain important antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine.

   “The more you can use a variety of spices and phytonutrients (nutrients from plants) in your diet, the more you enhance the production of glutathione and other antioxidants that are critical for cell protection from destructive free radicals.”   

2. Eating 8–12 servings daily of whole, colorful vegetables and fruits guarantees a generous supply of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins, without added sugars.

   “Vegetables should be the primary focus, especially the bitter foods in the cruciferous family (broccoli, watercress and arugula) that have strong anti-inflammatory effects.”

2.    Eating polyphenol-rich foods such as blueberries, strawberries, and walnuts have been found to sharpen cognitive function and decrease inflammation.

         These help in the prevention of Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.

       “The spice turmeric contains the powerful anti-inflammatory substance curcumin.              

      People who eat curry, which contains turmeric, score better on cognitive tests.

3. Higher cognitive function has also been observed in people whose diet have a variety of high quality dietary fats such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). This quality fat is found in seaweed, egg yolks, and cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, cod, and sardines.

   “Consuming adequate omega-3 fats, critical to the support of the brain’s mitochondria helps in burning fat to produce cellular energy. DHA also assists with communication between neurons and decreases inflammation, necessary for optimal brain health.”

4. Eating food with low calories also strengthens nerves. 

“Eating fewer calories than required by your basal metabolic rate (BMR) allows the brain to make new neurons by decreasing free radicals, enhancing the ability to generate ATP for energy, and increasing the number of mitochondria present.”  Melody Mendoza Aguiba

Registration obtained for crop protection against notorious Fall armyworm, pest feared to creep into rice & vegetables

August 5, 2020

Bayer Crop Science (BCS) has recently obtained registration from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) for a crop protection product that controls Fall armyworm (FAW) even as the highly prevalent pest is feared to creep into destroying rice and other high value crops.

   Authorities fear FAW which is “cannibalistic” in nature may inflict other crops after destroying at least 8,000 hectares of corn crop nationwide in this last season.

   “Infestation of Fall armyworm has brought farmers big problems, so we are fortunate that the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority released a conditional registration for Yeoval,” said John Fajardo, BCS Agronomic System Manager for Corn in Southeast Asia and Pakistan. “There is also a risk that FAW may potentially reach other crops such as rice and vegetables.”

   The Department of Agriculture (DA) said earlier FAW has already spread throughout 47 provinces nationwide. It has fast spread in just one year after detection in June 2019.

   Its destruction in the recent harvest includes 4,214 hectares in Cagayan Valley. In Mindanao, it destroyed 1,730 hectares in Socksargen (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, General Santos), 882 hectares in Northern Mindanao (Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte and Misamis provinces), and 665 hectares in Zamboanga Peninsula.

   FAW reproduces quickly with female adults laying 2,000 eggs in a single instance. Its dispersion is fast as it can fly at night over a 100-kilometer distance and up to 500 kilometers with the aid of wind.

   It is estimated that the number of hectares destroyed by FAW in Region 2 only includes those that have been validated.

   “If you go around corn areas in the region, the actual damage may even be bigger,” said Mindaflor Aquino, DA Region 2 senior science research specialist.

Bayer representatives and corn farmers sharing their feedback from different locations—Isabela, Laguna, Batangas, and South Cotabato.

   Even worse about this pest is once the corn plant is left without leaves upon devouring the leaves, the worms begin to eat each other because of their cannibalistic nature.

   Another characteristic of FAW is it able to survive on different crop types.

   “FAW is polyphagous which means it feeds on different kinds of food,” said Fajardo. “It has been observed to feed on rice, sugarcane, vegetables, sorghum, and millet.”

   In some cases where farmers have access to Bayer’s Dekalb corn hybrid seeds with VT DoublePro and the FAW is not able to infest the corn, the pest has been observed to even eat grass.

   Being able to eat anything at hand enables the FAW to increase in population at exponential rate and travel to far distances, destroying farmers’ harvest, according to Fajardo.

