The government foresees a P20 billion economic loss for corn’s crop year due to the highl-infesting Fall armyworm (FAW), affecting 1.6 million metric tons (MT) of harvest on a total of 2.5 million hectares of corn area.
On top of making life more difficult for corn farmers, the infestation has a negative domino effect on the cost efficiencies of feed millers, food processors, livestock and poultry raisers, traders and consolidators, and finally consumers.
Department of Agriculture’s (DA) FAW Crisis Management Team Chief Dr. Lorenzo M. Caranguian reported government is intensifying strategies against FAW as loss is foreseen to be worsened by the incoming dry season planting.
“As we approach the dry season, this November to December planting up to harvest in March to April (2021), mostly likely FAW will peak. That is a period when we’re really expecting harvest to be bountiful,” said Caranguian in a FAW forum co-hosted by Bayer Philippines Inc.
DA has already adopted an FAW Integrated Pest Management (IPM) protocol. Under this, corn farmers are advised to detect presence of the pest at the earliest stages and apply three actions against the pest, according to Brueau of Plant Industry Crop Protection Chief Wilma Cuaterno , also resource person at the “FAW:Status & Management Strategies.”.
These are use of trap crops (planting legumes 20 days prior to corn planting); field inspection (observe feces, egg masses, larvae that indicate FAW presence); and use pest attractants –organic bait trap such as molasses with vinegar; and use of commercial pheromones as traps and lures).
DA has released a P150 million quick response fund for the program. It has also allocated another P100 million to intensify pest control . This P100 million is part of the P470 million alloted from the national government’sBayanihan 2.
Caranguian said government is also studying corn varieties claimed to be resistant against FAW, particularly the Dekalb VT Double Pro.
“DA will conduct a nationwide corn derby where all corn varieties claiming resistance against FAW will be grown and tested for their pest resistance and yield. It will be multi-locational in order for farmers to see for themselves varieties suitable to them,” Carangian said.
Field studies have shown the Dekalb VT Double Pro corn plants have withstood FAW in the last dry season.
The biotechnology-bred corn variety has a multiple Mode of Action (MOA) against the pest. Multiple MOA) has enabled corn plants to combat infestation, according to John Fajardo, Bayer Philippines Agronomic System Corn & Knowledge Transfer manager.
Some Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) seeds, also biotechnology-bred, only has one MOA which is against Asiatic corn borer. As such, some Bt corn plants have been destroyed by FAW.
HOwever, Dekalb VT Double Pro corn plants sustained only 2-3% damage in the last dry planting.
With Dekalb VT DoublePro, given the proper climatic condition, cultural management, and a growing period of 115 to 120 days depending on the variety, corn can yield as much as 13-15 metric tons (MT) per hectare.
As a rather auspicious development, Caranguian said FAW has not been observed to infest rice plants which is possible based on the pest’s polyphagous (feeds on various food) nature.
“Corn is their favorite. It is more palatable to them,” he said.
However, it has been observed to hurt some sugarcane crops in Region 2.
Cuaterno said DA-BPI has also adopted under the FAW Protocol three actions for prevention of the infestation.
These are crop diversification (planting different crops or alternate crops after corn), synchronous planting (so that plants, particularly those in vegetative stage, can avoid the pest), and field sanitation (weeding and plowing under of stubbles).
DA is also using natural enemies or biocontrol agents (predators) as natural pesticide against FAW.
“It is better to use natural enemies because that is sustainable management. For high population of pests, we use organic pesticide, and then we apply inorganic pesticide,” she said.
FAW infestation has already adversely affected corn harvest in 57 out of 81 provinces covering 288 out of 1,488 towns and cities. Average degree of damage in surved areas is 44.43%, DA records showed. Destruction is severe in Cagayan Valley, 5,428 hectares; Zamboanga Peninsula, 1,154 hectares; SOCKSARGEN( South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, General Santos), 1,703 hectares.
Other serious incidence has been found in Northern Mindanao, 1,191 hectares and Bicol, 533 hectares.
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.
