PRESS RELEASE Urban farm within Payatas dumpsite, QC to promote vegetable consumption, jobs creation,  food security

July 28, 2021

 An 800-square meter urban farm will be set up in Payatas, Quezon City by Bayer with an aim to promote vegetable consumption and help in food security.

   The Bayer Kubo project is in partnership with Rise Against Hunger Philippines, AGREA Foundation, and Puso ng Ama Foundation, a grassroots-based organization that extends social aid to impoverished communities.

   For the intended farm area, there have been efforts from residents to grow vegetables there. However, it remains underdeveloped as they lack the knowledge and experience to get  good yields and sustain production.

   “We’ve started engaging with volunteer community members in Payatas whom we intend to train on ideal farming practices,” said Bryan Rivera, head of communications and public affairs for Bayer Philippines. “Beyond growing food, the training will also include financial literacy and basic business skills to help them sustain the farm long term.”

Bayer trains housewives, the jobless, former scavengers in Payatas dumpsite on ideal farming practices

   In its global sustainability targets, Bayer has a goal of reaching out to 100 million smallholder farmers to support their livelihood by 2030. While urban farming is a small fraction from this aspiration, the Bayer Kubo project in Payatas will be Bayer’s third urban farm and it expects to develop more urban communities into food and income-generating venues. Bayer’s other projects are in Taguig City and Calauan, Laguna.

   To be grown in Payatas are “pinakbet” vegetables, including ampalaya, eggplant, okra, squash, and sitao (string beans). The popular dish, originated in Ilocos region,    is nutrient-dense with its variety of healthy ingredients.

   Bayer reinforced its commitment to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in a recent announcement of new portfolio innovations and a business strategy for horticulture. The strategy focuses on activities that deliver tailored solutions to the farm, advance sustainable innovations on the farm and address value chain and consumer needs beyond the farm.

   “Only a fraction of the global population comes close to consuming the daily recommended serving of fruits and vegetables,” said Inci Dannenberg, head of global vegetable seeds at Bayer.      

   “In the UN’s International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, Bayer is doubling down on its approach to enabling growers and partners to address the barriers to improving fruit and vegetable consumption in order to achieve Health for All, Hunger for None.”

   The horticulture strategy is underpinned by Bayer’s leading genetics, crop protection and digital capabilities, which provide growers with the tools they need for smarter, on-farm decision making, and consumers with the quality and nutrition they need to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Bayer will improve the present urban farm in Payatas with its expert horticulturists

   Most recently, the company announced its membership in the Sustainability Initiative for Fruits and Vegetables (SIFAV), alongside other produce industry leaders. SIFAV is a cross-industry platform dedicated to scaling up collaboration and reducing the environmental footprint of fresh food. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Second treatment facility for electronic waste to be put up by DENR, complies with Stockholm commitment to eliminate hazardous materials

July 15, 2021

A second treatment storage disposal (TSD) facility for electronic wastes will be put up by the government in Brgy. Dampalit, Malabon City as part of its commitment to the Stockholm convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)  to control these health and environment-hazard materials.

   The TSD facility in Malabon will be supplementing the handling of electronic (E) wastes that is  now being done in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.

   The two  will be the only Materials Recovery Facility upgraded to TSD facilities in the Philippines that have the capability and permit to treat electronic (e) waste.

   Electronic wastes– also called waste from electric and electronic equipment (WEEE)– such as used computers, television (TV) sets, refrigerators, and cell phones were found to contain toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium.

   Also included in the waste group are persistent organic pollutants (POP) flame retardants like  polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) found in plastic casings.

   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)  held last June 29 a ceremonial signing for the upgrading of the existing MRF to a TSD facility in Malabon City.

ABCs of Waste Management.  Credit- Albion Environmental

   The agreement was signed with UNIDO ((United Nations Industrial Development Organization), Malabon City Local Government Unit, and the Integrated Recycling Industries Inc. (IRI), a Laguna-based company specializing in the reclamation and recycling of useful materials from WEEE, EcoWaste Coalition, DENR-EMB and Globe Telecom, Inc.  

   UNIDO is the implementing agency of the project entitled “Implementation of PCB Management Programs for Electric Cooperatives and Safe e-wastes Management” funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) .

