Philippines strengthens skills of agri workers

Philippines strengthens skills of agricultural workers, sends 17 state colleges to tech-voc training mission in Malaysia
PHOTO agricultural competency workshop SEARCA
April 10, 2019

The Philippines has beefed up effort to strengthen skills of agricultural workers as it sent 17 state universities and colleges (SUC) to a Malaysian regional meeting on technical-vocational educational training (TVET) that can support local farm sector development.

As part of helping enhance skills of agricultural workers, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has supported sending 36 representatives from 17 SUCs in support of labor exchange in Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asian ministers are investing in more TVET jobs program, aligning each other’s program for standardization and labor exchange.

SEARCA is also carrying out a research on competency certification for agricultural workers to promote TVET in agriculture.

The Philippine government is supporting technical-vocational (tech-voc) jobs having ratified last month the Tulong Trabaho Act (Republic Act 11230). It establishes a Philippine Labor Force Competencies Competitiveness PRogram. Training fees for tech-voc jobs will be free under the law.

Government is also strengthening capacity development for agricultural workers in TVET as studies have shown that “excellent agricultural vocational schools persist in serving the rural community and strengthen school enterprise cooperation.”

A World Bank study showed that agricultural tech-voc schools in China have popularized new technology in agriculture and production methods and have optimized planting techniques.

“The school has dispatched teachers to train farmers in cultivation, pest control and preservation,” according to the World Bank’s “Case Study of Excellent TVET Institutions.”
TVET agricultural schools also help construct pilot farms.
PHOTO SEAT TVET

TVET participants

The country’s delegates to the TVET meeting come from Bicol State College of Applied Science and Technology, Bulacan State University, Camarines Norte State College, Central Bicol State University of Agriculture, Central Luzon State University, Central Mindanao University, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, Guimaras State College, Iloilo Science and Technology University, Iloilo State College of Fisheries, Lyceum Northwestern University, Mariano Marcos State University, Mindoro State College of Agriculture of Technology, Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology, Pangasinan State University, President Ramon Magsaysay State University, Saint Louis University, Tarlac Agricultural University, Trimex Colleges Inc., University of Mindanao, and University of the Immaculate Conception.

There are also representatives from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) at the conference in Ipoh, Malaysia which was convened by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) last March 26-27.

The TVET program of Southeast Asia aims to enhance the internationalization and partnership of TVET institutions and promote global competitiveness and 21st century skills of TVET students.

SEAMEO is also developing a common regional policy framework for labor,
skills, and learner mobility that will allow competent Filipino farm workers to work in the neighboring countries.
PHOTO Filipino agricultural workers run harvesting machines

World Bank study

The TVET agricultural schools cited in the World Bank study built farms in the rural areas, training centers for seed production, research laboratories on campus and training centers outside the school. These also formulated training courses with programs reflecting efficient production systems in enterprises.

For one, the Heilongjiang Nongken Vocational offered food safety and quality system training to companies and conducted research on the preservation of mashed potato.
PHOTO Farm technicians at IRRI
Tech-voc jobs in agriculture

As there has been a decreasing enrolment in agricultural schools and a decreasing number of farm workers, the World Bank study has recommended the following to enhance training in tech-voc jobs:

1. Promote development of agricultural vocational education.
“Promoting the development of agricultural vocational education is closely linked to the development of regional economies in China. To support the country’s economic development goals, the government must continue to pursue agricultural modernization, which in turn will develop agricultural vocational education.”

2. Promote green and creative agricultural production which is now recognized by trade certification advocates globally.

3. Develop the processing industry of local agricultural products to increase added value.

4. Develop the agricultural cooperative model to support the farmers throughout the production process.

5. Enhance IT resources to provide on-line courses on agricultural on tech-voc training.

6. Develop the online market of agricultural products to promote their production, sales, branding and other related activities.

7. Enhance the attraction of Agriculture-related majors to raise awareness on the developing agriculture sector.

“Currently, the development of the agriculture industry is far beyond the traditional planting, and this new development requires a large number of excellent skilled workers.”

Tech-voc schools also need to integrate new agricultural trends and technology into their curriculum.

“Government also needs to increase public finance to improve learning conditions within agricultural vocational schools and between the schools and enterprises. The increase in teacher welfare and training will also do much to develop agricultural tech-voc education.”

SEA cooperation

Southeast Asian countries are collaborating on putting up policy reforms in tech-voc education even in agriculture, recognizing its unique role in rural development.

“All Southeast Asian countries have placed TVET in mainstream education because of its important role in the socio-economic development of a nation. In addition, TVET has been identified as one of the seven priority areas in education in Southeast Asia as agreed at the Strategic Dialogue of Education Ministers (SDEM).” (Growth Publishing for SEARCA-Melody M. Aguiba)


PHOTO CAPTION:
1 SEARCA agricultural competency working
2 SEA TVET
3 Filipino farm workers run harvesting machine
4 Farm technicians at IRRI

Off season calamansi production in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro

Tokyo University of Agriculture introduced off season production of calamansi in Victoria, Mindoro
March 29, 2019

The Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI) has introduced the off season production of calamansi in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro as part of helping expand jobs and beef up Philippines’ calamansi export.

A technology on pruning and the use of plant growth regulators in order to delay the harvest of calamansi have been employed in a pilot calamansi production in Victoria.

With such techniques, harvest can become year-round. This will enable farmers to enjoy a higher income from the high value crop. Production will not be available in just a single season, peaking to a high volume and causing prices to collapse.

It also raises potential to expand the Philippines’ export of around 170 metric tons (MT) yearly to Hongkong, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Export is in the form of fresh and processed calamansi.

The Mindoro State College of Agriculture & Technology (MinSCAT) led by Dr. Ma. Conception L. Mores, vice president, has coordinated with Tokyo NODAI to identify farm sites for the continuous trial on the off season calamansi technology.

Farmer-cooperators had been tapped to participate in the pilot farming so as to train Filipino farmers.

“The success of these farming technologies in attaining a stable supply of calamansi even during lean months will bring farmers in a better position where they can maximize the economic benefits brought about by higher level of farmgate prices, which in turn raise farm income,” reported Patricia Ann A. Pielago of SEARCA.

The South East Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (Searca) has partnered with MinSCAT and Tokyo NODAI in this capability building project.

Two types of pruning were employed to delay fruiting: the half and the full pruning of shoots, young flower buds, and fruits.

Basal application of fertilizer solutions using abscissic acid (ABA) and Miyobi Gold, a commercial fertilizer in Japan containing natural type of ABA and potassium were also done to promote and increase flower formation during off-season.

The 2-hectare calamansi demonstration farm owned by calamansi grower Cornelio Palomar in Brgy. Leido, Victoria was the chosen experimental site considering the age (6 years) and height (1 to 2.5 meters) of trees. These fit the required tree characteristics for each treatment.