Being able to eat anything at hand enables the FAW to increase in population at exponential rate and travel to far distances. By flying, it can travel 100 kilometers per night.
All Dekalb varieties with VT DoublePro have a 5% refuge in a bag. This government requirement is part of the Insecticide Resistance Management (IRM) strategy of the industry. It is aimed at minimizing the risk that corn varieties resistant to FAW will one day become ineffective in killing the pest.
Fajardo said members of Croplife Philippines, a group of bioscience companies developing corn varieties resistant to pests, are collaborating on coming up with a common IRM. It will ensure corn farmers will enjoy the use of FAW-resistant seeds as the Dekalb VT Double Pro for a long time.
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.
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)
Bayer’s Crop Science division reinforced its commitment to nature-friendly and sustainable food systems amid COVID-19 with its launch of the Bayer Carbon Initiative, which provides farmers incentives for adopting climate-smart practices.
As part of the company’s Future of Farming Dialogue virtual event series, Liam Condon, President of the Crop Science division of Bayer, emphasized the importance of the company’s sustainability commitments it set in 2019. Condon addressed how the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting economic instability reinforced the need to intensify the focus on agricultural innovation and help make agriculture part of the solution to climate change, while continuing to ensure food security for all.
“The agricultural industry is no stranger to adversity—from flooding to drought to pest infestations—and COVID-19 is yet another stark reminder of the need to create a more sustainable and resilient food system to ensure food security,” said Condon. “Innovation is key to not only solving the pandemic but also the present and future challenges facing farmers.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic instability and a food crisis among many nations, especially for developing countries. Agriculture must become a pivotal part of the solution to address this challenge, including climate change.
The Bayer Carbon Initiative intends to help farmers generate revenue for adopting specific climate-smart practices. It was derived from the successful “carbon credit” model of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. One example is the use of no-till farming, which has been proven to reduce use and cost for fuel, labor, and equipment. It also improves soil structure, combats erosion as more surface soil is retained, and minimizes soil compaction.
In a statement, Bayer mentioned that it is paving the way towards a carbon-zero future for agriculture through this innovative, science-based and collaborative pilot program, and that it can deliver unmatched value to many more farmers through expansion in other countries.
The Future of Farming Dialogue features a variety of internationally renowned speakers and stakeholders from academia, industry and media. The focus of discussion is how to build more resilient food systems, accelerate sustainable-driven innovations and develop new business models that can reward farmers for their services to the ecosystem.
Condon commented on Bayer’s sustainability commitments: “Especially in challenging times, it’s our responsibility to help ensure food security and reduce our environmental footprint. We also need to help farmers do the same by providing the products, services and technologies needed to produce enough food while using less resources and caring for the environment. The key to this is innovation and this is what we continue to drive forward.”
In the Philippines, Bayer has experience in the company’s “Better Life Farming” initiative for remote agricultural areas where both farming and technical expertise are highly underdeveloped. The intention is to introduce farming know-how, inputs, and market access for smallholder rice farmers to improve their yields & income. One such project is their concept store in Alicia, Bohol where rice farmers are guided on the right crop management technologies and are now able to use the recommended inputs for their farm production.
Bayer also provided seeds and crop protection inputs along with market assistance and support for health and safety needs due to COVID-19 for smallholder farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
These efforts – on top of many others – are already helping Bayer fulfill its commitments to empower 100 million smallholder farmers through access, agronomic knowledge, tools and partnerships; reduce field greenhouse gas emissions produced by key crops in major agricultural markets by 30 percent; and reduce the environmental impact of crop protection 30 percent by 2030.
“By integrating sustainability into our core business, we are able to not only help ensure food security, but also transform agriculture so that it can become part of the solution for climate change,” added Condon.
Bayer will continue to host its Future of Farming Dialogue in a virtual series throughout 2020 and into 2021. Melody Mendoza Aguiba
The Philippines has recorded a relatively high mortality rate of 111 maternal deaths per 100,000 women giving birth, prompting health authorities to step up to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of reducing the mortality ratio to 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.