   DENR-EMB recognized the role of the informal sector in the proper handling and disposal of WEEE.

   Globe Telecom Inc. will also provide co-financing for the operations of the MRF/TSD facility.

   “With the upgrading of the MRF (material recovery facility) of Bagong Silang, Caloocan City to a TSD facility for e-wastes, members of the informal sector had been employed in the TSD facility for e-wastes,” said EMB Director William P. Cunado.

   The DENR trains its informal sector-partners on proper dismantling of e-waste and proper management of residuals. 

   As such, exposure to human and environment is controlled as these waste are have been linked with cancer, damage in human nervous system, liver, and reproductive system, and other health ills.  

   The UNIDO-supported project’s target is to collect at least 50,000 cathode ray tubes (CRTs) (which generate POP polybrominated diphenyl ethers) from televisions or computers. At least 26,000 CRTs has been collected as of May 31, 2021.

     There is also a target to treat 600 metric tons of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) oil and PCB contaminated equipment from at least 23 Electric Cooperatives nationwide.

   “The CRTs are coming from households collected by the informal sector (i.e. Samahan ng Mangangalakal and EcoWaste Coalition,” according to an EMB report.

   Collected e-wastes are transferred for proper dismantling and recycling at IRI’s Laguna facility.

   Recognized for such proper e-waste dismantling and disposal are the leaders of Barangay Bagong Silang and Camarin, Caloocan City; Barangay Longos, Malabon; Barangay Capulong, Tondo; and Bagong Silang Junkshop.

   During the ceremonial signing, DENR-EMB also recognized electric cooperatives that agreed to ensure WEEE are properly disposed, treated, and recycled. 

How do pollutants get into the environment? Credit- Green and growing

   These are Central Pangasinan Electric Cooperative (CENPELCO),Tarlac Cooperative INc. (TARELCO), La Union Electric Cooperative (LUELCO), Pangasinan Electric Cooperative (PANELCO), Pampanga Electric Cooperative (PELCO), Ilocos Sur Electric Cooperative, Camarines NOrte Electric Cooperative (CANORECO), MERALCO, and National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

   Eight cooperatives from Regions Regions 1, 3 and 5 have already signed contracts with NRDC for the disposal of waste to the TSD facility. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

PHOTO How do pollutants get into the environment? Credit- Green and growing

Economic study shows higher farm productivity from GM corn in the Philippines

June 30, 2021

About 460,000 Filipino farming families have gained economically from adopting genetically modified (GM) corn as the area planted with this crop has reached around 835,000 hectares in the country since its first regulatory approval in 2002.

   Based on a recent study entitled “Economic Assessment of GM Corn Use in the Philippines”, the total factor productivity growth in the corn industry was estimated to be 11.45% higher due to GM corn adoption.

   In addition, it mentioned that “not only was the gain positive for all household income deciles, it was also inclusive: lower household income deciles benefit from the GM technology more than richer households.”

   The study, authored by Flor Alvarez, Abraham Manalo, and Ramon Clarete, was published in the International Journal of Food Science and Agriculture.

   Its intention was to gauge the economic impact of GM corn over the last 17 years across the country and segmenting into low to high household income.

   “Total welfare gain from adopting GM corn as measured by the equivalent variation of income reached $189.4 million or nearly a tenth of a percent of total household income,” said Alvarez, Manalo and Clarete.

Clean, genetically modified, pest resistant corn. Credit-GLC

   Farmers took advantage of higher income from increased yield from GM corn. From corn’s national average yield of only 3 metric tons per hectare, potential yield from GM corn use can attain double or triple this output.

   Current technologies in the market include Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, which provides built-in resistance against the Asiatic corn borer, one of the most prevalent and destructive insect pests in the Philippines.

   There have been other insect-resistant traits introduced to farmers after these have been thoroughly evaluated and approved by the government using its existing regulatory guidelines on biosafety.

   In addition to insect resistance, herbicide tolerant traits help farmers to conveniently manage weeds that impact corn yields. This technology protects the corn from damage when using glyphosate-based herbicides and promotes minimum tillage, which helps the environment by preventing soil erosion and degradation.

   “We support the livelihood of Filipino farmers through introduction of modern technologies that can help them improve their yields and profits,” said Edilberto de Luna, Executive Director of CropLife Philippines.

