With the Philippines’ growing population and the many challenges faced by the agricultural sector already burdened by the pandemic situation to sustainably meet demand for food supply, the need to help both people and planet thrive is stronger than ever.
To recognize and support much needed sustainable agriculture programs in the country, the Pest Management Council of the Philippines, Inc. (PMCP) and Bayer CropScience Philippines is now opening the PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award for nominees.
The Award aims to put the spotlight on high-impact programs and initiatives accomplished by individuals contributing towards promoting and strengthening agricultural sustainability in the country.
The PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award is open to individuals from the private and public sector – such as researchers, scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs, government officials, employees, or part of the academe.
Individuals should have accomplished either of the following within the scope of both pest management and agricultural sustainability:
• Developed a research paper contributing to sustainable pest management practices
• Demonstrated the importance of sustainable use of agricultural technologies for small holder farmers
• Conducted a field trial or experiment that resulted to a milestone or learning on sustainable pest management
• Spearheaded an initiative leading to advocacy or promotion (ex. educational programs) of sustainable pest management practices and adoption of sustainable agricultural practices
• Contributed to enactment of significant policies or guidelines on sustainable pest management
• Acted as a catalyst within his/her community or organization that led to shift in pest management practices with sustainability principles
A newly established Award, the nominee’s accomplishments should have been completed within 2019-2021 with sufficient documentation to show evidence of his/her accomplishment and its PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award open for Filipino agri changemakers — impact on agricultural sustainability, including letters of recommendation from the nominee’s network.
After the evaluation period, the chosen awardee will be announced during the PMCP Annual Scientific Conference in July 2022.
He or she will receive a plaque and 50,000 pesos cash prize. About the PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award Guided by its vision of “Health for all, Hunger for none”,
Bayer promotes inclusive growth and responsible use of resources to help people and planet thrive.
Sustainability is an integral part of its strategy and values, with sustainability targets that include reducing the environmental impact of crop protection while promoting sustainable production and circular options that reduce, recycle, reuse and replace.
Thus, recognizing the vital role of experts and stakeholders in agricultural pest management to deliver effective & practical solutions for farmers, the PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award aims to highlight high-impact initiatives geared towards agricultural sustainability.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching in the middle of a pandemic is no easy feat, but three teachers from the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) continued to level up and inspire teaching excellence in the 5th Cleofe M. Bacungan Natatanging Guro Awards ceremony (CMB NGA) held online last November 19, 2021.
This year, the CMB Natatanging Guro awardees are Kristine Joy Aguila of the PSHS Main Campus (Humanities and Social Sciences category); Ronna Magto of the PSHS Western Mindanao Campus (Mathematics and Computer Science category); and Erika Eunice Salvador of the PSHS Western Visayas Campus (Natural Sciences category).
The CMB Natatanging Guro Awards aim to help maintain the high teaching excellence in the PSHS to shape globally competitive Filipino scientists equipped with 21st century skills.
The keynote message was delivered by Vice President Leni Robredo, who thanked the PSHS faculty and expressed her appreciation for all their extra effort in developing the country’s next professionals and leaders in science and technology despite the challenging pandemic situation.
“Maraming salamat sa lahat ng sakripisyo ninyo para sa kabataan at para sa bayan. Bilang dating guro, alam ko yung bigat ng responsibilidad na hubugin ang values at thought processes ng susunod na henerasyon. Kaya saludo ako sa bawat isa sa inyo. This responsibility takes on even more gravity as we face the greatest challenge of our time. Edukasyon ang isa sa mga pinaka apektadong sektor at hanggang ngayon patuloy ang pag-aadjust natin sa online classes at modular learning” said Vice President Robredo.
Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena of the Department of Science and Technology also congratulated the awardees, highlighting the critical role of teachers in social growth.
He emphasized that the awardees performed beyond the minimum requirements of their duties and met the standards of the CMB Natatanging Guro Awards.