Heightened focus on helping poor families cope with a further worsening poverty situation due to COVID-19 has prompted the government to maximize the use of digital platforms to deliver family planning services as part of efforts to curb this high maternal death rate.
“The large number of unmet need for family planning in the country still translates to around 2,000 women dying of maternal related causes,” said Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH, Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) executive director, at Bayer’s Asia Pacific Virtual Forum on Women’s Health, Empowerment, and Progress (VHEP). “Our maternal mortality ratio is at around 111 per hundred thousand women giving birth.”
While the country has achieved success in reducing unmet family planning need early this decade from 2013, such success is being eroded by the limited access by the poor.
According to the National Demographic and Health Survey 2017, the unmet need for family planning has already decreased to 17%. This accounts for 2 million Filipino women who have difficulty accessing family planning and contraceptive methods due to financial means or other hindrances. Current movement limitations on transportation and health services due to the pandemic is again raising this rate of unmet family planning need.
“What we’ve seen on the ground is that because of lockdowns and restrictions, there is limited public transport, particularly in Metro Manila and in nearby regions,” added Dr. Perez during the Bayer-hosted forum. “The less fortunate rely heavily on this mode of transportation to get the services they need.”
Limitations: Women across Asia Pacific are experiencing difficulties accessing family planning services due to the global crisis. However, the worst is being felt by developing countries like the Philippines with its already large population at 109 million.
“Among higher-income countries and territories such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, women have long enjoyed great access to sexual reproductive health. They have seen smaller family sizes and low levels of fertility,” Dr. Ashish Bajracharya, South East Asia Population Council Deputy Director also said during the same virtual forum. “For lower- and middle-income countries, it continues to be a challenge for women to access sexual reproductive health and family planning services. There are higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, particularly for vulnerable groups such as adolescents.”
COVID-19 has also caused budget restrictions, as focus is now on testing, treatment, and quarantine measures. Dr. Perez commented, “We have a lot in place for which we have prioritized resources, but because of the constraints due to our situation, we may have to bring down the budget a bit for next year, and that is a concern for [us at POPCOM].”
Online help: Prior to the pandemic, the number of women using family planning has doubled from 4 to 8 million, according to the POPCOM chief. “Our gap is now only at 2 million women—the last mile, you might say. But with COVID-19 restrictions, we had to set up help lines and social media platforms. Women can call a number and arrange for a meeting between the midwives who can deliver the service. They can access such by visiting http://www.popcom.gov.ph. We also have active chat facilities in our Facebook pages: @OfficialPOPCOM and @UsapTayoSaFamilyPlanning.”
He further stated, “POPCOM health workers are going the extra mile of delivering contraceptives to the homes of poor women who are quarantined within their communities.”
Dr. Perez mentioned that they are looking to other channels to augment their efforts: “Digital means of delivering family planning services will still be one of our priorities. Women and their maternal health are priorities of great importance in our health plans.”
“Women take on many burdens. They work at home and they take on income-generating tasks, which makes them an important facet for the household economy,” remarked the undersecretary. “An unplanned pregnancy will lead to economic deprivation and an untimely use of savings. With this, women should have a choice when it comes to reproductive health to maintain that status of contributing to the economy. Melody Mendoza Aguiba
A former vice president of banana-exporting multinational Unifrutti has pleaded for help for poorer corn farmers who are being “killed” by illegal smugglers and importers even as price plunged to an all-time high P9 per kilo.
Rodolfo Pancrudo, farmer-owner of Pancrudo Farm in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, has asked
government not to allow the killing of corn farmers.
This may be the ultimate plight of farmers since they do not enjoy corn support price, supposedly expected before from the National Food Administration (NFA). Nor do they have post harvest facilities by which to dry and store their corn.
Mechanical dryers and storage facilities should enable them to hold their sale of corn and wait until prices become more profitable.
“Traders haggle for the lowest price and tell farmers, ‘Your corn is of low quality.’ That’s why farmers are forced to sell their corn even at only P9 per kilo because they need money. Otherwise the harvest will just go to waste since there are no post harvest facilities,”said Pancrudo.