   “Through established government biosafety regulations that assess the safety & benefits of GM corn traits to human and animal health, and to the environment, both farmers and consumers gain from these innovations for our country’s food security and resiliency drive.”

   As of October 2020, the Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture has approved 42 GM events in corn. Thirty of these approvals are for direct use as food, feed, or for processing, while twelve are for commercial planting.

   The top corn-producing regions in the Philippines are Cagayan Valley, Socksargen, Northern Mindanao, ARMM, and Ilocos Region. The country’s total corn production increased from 4.5 million metric tons (MT) in 2000 to 8 million MT in 2019.

   GM corn also enabled the Philippines to export corn silage as the disease-resistant corn plants remain free from holes from pest infestation.

   CropLife Philippines is an association of companies that help improve the productivity of Filipino farmers and contribute to Philippine food security in a sustainable way. It belongs to a global and regional network of national associations and member-companies representing the plant science industry.

   CropLife supports innovation, research and development in agriculture through the use of biology, chemistry, biotechnology, plant breeding, other techniques and disciplines. It promotes the benefits and responsible use of products of the plant science industry such as crop protection and modern agricultural biotechnology—all under a sound regulatory framework. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Hybrid corn varieties show high profit potential in Cebu’s biggest corn producing town Asturias, 2,000 new hybrid farmers targeted

June 20, 2021

Three hybrid corn varieties of Bayer led by DEKALB 9118S topped a corn competition in Asturias, Cebu with a computed yield of 8.3 metric tons per hectare (MT/ha) and are seen to uplift farmers’ lives in Cebu’s biggest corn-producing town.

   Developed to have good resistance against tough corn diseases, particularly foliar disease, banded leaf sheath blight (BLSB), and stalk rot disease, DEKALB 9118S seized the highest net income standing from the local government-organized corn derby in Asturias. On return on investment, it was pegged at 84.7% showing a net income of more than P45,000 per hectare.

   The corn derby was conducted in a 4.5-hectare farm in Asturias, Cebu owned by Virginia Farms. The group co-hosted the competition with the objective of assessing the performance of different hybrid corn varieties available in the market.

   The municipality of Asturias and the provincial government of Cebu is aspiring to raise

corn production while also helping raise the livelihood levels of farmers.

   “Asturias is now the biggest in the whole of Cebu island province in terms of land area planted to hybrid corn. We are also the highest corn yielding town,” according to Asturias Municipal Agriculturist Jade Mesias who co-administered the corn derby.

Nice and clean Bayer pest resistant hybrid corn. Credit-GLP 

  While the Cebu is not a major producer of yellow corn in the country, the province has a huge demand and relies on neighboring islands for its requirements. Given, Asturia’s target is to grow the corn area there to meet the needs of feed millers in the province.

   “Agriculture is the lifeblood of Asturias’s economy. The impact will be very significant, both socially and economically if we’re able to plant more area with hybrid corn,” said Mesias.

   From the corn derby, other Bayer varieties that ranked second and third were DEKALB 9919S and DEKALB 6919S, respectively. DEKALB 9919S had an ROI of 78.7% with 7.9 MT/ha, while DEKALB 6919S obtained 71.3% ROI at 7.5 MT/ha.

   “Aside from being the top performer in the Asturias corn derby, DEKALB 9118S characteristics include high shelling recovery at 84%, which indicates heavy grains once the corn ears are removed from the cobs,” said Erwin Vibal, Grower Marketing Lead of Bayer Crop Science. “This is advantageous for end-users who require high yield output from corn production.”

   Virginia Farms itself has been eyeing corn area expansion due to the significant demand for this feed input. It supplies meat products not only to Cebu but to the rest of Visayas region. The corn requirement for Cebu is estimated at 20 million kilos every month for swine feed.

   The Cebu provincial government announced last year its Enhanced Countryside Development program with a total budget of P15 billion for agriculture. It is reported thatat least P28 million is already allocated for investment in four yellow corn post harvest facilities to be situated in strategic areas, including Bantayan Island and Camotes Island.

   The Department of Agriculture (DA) was also reported to be allocating P454 million forCebu’s agriculture sector in 202 1. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Pilot project in Benguet, Pangasinan, Tarlac to urge farmers to wear personal protective equipment while spraying crop protection products

June 4, 2021

Bayer Crop Science will be implementing a pilot project in selected agricultural towns aimed at making personal protective equipment (PPE) available for farmers when applying crop protection products in their fields.

