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)