While he is more fortunate because he is a retiree of Unifrutti, one of the world’s largest producer-exporters of fresh produce, more farmers are poor.
“I am just more fortunate since I am more of an entrepreneur. I have an integrated farm. It’s a kind of sustainable farming. But I see farmers having a very difficult life. They are in a hand-to-mouth existence,” he said.
Pancrudo Farm also has a piggery. The farm uses hogs’ dung to feed a biogas facility and uses it for fertilizer. It also grows papaya as Pancrudo is a sub-contractor of also multinational Del Monte.
“I hope other corn farmers may also become entrepreneurs. But most of them are not learned. When I retired from my company (Unifrutti), I went into farming just to practice my being an agriculture engineer. But many farmers run to me for these problems. I have to speak for them.”
The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) with its president, Danilo V. Fausto, has been seeking an audience from the Department of Agriculture (DA) regarding the plight of farmers in light of the Covid 19 food crisis. PCAFI asked for least an increase in tariff of farm commodities—mainly rice – so as to support local farmers.
For corn, DA should at least prohibit imported corn to coincide with the harvest.
However, PCAFI member and Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PMFI) President Roger V. Navarro feared DA’s inaction on the plummeting corn price forebodes a collapse of the sector. Worse, DA appears to be attempting to hide the problem of farmers experiencing low corn price.
“To my mind, this is not a good indication. (DA’s trying to cover up the truth) tries to tell the people to keep quiet as it intentionally tries to hide the problem and the reality,” said Navarro.
“We cannot hide the trutht that we have a problem in agriculture. In effect DA is building a high wall. But the crack on the wall runs down that it may suddenly collapse—shattered and badly broken. I don’t want to see that happen.”
PMFI has also asked government to investigate possible corn smuggling. Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director George Y. Culaste reportedly claimed that no permit has been issued for incoming importations of corn.
“This leads us to assume that this coming corn is smuggled,” Navarro said.
Expected to arrive soon are the following corn shipments: 6,000 metric tons (MT) for General Santos arrival; 20,000 MT, Cagayan de Oro; 50,000 MT, Bicol; and 30,000 MT, Iloilo.
“We reported this to DA Secretary (William) Dar, and we are awaiting his action. These corn shipments will strike the fatal blow to the corn farmers who painstakingly harvested a huge 3.5 million tons, wet season crop,” Navarro said.
Pancrudo said farmers will hardly be able to make money from gross earnings of just around P30,000 per hectare. This is against production cost of P35,000 to P40,000 per hectare.
Support for fertilizers and good seed varieties is also an important intervention Filipino farmers do not get, unlike farmers in neighboring countries as Thailand.
“There will come a time Filipinos will no longer have (locally-produced) food. All will be imported,” said Pancrudo. “Even a small amount of support for fertilizer will already be a (significant) help in raising yield. But there is no such support.”
Navarro invoked the implementation of prevailing laws that should help farmers during this Covid 19 crisis.
These nationally sanctioned policies will not require much budget:
.These are Republic Act (RA) 8800, the Safeguard Measures Act; RA 7607, Empowering Smallholder Farmers in their Economic Endeavors,” and RA 8435 or Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act.
“From the recent articulation of Congressman (Rodante) Marcoleta, he was saying DA should look outside the box, away from traditional structured intervention mindset that makes agriculture development restrictive,” said Navarro.
“There are non-funding interventions that need to be reformed or made new. RA 7607 upholds farmers’ rights to price support especially for corn. RA 8435 mandates banks to give loans to farmers. The best policy is derived from good consultation.”
The perennial problem of lack of storage and drying facilities will forever hinder farmers’ becoming more profitable – unless these are invested in.
“We need storage to (stretch shelf life of) surplus harvest that cannot be absorbed by the demand from industries. Without this infrastructure support, we will be the same year in and year out.”
“DA is trying to rally farmers to increase production, but when harvest comes, DA can’t help them.”