   The project, which will be implemented in vegetable-producing municipalities of Buguias

and La Trinidad in Benguet, and the rice areas of Bayambang, Pangasinan and Concepcion, Tarlac, aims to offer a Safety Kit. This package will be composed of 2 filter face masks, a pair of nitrile gloves, and goggles.

   While Filipino farmers seeking good yields ensure that their crops are protected from

insect pests and diseases, most farmers do not use the complete recommended PPE at

the time when spraying is necessary.

   Based on a survey conducted by Bayer, only 6 out of 10 farmers wear a face mask when preparing and applying crop protection products.

   Among those who do sport them, they use the surgical mask type, which is not recommended as it doesn’t protect the farmer from potential inhalation of the product due to dispersal and wind changes.

   Farmer dons complete Personal Protective Equipment for his health protection while spraying pesticides

“The right face mask when spraying crop protection products are those with a filter, ideally

FFP2 type,” said David Cristobal, Regulatory Stewardship and Compliance Lead for

Bayer Crop Science.

   “FFP2 masks have three layers of synthetic non-woven materials with the inclusion of filtration layers between, and they provide sufficient protection for farmers.”

   In addition to low and incorrect mask use in the survey, only 10% of farmers use googles

when spraying crop protection products, while 60% use surgical gloves, which is also not

the right material to shield the farmers’ hands.

    “As part of our stewardship efforts, we make it a point to train farmers on the proper

application of crop protection products, which includes wearing full PPE when spraying,”

said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead for Bayer Crop Science. “A complete PPE

set is comprised of boots, long sleeved shirts & trousers, nitrile gloves, filter mask, and

goggles.”

    While nearly all farmers said that PPE is important to protect themselves from any harm,

some reasons why they chose not to wear them include the cost, unavailability, and lack

of comfort.

   From the pilot project, Bayer will be selling the Safety Kit through selected distributors in

the 4 municipalities with the objective of gauging farmer adoption of the PPE and

generating insights from the initiative. The farmer also has the option to purchase

individual items instead of the entire kit.

   “We’re hoping that this project can solve some of the concerns of farmers on low and

wrong PPE usage, and that this will help sustain their health as they continue to provide

food for all of us,” said Lao. 

Youth invited to apply for Bayer’s 2021 virtual Youth Ag Summit, an agriculture entrepreneurship and leadership skills training

 June 19, 2021 – Applications are now open for the 2021 Youth Ag Summit (YAS), a global forum and biennially organized conference where young leaders collaborate to develop sustainable solutions for food security and global agriculture as they work toward becoming global instruments of change.

While this is the 5th biennial Youth Ag Summit, it will be the first virtual YAS event. This year’s cohort will also benefit from another exciting YAS first. As an official global partner with Bayer for this year’s forum, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), in partnership with technology company Babele, will also provide a virtual idea incubator called YAS University where delegates will continue to learn entrepreneurship and leadership skills, receive coaching from mentors, and improve their own “Thrive for Change” project concepts throughout a 10-week period following the November summit.

The summit’s overall theme, “Feeding a Hungry Planet,” is based on the United Nations’ prediction that the planet’s population will reach 9.7 billion people by 2050 and will be faced with food security challenges. The 100 delegates selected to participate in this year’s Youth Ag Summit will be tasked to work on developing solutions to this challenge using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations as their framework.

2019 delegates of the Youth Ag Summit, Brasilia, Brazil

Christine Jodloman, Associate Director of AGREA Foundation and the sole Filipino delegate in the 2019 YAS held in Brazil, shares her experience. “My YAS experience has been amazing and humbling, as I was able to meet, connect, and get inspired by my fellow youth ag changemakers around the world.”

In the event, Jodloman was able to share her work and advcocacy on grassroots agripreneurship for rural farming communities. According to her, delegates from around the world were able to provide suggestions and improvements, which she has been integrating in their youth and women programs at AGREA. Within the organization, Jodloman also helps in their Move Food Initiative as a facilitator to farmer groups, wherein they were able to provide 190,000 kg of produce and help 30,000 farmers in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.