   In corn provinces Isabela, Batangas, and South Cotabato where BCS just held technology demonstrations last season, farmers reported virtually minuscule damage.

   Infestation incidence was placed at just 2-3% on crops due to the use of the FAW-resistant Dekalb varieties. The same insignificant damage was observed with the use of new crop protection product Yeoval for non-resistant varieties.

   Yeoval is a newly released insecticide with an excellent mode of action against the pest. Its active ingredient is tetraniliprole.  It controls the pest by transmitting the poison via the xylem route of the plant where water is also transported throughout the plant. The xylem route enables Yeoval transmission through the leaves and stem. Once a small part of the leaf is eaten, the FAW gets paralyzed and eventually dies.

FAW damage clearly seed in a field trial in Polomolok, South Cotabato.

   FAW, which has become a major insect pest in the country, is estimated to bring potential damage between 60% to 80% if corn crops are not managed properly during infestation.

   “It’s only now that I’ve experienced growing corn where worms penetrate deeply into the plants, not just the leaves,” according to Jaime Acedo, a farmer based in Aurora, Isabela. “We are seeing nearly all plants damaged and we don’t expect any yield from this level.”

   With Dekalb VTDoublePro, given the proper climatic condition, cultural management, and a growing period of 115 to 120 days depending on the variety, Dekalb corn varieties can yield as much as 13-15 metric tons (MT) per hectare, according to JV Cruz, BCS Grower Marketing Manager for Corn.

   In another trial plot in Polomolok, South Cotabato, Dekalb 8719S only had a low pest incidence of 2% based on field observations done 22 days after planting.  The field observation was aired over BCS’ live Facebook webinar “Online Kapehan”.

   “We observed that the leaves and stems of the corn plant did not have any holes,” said Jonel Caberto, BCS Market Development Manager in Mindanao. “Once the FAW seeps into the plant and tries to feed on it, it will stop and eventually perish due to the effectiveness of the VT DoublePro technology.”

   All Dekalb varieties with VT DoublePro have 5% refuge in a bag. This government requirement is part of the Insect Resistance Management (IRM) strategy of the industry.  It is aimed at minimizing the risk of a resistant population of the target insect pests to grow. With this approach, farmers are assured of the longevity of the technology value to support their livelihood.

   In the Philippines, FAW was first observed in March 2019 in Piat, Cagayan. “It was first identified morphologically by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). From Piat, Cagayan, it was then seen in Gonzaga, Sta. Ana, and other municipalities until it reached the provinces of Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino,” said Aquino.

   “In Brazil, they experience 70% field loss from Fall armyworm. If the plant is neglected, when it hits the seedling stage, damage may be 100% because the pest is difficult to manage. Its behavior is it is cryptic—camouflaging in leaves. At daytime, the worm may hide under the soil and far deep into the leaves of corn,” added Aquino.

Edward Limon and John Fajardo of Bayer talk about the potential damage and income loss from Fall armyworm (FAW) infestation

   Where farmers plant sweet corn or other varieties not resistant to FAW, BCS recommends Yeoval for protection against FAW.

   New BCS technologies enable farmers to minimize use of pesticides. For one, a one hectare of corn farm only needs 200 milliliters (mL) of Yeoval to protect the crop from infestation.

   “Before we thought it’s good that there are very few farmers in Region 2 that still use OPV (open pollinated variety). In Cagayan Valley, we are the highest in the use of Bt corn,” added Aquino. “Unfortunately, this season, we have also seen FAW infestation in Bt corn.”

   Monitoring of the growth of the plants significantly help in saving corn. “We are still thankful that in Region 2, the government has so much support for corn growing. We are just continuing to monitor the plants because based on our experience, the plants can be saved with early monitoring.”

   FAW was first found infesting farms in Africa in 2016. It had spread all over Africa in just one year. Afterwards, it was found in India, devastating 60 to 80% of farm harvest in some areas. It was in 2019 when it reached Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)