The Philippines has sent its budding agripreneurs to a virtual training mission on the proper use of more environment-friendly crop protection tools, supporting a Bayer goal to cut 30% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in its serviced cropping systems globally by 2030.
A training program on the safe use of crop protection has been put up by Bayer for the last few years. This is to prevent any untoward effect of pesticides and herbicides on human health and the environment.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that 23% of human GHG emission comes from agriculture forestry, and other land uses. The online Bayer Safe Use Ambassador (BSUA) program brought together more than 2,000 various stakeholders from 14 countries, including university scientists, researches, students, regulatory officials, ministries, and farmers. Students from Philippines’ state universities and colleges (SUCs) — University of the Philippines – Los Baños, Central Luzon State University, Mindanao State University, and others who were part of the previous training programs – attended the virtual training.
“By laying down the foundation of farm safety among young students, we can be assured that the next generation of farmers will embrace the need for safety and product stewardship,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, country commercial lead for Bayer Crop Science. “This would help farming become more enticing to more Filipinos and promote it as a safe and sustainable means of livelihood.”
The BSUA traditionally holds a competition on potential participants’ opinion on safe crop protection practices. The winners are sent to Bayer’s agriculture headquarters in Monheim, Germany where they are exposed to theoretical and actual sustainable farming practices.
Jane Mae Navasquez, a third year agriculture student from Mindanao State University, was one of the competition winners sent to Germany in the past, the first coming from the Philippines. She was one of the speakers during this year’s virtual conference.
“My eagerness to know more about the various aspects of agriculture and help farmers motivated me to join the competition,” said Navasquez. “It was a great opportunity for me as a Filipino student to impart these learning to our Filipino farmers.”
More than a million farmers across the world were trained in 2019 by Bayer on the safe use of crop protection products. Training was focused on countries with no statutory certification requirements for the products’ handling.
Bayer also trained 4 million farmers in 82 countries in collaboration with CropLife International.
Since 2017, the BSUA program has trained more than 500 university and college students in the Philippines on how crop protection products should be used in a safe and sustainable manner.
Aside from control on disposal of chemicals to counter pests and diseases, BCS promotes use of biological remediation system (Phytobac) to farmers. This prevents “water contamination with residues of chemicals generated during the filling and cleaning of spraying devices or the disposal of residual liquids”
Bayer has a long term goal of zero emissions of GHG which are believed to be the culprit in the two-degree Celsius rise in temperature, causing the known hazards—global warming and climate change.
These are some sustainable practices for Bayer’s zero GHG emission goal, according to Bayer’s “Carbon Zero Future Agriculture”:
No-till farming: by not tilling the soil, soil health improves, allowing it to better store carbon, nutrients, and water; and by not disturbing the soil, the carbon captured remains in the ground
Crop protection technologies, including biologics, are important to preserving and enhancing yield potential of crops (and help in no-till farming or cover crops
Innovative crop genetics (e.g. in Bt corn) require less inputs like fertilizer and crop protection agents and allow growers to pursue no- and low-till farming
Digital tools: data-driven tools ensure proper seed placement and that the right amount of fertilizers and crop protection is applied in the right place at the right time, preventing over-fertilization while also requiring fewer tractor passes in the field
Water use: precision irrigation systems improve energy use and reduce the amount of water used on crops
Equipping growers to capture carbon from the atmosphere with solutions such as: Cover crops: selected crops planted off season in fields maximizes the amount of carbon that stays in the soil, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere while also enriching with nutrients potentially reducing the need for fertilizer
Dry seeding of rice: a technique that reduces methane emissions from flooded rice paddies
The BSUA is also being implemented in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Brazil, and Peru. (Bryan Rivera, Melody Mendoza Aguiba)
The Philippines has seized a “special recognition” from the prestigious Rockefeller-funded Food System Vision Prize as it envisioned a reduction of Philippines’ P742 billion yearly food imports by 2050.
The Philippines’team led by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) sprung up out of 1,300 entries globally.
The country’s entry is an extensive collaborative work between 14 institutions including those from the academe, government, private sector, and professional/civic associations.