“Agriculture is not just about growing food, but it also means growing the future,” added Jodloman. “We need a future with a thriving agricultural sector, where people and the planet are prioritized. I believe the youth are willing to be more involved in agriculture when it’s communicated in a positive way.”

“This is a great opportunity for the youth to be empowered and take the lead in sustaining Philippine agriculture,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead of Bayer Crop Science. “With the Youth Ag Summit, delegates can learn from each other and find out which ag successes in countries that can be adopted locally. This is also consistent with the Department of Agriculture’s push for agriculture promotion among the youth for food security in succeeding generations.”


Associate Director of AGREA Foundation and the sole Filipino delegate in the 2019 YAS held in Brazil

Application for the 2021 Youth Ag Summit is open to young people of any background aged 18-25. Potential delegates will be asked to share their motivation to join the summit, their previous advocacy experience and a 3-minute video pitch explaining their project idea on “How to feed a hungry planet.” Examples of projects pitched and developed from earlier summits include the opening of Sri Lanka’s Kadamandiya Food Bank and the establishment of a Madagascar health clinic where workers harvest essential grains in fields nearby to supplement their patient’s nutritional needs.

Applicants should be personally, professionally, and academically interested in agriculture, international development, environmental stewardship, food security, biotechnology, and/or farming.

To apply for the Youth Ag Summit 2021, please visit www.youthagsummit.com. To learn more, follow #AgvocatesWithoutBorders on Twitter and Youth Ag Summit (@youthagsummit) on the YAS Instagram channel.  Application closes on June 30, 2021. The Youth Ag Summit will be held on November 16-17, 2021.

Degraded mangrove coastal area adopted by Bayer as Rhizophora farm to help sustain biodiversity, generate livelihood and income

May 16, 2021

A degraded mangrove coastal area in Barangay Buayan, General Santos City has been adopted as a “Rhizophora” farm by Bayer Crop Science in an aim to help sustain biodiversity, protect the community from storm surges, and generate livelihood and income.

   Called “Adopt a Coastal Special Protection Area,” the project was initiated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the city.

   “It will generate income for the community from the seedlings that they’re able to grow. We will encourage them to maintain the transplanted seedlings in a portion of the coastal area,” said Richard Bangoy, Bayer Crop Science regional field technical lead for Philippines and Indonesia.

   An initial 200 seedlings of the mangrove variety Rhizophora mucronata have so far been planted in the mangrove area by Bayer. 

   The Rhizophora varieties have been identified by the City Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) office of General Santos as Rhizophora has been naturally occurring in the area for a long time. It has been the long-known adaptable mangrove variety that better survives diseases and climate changes..

   Rhizophora mucronata has multiple uses, multiplying potential sources of income for the Barangay Buayan community.

   Aside from helping prevent coastal erosion, its timber is used for firewood and in the construction of buildings, as poles and pilings, and in making fish traps.

   The fruits can be cooked and eaten or the juice extracted to make wine, and the young shoots can be consumed as a vegetable. The bark is used in tanning and a dye can be extracted from both bark and leaves. Various parts of the plant are used in folk medicine.

   The degraded coastal area in Barangay Buayan has made the community vulnerable to harsh impacts of climate change — storms and tsunamis.

   “General Santos City’s environment and natural resources have been under threat from various environmental issues and problems from deforestation and conversion of forestlands, degradation of its rivers and coastal waters and resources from erosion, pollution and anthropogenic activities, climate change, among others,” said Bangoy.

   Protecting the community from serious disasters (such as what happened to Leyte communities during the very destructive Yolanda storm) is a major objective in rehabilitating the coastal area.

Bayer employees give back to the environment and the community of Brgy Buayan, General Santos City through mangrove planting

   “Mangroves are the first line of defense for coastal communities. They stabilize shorelines by slowing erosion and provide natural barriers protecting coastal communities.”

   The communities in Barangay Buayan have contributed to putting up the nursery for Rhizophora.  They are the ones picking up seeds or seedlings and first grow these seedlings up to a height of one foot to 1.5 foot before transplanting to more vulnerable coastal areas exposed to the tide.  They also water the transplanted plants.  