This made the Philippine Science High School the “home of exceptional teachers who are our engineers of learning, our advocates of critical thinking, and our partners in creating a new breed of Filipinos who will create a positive impact on our country” said Sec. Dela Pena.
Bayer Philippines Inc., a global life science company and CMB Natatanging Guro Awards event partner this year, expressed appreciation for the PSHS teachers and the importance of supporting science education.
“Bayer is here with the Philippine Science High School in support of science – to appreciate the teachers who are developing this country’s scientific talent,” said Angel-Michael Evangelista, Managing Director and Country Division Head for Pharmaceuticals at Bayer Philippines.
“We look forward to collaborating more with the Philippine Science High School in the future because our country needs your scientific talent now more than ever. In the face of so many challenges like food security, climate change, and this pandemic – the world needs us to make science for a better life”
Inspiring excellence in teaching the CMB Natatanging Guro Awards is the flagship program of the Cleofe M. Bacuñgan Natatanging Guro Endowment Fund instituted by PSHS Alumni Batch 1982 in 2007. It has since evolved into tripartite endeavor of the PSHS System; the PSHS National Alumni Association and the PSHS Foundation, Inc. The CMB Natatanging Guro Awards are open every three years to all PSHS faculty in its campuses across the country. It aims to help maintain high teaching excellence in the PSHS. This is key to producing globally competitive Filipino scientists equipped with 21st century skills guided by core values of truth, excellence, and service to the nation.
The Awards are given to outstanding teachers in the following categories: Natural Sciences; Mathematics and Computer Science and Humanities. Criteria for selection are: Teaching Effectiveness; Research and Creative Work; Academic Background and Professional Development; and Administrative and Extension Work.
The winning Natatanging Guros are awarded P50,000.00 and given the CMB Natatanging Guro trophy. This year’s awarding ceremony was held virtually and streamed live over the PSHS Facebook Page and on YouTube.
A new corn hybrid with superior performance that can yield an additional 1.7 metric tons (MT) per hectare has been released by Bayer CropScience Philippines Inc.
Called Dekalb 8282S, it has shown reliable performance in both wet and dry seasons with strong resistance to a wide variety of pests, protecting potential yield that can bring Filipino farmers an estimated net income of as much as P70,000 per hectare.
Given recent challenges in local corn production and high demand from the feeds industry, the new hybrid can help farmers increase their production and match those demand.
“We’ve called it a ‘blockbuster’ hybrid because we have that much faith in this new hybrid. It will be a big help to our farmers in the corn business and they can be assured of the high quality that has always been associated with the Dekalb brand” says Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead of Bayer CropScience (BCS) Philippines during the online launch at the BCS Philippines Facebook page.
“The corn market in the Philippines is continuously evolving. Year on year, farmer demands change, price fluctuations, drought or heavy rains contribute to farmers’ unstable production. This is why Bayer is launching Dekalb 8282S in the Philippines,” Erwin Vibal, Grower Marketing Head at BCS.
“We want farmers to have a stable, reliable product that they can count on to perform despite difficult market and weather conditions and infestations – and Dekalb has a hybrid that provides that protection from risks and losses in corn production.”
Potential to earn higher than average yield
Achieving full maturity at 110 days, Dekalb 8282S has a relatively high shelling recovery at 84% which is higher than the 72% of other hybrids.
It is also capable of yielding up to of 6.2 to 8 MT per hectare, which is an increase of 1.7 MT per hectare compared to the Philippines’ national corn average yield of 4.5 to 5 MT per hectare.
Given a conservative price of P15 per kilo at farm gate, farmers can earn a gross revenue of P120,000. This is equivalent to P50,000 to P70,000 net income given cost of P50,000 and yield of 8 MT per hectare.
This is true to farmers who follow experts’ recommendations including their adaption to recommended agronomic practices such as the ideal planting population of 80,000 to 90,000 plants per hectare.
Strong resistance to FAW, variety of pests Dekalb 8282S also has strong resistance to the highly destructive Fall Army Worm (FAW) which has infested corn farms across the Philippines.
It is the only corn seed in the market that has full approval for FAW-resistance from the Fertilizer and Pest Authority (FPA).
“Fall Army Worm is very destructive because it is not selective. It does not only attack for one cycle. But it can attack two or three times over seasons,” said Vibal.
The hybrid can also resist other highly destructive pests such as the Asiatic Corn Borer, Common Cutworm, and Earworm.
Field trials showed that the corn variety has 46% less damaged kernels versus other varieties due to its VT DoublePro which has two modes of action in killing pests.
Ready for rain or drought
Another notable trait of Dekalb 8282S is its durability in either rainy or drought periods as evidenced by its stable high yield whether in drought-prone Isabela or the rain-rich farms in Pangasinan.
“Whether it’s dry season or wet season, farmers have 88% winning chance in using Dekalb 8282S—whether it’s corn after rice planting or corn after corn,” said Vibal.
“Not all hybrids have that trait. We strive to bring new technologies to farmers. Our vision is ‘Health for All, Hunger for None,’” said Vibal. “It’s not only for business, but we want to address hunger and the food security crisis by offering technologies. It’s not enough for farmers to earn. We want them to prosper. We want to take them to a different dimension, to the next level.”
New interactive, digital experience for farmers Aside from the new hybrid, Bayer CropScience Philippines also introduced the DEKALB 360 Virtual Bayer Learning Center featuring Dekalb 8282S. This interactive virtual experience brings the Bayer Learning Center to life online which farmers can explore and learn from while in the safety of their homes. They can watch yield and grain quality tests and listen to experts and farmer feedback about the new Dekalb hybrid. It can be accessed via any Internet browser on any device or via their smartphone which can also be complemented with a clip-on VR device. For more information, follow the Bayer CropScience Philippines and Dekalb Philippines Facebook pages. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)
Filipino farmers who want easier access to agricultural supplies can now place orders online and earn rewards via a website called “myAgroLink”.
Launched by Bayer CropScience Philippines Inc. (BCS), “myAgroLink” is an online ordering platform and loyalty portal that enables farmers to place an order for a variety of agricultural supplies. That is whether for high-yielding seeds or crop protection products, it can now be done all from the comfort of his home.
“At Bayer, we continue to research and develop ways to help our agricultural community. In this digital age, we’re looking at what we can do to help make farming easier. In a pandemic where movement is limited, this can help ensure the continuity of farming activities to secure food production and supply” said Erwin Vibal, Grower Marketing Head at Bayer CropScience Philippines.
Through myAgroLink, farmers can choose their dealer or distributor of choice to place their order which can be paid and picked up at the store.
It’s also a rewards system for loyal customers who can earn points from their purchases and instantly claim those points to get a prize.
“What’s good about the reward system is that it’s an instant reward. You get points that can be claimed as vouchers for mobile load, SM, Jollibee, Puregold, 7-11 and other establishments once you place your order” said Aaron N. Cano, BCS New Business Activation Head.
Bayer is targeting that a majority of the 3,000 plus dealer networks for agricultural inputs be registered on the platform to serve farmers.
“We are convincing more dealers to sign-up and register to serve farmers’ orders” said Cano.
“The farmer places his order on myAgroLink, and the dealer is notified of this order. Both farmer and dealer earn loyalty points once the purchase is validated.”
Dealers nationwide are likewise expected to be linked to networks and they can also register to become a dealer of choice for farmers.
Accessible, adaptable platform for Filipino farmers
There’s also no need to download a specific app since myAgrolink can be accessed via Android or iOS smartphones through any mobile browser, or via any laptop or PC that has Google Chrome, Firefox, or equivalent web browsers while connected to the Internet.
Considering the growing trend of farming communities connected to the internet via smartphones and other devices, there’s potential for the platform to take off.
“We’re going there (full internet connectivity). We want to introduce myAgroLink while farmers are getting connected to the internet and see how we can improve as we get feedback from farmers on what is important to them” said Cano.
“This pilot program will help us to determine the acceptance and user experience. We want to have a system that is relatable, easy to use and meaningful, not just any off-the-rack solution that is available. We want myAgroLink adapted to the Philippine condition.”
To explore myAgroLink, visit their website at https://ph.ecom.myagrolink.net/ and reach their support chat via 0926-653-2733 or 09685452264. For more information, check out the Bayer CropScience Philippines Facebook Page and watch their Facebook Live event recording of the online launch. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)
The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) noted that Philippines’ population will grow in 2021— at a slower pace though—as the number is projected to reach 110,881,756..
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) latest Census of Population announced the country’s population in 2020 at 109,035,906.
“Despite the rise in absolute numbers, the population grew gradually to 1.31% by the start of 2021,” POPCOM reported.
In comparison over the last decade, Philippines traditionally posted a 2.3% population growth pe
However, this remains to highlight the need to empower women to take control of their health and make their own choices on family planning and contraception in the digital age amidst challenges due COVID-19.
During the World Contraception Day online event last September 23 by the Department of Health (DOH), POPCOM and Bayer Philippines, Inc, POPCOM highlighted the impact of the pandemic on access to contraception and family planning, particularly for adolescents.
“Worldwide, the COVID-19 outbreak has significantly impaired access to and awareness of the far-reaching benefits of contraception. It’s essential that we continue to support self-determined family planning and make contraceptives more accessible to a greater number of Filipinos,”said POPCOM Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III.
“During this pandemic, our plans for our families, led by mothers who are minors or teenagers, can be easily compromised by this health emergency,” Perez said.
Angel-Michael Evangelista, managing director and Pharmaceuticals head of Bayer Philippines, Inc., said Bayer has intensified its commitment to providing unbiased, accurate, and trusted information about contraceptive methods.
“In 2019, we launched the Ask Mara automated chat via Facebook where you can know more about pregnancy, the pill and other contraceptive methods,” Evangelista said.
“Educating and enabling women, especially adolescents, to make more informed choices on contraception helps improve their quality of life and economic capability. Together with our partners, I’m sure we can contribute to enhancing young women’s knowledge about the different contraceptive choices and importance of family planning.”
Slower population growth in NCR
The foreseen slower population growth is attributable to government’s having stepped up efforts to reverse the adverse effect of the Covid 19 pandemic. Thus, in 2020, Metro Manila registered significant gains for having had among the lowest population growth of only 0.97% in the last five years.
POPCOM reported a favourable development that many Filipino women in Metro Manila (National Capital Region) now opt for smaller families.
It resulted from lower fertility rate, POPCOM disclosed. Sizes of families are trending lower at 4 members, POPCOM reported. That is compared to family size of at least 7 members in previous years.
Supporting women in the Philippines and across Asia Pacific
Recognizing the urgent need for more dedicated work to secure continuity of access to healthcare, Bayer convened an Asia Pacific virtual roundtable last September 24, 2021 titled
#TakeControl: Shaping Digital Health for Women in the COVID Decade.
The virtual event gathered healthcare professionals, policymakers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), telehealth providers, industry associations, and digital influencers and underlined their commitment to support women in taking control of their health.
Comprised of 3 distinct expert panels, the virtual roundtable also marks the 15th anniversary of
World Contraception Day with 15 key partners. Among these are the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Pathfinder International, POPCOM, Indonesia Midwives Association, Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology (TAOG), DOC2US, Malaysian Pharmacists Society and Reach52.
The first expert panel “No Woman Left Behind: COVID-19 and Unplanned Pregnancies” drew
attention to the urgent impact of COVID-19 on women’s access to healthcare and family planning resources and the burden of unplanned pregnancies.
“With a third of the country affected, health services for the women of reproductive age have been reduced. One-third of our women have had to take difficult transportation means to get to health services” said Perez.
He also stressed that “the most important problem women experienced in the middle of the pandemic is unplanned pregnancies ranging from teen pregnancies to pregnancies among the general population.”
“Women today in the Philippines are also concerned about violence during the period of pandemic– emotional, physical, sexual violence.”
Movement restrictions (lockdowns) have driven women to go online for more information on healthcare and family planning. However, misconceptions and cultural and social stigma are still challenges within these topics.
The second expert panel “Step Into Her World: Engaging to Empower Online” discussed key drivers of misinformation on family planning and contraception online, the need for credible voices on popular platforms, and the importance of sustained dialogue.
“A lot of women in the Philippines are going online now. I’ve seen a shift in attitude and demand for more doctors to also be online. What’s sad is that many women are online, but not the doctors,” said Dr. Michelle Dado, OBGYN and president of Quezon City Medical Society District IV.
“Education is the only way to encourage healthcare professionals to become more digitally savvy and translate what they do in a face-to-face consultation onto an online platform. This will help to break the endless cycle of misinformation online that may in turn lead to many young women making misinformed contraceptive choices.”
The pandemic has also accelerated healthcare digitization on an unprecedented scale.
Experts on the third concluding panel “The New Phygital: Innovating Expanded Access to Women’s Health” shed light on how technology has been a critical enabler in the recovery and resilience of today’s health systems.
At the conclusion of the virtual roundtable, all 16 panelists collectively pledged to renew their
commitment to empower women to take control of their health and lives despite the pandemic.
They also called for wider public support to join in the pledge and give voice to women’s health needs and empowerment.
Across Asia Pacific, Bayer has been collaborating with governments and organizations to introduce initiatives that promote greater contraception awareness and education.
The partnerships are with the BKKBN in Indonesia, POPCOM in the Philippines, Department of Health’s Bureau of Reproductive Health in Thailand, and the Family Planning and Women’s Union (FPWU) and Government Office of Family Planning (GOPFP) in Vietnam. For more information on contraception awareness and education, please visit https://www.your-life.com.
Telemedicine support platforms continue to expand as pandemic restrictions tighten, with women turning to the internet and social media to access reproductive health services.
In turn, Bayer Philippines’ ‘Ask Mara’ chatbot on Facebook has expanded its features to include access to teleconsultation services.
The Facebook chatbot can now also help one locate nearby Mercury Drug, Watsons, Southstar and Rose Pharmacy drugstores, or get more information soon on topics like androgen excess and endometriosis.
In an exclusive online event entitled “The PILLipina Choice: Your voice for your empowered choice” held September 18, 2021, leading womens health advocates and influencers looked back on the history of the contraceptive pill and reaffirmed the importance of giving Filipinas safe and easy access to the right information and support to make informed reproductive health choices.
“It’s great that Ask Mara is there as a friendly resource for Filipinas who want on-demand advice about contraception and reproductive health. It’s accessible, expert-driven, and most importantly—non-judgmental,” said Jillian Gatcheco, former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Philippines and a supporter of reproductive rights.
“With our current limited access to professional advice, Mara gives us real power through reliable information” said Inka Magnaye, voice talent and host behind popular podcast series Sleeping Pill with Inka.
“Ask Mara can help me get in touch with a doctor, locate the nearest drugstore, and even send me reminders. She gives us options, provides reliable information, and just enables us to make an informed choice.”
“Mara is really your go-to-girl for relevant health choices and now she makes it easier for us to access our partner experts” said Dr. Marie Michelle Dado, a Fellow of the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.
“In this pandemic where it can be difficult to get in touch with doctors and find options for contraceptive and reproductive health, these new features help take some of the worry out for women and let us focus on ourselves, on work and our family.”
Digital avenues needed for womens health
At the start of the pandemic last year, family planning services were reduced by over 50% in March and government-run reproductive clinics operated with limited staff due to lockdown measures.
To open up new lines to access to these services, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) also set up hotlines for remote medical consultations and door-to-door delivery of birth control supplies.
“While we have since built up systems for women to gain access to health services through a variety of channels”, said USec. Juan Antonio Perez III, POPCOM’s Executive Director, “we need innovative solutions from both private and public sectors that champion women’s reproductive health choices and empower women to make informed choices.”
On top of the new features, the ‘Ask Mara’ chatbot provides information on the different contraceptive options available, both natural and modern methods. Mara shares the usage, pros and cons of contraceptive pills, condoms and intrauterine devices among others.
She also responds to frequently asked questions and includes a pill reminder feature to help those who are just getting started. To start chatting, just message Ask Mara on the Facebook Messenger app or visit https://www.facebook.com/AskMaraPH/
Six youth leaders from the Philippines are joining 100 delegates from more than 44 different countries in Bayer’s 2021 virtual Youth Ag Summit this November.
The global forum and biennially organized conference selected young leaders between the ages of 18 and 25 with a passion for sustainable global agriculture for the opportunity to learn and collaborate with others on solutions to issues challenging food security.
This year’s delegates come from more than 2,000 applicants representing nearly 100 countries.
“This is a very important project of Bayer to really highlight the United Nations Sustainable Goals, particularly that of feeding a hungry planet. It’s also for us to empower the next generation, giving them a forum and chance to meet like-minded peers not just in the Philippines but across the world” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead of Bayer CropScience Philippines.
To be selected, this year’s delegates presented project ideas and examples of previous advocacy work based on the summit’s overall theme “Feeding a Hungry Planet”.
The six delegates from the Philippines come from provinces around the country and are students in national and private universities.
They are Grand Cayona Gascon (University of the Philippines Visayas), Remigio Mujar Lozano Jr. (University of the Philippines os Banos), Tracey Chua Tedoco (University of St. La Salle), Christian King Lagueras Condez (Ateneo de Manila University), Mark Virgil Casimo Jamer (University of the Philippines Los Banos) and Thoreenz Panes Soldevilla (University of the Philippines Diliman).
“The Youth Ag Summit has always been a great opportunity for me to connect with the next generation of Ag leaders. These young people provide the passion needed to make a real difference in tackling food security challenges,” said Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division.
“By supporting and nurturing these future leaders, we aid them in what we hope is a lifelong journey of learning and action for a more sustainable food system.”
This year’s 5th biennial Youth Ag Summit will be the company’s first virtual YAS event and its first with a virtual idea incubator called YAS University.
Within the YAS University program, delegates will continue to develop their business and communications skills, receive coaching from mentors, and complete weekly assignments that help them hone their own project concepts for 10 weeks following the summit, beginning in January 2022.
At the end of YAS University, the delegates will have the opportunity to pitch their project ideas to a panel of experts to compete for prizes.
Bayer’s partnerships for this year’s forum with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the tech company Babele make the unique experience of YAS University possible. Delegates will work with the UN SDSN and Balbele on a 10-week Youth Ag Summit (YAS) University program following the forum with mentoring from industry leaders, farmers, and YAS alumni.
For more on the Youth Ag Summit 2021 and see a full list of selected delegates, please visit www.youthagsummit.com and follow #AgvocatesWithoutBorders on Twitter and Youth Ag Summit (@youthagsummit) on the YAS Instagram channel. End
About the Youth Ag Summit
The Youth Ag Summit movement is a community of global young leaders championing sustainable agriculture and food security and working to bridge the understanding gap between those who produce our food and those who consume it. Every two years, 100 delegates are chosen to take part in the Summit. Previous editions have been hosted in Canada, Australia, Belgium and Brazil. Due to COVID restrictions, this year’s summit is the first completely virtual event.
About the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)
The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was set up in 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. For more information, visit www.unsdsn.org.
The recent government approval for the commercial cultivation of Golden Rice (GR) is a most welcome, long-awaited development for the science community, according to National Scientist Emil Q. Javier and Institute of Plant Breeding founder.
GR is a new unique variety of rice specially bred that contains beta carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, an essential nutrient which humans cannot synthesize on their own, and therefore cannot live without.
This rice variety is first of its kind in the scientific world because the genes for beta carotene bred into Golden Rice were obtained by genetic engineering. The beta carotene genes come from a genetically distant edible relative, yellow corn.
“We had been long waiting for Golden Rice’s regulatory clearance,” according to Dr. Nina Gloriani, former dean of the College of Public Health, UP Manila.
The permit to cultivate Golden Rice was finally granted by the Bureau of Plant Industry after the proponent, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), complied with the lengthy, rigorous food safety and environment regulatory requirements.
This rigorous regulation was prescribed by the Joint Department Circular issued by Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Lack of vitamin A predisposes people, especially children, to increased risk to respiratory diseases, diarrhea, measles, night blindness, and can lead to death. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) continues to be a major nutrition and public health concern in low- and middle-income countries, including the Philippines.
It affects some 190 million children under five years of age worldwide.
Further, Dr. Gloriani called out that the Philippines had been remarkably successful in combating VAD in recent years.
Between 2003 and 2008, we have brought down VAD prevalence among children from 40% down to 17% (DOST-FNRI, 2021). However, among the poorest fifth of Filipino children, VAD prevalence remains unacceptably high at 26%.
Moreover, these deficiency numbers have not changed between 2008 and 2018. And therefore, a lot remains yet to be done.
According to the 2019 national nutrition survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI-DOST), only two out of 10 Filipino households meet the estimated average equivalent for Vitamin A.
Partial relief could be provided by Golden Rice.
Laboratory and human feeding trials suggest that one cup of cooked Golden Rice can provide 30–42% of Vitamin A estimated average equivalent for pre-school children.
Since the beta carotene is naturally embedded in the GR grain, the needed essential nutrient comes at no additional cost and effort to the consumer, a significant benefit to poor households.
Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco, Jr., chairman of the Agriculture Sciences Division of the National Academy of Science and Technology, said the development of Golden Rice took very long (over 20 years) because the beta carotene genes from yellow corn had to be meticulously transferred into popular rice varieties acceptable to farmers.
Otherwise, the farmers will not plant them. The new Golden Rice varieties must have high yield, resistant to pests and diseases, suited to a wide range of growing conditions and with superior eating quality.
The conversion of regular rice varieties into Golden Rice involved conventional plant breeding methods spanning over many crop generations and years.
Unlike the regular white well-milled rice, the grains of Golden Rice are translucent golden yellow in color.
When cooked, Golden Rice looks very much like the saffron-colored rice in the Spanish paella, a dish many Filipino chefs have adopted as very much part of the Filipino cuisine.
Initially, according to rice specialist, Dr. Reynante Ordonio, PhilRice will promote cultivation of Golden Rice versions of two registered varieties — PSBRc 82 and NSICRc 283.
As the Golden Rice beta carotene genes are regularly incorporated in national rice breeding programs, more Golden Rice inbreds and hybrids are expected to be released in the future not only in the Philippines but also in parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America where VAD is rife and where rice is the major staple.
Finally, National Scientist Javier clarified that all along Golden Rice had been intended by its inventors as an additional option. It should not be a substitute for existing VAD-elimination programs. But it should be a complement to diet diversification, breast feeding, vitamin A supplementation and artificial food fortification of flours, cooking oil, sugar, dairy and other products.
With Golden Rice, a naturally bio-fortified no-additional-cost option now available to consumers, a multipronged long-term sustainable solution to the scourge of vitamin a deficiency in many parts of the developing world is in sight.
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.”
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.
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)
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.
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)