The NAST-led team contends for a digitally-run food system that produces nutrition-rich and breeding-dominated food. It equally benefits farmers, consumers, and the environment.
“Food imports mainly commodities (rice, corn, onion, mungbean, garlic) can be reduced. A total of P742 billion used for food imports in 2018 and growing 25% a year will circulate in the local economy. There will be fewer problems with water and food scarcity, traffic, crime, and pollution,” the experts predict.
The visioning competition was put up by New York-headquartered Rockefeller Foundation and OpenIDEO and SecondMuse. Its goal is to help economies develop a vision for sustainable and nourishing diet for their people. It has established a $2 million fund for the winnings.
Rockefeller Foundation is also a major funder of CGIAR (Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers). Los Banos-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is one of its centers.
In its entry “Feeding Metro Manila in 2050,” the home team foresees that Filipinos will have adapted to a more diversified diet by 2050. This weans them from calorie-rich rice-based diet that is linked with several chronic diseases. They will be more accustomed then to eating the richer staples they were used to in the old tradition—banana, sweet potato, and other root crops and tubers.
Food will then be sourced from more affluent farmers who directly deliver to consumers more nutritious food via digital-based distribution system.
The future food system will transform waste into economically valuable resources such as fertilizers or renewable energy.
“The traditional sewage treatment plant will be transformed to a ‘factory’ where domestic waste will be processed to produce recycled water, energy and fertilizers. Consumers will earn from the daily waste they generate,” said Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco of NAST in the Food System Vision Prize (FSVP) entry.
Food will be produced with less water. Land will be regenerated into watersheds, forests, and habitat for a richer biodiversity.
These are among NAST’s top visions for 2050:
Filipinos will extensively use apps such as the Genopalate. This suggests an individual’s diet based on his genetic information. Apps with sensors will suggest diets based on data on one’s gut microbiome. Internet will play more role in food delivery, enhancing the usual food access systems.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) technology will be put forth. This enhances development and integration of biological, physical, and digital technologies.
The practice of FIRe technologies cuts losses and wastage; innovate business models, allowing disruption of prevailing markets; and enables cost efficiency in the use of resources.
One application of integration of FIRe technologies is in smart urban farming such as aquaponics which is climate controlled, soil-free, and allows for multi-trophic biological system. It produces different species in various, linked food chain. For one, aquaponics may produce lettuce at the top and fish underneath the water.
“Smart sensors can be used to monitor the use and recycling of water, as well as the use of LED grow lights that produce the necessary light spectrum to stimulate plant growth within indoor facilities. “
Food manufacturing 4.0 is foreseen to produce more environment-friendly, nutritious food with new techniques such as DNA-editing technology.
Digital technologies such as block chain may enable enhanced safety, traceability, and transparency in the food chain.
“Such digital platform integrates information from the Plant Health Diet (PHD, genomic data (of individuals), environmental impact, price, local and seasonal availability,(and even farmers’ income)..
New sensor technology that tracks the changes in gut microbiome in response to food, can also be used to further customize food recommendations.”
There will be Reverse Logistics. It enables transportation of products from retail stores to factories in order to allow for “reuse of packaging materials and resale or proper disposal of unsold products.”
With dehydration technology, Ilocanos may again enjoy the full original flavor of their favorite ‘saluyot’. Breeding technologies may enable the masses to get a taste of the nutrient-filled red rice, instead of just the white refined rice stripped of vitamins and minerals. By raising yield to say 10 tons per hectare, rather than just 1.5 tons per hectare as in the current yield, breeding may make red rice significantly cheaper.
“Technology expands our food choices. By diversifying farming, we create an economic justification for research institutions to invest resources on neglected species. When the disappearing and lost species find their way back into the dining table, farms and research institutions, we will have a good chance of regenerating whatever is left of the culture that has been lost by their disappearance.”