A total of 30 calamansi trees were purposively selected, tagged, and weeded. These were equally divided into six treatments including the control.

A quarter of a kilogram of fruit samples for each of the 4 maturity stages of calamansi (mature green, breaker, ripe, and over-ripe) were gathered for laboratory analysis to determine the physio-chemical characteristics. That includes ascorbic acid content as part of the fruit quality evaluation.

The export of more processed calamansi (puree, juice) may be expanded by the project.

“The quality evaluation of fruits produced in the area at different ripening stages is expected to aid in determining the suitable maturity stage ideal for processing.”

PHOTO Processed calamansi juice

Dr. Tadashi Baba, Dr. Yoshitaka Kawai, Mika Yoshida from the Department of Agriculture – Postharvest Physiology and Technology of Tokyo NODAI, agreed to replicate their previous joint study on calamansi with the University of the Philippines Los Banos-Post Harvest Technology REsearch Center (UPLB-PHTRC) in Mindoro.

Providing technical assistance and logistical support needed are Dr. Jose Medina and Pielago,SEARCA program coordinator, Dr. Josephine Agravante and Kristelle Marie Ybañez from UPLB-PHTRC.

There will be a systematic way of monitoring, data collection, and proper documentation to analyse the technology’s efficacy.

Export

The country’s calamansi export ranged from 20 to 35 MT in 2008 to 2013 with an average yearly export of 29.5 MT in fresh fruits.

A value chain advantage may be found in processing more fresh fruits.

Studies showed that constraints in calamansi sector’s growth include lack of good-quality calamansi seedlings; high incidence of pests and diseases; declining volume of production; huge postharvest losses; limited access to market; inconsistent quality of processed calamansi products; and low prices during peak season.

There is also lack of resources, skills, knowledge, and experience in collective marketing among calamansi farmers.

The two-year project aims to address these technical and market constraints.
It intends to improve calamansi production and fruit quality by using proven technologies and practices in integrated pest management, fertilization, off-season fruiting, and postharvest handling.

The project will build on the gains of SEARCA’s action research program “Piloting and Upscaling Effective Models of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (PUEM-ISARD) that helped revitalize the calamansi industry of Oriental Mindoro.

SEARCA has been implementing PUEM-ISARD with MinSCAT and the local government units of Oriental Mindoro since 2015.

Calamansi

Calamansi is indigenous to the Philippines. The largest production is in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro.

According to the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Program, buyers prefer calamansi from Oriental Mindoro because it has a thicker rind, stronger taste, longer shelf-life, and resists weight loss.

Calamansi, or calamondin, is used primarily as juice, puree, and for souring food.

Production had declined over a 6-year period from 199,675 MT over a land area of 20,956 hectares in 2008 down to 164,050 MT over a land area of 20,246 hectares in 2013.

The decline is due to the greening disease or ”huanglubin’ which decreases yield and causes death of trees, reported the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center (FFTC).

Calamansi is produced primarily from MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblom, Palawan– 6,872 hectares), Central Luzon (Zambales, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bataan-1,734ha) and Ilocos Region (1,026ha) in Luzon.

In Mindanao, producers are in Davao Region (1,797 hectares), CARAGA (1,412 hectares) and Zamboanga Peninsula (1,077 hectares).

Yield has been dropping from an average of 9.53MT hectares in 2008 to 8.10 MT in 2013, down to an annual growth rate of -3.18.

A sizable 93% of the volume as of 2013 was used domestically for food and the rest for export.

With production decline, prices has been increasing at P23.13 per kilo in 2013 from only P13.28 per kilo in 2008. End (Growth Publishing for SEARCA).

PHOTO CAPTION
1. Dr. Tadashi Baba (1st from right) and Dr. Yoshitaka Kawai (2nd from right) demonstrating the full-pruning technique as another treatment for off-season fruiting of calamansi
2. Samples of calamansi fruits at different ripening stages subject to quality evaluation (from L-R: over-ripe, ripe, breaker and mature green)
3. Processing calamansi into products like calamansi juice, puree, jam and others will provide added value to calamansi harvests. When there is an oversupply of harvest, the best option is to process them into products of higher value.

Philippines-produced VCO as aid treatment for cancer, neurodegenerative disease


Philippines-produced VCO may potentially be used as adjuvant treatment for cancer, neurodenerative diseases
March 23, 2019

The potential for the ketogenic diet as an adjuvant treatment for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases raises promise for Philippines to contribute to clinically-tried disease treatment through the home-produced virgin coconut oil (VCO).

Clinical trials on the use of VCO in ketogenic diet as supportive treatment for cancer has been shown to be highly promising under a clinical trial at the Paracelsus Medical University (PMU) in Salzburg, Austria.

VCO is a recognized source of beneficial fatty acid metabolized in the liver as ketones in ketogenic diets.

The target in the PMU clinical trial is for ketogenic diet to achieve the “Warburg effect” where cancer cells are prevented from using glycolysis in order to produce the organic chemical ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) needed in the multiplication of cancer cells.

“Based on the results of rigorous preclinical and clinical studies performed thus far, the ketogenic diet would appear to be a promising and powerful option for adjuvant therapy for a range of cancers,” according to a PMU’s “Ketogenic diet in cancer therapy.”

A known researcher on VCO treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Mary Newport, has cited the use of coconut oil for therapeutic ketogenic diet.

“ It’s now being (used) for cancer because cancer cells like sugar. Some cancer cells use 200 times more sugar than the normal cell. They ferment sugar, the mitochondria ferments sugar. They don’t metabolize it normally. But most cancer cells don’t use ketones effectively as fuel,” said Newport.

“Ketogenic diet attempts to starve the tumor, the cancer cells. But basically your healthy cells and your brain can use ketones. So it can help in cancer.”

Newport was a resource person during the Philippines’ first World Coconut Congress last year and presented “Combining Coconut Oil and Low Carbohydrate, Higher Fat Diet for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other Diseases.”

The PMU clinical trial reported anti-tumor effect of ketogenic diet in 10 types of cancer. These are glioblastoma, Astrocytoma, Medulloblastoma, Prostate cancer, Colon cancer, Neuroblastoma, Pancreatic cancer, Lung cancer, Breast cancer, Stomach cancer, and Liver cancer.

Clinical researches raising possibility of ketogenic diet as supportive cancer treatment will continue as testimonials on this are being documented.

“There are a lot of testimonials of people who have had (this diet) reported shrinking cancer, and maybe eliminate cancers. There will be studies going on. Ketogenic diet will be used together with other treatment to see if it will work synergistically to get the result.”

“Phases of healthy cells in your brain can use ketones. It’s kind of a new trick again to help deal with cancer.”