   Over the longer term, the mangrove area may potentially generate livelihood from growing crabs or a local delicacy called “Tamilok.”  Tamilok is a kind of edible earthworm prepared into a dish like kinilaw or kilawin – a dish cooked in vinegar. 

   Bangoy also hopes that sustaining the environmental beauty in the coastal area of Barangay Buayan would help transform it into a tourist site near General Santos City airport.

   In the last eight years, Bayer has been supporting different environmental projects including a bamboo planting along the riverbanks of Barangay Tinagakan, General Santos City.    Bayer has a corn research and breeding station in the city and these efforts are a way of giving back to the local community there. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Bayer puts up community vegetable farm in Calauan, Laguna, partners with Don Bosco TVET Center

April 17, 2021

Life science company Bayer has launched a second vegetable farm to benefit relocated communities in Calauan, Laguna. This is part of the company’s bid to augment food and livelihood requirements for families where needed.

   Situated beside Southville 7 in Barangay Dayap, the 2,200-square meter farm is intended to support the regular feeding program in the community and contribute to providing an income source for community residents turned farmers.

   “We’re excited to have this second opportunity to reach out to communities and promote agriculture for both food and livelihood,” said Vinit Jindal, managing director of Bayer Philippines. “Our colleagues are passionate about bringing our Bayer vision to life—Health for All, Hunger for None, and this is just one of the many ways on how our contribution can make a positive impact in society.”

   Prior to the Bayer Kubo project in Calauan, the first urban farm was inaugurated in Taguig in January 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

   “When we first launched the Bayer Kubo project in Taguig, we had hoped to bring in medical expertise who could impart knowledge on healthcare topics as part of our capabilities,” said Bryan Rivera, head of communications and public affairs, science & sustainability of Bayer Philippines. “As the pandemic led to restricted people movement, we had to postpone these activities. However, the urban farm became a blessing for residents as this allowed them to make good use of their time through growing food right in their backyard.”

   The crops initially grown in the Calauan vegetable farm include sweet corn, squash, tomatoes, and bottle gourd. The site also has a seedling nursery and a kubo that serves as a venue for training activities related to recommended farming practices.

Bayer Philippines Managing Director Vinit Jindal (center) leads harvest of squash at Bayer’s community vegetable farm in Caluan, Laguna

   For the two projects, Bayer partnered with Rise Against Hunger Philippines as the latter has been active in distributing food through its food bank network, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

   “The community residents here in Barangay Dayap are eager to take care of the farm as they know it would bring them a source of income while supporting the regular feeding program of Rise Against Hunger,” said Jomar Fleras, executive director of Rise Against Hunger Philippines.    

   “In our agreement, part of the produce will go to the feeding program, the farmer volunteers, and managed by Don Bosco Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Center in Calauan.”

   Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable, mobilizing the necessary resources to end hunger by 2030.

   Father Jeffrey L. Mangubat, administrator and technical director of Don Bosco TVET Center in Calauan, was grateful for having the project established within their training facility.

Bayer Kubo becomes a center a training center not only for farming but health concerns regarding the Covid 19 pandemic, and even family planning for the Calauan, Laguna community

   “We see this as a gateway to encourage the community to look for ways to become self-sustaining by getting involved in farming, whether big or small. We believe that this is not the last initiative of Bayer and Rise Against Hunger as we uplift the lives of families through the Bayer Kubo project and future engagement activities,” he said. (Bryan Rivera)

Education think tank pushes legislation institutionalizing online learning

April 10, 2021

An education think tank has pushed for a legislation institutionalizing online or “blended” education as evidences show internet-based learning is creating renewed zealousness for learning among young students across all levels.

   The Covid 19 pandemic just compelled many schools to resort to online methods of teaching upon the pandemic’s advent early last year.

   This means online learning becomes part of the blended learning mode. “Blended” also involves the traditional face-to-face system and the use of radio and television, according to the Department of Education.   

   Repeated studies of education expert Philippine Normal University (PNU) has been proving that online education is inevitably becoming pertinent in twentieth-century education.

   Researches over the last 10 years compiled by Dr. Edna Luz Raymundo-Abulon of PNU even indicate that technology, as part of other education strategies, can spell the difference in Philippines’ reversing the “brain drain” phenomenon. 

   Apparently, the brain drain phenomenon — where Filipino teachers choose rather to work abroad than teach here– is caused not only by the low wage at home, but also the lack of opportunities to growth.

   New methods in teaching through technology may turn out to be the hope toward brain gain— winning back home lost teaching workforce.

   The PNU research is a compilation of 89 published researches in recognized refereed scientific journals  and 38 research reported to the Educational Policy Research and Development Center (EPRDC). 

Blended Learning. Source: Let’s Learn English

   The researches were authored by PNU teaching professionals and conducted from 2010 to 2020.

   The report supports PNU’s mandate under Republic Act 9647 which designated PNU as the country’s  National Center for Teacher Education (NCTE).  It made PNU a center  on innovations and alternative systems and their utilization and application to teacher training and development.

   PNU teacher-researchers are among those that instruct the country’s learners in grade school, high school, college (HEIs), and teaching leaders and administrators.  PNU has also trained many teachers in more difficult subjects under STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics).

   The use of technology in (via blended modality) in higher education has been proven to be effective.  This was especially true for teaching Learning Management Systems—a software for administering of educational or training programs (Balagtas et al. 2018).

   Even for learners in basic education, technology has been known to be enhancing learning.  A study  on MyOpenMath, an online learning management system in grade school, was found to help young pupils not only learn Math efficiently.

   More so, the study of Sarmiento and Prudente discovered that a practical function of MyOpenMath is it prevents copying of homework among students.  That ensures pupils’ authentic Math learning.

   To explore students’ thoughts regarding blended learning, students’ perception has been solicited in another PNU study (Mancao and Morales, Abulon, Ermita & David).  The study showed that blended learning—integrating online lectures with classroom lectures — is an “efficient and effective” way to teach or learn college courses.

   But while college students have positively welcomed the use of internet and gadgets (laptop, netbook, mobile phone) as part of education, the problem oftentimes is the lack of readiness in using these.

   Cost of gadgets and internet connection remain to be a major hindrance to online learning.  Moreover, the presence of qualified teachers adept in software and hardware is another problem.

   This is where a legislative policy may come in. That is to ensure that gaps in blended learning is collectively addressed by the Department of Education, Department of Information Communications Technology and relevant agencies.

   As the government has a thrust to enhance education on STEAM ((science, technology, engineering, agri-fisheries, and mathematics), the PNU report stressed that new pedagogies (teaching methods) including the use of technology must be introduced.

   “Proper assistance must be given by universities in implementing new pedagogies. For instance, with blended learning, standard templates, class schedules, and online rules must be developed (Mancao et al., 2015).”

   “In any new or innovative strategy to be implemented, it must first be determined that there are enough resources, instructors must be properly trained, and students must be involved in ensuring that these pedagogies are properly applied.”

   Blended learning is actually being suggested as a solution to addressing the problem of large classes across all levels in the Philippines.  Ideal class size may just be 20-30 students per class.  But it is not uncommon to find classes of 40 and above even in grade school.

   “Studies looked at approaches that can be used in order to address limitations like large classes.   One such study examined the effective teaching strategies that can be applied in large classes (Reyes & Dumanhug, 2015). Another study looked at an innovative approach that can integrate technology in teaching—blended learning,”  reported Abulon.

   The fact remains the gaps in technology use in schools have to be addressed.

   One basic facility that has to be enhanced in higher learning (college and graduate) is the online library.  PNU itself promotes a web-based research management system as part of developing a university research portal.

   At PNU, the web-based research portal developed has provided a fast, systematic, and organized research management system that keeps record and tracks all research activities in the university.

   In higher education (college and graduate schools), there should be policies to ensure that the curriculum is relevant to present needs of the society.

   “Archaic ways which no longer serve their purpose must not be retained (e.g., Anito & Morales, 2019).”

DepEd’s Blended Learning Mode

   “Higher education could greatly benefit from technology, such as in the delivery of training using a blended modality (Balagtas et al., 2018).”

   Moreover, a PNU research found out online learning is not only effective.  Important, it can also be fun and enjoyable as one class in a Teacher Education Institution (TEI) showed.   A TEI is a school focused on training teachers. 

   “The use of low-cost tablets wherein online and offline course-related activities were implemented to an intact class in a TEI was piloted for a semester.  It found out that learning became enjoyable with the tablet because of the many useful apps that could optimize learning (Cacho et.al, 2017).”

   The use of smartphones (in-class and after-class) was also explored in a class of pre-service teachers (Cacho 2017).

   “The study highlighted the functionalities of the apps in android phones commonly used by the students in relation to better access to relevant information. There is cohesiveness during collaborative learning activities.”  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Former talahiban, now an eight-tonner rice producing land

March 18, 2021

A formerly wild grassland in Brgy. Sampot, Paniqui, Tarlac has turned into a productive  eight tonner rice producer that ushers Philippines towards a rice farming with reduced labor.

   The previous “talahiban” dryland employed a mechanized farming system, particularly for seeding and  harvesting.

   The fact that this piece of land has been barren for a long time did not deter it from yielding satisfactorily.  The drone broadcasting has made planting fairly stable on the ground and more uniformly spread.

   “Unlike the human hand which can differ in broadcasting strokes, such as when it is already tired, the machine made seed spreading more uniform in plant gaps,” said Aaron Cano, BCS new business activation manager. “It appears wind pressure from the drone also helped firmly establish the seed on the ground.”

   The use of this land for rice creates a windfall profit as this has never been considered useful for rice as there is no irrigation in the area.

Grain-filled harvest from Arize 8433 hybrid rice

   “We just used two pumps, so the land never received the water it needed.  It is a very marginal area in terms of water supply and land preparation, never been tilled or fertilized but we still got a good yield from the trial,” he added.      

   Danny Tongol of BCS’s Bayer Learning Center said Bayer’s planting protocol called “Bayer Much More Rice”  makes a big difference in yield compared to farmers’ practice.

   “The eight tons yield in Paniqui could not have been achieved under usual farmers’ practice. For some farmers, if there is around 20% weed occurrence in the farm, that is considered acceptable to them. For us and our “Bayer Much More Rice” recommended package of technology, we aim to maximize yield output and this includes effective weed control” said Tongol.

   From the start, all Arize seeds have inherent resistance to Bacterial Leaf Blight, which is a common problem during the wet season.     

   The recommendations include sufficient fertilization, control of weeds and plant diseases using of herbicide, fungicide, insecticide, and related crop protection solutions.

   The Carlos O. Cojuangco Foundation Inc. (Cocfi) has linked up Tarlac farmers with drone supplier New Hope Corp  (NHC) and the Bayer Learning Center to come up with the successful technology demonstration farm.

     “We should advocate the use of these technologies so that we can at least catch up with our neighbors who are now ahead of us in farming mechanization,” said Robert Randolph Moulic of Cocfi.

Former ‘talahiban’, now an eight-tonner rice producing land

   While only a small 2,000 square meter land, the model farm yielded 28 cavans at 57.5 to 58 kilos per cavan.  Converted into a hectare, this is equivalent to a potential yield of 8.055 tons (8,055 kilos).

   High yield is primarily attributed to the use of hybrid rice Arize 8433 DT which is resistant to Bacterial leaf blight and Brown plant hopper.

  The yield stands out significantly compared to the average three tons per hectare rice yield in the country.

   More important, planting of rice has been done through “direct seeding” with the use of drone technology. 

   Traditionally, direct seeding has been considered less productive yield-wise compared to the transplanted seeding since transplanting maximizes space or land area.

   Nevertheless, through the use of drone, no space has been wasted as the machine systematizes spread of the seeds/seedlings.

   Given yield potential of the mechanized rice farm, gross earnings may reach around P150,000 per hectare in one season, at P19 per kilo. Deducting about P50,000 production cost per hectare, net profit could reach a whopping P100,000 per hectare per season.

   Cost already includes P3,500 for direct seeding service using drone and P850 per hectare for mechanized crop protection spraying. Both mechanized activities are supported by Bayer through the service provider.

Mechanized harvesting of Arize 8433 hybrid rice seeds

   As the same land in Brgy. Sampot will be used again this rainy season,  Tongol said the Bayer Learning Center hopes harvest next time will be higher with the added rain water.  Rain could supply what has not been provided for by the two water pumps installed last season.

   The drone seeder is being received enthusiastically by Filipino farmers in Central Luzon as it substantially cuts labor and cost of direct seeding.

   Typically, labor cost for transplanting rice ranges around P11,000 to P13,000 per hectare. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)