Planetary Health Diet
The scientists find that the need really is for Filipinos to shift from rice-based diet to the emerging Planetary Health Diet (PHD). A diet with more fruits and vegetables, herbs, spices, legumes, mushrooms, and lentils, PHD equally benefits the human health, farmers, and the environment.
It will earn a higher income and marketing margin for farmers. Crop diversification enables them to produce varied and seasonally accepted crops at prices that give better rate of return.
“Fish and other aquaculture products will be produced by sustainable aquaculture (dominantly mariculture and sea ranching) farms. ‘Hybrid’ production systems such as aquaponics and floating gardens utilizing Laguna de Bay will supplement traditional systems.
More vegetables will be produced by households or “urban farmers.”
“Unconventional items such as insects and microalgae will be produced too. Urban farms will supply low-cost mass-produced food to the masses in small climate controlled spaces, managed with the help of artificial intelligence. “
Jobs will be created from the production of biodegradable packaging materials. These will come from ‘palms, bamboo, abaca, and other local fibers.’ This will contribute to lower carbon footprint. It Will enhance Metro Manila’s increased adaptability to climate change—reducing waste, flooding, and related disasters.
Small farmers and fishers will be tending more artisanal and diversified farms. That replaces their present production of mere commodities (rice, corn) whose supply, demand, and price are dictated by world market.
There will be less pressure for farmers in rural areas to move to the cities as they will enjoy better livelihood. The rural economy beams with opportunities.
To fight against climate change which is projected to raise temperature by 2 degrees Celcius, some technologies that may be adapted include the following:
Cultivation of stress tolerant crops such as such as submergence tolerant rice and drought-resistant sweet potato. Products with longer shelf life and enhanced functions should be developed. Among these are camote and (cassava flours) that are more adaptable to climate change than rice.
Use of technologies for accurate weather forecasts, soil and hazard data, water harvesting technologies (small water impounding structures), alternate wetting and drying practice for rice, drip irrigation; integrated pest management, and agroforestry and permaculture systems,
Diversification, for rice farming, may include integration of mushroom production, milk from water buffalo, and vermiculture.
Production of conventional foods such as green vegetables and salad crops, and high tech unconventional foods such as single cell proteins, clean meat, and insects among others. Peri-urban artisan farms will supply special needs such as organic, halal, kosher, pesticide free, animal-welfare compliant, farmer-friendly food.
Government collaborators in the Philippines’ entry include the Institute of Plant Breeding and the Philippine Rice Research Institute.
From the academe, the participants are De La Salle Araneta University, De La Salle University-Manila, Ateneo de Manila University, and University of the Philippines (SPICE project),
The private sector is represented by East West Seeds, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc (PCAFI), and Management Association of the Philippines- Agribusiness and Countryside Development Foundation.
Research associations and other civic groups include Coalition for Agricultural Modernization of the Philippines, National Research Council of the Philippines, Urban Agriculture PH, Pambansang Kilusan ng Mga Samahang Magsasaka, and Young Professionals for Agricultural Development.
To make the vision possible, policies must be established on top of what have already been put in place (Balik Probinsya, Rice Tariffication Law, Agri-tourism, seed industry development).
These policies encompass many disciplines such as education, nutrition and feeding programs on the PHD; preventive medicine; and on research and development for food technologies, integrated farming, among others; and calamity preparedness and resilience.
These laws may need to be put forth and implemented—Republic Act (RA) No. 10,000—Providing Agricultural and Agrarian Reform Credit; RA 9513 — development of renewable energy resources; RA 9275 –improvement of sewage systems; RA 10,816—farm touirism development; Executive Order 114—Balik Probinsya Law;
Other policies that must be implemented involve biotechnology and urban agriculture, creation of Department of Fisheries and Oceans; bioprospecting laws, rehabilitation of Food Terminal Inc., and digital infrastructure.
Tradition and culture
NAST believes that its vision richly enhances sustainability of Filipinos’ tradition and culture. Its natural topography, with its archipelagic nature, gives way to highly diversified culture –food, rituals, and traditions.
While commercialization and urbanization brought about in the past a kind of monoculture in food (90% of land is planted mainly to rice, corn, and coconut), modern technology is reviving the food tradition based on regional preference.