Alzheimer’s disease

Even before this development on cancer, ketogenic diet has already been accepted as treatment for other diseases, particularly epilepsy.

And coconut oil plays an important role. Newport stresses her own success in using coconut oil to treat Alzheimer’s.

A neonatologist, Newport has been known in her fight against Alzheimer’s after achieving milestones in helping her husband battle the disease at its early onset.

She took after the early studies of Dr. Samuel Henderson who recommended medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil—derived from coconut oil which has 65% MCT– as treatment for Alzheimer’s.

“Dr. Samuel Henderson whose mother died from Alzheimer’s disease had this brilliant idea of using MCT oil, perhaps providing mild ketosis from consuming MCT oil that could help people with the disease,” she said at the WCC.

Steve Newport had achieved significant improvement from early onset Alzheimer’s after taking coconut oil. After a few dose, he passed the cognitive test ADAS cog for candidate patients of a clinical trial for potential Alzheimer’s drugs—after previously failing such cognitive tests.

Just 4-5 days from first intake of coconut oil, Steve advanced to having a lifted mood, was more alert than before, and began conversing normally.

After two weeks, he was able to draw a clock better with a clock’s numbers and letters in a test given for clinical trial candidates.

“His physical symptoms started to disappear, his tremor eliminated. He had stiff (limbs like in) Parkinson’s and he couldn’t run– we saw these disappear in two months. He was able to sleep normally.”

After 3-4 months, he could read again.

“Before words were shaky and he couldn’t focus on the words. That stopped in 3 – 4 months,” related Newport.

A more significant progress was when he was able to remember what he read a few hours ago.

“After 9 months, he could remember what he read several hours earlier. Before we started coconut oil, he couldn’t finish a sentence reading.”

Having been admitted to a clinical trial, he improved even more by scoring 14 points out of a 78-point cognitive test while other patients on placebo lost a score of 6 points.

Although Steve eventually died in 2016 after having seizures, his mental progress since 2008 has caused a recognition of coconut oil as potential treatment for early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

PHOTO Improvement in drawing clock after 14-day coconut oil intake

Diabetes of the brain

Experts who have conducted autopsy of brains of people who died with Alzheimer’s disease found insulin deficiency in the brain, causing conclusions that Alzheimer’s is diabetes of the brain.

In the same way, even young people in their 20s known to be at risk for Alzheimer’s because of their family background showed decreased glucose uptake in the brain compared to those not at risk.

“There seems to be a conspiracy of small uptake of glucose in the brain due to insulin deficiency and insulin resistance and also a question of efficiency of the functioning of enzymes called PTH complex and of glucose transporters that transport glucose into brain cells.”

Apparently, ketones can bypass this problem of transmitting glucose into the brain.

Ketones in infants

Ketones are essential substances that are even critical to the newborn.

“Ketones are very important to the newborn. Newborns have a very large brain, very active, and requires a lot of calories. Ketones supply some substantial portion of the calories, the energy needed by the newborn brain,” said Newport.

“A baby that’s strictly breast-fed and does not get any formula goes into ketosis within hours of birth and will stay in ketosis.”

Infants use ketones as fuel for the brain, and their brain is ready to take ketones 12 weeks into the pregnancy.

“The pregnant mother is in ketosis. A breastfeeding mother is in ketosis. During fasting, the ketone levels of the newborn and the pregnant or breastfeeding mother will rise much more rapidly than someone else who is not in that condition,” said Newport.

Ketones form part of the brain’s lipids.

“Ketones become building blocks for new lipids in the brain of the newborn including cholesterol which is very important in the brain. Our brain is 70 % fat including a lot of cholesterol.”

Small molecules

The fact that ketones are very small molecules enable them to be taken up easily by the brain as fuel.

Ketones and glucose are both fuel to prop up the TCA cycle (the second stage of cellular respiration) in metabolism as ketones produce an energy molecule called ATP.

“But ketones are more efficient because it bypasses 6 chemical reactions needed by glucose to get into the TCA cycle. Unlike glucose that can’t enter into the cell because of lack of insulin, ketones are more effective because it doesn’t need insulin to get into the cell.”

The body uses up within18-36 hours of starvation its glucose stored in the liver and muscle.

“We use it up very fast. We start breaking down fat into fatty acid for use as fuel for most organs or our body including the heart.”

“Ketones are smaller molecules that cross the brain barrier more quickly. Our brain has metabolic flexibility, and cells can switch in seconds to use of glucose or ketones.”

Fasting

It was found out in the laboratory of Dr. George F. Cahill Jr (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) that brains of human can survive in a time of long period of fasting because of high ketone levels.

There was one lady under Cahill’s trial who wanted to lose weight. She agreed under the laboratory procedure to fast for 40 days with only water, salt tablets, and vitamins. The study found out her brain survived as her ketone levels, one involving beta hydroxybutyrate, rose dramatically as ketones served as fuel for the brain.

“If you’re not starving and you’re eating a typical diet, your ketone level is almost zero. But ketones provided two-thirds of fuel for her brain during starvation.”

That finding was true too on other people.

Ketone brain uptake

Another researcher, Dr, Stephen C. Cunnane (Mc Gill University), has done glucose and ketones PET scans at young, normal healthy people, older cognitively normal healthy people, people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Dr Cunnane was able to show in Alzheimer’s that there are areas in the brain with poor glucose uptake. But those areas of the brain take up ketones more easily.”

Surpisingly, the normal brain needs more fuel than is usually available.

People with normal cognition were found to have 7% gap between the energy the brain needs and the energy it gets. This gap is worse in those with mild MCI and even worst in those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Taking MCT oil at 45 ML per day would fill in that gap for the energy the brain needs for somebody with mild cognitive impairment. That gives hope we may possibly prevent Alzheimer’s occurrence and help those with MCI and those with glucose uptake problems in the brain – Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.”

Survival from ketones

The human race’s brain apparently survived because of ketones. Nowadays, people don’t worry about hunger and famine.

But a long time ago, when human had to hunt and explore for food, hunger was real. Yet, ketones are able to sustain the energy the brain needs in times of famine.

“If a typical diet is rich in carbohydrates, glucose is the predominant fuel for the brain. But humans (in history) had periods of feast and famine. Our ancient ancestors did worry about famine, there’s no grocery store before. They would try to find food, but there’s no food. Thanks for ketones that we can use as fuel for the brain during fasting and starvation,” said Newport.

Astrocytes

Another study involved astrocytes, cells in the brain that nourish nearby neurons.

“With some of the different cultures, they gave either oleic acid, or caprilic acid or C8 or lauric acid which is C12 (found in coconut oil). What they found was lauric acid directly (simulated) ketone production in these astrocytes,” said Newport.

“Because the lauric acid levels remained high after a long period of time, there may be more opportunities for the brain to use it, assuming it crosses the blood brain barrier. So a couple of things needs to be improved. Lauric acid crosses the blood brain barrier – if some scientists figure that out, that will be great.”

Microorganisms

As there are also new developments leading to assumptions certain microorganisms may cause Alzheimer’s disease, experts are studying the use of coconut oil for such treatment as VCO is recognized to have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial ability.

One of such microorganism that may be causing Alzheimer’s is the herpes simplex virus. Microorganisms as a cause of Alzheimer’s too is the subject of some researches.

Other diseases

It started as treatment a long time ago for epilepsy.

Now ketogenic diet with the use of coconut oil is being seen as potential cure too for Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS, brain injury, oxygen toxicity, and glioblastoma which is a very aggressive brain tumor.

“Mild nutritional ketosis is really the low end of ketone levels –and that’s the kind of where we are if we consume coconut oil or MCT oil. The classic ketogenic diet has 10 times higher than that.”

This high ketogenic level has been used for almost 100 years to treat children with epilepsy successfully – eliminating or reducing seizures.

This has very high fat diet– 85-90 percent fat of the calories. All the calories is fat, Newport stressed.

“They calculate it to help a child grow, to maintain a lean body mass, less of carbs, very very small amount, 10-12 grams per day of carbohydrates. If you eat somewhere between 50-60% of your calories from fat, that is a point that will support ketosis. The more fat you eat, the higher the level of ketones you get over time, if you’re consistent.”

This is for serious health conditions.

“If you’re very serious about it, if you have a serious condition, it requires a lot of very strict calculation of your diet. Everything has to be weighed. It’s a very serious endeavor for people dealing with epilepsy and cancer.”

MCT sources

MCT from coconut oil offers as an important source of ketones that are not likely to be found in the usual Western diet from peanut oil, soybean oil, or corn oil, fish oil.

Surprisingly, the human breast milk contains MCT. Fats (cheeses and milk) of animals—goats, cows, and sheep—also contain MCT. Another MCT source is palm kernel oil. (Growth Publishing for UCAP)

CAPTIONS:
1. Dr. Mary Newport
2. Coconut Oil & Low Carb Solution
3. Improvement in Drawing Clock after 14-Day Coconut Oil Intake

Dr. Mary Newport

Rice tariffication bill to dampen agri investments, threaten food security amid climate change

Rice tariffication bill to dampen agri investments, threaten food security amid climate change

Feb. 12, 2019

Rice Tariffication Senate Bill 1998 will dampen investments in agriculture and threaten food security amid imminent climate change, private sector group Philippine Chamber of Agriculture & Food Inc. (PCAFI) said.

SB 1998 will send a strong signal that investments are discouraged in the farm sector and imports are welcome. It is abandoning the welfare and livelihood of Filipino farmers.

“Since rice is the most political of commodities, if the government will be seen as having abandoned the rice farmers to the ravages of unfair trade so that consumers can savor the magic of the market, then investments in the sector will shrink,” said PCAFI, led by Danilo V. Fausto, president.

“Why produce when the signal from the government is to import? How the rice farmers will be treated will determine how the rest of the sectors will be so treated.”

However, a more threatening impact of SB 1998 is the food security threat as world supply of rice in the market is vulnerable to shrinkage due to the imminent climate change.

In January 2010, an issue paper of the United States Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (USCAST) stated:

“Globally, agriculture faces unprecedented challenges such as increases in the demand for livestock-based foods in Asia, climate change that threatens to decrease production capacity in many places around the world, and increasing demand due to continuing rapid population growth in some poor countries.”

An additional crucial problem in the search for success in agriculture is the utterly useless and misleading ideological debate about liberalization and protectionism.

This has bogged down the sector since our accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.

The dominant framework has been, of course, liberalization as it has been held in almost sacred regard in the corridors of government power and the halls of the academe.

There was this notion that the magic of the market will force Philippine Agriculture to become competitive.  As such, it bears much of the responsibility for the current sad state of neglect and abuse of the sector.

Protectionism, on the other hand, only held nominal sway in the rice sector because of the much-undermined Quantitative Restriction (QR).

We need to be free of this debate that will bring us nowhere.  The pragmatic approach is to look to those who have succeeded.

On December 20, 2018, the United States passed another Farm Bill into law granting subsidies to both producers and consumers in the amount of US$867 billion in the next 5 years.  It must be noted that these are federal subsidies and do not include those granted at the State level.

Subsidies in one form or another have been the template for other countries with successful agricultural sectors.

Strangely, since 1995, our policymakers and some of those in the academe have been silent regarding the issue of subsidies despite the fact it was the main reason why the DOHA Development Round of the WTO was torpedoed by developed countries.

China, like the United States, also did not allow itself to fall prey to any ideological approach.

Ramgopal Agarwala, who for three years was chief of the Economics Unit in the Beijing Office of the World Bank, stated in his 2002 article “The Rise of China: How to Make it an Opportunity and not a Threat” that among the key elements of the reform process was “avoiding shock therapies and adopting a gradualist approach and making careful sequencing of reforms in the light of ground realities.”

Agarwala also took note that “China took the general insights on reform from its own experience as well as that of other countries and then determined what would work given the current conditions at the time of reforms.

Of course, the Rice Tariffication bill provides for an apparent automatic appropriation for 5 years in the amount of PhP10 billion.

In addition, all rice tariffs collected will go to a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).  These are supposedly the safety nets.  EXPERIENCE, however, teaches that even safety nets provided for by LAW can be undermined by ideology and poor governance.

The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 (RA 8435) also provided for an automatic appropriation of P 17 billion annually for six years on top of the regular Department of Agriculture budget but it never happened.

The 1995 Tariffication Act (RA 8178) established an Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF).

The source of the fund was the tariffs collected from imports under the Minimum-Access-Volume (MAV) we have committed to the WTO.  Unfortunately, the ACEF is more known for corruption than enhancing agricultural competitiveness.  These safety nets seemed to be more for show because up to now the government has no trade data system to determine if an importation is in accordance with the rules of the WTO in terms of valuation and trade remedies, if any.

As such, do we not owe the rice sector a more gradual approach and a modicum of sequencing in implementing tariffication?  Do we not owe the consumers a viable rice sector that would provide balance to imports which also vulnerable to climate change and avoid a repeat or worse of the Rice Crisis of 2008?

If we are to win the struggle for the future of agriculture, a more pragmatic approach as practiced by countries like the US and China should be the way forward. End (Growth Publishing for PCAFI)

Private farm group PCAFI vehemently opposes rice import liberalization bill, presses Duterte for Filipino Farmers First policy to support local farmers

Private farm group PCAFI vehemently opposes rice import liberalization bill, presses Duterte for Filipino Farmers First policy to support local farmers
Danilo V. Fausto PCAFI PresidentFebruary 11, 2019

Private farm group PCAFI has vehemently opposed rice import liberalization bill SB 1998 and urged Duterte Administration to pour full subsidy in a “ Filipino Farmers First” policy rather than supporting foreign farmers.
The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture & Food Inc (PCAFI) opposed Senate Bill (SB) 1998 as it presses government to adopt a Filipino Farmers First rice policy.
PCAFI said the Duterte Administration should zero in on a policy adopted by the United States and China pouring significant subsidy for the farm sector.
“On Dec. 20, 2018, the US passed another Farm Bill into law granting subsidies to both producers and consumers in the amount of US$867 billion in the next 5 years. It must be noted that these are federal subsidies and do not include those granted at the State level,” said PCAFI.
Allowing imports to flood the Philippines’ rice market is not a “magic wand” that will just push down rice prices in the interest of consumers.
It will have tremendously numerous adverse repercussions and will abandon Filipino rice farmers. Investments in rice farming will collapse.
“How the rice farmers are treated will determine how the rest of the sectors will be treated,” said PCAFI led by Danilo V. Fausto, president.
“Since rice is most political of commodities, if the government will be seen as having abandoned trice farmers to the ravages of unfair trade so that consumers can savor the magic of the market, then investments in the sector will shrink. Why produce when the signal from the government is to import?” PCAFI said.
SB 1998 may threaten food security. The imminent climate change can unexpectedly shrink global rice supply anytime.
The United States Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (USCAST) stated “Globally, agriculture faces unprecedented challenges such as increases in the demand for livestock-based foods in Asia, climate change that threatens to decrease production capacity in many places around the world, and increasing demand due to continuing rapid population growth in some poor countries,” said PCAFI.
The rice import liberalization is proposed under SB 1998 led by Senator Cynthia Villar which replaces quantitative restriction on rice with tariffs.
Providing subsidies to farmers has been the success track of countries – US and China– that have become leaders in agriculture, said PCAFI.
“Subsidies in one form or another have been the template for other countries with successful agricultural sectors. Strangely, since 1995, our policymakers and some of those in the academe have been silent regarding the issue of subsidies despite the fact it was the main reason why the DOHA Development Round of the WTO was torpedoed by developed countries.”
“If we are to win the struggle for the future of agriculture, a more pragmatic approach as practiced by countries like the US and China should be the way forward.”
In the first place, Filipino farmers never really enjoyed increased income from the liberalization ideologies of World Trade Organization advocates as some Filipino economists have imbibed.
“They (farmers) haven’t even savored (the magic wand of liberalization) with the 1995 shock liberalization).”
Debating on liberalization and protectionism is useless and misleading. This has bogged down the sector since our accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, according to PCAFI.
Farm liberalization has subjected Filipino farmers to abuse.
“The dominant framework has been liberalization as it has been held in almost sacred regard in the corridors of government power and the halls of the academe. There’s a notion the magic of the market will force Philippine Agriculture to become competitive. As such, it bears much of the responsibility for the current sad state of neglect and abuse of the sector.”
Even the incumbent quantitative restriction (QR) policy, which imposes a maximum volume per crop year that may be imported by the National Food Authority, is a weak policy that will not optimize opportunities for Filipino farmers nor boost food production.
“Protectionism, on the other hand, only held nominal sway in the rice sector because of the much-undermined QR. We need to be free of this debate that will bring us nowhere.”
China, like the United States, also did not allow itself to fall prey to any ideological approach.
RamgopalAgarwala, who for three years was chief of the Economics Unit in the Beijing Office of the World Bank, stated in his 2002 article “The Rise of China: How to Make it an Opportunity and not a Threat” that among the key elements of the reform process in China was avoiding shock therapies and adopting a gradualist approach and making careful sequencing of reforms in the light of ground realities.”
Agarwala also took note that “China took the general insights on reform from its own experience as well as that of other countries and then determined what would work given the current conditions at the time of reforms.
The Rice Tariffication bill provides for an apparent automatic appropriation for 5 years in the amount of P10 billion.
In addition, all rice tariffs collected will go to a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). These are supposedly the safety nets.
Experience, however, teaches that even safety nets provided for by Law can be undermined by ideology and poor governance.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 (RA 8435) also provided for an automatic appropriation of P17 billion annually for six years on top of the regular Department of Agriculture budget but it never happened.
The 1995 Tariffication Act (RA 8178) established an Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF). The source of the fund was the tariffs collected from imports under the Minimum-Access-Volume (MAV) we have committed to the WTO.
Unfortunately, ACEF is more known for corruption than enhancing agricultural competitiveness. These safety nets seemed to be more for show because up to now the government has no trade data system to determine if an importation is in accordance with the rules of the WTO in terms of valuation and trade remedies, if any.
“As such, do we not owe the rice sector a more gradual approach and a modicum of sequencing in implementing tariffication? Do we not owe the consumers a viable rice sector that would provide balance to imports which also vulnerable to climate change and avoid a repeat or worse of the Rice Crisis of 2008?” End (Growth Publishing for PCAFI)

PCAFI opposes rice import liberalization bill

Danilo V. Fausto PCAFI President

Private farm group PCAFI vehemently opposes rice import liberalization bill, presses Duterte for Filipino Farmers First policy to support local farmers
February 11, 2019

Private farm group PCAFI has vehemently opposed rice import liberalization bill SB 1998 and urged Duterte Administration to pour full subsidy in a “ Filipino Farmers First” polivy rather than supporting foreign farmers.
The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture & Food Inc (PCAFI) opposed Senate Bill (SB) 1998 as it presses government to adopt a Filipino Farmers First rice policy.
PCAFI said the Duterte Administration should zero in on a policy adopted by the United States and China pouring significant subsidy for the farm sector.
“On Dec. 20, 2018, the US passed another Farm Bill into law granting subsidies to both producers and consumers in the amount of US$867 billion in the next 5 years. It must be noted that these are federal subsidies and do not include those granted at the State level,” said PCAFI.
Allowing imports to flood the Philippines’ rice market is not a “magic wand” that will push just push down rice prices in the interest of consumers.
It will have tremendously numerous adverse repercussions and will abandon Filipino rice farmers. Investments in rice farming will collapse.
“How the rice farmers are treated will determine how the rest of the sectors will be treated,”said PCAFI led by Danilo V. Fausto, president.
“Since rice is most political of commodities, if the government will be seen as having abandoned trice farmers to the ravages of unfair trade so that consumers can savor the magic of the market, then investments in the sector will shrink. Why produce when the signal from the government is to import?” PCAFI said.
SB 1998 may threaten food security. The imminent climate change can unexpectedly shrink global rice supply anytime.
The United States Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (USCAST) stated “Globally, agriculture faces unprecedented challenges such as increases in the demand for livestock-based foods in Asia, climate change that threatens to decrease production capacity in many places around the world, and increasing demand due to continuing rapid population growth in some poor countries,” said PCAFI.
The rice import liberalization is proposed under SB 1998 led by Senator Cynthia Villar which replaces quantitative restriction on rice with tariffs.
Providing subsidies to farmers has been the success track of countries – US and China– that have become leaders in agriculture, said PCAFI led by Danilo V. Fausto, president.
“Subsidies in one form or another have been the template for other countries with successful agricultural sectors. Strangely, since 1995, our policymakers and some of those in the academe have been silent regarding the issue of subsidies despite the fact it was the main reason why the DOHA Development Round of the WTO was torpedoed by developed countries.”
“If we are to win the struggle for the future of agriculture, a more pragmatic approach as practiced by countries like the US and China should be the way forward.”
In the first place, Filipino farmers never really enjoyed increased income from the liberalization ideologies of World Trade Organization advocates as some Filipino economists have imbibed.
“They (farmers) haven’t even savored (the magic wand of liberalization) with the 1995 shock liberalization).”
Debating on liberalization and protectionism is useless and misleading. This has bogged down the sector since our accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, according to PCAFI.
The proposal for farm liberalization has subjected Filipino farmers to abuse.
“The dominant framework has been liberalization as it has been held in almost sacred regard in the corridors of government power and the halls of the academe. There’s a notion the magic of the market will force Philippine Agriculture to become competitive. As such, it bears much of the responsibility for the current sad state of neglect and abuse of the sector.”
Even the QR policy, which imposes a maximum volume per crop year that may be imported by the National Food Authority, is a weak policy that will not optimize opportunities for Filipino farmers nor boost food production.
“Protectionism, on the other hand, only held nominal sway in the rice sector because of the much-undermined QR. We need to be free of this debate that will bring us nowhere.”
China, like the United States, also did not allow itself to fall prey to any ideological approach.
RamgopalAgarwala, who for three years was chief of the Economics Unit in the Beijing Office of the World Bank, stated in his 2002 article “The Rise of China: How to Make it an Opportunity and not a Threat” that among the key elements of the reform process in China was avoiding shock therapies and adopting a gradualist approach and making careful sequencing of reforms in the light of ground realities.”
Agarwala also took note that “China took the general insights on reform from its own experience as well as that of other countries and then determined what would work given the current conditions at the time of reforms.
The Rice Tariffication bill provides for an apparent automatic appropriation for 5 years in the amount of P10 billion.
In addition, all rice tariffs collected will go to a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). These are supposedly the safety nets.
Experience, however, teaches that even safety nets provided for by Law can be undermined by ideology and poor governance.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 (RA 8435) also provided for an automatic appropriation of P17 billion annually for six years on top of the regular Department of Agriculture budget but it never happened.
The 1995 Tariffication Act (RA 8178) established an Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF). The source of the fund was the tariffs collected from imports under the Minimum-Access-Volume (MAV) we have committed to the WTO.
Unfortunately, ACEF is more known for corruption than enhancing agricultural competitiveness. These safety nets seemed to be more for show because up to now the government has no trade data system to determine if an importation is in accordance with the rules of the WTO in terms of valuation and trade remedies, if any.
“As such, do we not owe the rice sector a more gradual approach and a modicum of sequencing in implementing tariffication? Do we not owe the consumers a viable rice sector that would provide balance to imports which also vulnerable to climate change and avoid a repeat or worse of the Rice Crisis of 2008?” End (Growth Publishing for PCAFI)

Filipino companies pressed to pursue trade certification to seize Europe, organic market valued at $49.4 billion

un sustainable development goals
Filipino companies pressed to pursue trade certification to seize Europe, organic market valued at $49.4 billion
January 29, 2019

Filipino companies were pressed to pursue trade certifications for coconut products to raise export earnings especially from organic food valued at $49.4 billion and will grow by 30-40% in 5 years due to countries’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Organic food products continue to grow with $3.5 billion in new sales in 2017 from the previous year. It now accounts for more than 5% of total food sales in the US.

”Consumption of organic food in the US grew by 6.4%. That’s 30-40 percent increase in consumption in 5 years. That’s not too far from now. And imagine the increase in demand in terms of volume. And somebody has to supply,” said Sanjaya K. Pathirage, Control Union regional manager.

The Organic Trade Association reported that even sales of non-organic food products increased by 7.4% in 2017.

Agreement on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) signed by the United Nations’ 193 member-states is one of the major factors that will drive future market growth.

Giant companies Procter & Gamble, BASF, and Cargill have already collaborated on the production of sustainable certified coconut oil in the PhIlippines and Indonesia.

Under this German government-initiated program, companies are involving more than 10,000 farmers into their entire supply chain to help uplift farmers’ lives.

“They implement actions the world will agree on. It’s not just 193 member states, but the private sector committed to it,” said Pathirage.

For one, Unilever already integrated 15 sustainable goals into their entire overall strategic plan. It will bring health benefits to more than 1 billion people, reducing products’ adverse environmental impact while it taps the talent of 160,000 people.

“Global warming is real, glaciers are melting– Europe is hitting 40 degrees. People are complaining. These changes are interesting. It will change the way we do business,” he said.
Control Union, a global network of independent service companies, noted trade certifications will create important income from value added for coconut products.

Added profit

“If you can meet requirements of your customers, you may also add value to your product
A certification program as ISO 9001 is used to implement quality system,” said Pathirage.

“Nobody will pay you a high price because you have ISO 9001. But having a quality management system will enable you to optimize capacity to improve efficiency.”

ISO 9001 improves quality on a management’s seven aspects—customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision making, relationship management.

Obtaining quality management certification brings added profit as it cuts costs.
“When you lack a quality system, you have to add a lot of cost to rectify issues of quality. (You need to) optimize quality management against cost of failure.”

Land consolidation

In a farm production, obtaining a trade certification for a small 2-hectare land may not make sense to generate improved income with cost equivalent to $250 per hectare, according to a Control Union study.

But consolidating land into a bigger 500 hectares will significantly cut certification cost down to a minimal $10 per hectare.

A cost-benefit study on virgin coconut oil (VCO) showed that certification cost for 2 hectares will bring $310 decrease in profit. However, a consolidated land of 10,000 hectares will generate VCO value of $18.673 million and increased profit of $868,550.

Certification Schemes

Ämong profit-increasing certification schemes Filipino companies may comply with are Global Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and ISO 22,000.

“ISO 22000 is a food safety tool. Organic is increasing value. It helps increase volume of sales profitability and pricing. It helps you build topline. Fairtrade USA has now recognized coconut as product within their scheme, and they’re working towards improving it.”

Rainforest Alliance is GAP with focus on environmental sustainability and support for host farming communities. There are several other certification schemes for food safety – ISO 22,000, HACCP, IFS, GMP Plus and for occupational safety, OHSAS.

There are certification schemes for carbon foot printing, water foot printing, and food safety for certain religious groups, (Halal, Kosher). ISO 26,000 is related to Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR.

Transparency

Transparency and reporting are also now a part of compliance to sustainability, community support, and related SDG goals.
Global Reporting Iniative (GRI) was first started by accounting firm Lloyds and Pryce Waterhouse.

“They used it as assurance tool, and we players moved into it. There are different assurance standards that companies got involved in. Singapore Exchange has mandated to people who are trading to either report or explain their sustainability related commitments.”

Malaysia, Indonesia, Hongkong followed suit with a mandate to public listed companies to communicate environmental-sustainability footprints.

Legal requirements

Legal compliance in specific countries will also help companies access organic markets.

“There are legal constraints regarding marketing of organic products like it can’t enter Europe or America, so a legal framework in a geographical area becomes an important factor.”

Millennials, technology

The growth of the millennial generation and technology will also drive increased organic market.

“The way millennials make choices have changed a lot. The way they look at the world. The value they perceive is very different from previous generations. They want to make responsible decisions to make betterment of the planet.
Through internet and related technologies, the coconut craze has fast spread with reports of its good health benefits.

“This will change the way we interact with anything, with food, with whatever we consume. It will drive consumerism in a whole new level. Today before enjoying your meal, you put it on Facebook. It has given a different dimension on choices. I’m more interested now on how my friends are living their lives,” said Pathirage.

Facebook, Instagram, search engines, big data-small data enabled delivery of information different way or on a personal basis.

”It creates a personal experience right in front of you. Your choice is driven by these very unique special techniques that they use in marketing.” End (Growth Publishing for UCAP)

PHOTO CAPTIONS
1. UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
2. Unilever Strategic Plan
3. VCO Cost-Benefit

vco certification cost benefit

Ph leads with Rockefeller University in pioneering clinical research on VCO anti-inflammatory property

Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell
Ph leads with Rockefeller University in pioneering clinical research on VCO anti-inflammatory property
December 23, 2018

The Philippines is leading a pioneering evidence-based research on the anti-inflammatory property of virgin coconut oil (VCO) together with Rockefeller University.
The study is envisioned to be a multinational program. It is expanding earlier research proving VCO’s potential to be a medically-proven treatment for inflammation.
“We’ll get help from India. They have dermatologists. They are very good in research. Thailand, Singapore maybe, Indonesia definitely I can get their residents and anywhere-else so that we have validity in numbers so we can now have multinational studies,” said Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell, entrepreneurial founder of VMV Hypoallergenics.
Research such as this, much as other clinical researches pursued by VMV Skin Research Centre Clinics (VMV-SKRC), will make VCO more recognized as a medical treatment, according to Rowell.
“The best evidence studies that we doctors do is what we call randomized clinical trials,” said Rowell in “Interactive Lecture on Lauric Monoglyceride in Dermatology Application.”
The Philippines has introduced VCO to the world in 2000-2001 and remains to be world’s number one VCO exporter. But scientific researches, sought for by opinion-maker doctors and consumers alike, should establish this leadership.
The other types of evidence-based research that medical experts recognize as the best evidence-type are called “double blinded randomized clinical trials” and “meta analysis,” a review/analysis of many researches.
VMV-SKRC is completing a research on VCO’s anti-inflammatory trait that just proved VCO is far more anti-inflammatory compared to corn oil.
In September 2016, VMV-SKRC made public its “Anti Inflammatory Diet Study” on VCO and corn oil. It was funded by the government-run Philippine Institute of Traditional Health Care (PITAHC) and was carried out in collaboration with Rockefeller University-New York.
It chose corn oil to represent long chain fatty acids and coconut oil for medium chain fatty acids. It aimed to study the oils when taken internally by patients as part of food.
One set of patients took coconut oil as part of diet, and the other set took corn oil. It is a double-blinded type of clinical trial where neither the researchers nor the patients know what type of food they are taking.
“We got regional biopsies at the beginning of the study and non regional for control.
I was stunned –when we finally opened it. The amazing thing about coconut oil is that it is so much more anti inflammatory than corn oil,” Rowell said.
Rockefeller University is also carrying out genetic studies called RNA sequencing of these two sets of patients.
Proving the anti-inflammatory quality of VCO may have numerous applications in medical treatment.
“Inflammation is the key of mechanism where diseases whether it’s in the skin or psoriasis, or dermatology or even acne. All of that is given by inflammation. That same inflammation inside the body –diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, and others,” Rowell said.
VMV has already been using coconut oil as treatment for psoriasis and other skin diseases as a far more effective cure than other treatments. For skin asthma or “hika ng balat,” coconut oil proved to be an excellent cure.
“Coconut oil practically eradicated it. Olive oil is able to do it up to 50%.”
What is good about coconut oil is it has clinical or biological mechanism of action in treatment rather than enzymatic which is how antibiotics work in the body—going against enzymes’ action.
“Coconut oil is different. It’s medium chain, and as such carbon chain penetrates through the wall in the cell membrane.”
Besides, it has very light molecular weight of 256, compared to olive oil, 857 and sunflower oil, 876. The big fatty acids cannot penetrate into the skin.
VMV-SKRC’s clinical researches on such skin treatment substantiated its claims. Verallo herself has published more than 150 articles in dermatology scientific journals.
However, she stressed the Philippines has to do more clinical trials on VCO.
“The world is watching and reading people that are evidence-based, she said.
“In the Philippines, if we are to produce more understanding by the world that coconut oil is really quite safe internally and with food, we need to convince the doctors, the academics because they are after all the opinion leaders. They are the ones who told the rest of the world that coconut oil back in the 50s, 60s and onwards was not good for the diet.” End (Growth Publishing for United Coconut Associations of the Philippines)

Farm sector should tap digital agriculture, disruptive technologies to catch up with food security, raise agri contribution to jobs, GDP

Farm sector should tap digital agriculture, disruptive technologies to catch up with food security, raise agri contribution to jobs, GDP
December 29, 2018

The farm sector should transform into adapting digital agriculture and disruptive breeding technologies in order to catch up with predicted food scarcity and raise agriculture contribution to jobs and GDP.
The farm sector in Southeast Asia is the least digitized sector of the economy with only $4.6 billion invested for agriculture technology in 2016 according to AgFunder.
On the contrary, the needed investment for agriculture technology in the region totals to $265 billion per year according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Southeast Asian agriculture expert Dr. Paul S. Teng said in a consultation organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) that technology adoption will be a key determinant of farm growth.
Teng stressed digital agriculture, which primarily refers to Internet of Things (IoT) enables knowledge intensity in agriculture. For one, agriculture production depends highly on weather stability, and IoT provides higher accuracy of information on data-enabled agriculture through more accurate weather forecasting.
IoT—mobile computing data sensors, satellite and imagery— contributes to information on irrigation, soil condition, and topography which are critical in farming.
Technologies in financing (fintech) will also be pivotal in farm development—providing time-sensitive small loans to farmers.
“Given that time-sensitive small loans are the biggest challenge that farmers face, it’ll be interesting to see solutions such as record-keeping platforms that enable small and marginal farmers to keep records, track their farming activity and build a credit profile,” said Teng
Smart phones are instrumental in collaboration between fintech startups and traditional farm financing entities.
“This would help farmers in effectively building a knowledge base that will help them get access to favourable loan terms that correlate with their farming activities,” said Teng in the SEARCA-organized “Reshaping Agriculture & Development in SE Asia.”
New biology will also help raise food production
“Gene-Editing biotechnologies (CRISPR, TALENs, Zinc Finger Nucleases) provide capability – the ability to edit native crop genes coding for important traits and generating non-transgenic plants. Genome-edited (important) crops include, soybean, maize, wheat, rice, potato, tomato, and peanuts.”
These are among the technologies that should be invested in, according to AgFunder 2018:
• Farm Management Software, Sensing & IoT – Ag data capturing devices, decision support software, big data analytics
• Robotics, Mechanisation & Equipment – On-farm machinery, automation, drone manufacturers, grow equipment
• Novel Farming Systems – Indoor farms, aquaculture, insect, algae & microbe production (excludes consumer home grow kits)
• Novel seeds – Biotech seeds
• Bioenergy & Biomaterials – On-farm agriculture waste processing, biomaterials production, anaerobic digesters (excludes supply chain companies)
• Agribusiness Marketplaces – Commodities trading platforms, online input procurement, equipment leasing used by farmers
• Farm-to-Consumer eGrocery – Online platforms for farmers to sell and deliver their produce direct to consumers
• Miscellaneous – Land management tech, financial services for farmers
But on top of investing in technology, Teng said the agriculture sector should be directed to this transformation process toward the following:
• Managing Climate Uncertainties and Water Scarcity
• Agro-industrial Value Chains and Integration of Smallholders
• Farm Tourism and Family Farming
As global population is projected to reach to 10 billion by 2050, worldwide farm productivity should be raised by 60% in 2050 in order to close the food gap.
In the Philippines, agriculture’s contribution to GDP (gross domestic product) as of 2016 dropped to 9.7% from 19.14 in 1990.
Nevertheless, employment in agriculture was still significant at 27% of population depend on it for livelihood.as of 2016.
Importation in developing countries like the Philippines is still intensive to which the economy depends to sustain people’s nutrition.
“ASEAN countries produce much (top 3 for a range of agrifood products) but still depend on imports from outside region to meet needs for animal feed (soybean) and wheat . There’s still high prevalence of hunger and under-nutrition.” End (Growth Publishing for SEARCA).

Ph leads with Rockefeller University in pioneering clinical research on VCO anti-inflammatory property

Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell

Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell

December 23, 2018

By Melody Mendoza Aguiba

The Philippines is leading a pioneering evidence-based research on the anti-inflammatory property of virgin coconut oil (VCO) together with Rockefeller University.

The study is envisioned to be a multinational program. It is expanding earlier research proving VCO’s potential to be a medically-proven treatment for inflammation.

“We’ll get help from India. They have dermatologists. They are very good in research. Thailand, Singapore maybe, Indonesia definitely I can get their residents and anywhere-else so that we have validity in numbers so we can now have multinational studies,” said Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell, entrepreneurial founder of VMV Hypoallergenics.

Research such as this, much as other clinical researches pursued by VMV Skin Research Centre Clinics (VMV-SKRC), will make VCO more recognized as a medical treatment, according to Rowell.

“The best evidence studies that we doctors do is what we call randomized clinical trials,” said Rowell in “Interactive Lecture on Lauric Monoglyceride in Dermatology Application.”

The Philippines has introduced VCO to the world in 2000-2001 and remains to be world’s number one VCO exporter. But scientific researches, sought for by opinion-maker doctors and consumers alike, should establish this leadership.

The other types of evidence-based research that medical experts recognize as the best evidence-type are called “double blinded randomized clinical trials” and “meta analysis,” a review/analysis of many researches.

VMV-SKRC is completing a research on VCO’s anti-inflammatory trait that just proved VCO is far more anti-inflammatory compared to corn oil.

In September 2016, VMV-SKRC made public its “Anti Inflammatory Diet Study” on VCO and corn oil. It was funded by the government-run Philippine Institute of Traditional Health Care (PITAHC).  It was carried out in collaboration with Rockefeller University-New York.

It chose corn oil to represent long chain fatty acids and coconut oil for medium chain fatty acids. It aimed to study the oils when taken internally by patients as part of food.

One set of patients took coconut oil as part of diet, and the other set took corn oil. It is a double-blinded type of clinical trial where neither the researchers nor the patients know what type of food they are taking.

“We got regional biopsies at the beginning of the study and non regional for control.
I was stunned –when we finally opened it. The amazing thing about coconut oil is that it is so much more anti inflammatory than corn oil,” Rowell said.

Rockefeller University is also carrying out genetic studies called RNA sequencing of these two sets of patients.

Proving the anti-inflammatory quality of VCO may have numerous applications in medical treatment.

“Inflammation is the key of mechanism of diseases –whether in the skin or psoriasis, or dermatology or even acne. All of that is given by inflammation. That is the same with inflammation inside the body -–diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, and others,” Rowell said.

VMV has already been using coconut oil as treatment for psoriasis and other skin diseases as a far more effective cure than other treatments. For skin asthma or “hika ng balat,” coconut oil proved to be an excellent cure.

“Coconut oil practically eradicated it. Olive oil is able to do it up to 50%.”

What is good about coconut oil is it has clinical or biological mechanism of action in treatment rather than enzymatic which is how antibiotics work in the body—going against enzymes’ action.

“Coconut oil is different. It’s medium chain, and as such carbon chain penetrates through the wall in the cell membrane.”

Besides, it has very light molecular weight of 256, compared to olive oil, 857 and sunflower oil, 876. The big fatty acids cannot penetrate into the skin.

VMV-SKRC’s clinical researches on such skin treatment substantiated its claims. Rowell herself has published more than 150 articles in dermatology scientific journals.

However, she stressed the Philippines has to do more clinical trials on VCO.

“The world is watching, and people are reading researches that are evidence-based, she said.

“In the Philippines, if we are to produce more understanding by the world that coconut oil is really quite safe internally and with food, we need to convince the doctors, the academics because they are after all the opinion leaders. They are the ones who told the rest of the world that coconut oil back in the ’50s, ’60s and onwards was not good for the diet.”  Melody Mendoza Aguiba