Urbanized Metro Manila
Metro Manila is now entangled in a host of problems, mainly poverty as 5.2 million of its 12.8 million population is live below poverty threshold. Their living condition is not acceptable.
It renders the poor deprived of sufficient and nutritious food. An estimated one-third of children under 5 are stunted. One-third of adults aged 20 or older are overweight or obese.
Filipino farmers are considered poorest of the poor. This leads the younger generation to stay away from agriculture. That makes average farmer age at 58 years old.
With a more monoculture type of farming, 88% of “diverted water” are devoted just for rice. Households every now and then suffer from water shortage.
Other burdensome problems are food production systems that cause significant volume of waste and pollution (fertilizers, pesticides, poultry and livestock growth chemicals) on land and rivers like Manila and Laguna bays; climate change that cause disasters and food production damages.
There may be tradeoffs that the country may choose in order to prefer the better over the good.
If farmers have to be favored, farm diversification may generate higher income for farmers, rather than if they just focus on producing one crop. However, consumers may need to adjust their tastes to a new culture (consuming Filipinos’ old staple- banana, instead of the white refined rice).
Fishermen will be prohibited to fish in fish sanctuaries just in order for fish catching in the wild to be sustainable.
These are the Top 10 Finalists for the FSVP:
7Gen Food System: Led by the Sicangu Lakota people, this Vision for the Rosebud Indian Reservation of South Dakota, USA outlines a regenerative agricultural system that creates economic opportunities for tribal members; increases the accessibility of locally produced, nutrient-dense foods; and re-establishes the Lakota as primary stewards of the lands [Lead Organization: Sicangu Community Development Corporation].
Arakunomics: Focusing on the regions of Araku, Wardha, and New Delhi, India, this Vision empowers tribal communities and seeks to ensure environmental sustainability, fair profits for farmers, and food and nutrition security for all [Lead Organization: Naandi Foundation].
Eat Right: This Vision from New Delhi, India looks to create a national movement towards healthier diets through a systems-based approach of reducing food waste; improving hygiene and sanitation across the value chain; and increasing access to and affordability of healthy foods [Lead Organization: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India].
Food Innovation Nervecenter: This Vision from Lagos, Nigeria identifies six key food challenges for the region, from food waste to aging farmers, and outlines a multi-faceted plan to build a more regenerative and nourishing food system [Lead Organization: Darkpore Media Africa LTD].
From Mama’s Kitchen to Metropolitan Beijing: This Vision from Beijing, China imagines a plant-based dietary transformation for the world’s most populous nation, contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and pollution [Lead Organizations: Good Food Fund of the China Biodiversity Conservation & Green Development Foundation].
Kwayeskastasowin Wahkohtowin: Led by local First Nations communities, this Vision from Manitoba, Canada aims to create a just and sustainable agrifood system while addressing the process of decolonization and reconciliation between Indigenous and settler populations [Lead Organization: Natural Systems Agriculture Laboratory, University of Manitoba].
Lima 2035: This Vision for Lima, Peru imagines a regenerative and nourishing food oasis by 2035, with the aim of securing climate-resilient running water for all in Lima’s fragile desert environment [Lead Organization: International Potato Center].
Re-rooting the Dutch Food System – From More to Better: This Vision from the Netherlands outlines a transformed, circular Dutch food system that safeguards natural resources, promotes a healthier and more sustainable plant-based diet, and recycles unavoidable losses and wastes [Lead Organization: Wageningen University & Research].
Restoring Nairobi to “A Place of Cool Waters”: This Vision for Nairobi, Kenya aims to develop a more equitable, just and sustainable urban space, where access to nutritious food is a reality for everyone [Lead Organization: African Population and Health Research Center].
Stone Barns Center: This Vision from the Hudson Valley in New York, U.S. seeks to bring about a new food culture—rooted in the ecological, nutritional and communal potential of organic agriculture—through groundbreaking culinary experimentation [Lead Organization: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture].