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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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)
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.
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.
“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)
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.
“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.
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.
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)
Leverkusen, February 25, 2021 – The Bayer Group delivered robust operational performance in 2020. “Our operational strength in these turbulent times shows just how resilient our businesses are, even during the pandemic,” said Werner Baumann, Chairman of the Board of Management, on Thursday during the company’s Financial News Conference.
“We also used the past year to lay the foundation for future growth. We continued to drive forward our company’s transformation, advanced our product pipelines and invested in new technologies across all our business units,” Baumann said. For 2021, Bayer expects to achieve solid operational growth and stable earnings at constant currencies.
In the pharmaceuticals business alone, Bayer entered into more than 25 acquisition or collaboration agreements in 2020, with the largest acquisition being biotech company Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio).
“With AskBio and BlueRock Therapeutics, we are building a platform for cell and gene therapy and are further consolidating our emerging leadership in this highly promising and fast-growing field,” explained Baumann. Bayer also systematically invested in innovation in other areas in 2020, such as personalized nutrition, with the company taking a majority stake in Care/of for its Consumer Health business, he said. In addition, Crop Science launched its new short-stature corn Vitala™ in Mexico as part of a pilot project, Baumann noted.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bayer has introduced extensive protective measures across all of its sites and has supported employees working from home.
“Our primary focus has of course always been on our responsibility toward our roughly 100,000 employees around the globe – and especially on providing what are in some cases essential products and services to customers, patients and farmers,” said Baumann, who also highlighted the commitment shown by the company’s workforce. “Our employees have displayed great initiative in doing what they can to help since the pandemic began,” he said. Bayer has also entered into an extensive partnership with biopharmaceutical company CureVac N.V., Germany, as part of efforts to combat COVID-19.
“Our initial focus is on supporting the clinical studies and approval process for CureVac’s vaccine,” Baumann explained. “At the same time, preparations are underway in Wuppertal and across our global production network so that we can help with vaccine manufacture, too, as soon as possible.”
Group sales level with prior year (Fx & portfolio adj.)
Group sales amounted to 41.400 billion euros in 2020. Adjusted for currency and portfolio effects (Fx & portfolio adj.), sales were level year on year (plus 0.6 percent). At 11.461 billion euros, EBITDA before special items also came in at the prior-year level (minus 0.1 percent).
Currency effects diminished sales by 1.941 billion euros and EBITDA before special items by 741 million euros. EBIT amounted to minus 16.169 billion euros (2019: plus 4.162 billion euros) after net special charges of 23.264 billion euros (2019: 2.813 billion euros). The special charges particularly comprised provisions for the agreements reached in the glyphosate, dicamba, PCB and Essure™ litigations.
Other special items mainly included impairment charges at Crop Science. Net income came in at minus 10.495 billion euros (2019: plus 4.091 billion euros), while core earnings per share from continuing operations were level with the prior year, at 6.39 euros (plus 0.2 percent).
“If you factor out the negative currency effects, core earnings per share would have been just under seven euros, which is almost the level we had been targeting before the pandemic spread,” Baumann said.
The Board of Management and Supervisory Board of Bayer AG will propose to the Annual Stockholders’ Meeting on April 27, 2021, a dividend payment for fiscal 2020 of 2.00 euros (fiscal 2019: 2.80 euros) per share entitled to the dividend. The company is thus upholding its dividend policy of distributing 30 to 40 percent of core earnings per share, with this year’s proposed dividend being at the lower end of this corridor, as previously announced. With 982.42 million shares entitled to the dividend, the total dividend payment would amount to 1.965 billion euros (fiscal 2019: 2.751 billion euros).
Free cash flow in 2020 was impacted by payments of just under 4 billion euros to resolve litigations and amounted to 1.343 billion euros (2019: 4.214 billion euros). Furthermore, Bayer reduced its net financial debt by 11.8 percent year on year to 30.041 billion euros. Thanks to strong operational cash generation, the company’s performance on these two indicators was better than projected in the revised outlook.
Crop Science registers higher sales (Fx & portfolio adj.) thanks to growth in Latin America and Asia/Pacific
In the agricultural business (Crop Science), Bayer increased sales by 1.3 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) to 18.840 billion euros.
The businesses in the Latin America and Asia/Pacific regions contributed to the increase, while declines occurred particularly in North America. Sales growth was particularly strong at Fungicides (Fx & portfolio adj. 8.5 percent) and Environmental Science (Fx & portfolio adj. 11.5 percent), with these businesses expanding in all regions. At Fungicides, Bayer posted sales gains in Latin America thanks to Fox Xpro™, which was launched in 2019. Sales also rose at Soybean Seed & Traits (Fx & portfolio adj. 2.3 percent).
Greater market penetration in Latin America had a positive effect, while business in North America saw lower selling prices and volumes, mainly due to increased competition. At Corn Seed & Traits, sales remained at the prior-year level (Fx & portfolio adj. minus 0.5 percent). In North America, shifts in demand into 2019 and 2021 had a negative impact, while sales moved ahead in all the other regions. Sales at Herbicides declined by 1.0 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.), particularly because the company lost registrations – in some cases only temporarily – in the Europe/Middle East/Africa and North America regions.
EBITDA before special items at Crop Science decreased by 3.8 percent to 4.536 billion euros. Business was particularly impacted by negative currency effects of 537 million euros, while the decline in sales in North America due to shifts in demand was also a key factor. By contrast, earnings benefited from the realization of cost synergies as the company progresses with the integration of the acquired business.
As regards the glyphosate litigation in the United States, the company announced in early February 2021 that it had reached an agreement with plaintiffs’ counsel on a class plan intended to manage and resolve future Roundup™ cases, and plaintiffs’ counsel filed a motion for preliminary approval of the class agreement. Both parties have worked diligently to address questions the court raised after their first settlement proposal for future Roundup™ cases last summer. The new agreement is now subject to court approval. The class plan is intended to be one part of a holistic solution designed to provide further closure to the Monsanto Roundup™ litigation. Approximately 90,000 current claims in the Roundup™ litigation overall are covered by settlement agreements, or did not meet the settlement program eligibility criteria. The company continues to negotiate with plaintiffs’ counsel to reach agreements in the remainder of current cases.
Pharmaceuticals grows earnings despite decline in sales
Sales at Pharmaceuticals declined by 1.5 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) to 17.243 billion euros. The decrease was driven by global COVID-19 restrictions, which particularly in the first half of the year led to a reduced number of nonurgent treatments, especially in the ophthalmology and women’s health businesses. The situation in doctor’s offices and hospitals began to normalize at mid-year. In the radiology business, stricter hygiene measures slowed down patient processing throughout the year, leading to a decline in sales. In addition, the implementation of new tender procedures in China weighed heavily on sales of Glucobay™ and Avelox™.
Sales of the oral anticoagulant Xarelto™ increased by 12.4 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) due to a marked increase in volumes in China as well as substantial growth in Europe. Stivarga™ was also among the products recording a substantial increase in sales (Fx & portfolio adj. 18.6 percent), especially in China and the United States. The increase was partly due to this cancer drug’s oral administration, which enables treatment to continue outside of hospitals and doctor’s offices during the ongoing pandemic. Sales of the ophthalmology drug Eylea™ were level year on year (Fx & portfolio adj. plus 0.2 percent), with the decline in business seen in the first half being offset in the latter part of the year. The effects of the pandemic also weighed on business with the Mirena™/Kyleena™/Jaydess™ intrauterine systems (Fx & portfolio adj. minus 8.7 percent) – due to a reduced number of procedures – and the cancer drug Xofigo™ (Fx & portfolio adj. minus 11.6 percent), which registered a particularly marked decline in the United States.
EBITDA before special items at Pharmaceuticals advanced by 2.6 percent to 6.016 billion euros, with stringent cost management and a milestone payment for the pulmonaryhypertension treatment Adempas™enabling earnings to grow despite the slight decline in sales and negative currency effects of 132 million euros.
Consumer Health posts growth (Fx & portfolio adj.) in all regions
Sales of self-care products (Consumer Health) increased by 5.2 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) to 5.054 billion euros. The division’s performance was ahead of market, with all regions reporting growth. The greater focus on health and prevention in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic generated substantial growth in demand, especially in the Nutritionals category, which saw sales advance by 22.6 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.). Sales were also up in the Pain & Cardio, Dermatology and Digestive Health categories. At the same time, increased protection and hygiene measures led to a decline in sales of cough and cold products, with the Allergy & Cold category recording a decline of 4.1 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.).
EBITDA before special items at Consumer Health declined by 2.5 percent to 1.114 billion euros. Currency effects of 69 million euros, the absence of contributions from the businesses divested in 2019, and increased costs in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact. Earnings primarily benefited from the significant increase in sales (Fx & portfolio adj.) and the contributions from the efficiency program initiated in late 2018.
Progress made on sustainability targets
With regard to the non-financial Group targets, Bayer has reported on the progress made in 2020 toward meeting its ambitious sustainability goals for 2030. These are centered around the health of people and the planet, with a particular focus on climate protection. The company’s Sustainability Report, which was also published on Thursday, looks at these aspects in detail. Last year, Bayer drew up a roadmap based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and took steps to implement it. The independent Science Based Targets initiative reviewed Bayer’s climate protection goals and confirmed that, by reducing its own emissions, the company is helping to limit global warming to 1.5°C and fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement. For example, Bayer has now switched to 100 percent green electricity in Spain and Mexico. As part of its efforts to protect the climate, the company has also initiated a pilot project in the United States and Brazil to help farmers adopt climate-friendly practices and utilize carbon capture and storage for their commercial benefit.
In line with its goals of reaching more people on low incomes, the company has launched the “Better Farms, Better Lives” program, for example. Under this program, the company has, for instance, provided more than 1.5 million smallholder farmers with access to modern crop protection products. In collaboration with The Challenge Initiative, Bayer is also providing support for solutions in the area of family planning and reproductive health for women and girls in Africa.
The establishment of the external Sustainability Council marked another important step. Furthermore, attainment of the sustainability targets has been incorporated into the long-term variable compensation of members of the Board of Management and other managers with a 20 percent weighting in the success factors starting in 2021. This highlights the importance of these targets for the company.
Bayer has issued the following currency-adjusted outlook for 2021: The company expects to post sales of approximately 42 billion to 43 billion euros, which corresponds to an increase of about 3 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.). The company expects to generate an EBITDA margin before special items of around 27 percent. This would correspond to EBITDA before special items of 11.2 billion to 11.5 billion euros. Bayer plans to generate core earnings per share of approximately 6.10 to 6.30 euros. Free cash flow is expected to come in at between minus 3 billion and minus 4 billion euros. This figure takes into account an anticipated negative impact of around 8 billion euros from payments to resolve litigations. The company also expects net financial debt to be approximately 36 billion to 37 billion euros as of December 31, 2021.
Based on the exchange rates on December 31, 2020, Bayer expects in 2021 to post sales of approximately 41 billion euros, an EBITDA margin before special items of approximately 26 percent and thus EBITDA before special items of between 10.5 billion and 10.8 billion euros, and core earnings per share of approximately 5.60 to 5.80 euros. On this basis, the company anticipates a free cash flow of minus 3 billion to minus 4 billion euros and net financial debt of 35 billion to 36 billion euros.
Notes to editors:
The following tables contain the key data for the Bayer Group and its divisions
for the full year and the fourth quarter of 2020.
The complete Annual Report 2020 is available on the internet at:
This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at http://www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.
Bayer Group Key Data, Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020
(Continuing operations – prior-year data are restated.)
Bayer Group (EUR million)
EBITDA before special items
EBITDA margin before special items
EBIT before special items
Earnings per share (EUR)**
Core earnings per share (EUR)
Free cash flow**
Number of employees***
Crop Science (EUR million)
EBITDA before special items
EBITDA margin before special items
EBIT before special items
Pharmaceuticals (EUR million)
EBITDA before special items
EBITDA margin before special items
EBIT before special items
Consumer Health (EUR million)
EBITDA before special items
EBITDA margin before special items
EBIT before special items
Sales changes on a currency- and portfolio-adjusted basis (Fx & portfolio adj.), EBIT(DA), special items, core earnings per share and free cash flow are not defined in the International Financial Reporting Standards and should therefore be regarded only as supplementary information. For the definition of these indicators, see the current annual report at www.bayer.com.
• Emerging leadership in field of cell and gene therapies
• Accelerating breakthrough innovation for patients
• Innovation in field of digital health solutions to become key pillar of Bayer’s pharmaceutical business empowering patients with Integrated Care offerings • Promising development portfolio with more than 50 projects in clinical development phases
At its virtual Pharma Media Day, Bayer presented exciting progress in transforming its pharmaceutical business with breakthrough innovation in healthcare that will significantly help patients suffering from conditions that are currently still difficult to treat. The company has recently heavily invested in external innovation with an unprecedented number of more than 25 collaboration agreements and acquisitions.
“The biomedical and technological revolution that is transforming healthcare at an unprecedented pace is taking place now. Our company is at the forefront of the wave of innovation in cell and gene therapy as well as digital health,” said Stefan Oelrich, Member of the Board of Management, Bayer AG and President of Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division. “We are driving this transformation and growing our promising development portfolio together with our partners. Our joint goal is to bring breakthrough treatments to patients and make healthcare systems more sustainable in the mid- and long-term.”
At its virtual Pharma Media Day, speakers from Bayer, its partners and leading experts demonstrated under the theme “Transforming Healthcare. Transforming Bayer” how the company is committed to transforming patient health by fulfilling its strategic ambition in
the areas of cell and gene therapy, digital health and by driving forward the company’s promising development portfolio.
Cell and Gene Therapy: Accelerating breakthrough innovation for patients
Cell and gene therapies offer for the first time the possibility to address the root cause of disease, providing options for conditions considered intractable or where the current standard of care only addresses symptoms to different degrees. Bayer’s increasing investments in the field are consolidating the company’s emerging leadership and confirm its strategic significance as a growth-driver for its pharmaceutical business.
Bayer has just established a new Cell and Gene Therapy Platform. This platform steers Bayer’s strategy in the area and orchestrates all activities along the value chain providing an innovation ecosystem for all partners, including BlueRock Therapeutics and Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), two companies fully owned by Bayer but independently operated. Bayer’s development portfolio of cell and gene therapies already comprises seven advanced assets in different stages of clinical development. These are focused on multiple therapeutic areas with high unmet need, such as neurodegenerative, neuromuscular and cardiovascular indications, with leading programs in Pompe disease, Parkinson’s disease, hemophilia A, and congestive heart failure. With over fifteen preclinical assets in the cell and gene therapy field, the pipeline is expected to grow steadily year by year.
“Cell and gene therapies hold the promise to significantly impact patients’ lives by moving from treating symptoms to potentially curative approaches,” said Wolfram Carius, Executive VP and Head of Cell and Gene Therapy at Bayer. “Together with our partners, we want to accelerate innovation at its source and along the whole value chain to ensure a fast translation of science into therapies for patients who have no time to wait.”
BlueRock Therapeutics recently announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared their Investigational New Drug application to proceed with a Phase I study in patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. This will be the first trial in the United States to study pluripotent stem cell-derived dopaminergic neurons in patients with Parkinson’s disease and a big step forward for the stem cell field.
Digital Health: Empowering patients through Integrated Care
Digital healthcare offerings have become an important pillar of modern healthcare. The combination of conventional healthcare approaches with innovative digital technologies makes it possible to offer efficient solutions addressing the needs of a person in his/her specific environment. Bayer is developing Integrated Care concepts which offer individual
support of patients. This personalized approach addresses complex and interconnected health challenges within the individual circumstances.
Integrated Care is a key element of Bayer’s digital business strategy in pharma. In collaboration, Bayer and the digital health company Informed Data Systems Inc. (IDS/One Drop) are expanding their business based on IDS’s existing diabetes management platform. This solution was downloaded more than 3 million times. Together, the companies are now creating new health offerings to address the needs of patients in the areas of cardiovascular diseases, women’s health and oncology. Experts from both companies are jointly working on the first two modules, which are to become available within a year.
“By focusing on the individual patient, not their disease, Integrated Care is the path to truly inclusive and personalized healthcare,” said Jeanne Kehren, Senior VP of Digital & Commercial Innovation and Member of the Pharmaceuticals Executive Committee of Bayer AG. “We are determined to make Integrated Care solutions a major pillar of our company’s pharmaceutical business. Building on our expertise in the pharmaceutical sector, we can bridge the gap between tech and healthcare. In the next ten years, we expect digital health offerings to significantly contribute to our revenues.”
Growing a robust pipeline: New approaches for unmet medical needs
Bayer is continuing to build a strong development pipeline advancing more than 50 projects through the clinic with a focus on cardiovascular diseases, oncology and women’s health. The company highlighted two promising pipeline programs in mid-stage development demonstrating medical innovation at Bayer.
As an innovation leader in cardiovascular diseases with deep disease understanding and a long history of successful drug development, Bayer is particularly strong in the field of
Anticoagulation. Heart attack and stroke still represent a major health burden and new, more effective treatment options in thrombosis prevention are needed. The company is advancing a promising mid-stage program of Factor XI (FXI)-targeting compounds, a new class of anticoagulants, comprising of three investigational assets. A small molecule oral FXIa-inhibitor has commenced a Phase IIb program (PACIFIC), planning to enroll more than 4,000 patients in total. In addition, an anti-FXIa antibody and a FXI-ligand-conjugated antisense oligonucleotide (FXI-LICA), which Bayer is developing under exclusive license from IONIS Pharmaceuticals, have recently started Phase II trials, in patients with end stage kidney disease. FXI-pathway inhibition may offer protection from thromboembolic events without increased risk of bleeding. This may provide a treatment option to patients for whom currently no suitable therapeutic options are available.
With its P2X3 multi-indication program, Bayer highlighted another important candidate in mid-stage development. At Bayer, the promise of P2X3 antagonists was first identified for endometriosis within the company’s strategic research alliance with Evotec, a Germany based drug discovery and development company. Endometriosis is a clinical condition affecting approximately 10 percent of women in reproductive age, many of whom experience severe chronic pain with debilitating effects on their professional, personal and social lives. P2X3 also has a prominent role in several other medical conditions associated with pain and neurogenic hypersensitivity such as chronic cough, overactive bladder and neuropathic pain. Although these diseases are not life-threatening, they severely impact the quality of life for a very large number of patients – and P2X3 antagonists could potentially offer a new treatment approach and relief to these patients. For its development strategy, Bayer decided to explore a novel path in research and development pursuing not one but multiple possible indications early on and in parallel in the clinic. As of today, Bayer has entered Phase IIb clinical trials for refractory and/or unexplained chronic cough, with a trial in endometriosis soon to follow. In addition, Phase IIa clinical studies have commenced for overactive bladder and diabetic neuropathic pain.
“Our research in the fields of Factor XI inhibitors and P2X3 antagonists are just two promising examples of mid-stage programs that demonstrate our ongoing commitment to building and advancing a strong development pipeline,” said Stefan Oelrich. “Positioning Bayer as a leader in the highly dynamic space of healthcare innovation, we will continue to lead the field in bringing new solutions to patients who need them.”
At the same time, the company is also successfully delivering on its late-stage pipeline in the areas of oncology and cardiovascular disease including also a number of potential blockbuster products. In the area of oncology, for example, darolutamide (jointly developed with Orion Corporation), a differentiated treatment option that extends survival for men with non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer who are at high risk for developing metastatic disease (nmCRPC), and shows a favorable safety profile. The product has received regulatory approval in several markets, including the U.S., the European Union (EU), Brazil, Canada and Japan. The Phase III study ARASENS in the indication of metastatic hormone sensitive prostate cancer (mHSPC) is expecting data read-out in 2021. Larotrectinib is a first-in-class precision oncology treatment designed to treat patients with solid tumors harboring a Neurotrophic Tyrosine Receptor Kinase (NTRK) gene fusion1. The product is approved in more than 40 countries, including the U.S. and countries of the EU. It was the first treatment in the EU to receive a tumor agnostic indication.
Finerenone is an investigational first-in-class treatment for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D), a condition of high unmet medical need and limited treatment options. Finerenone has been submitted for marketing approval in the
US and in the EU based on Phase III data from the FIDELIO-DKD trial. The Phase III program with finerenone in CKD in T2D is the largest Phase III clinical trial program to date in CKD and T2D. It comprises two studies, evaluating the effect of finerenone versus placebo on top of standard of care on both renal and cardiovascular outcomes. The second Phase III trial in patients with CKD in T2D, FIGARO-DKD, is still ongoing. Vericiguat, which is being jointly developed with MSD (a tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA), is currently under development for the treatment of patients with chronic heart failure and reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). It could offer a specific mechanism of action to restore the functioning of a critical pathway, so far not addressed by current therapies. Vericiguat has been submitted for marketing authorization in the U.S., EU, Japan and China as well as multiple other countries. In July 2020, the FDA granted MSD’s application the status of priority review for the approval of vericiguat.
In the field of women’s healthcare, Bayer recently added a highly attractive asset to its development portfolio through the acquisition of KaNDy Therapeutics. BAY-342 (formerly
1 Larotrectinib is the first precision oncology therapeutic of its kind to treat adult and pediatric patients with solid tumors that display an NTRK gene fusion, who have a disease that is locally advanced, metastatic or where surgical resection is likely to result in severe morbidity, and who have no satisfactory treatment options.
NT-814) is a first in class, non-hormonal, once-daily, oral neurokinin-1,3 receptor antagonist for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) during menopause, planned to start Phase III development in 2021. End
About Cell and Gene Therapy
Emile Nuwaysir, CEO and President at BlueRock Therapeutics
The future of cellular medicine: Could stem cells engineer lost function?
Sheila Mikhail, Co-founder and CEO at Asklepios BioPharmaceutical
Advancing genomic medicine through AAV-based gene therapy
What are cell and gene therapy?
In cell therapy, functioning cells are delivered into a patient’s body in order to achieve a medicinal effect – to prevent, manage or cure a certain illness or to repair and regenerate damaged cells. These cells are either taken out of the patient’s body and given back to the same patient after treatment (in which case we talk about autologous therapies), or be standardized cells that can be used for multiple patients (allogeneic therapies). Cells can be either pluripotent (able to transform into all cell types of the body, with the exception of the extra-embryonic tissue like the placenta), multipotent (able to transform a limited number of cells in a particular lineage), or differentiated (a fixed cell type). The kind of cells introduced depends on which disease they are supposed to address.
Gene therapy aims to treat or cure a disease by delivering genetic material into a patient’s cells. This way, cells which have been lacking the correct instructions to work properly receive the genetic information that will allow them to restore their function. The genetic information delivered to the person’s cells (either by adding a missing gene sequence or correcting or deleting a faulty one) changes how these cells produce proteins, for example by reducing the production of proteins that are causing a disease or producing new proteins that have been missing.
Why do cell and gene therapy matter?
Genetic diseases are caused by faulty genes that are present in almost every cell in the body of a patient suffering from the disease, making them nearly impossible to tackle via traditional medicines. For patients suffering from genetic disorders, this meant that treatment was limited to alleviating the symptoms that came with their condition. Cell and gene therapies have the potential to shift the paradigm of disease treatment to cure – with potentially enormous effects for patients’ lives.
Gene therapy has already demonstrated the potential to restore blood clotting in people with hemophilia, restore the visual cycle in patients with Leber’s congenital amaurosis (a rare form of inherited blindness) and to improve outcomes with regards to survival and motor function in babies suffering from spinal muscular atrophy.
Cell therapy, likewise, offers a wide variety of applications: approaches like blood transfusions and the regeneration of bone marrow via stem cells already have a long history of success. Induced pluripotent stem cells (or iPSCs) are uncovering promising new avenues in stem cell therapy, such as the restoration of motor function in patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease or the regeneration of heart tissue damaged after myocardial infarction.
Cell and Gene Therapy at Bayer
Bayer is strongly committed to leading the field of cell and gene therapies, an area that represents the next wave of medical innovation and an attractive growth opportunity.
In order to consolidate this leadership, Bayer is strengthening its internal capabilities while at the same time, pursuing external strategic collaborations, technology acquisitions and licensing. The goal is to build robust platforms with broad application across different therapeutic areas. Bayer’s newly established Cell and Gene Therapy Platform strategically steers all of the efforts in the area, coordinating the activities of the different partners that integrate the Platform, such as BlueRock Therapeutics and Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio).
In 2016, Bayer and Versant Ventures established BlueRock Therapeutics, which was fully acquired by Bayer in 2019. BlueRock Therapeutics is an engineered cell therapy company working to develop regenerative medicines for intractable diseases. BlueRock’s technology seeks to restore tissue function in diseases with significant cell loss and diminished self repair potential, with an initial focus on neurological and cardiovascular conditions, among others.
In 2020, Bayer acquired AskBio, a biopharmaceutical company specialized in the research, development and manufacturing of gene therapies across different therapeutic areas.
AskBio’s development portfolio includes investigational pre-clinical and clinical stage candidates for the treatment of neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Bayer’s development portfolio of cell and gene therapies already comprises seven advanced assets in different stages of clinical development, with leading programs in Pompe disease, Parkinson’s disease, hemophilia A, and congestive heart failure. With over fifteen preclinical assets, the pipeline is expected to grow steadily year by year.
Dr. Nuria Aiguabella Font
+49 30 468193131
About Digital Health & Integrated Care
Jeff Dachis, Founder & CEO of Informed Data Systems Inc.(One Drop)
How data-driven solutions deliver true patient-centricity
Prof. Dr. Martin C. Hirsch, Philipps University Marburg
AI in Medicine: Why should we trust the ‘black box’?
What is Digital Health?
In recent years, Digital Health has grown to become an important pillar of modern healthcare. The combination of conventional healthcare approaches with digital technologies makes it possible to better help patients by offering solutions that are more efficient and increasingly tailored to their individual circumstances and able to fit with their lives.
Industry experts are expecting digital products and services to make up a market share of 12 percent within the healthcare sector by 2025, with worldwide spending on digital health going up to EUR 979 billion.1
What is Integrated Care?
Integrated Care is an application of digital health that aims at developing coordinated concepts of care, supporting patients throughout their lives, accounting for multi-morbidity, and offering the support they need, whenever and wherever.
Integrated Care aims to empower the patient. Digital solutions allow them to track and manage their own health in every moment of their daily lives, taking the concept of care beyond the doctor’s office into the realm of everyday life. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and vast amounts of data, they enable people to gain control of their health through predictive, proactive and actionable insights. With Integrated Care, healthcare will move from treating (chronic) diseases towards managing one’s health and staying healthy.
Why does it matter?
Medical conditions never exist in a vacuum. Patients suffering from a disease may have co morbidities with other illnesses, to the effect that the different conditions influence and 1 Morris Hosseini, Thilo Kaltenbach, Ulrich Kleipaß, Karsten Neumann, Oliver Rong:
Future of Health 2 – The Rise of Healthcare Platforms
impact each other. Beyond that, individual circumstances influence disease progression and the ability to implement treatment and advice – every health journey is unique.
This is a reality that the pharmaceutical industry’s traditional approach of “single issue” treatment has had difficulties addressing in the past. The holistic approach of Integrated Care puts the patient, not the disease, front and center in the healthcare process, allowing support offerings to be tailored to fit each patient’s unique needs.
Through this approach, we are changing the perception on health and disease, from discrete observations during interactions with the healthcare system to a continuous description. This will create new perspectives for our approaches to treatments.
Integrated Care at Bayer
Bayer Pharma is aiming to be a key player in digital healthcare, building on its expertise and scientific know-how to create solutions and enabling access, thereby helping patients and making healthcare systems more efficient.
Integrated Care is a key element of Bayer Pharma’s digital business strategy. Bayer and the digital health company Informed Data Systems, Inc. (One Drop) are building on One Drop’s existing diabetes management platform, which has been downloaded more than 3 million times since 2016. Building on One Drop, Bayer Pharma and IDS will jointly develop and evolve an integrated digital health platform offering solutions that help patients in the areas of Cardio-Renal Diseases, Women’s Health and Oncology. Experts from both companies are jointly working on the first two modules, which are expected to be released within a year.
About FXI-Targeting Drugs
So-Young Kim, MD, Head of Thrombosis and Vascular Diseases, Bayer
Factor XI: Targeting a paradigm shift in anticoagulation
What are Factor XI-targeting drugs?
Factor XI-targeting drugs are a new class of drug compounds currently under development primarily in the area of anticoagulation that function by inhibiting Factor XI. Factor XI is a naturally occurring enzyme that is part of the coagulation cascade which, as evidence suggests, plays a key role in the formation of pathological blood clots, and consequently, thrombosis.
The significance of Factor XI inhibition in fighting thrombosis was discovered by studying ethnic groups who have a lower risk of suffering from strokes and blood clots. In this process, it was found that Ashkenazi Jews show an above average presence of inherited FXI deficiency. While FXI deficiency can be associated with a mild tendency to bleed, carriers do not usually suffer from strong spontaneous bleeding events. At the same time, however, people with FXI deficiency have lower risks of deep-vein thrombosis and stroke than the general population, showing that inhibiting the production of Factor XI might be a promising way to prevent the formation of blood clots while maintaining normal hemostasis.
Why does it matter?
Anticoagulants have been used in the prevention and treatment of thrombosis since the early 20th century. Early anticoagulants necessitated precise coagulation monitoring, making out-of-hospital therapies difficult. And while modern anticoagulants have managed to overcome this to a certain extent, a certain risk of bleeding may remain, especially in patients with comorbidities.
This leads to some eligible patients either not receiving antithrombotic therapy or lower-than ideal doses of anticoagulants, leaving them at higher risk of strokes. In addition, certain patient groups are not eligible for the current anticoagulation treatments available. Therefore, there remains a medical need for a novel class of anticoagulants. Factor XI inhibition could potentially offer a novel safety and efficacy profile that would make it possible to treat millions of cardiovascular patients who are currently underserved.
The Factor XI program at Bayer
Bayer is currently exploring novel approaches targeting Factor XI-pathway inhibition with three investigational assets are in Phase II clinical development: a small molecule FXI(a) – inhibitor and an anti-FXI(a) antibody (osocimab), which are both targeting the activated form of coagulation factor XI (FXIa), as well as a FXI-ligand-conjugated antisense oligonucleotide (FXI-LICA, in-licensed from IONIS Pharmaceuticals). For the small molecule FXIa-inhibitor, Bayer initiated a comprehensive Phase IIb program (PACIFIC) in Q1/2020 to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the candidate in three distinct indications: stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation, secondary stroke prevention after an acute non-cardioembolic stroke, and prevention of major adverse cardiac events after an acute myocardial infarction. Under the name PACIFIC, the program plans to enroll more than 4.000 patients in total. For osocimab and the FXI-LICA, Phase IIb studies (CONVERT & RE-THINC) in end stage kidney disease patients were recently started.
+49 30 468-192038
About P2X3 Antagonists
Oliver Martin Fischer, Principal Scientist Reproductive Health, Bayer
P2X3: Driving multi-indication programs forward
What are P2X3 Antagonists?
P2X3 is a protein, which is mainly expressed on sensory nerve fibers. It is one of many receptors activating afferent nerve signaling, meaning axonal projections that arrive at particular regions of the brain in response to internal and external stimuli. Studies have shown that P2X3 plays an important role as natural mediator of pain and nerve hypersensitivity in peripheral pain responses, and it functions as inducer of neurogenic inflammation. Under normal circumstances, activity of P2X3 signaling is modest, whereas under conditions of chronic inflammation, signaling activity through P2X3 is significantly enhanced. As a result, chronic inflammation renders peripheral nerve fibers hypersensitive, to the point where they are activated without external stimuli, trapping patients in a vicious circle of pain and inflammation.
P2X3 antagonists block the receptor with the aim to decrease peripheral nerve fiber sensitivity. At Bayer, the class of P2X3 antagonists as potential new treatment option for patients affected by conditions with nerve hypersensitivity and pain was first identified within the company’s strategic research alliance with Evotec SE in connection to their joint endometriosis research. But P2X3 also seems involved in several other diseases characterized by painful neurogenic hypersensitivity including refractory or unexplained chronic cough, overactive bladder and neuropathic pain.
Why does it matter?
Worldwide, approximately 10 percent of all women in reproductive age suffer from endometriosis, a condition causing uterine cells grow outside of the uterine cavity, leading to lesions in the lower abdomen. Women with endometriosis often experience severe chronic pain that has debilitating effects on their professional, personal and social lives; infertility is another recognized symptom. Medical treatments are associated with limitations and in many cases, surgical removal of the lesions is necessary to reduce symptoms. There is substantial need for novel medical treatment options that are non-hormonal and effective and suitable for long-term use. Refractory or unexplained chronic cough (RUCC) affects 1-5 percent of all people worldwide. RUCC has a debilitating effect on patients’ lives, causing them to cough between 10 to 100 times per hour without any external trigger, with phases often lasting for months or even years. Treatment options available for chronic cough are limited, with no treatment approved in the indication RUCC. Overactive bladder (OAB) is a highly prevalent chronic condition that affects approximately 12 percent of adults worldwide
and becomes more frequent in the elderly population. For many people living with OAB, their symptoms have a direct negative effect in most activities outside of their homes, and
patients commonly experience anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances. Neuropathic
pain is a severe pain condition that is caused by damaged nerves and is often long-lasting. It is present in 7-10 percent of the general population. Chronic neuropathic pain is more
challenging to treat than other types of pain and, thus, is often poorly managed. A high
unmet need remains for more efficacious treatment with better safety and tolerability.
Although these diseases are not life-threatening, they severely impact the quality of life for a very large number of patients. P2X3 antagonists could potentially offer new treatment
approach and relief to these patients.
The P2X3 multi-indication program at Bayer
Based on an in-depth biochemical understanding of the role of P2X3 in chronic inflammation, Bayer decided to explore a novel path for its clinical development strategy: pursuing not one but multiple possible indications in parallel early on, although this may also lead to
indications outside Bayer’s current strategic therapeutic area of focus.
The company’s investigational P2X3 receptor antagonist is currently being evaluated in a Phase IIb dose-finding study in patients with RUCC, which will enrol more than 200 patients. Previously, in a Phase IIa study, proof-of-concept was achieved and all study endpoints regarding safety and efficacy were met, including observation of only low rates of mild taste related adverse events. In the indication endometriosis-related pain, another Phase IIb clinical study is expected to start soon. Two clinical Phase IIa proof-of-concept studies have recently been initiated in the indication OAB and diabetic neuropathic pain and are ongoing.
What began as a research project trying to find a better treatment for just one condition, has transformed into a multi-indication program that now has the potential to provide meaningful therapeutic options for patients suffering from a series of similar yet very different diseases.
Bayer is supporting communities impacted by Typhoon Ulysses in Luzon with a cash donation of Php 4 million to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). The contribution will be utilized by PRC to address the needs of families in evacuation centers and typhoon-affected areas.
“We recognize how this tragic event left thousands of families homeless and, for some, their source of income from farming stripped away. The support could add to PRC’s current efforts in distributing food & medicine and help communities get back to their normal lives,” said Vinit Jindal, Managing Director for Bayer Philippines, Inc.
The PRC is one of the key organizations actively aiding families whose homes were either partially or totally damaged by flooding from the typhoon.
“On behalf of the staff and volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross, we thank Bayer for the humanitarian aid. We will make sure that this goes directly to the most vulnerable families who are still recovering from Typhoon Ulysses,” said PRC Chairman and CEO Senator Richard Gordon. “This act of generosity from Bayer clearly shows how the private sector is going beyond merely doing business by helping people in need during their challenging times.”
As a life science company, Bayer provides solutions in pharmaceuticals, consumer health, and in agriculture. “As our company vision is ‘health for all, hunger for none’, this effort is closely linked to what we desire to achieve both as an organization and as individuals,” added Jindal.
Bayer has been active in the farming sector with its seed and crop protection products and technical assistance to help improve farm productivity & incomes. Company representatives witnessed how farmers’ livelihood were wiped out by severe flooding in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Bicol regions. Bayer employees came up with their own donation drive for selected towns and they provided essential needs to bring hope for farming families situated there. On top of the Php 4 million donation from the company, employees were able to contribute more than Php 160,000 through its own fund campaign.
Teleconsultation is steadily increasing acceptance among Filipino women in learning more about modern family planning and contraceptive methods, as reproductive healthcare professionals are now more easily accessible through digital means where they can provide sufficient education to their patients.
Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM)’s executive director, said that many women have yet to be enlightened on traditional beliefs, myths and misconceptions in family planning which contributes to the high unplanned pregnancy rate in the country.
“Much of our work in the past was conducted through face-to-face advocacy communications and public events,” said Usec. Perez. “We need to transition from that setting to another using our help lines and social-media platforms.”
“Already, we have set up systems for women to gain access to health services through virtual channels, where doctors will ask them to go online and have a discussion,” added POPCOM’s chief.
The use of teleconsultation through video calls has started to pick up since the country-imposed lockdowns due to the pandemic, according to Doctor Anywhere physician Dr. Rachel Chin at the Bayer-supported virtual forum on “Women’s Health, Empowerment, and Progress.
“Based on statistics, tele-medicine is filling a critical gap for women during these times. Despite not being physically in the same room, tele-medicine is not impersonal,” confirmed Dr. Chin.
“From my experience, I have had deep consultations with my patients. Good doctors should not be rushing through consu lts—regardless whether they are done face-to-face, or via video call.”
Teleconsultation, she remarked, allows patients to be as personal in confiding to doctors their concerns regarding reproductive health and sensitive information: “Health care professionals can tailor advice on the topic of women’s health. They can provide a safe space for women to confide in and recommend options to reduce future health uncertainties, such as through regular screening, vaccination, or contraception.”
According to Dr. Chin, teleconsultation brings convenience to patients who do not have to wait at doctors’ offices. Appointment of schedule of consult may be fixed. Patients may also choose female doctors if they find information being shared to be sensitive.
“With tele-medicine, women can pick and select a doctor of their choice to consult at their fingertips—rather than having to check personally or contact different clinics,” she added.
In support of POPCOM during the pandemic, Bayer has increased focus on its social-media program on Facebook, Ask Mara Ph, to reach out to more Filipino women. The platform houses practical and accessible information on the different contraceptive options available, while addressing common misconceptions about birth control.
“Many women ask me about the side effects of contraceptive pills. While it depends on each individual, there are definite benefits from taking them,” said Dr. Amity B. Casurao-Trono, an obstetrician-gynecologist.
Primarily, the contraceptive pill can prevent ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer, according to a published study of the Journal of the American Medical Association-Oncology. “The pill has been one of the most effective birth control methods. It also has added benefits—including prevention of rheumatoid arthritis, reduction of risks from ovarian cancer, and even address polycystic (ovary) syndrome.” said Dr. Casurao-Trono. “It can address hormone-related fluid retention experienced by some women when they’re about to have a period.”
“First and foremost, however, women should consult their doctor before using the pill or other modern contraceptives,” added Dr. Casurao-Trono.
Bayer also supports the celebration of the World Contraception Day (WCD) every September 26. One of its reproductive-health education programs is “Your Life,” which targets 13- to 25-year-old women as participants in learning about reproductive health. WCD is part of the United Nations’ (UN) movement “Every Women Every Child.”
The UN estimates that today 151 million women all over the world aged between 15 and 49 use the pill as their contraceptive method of choice. There were 99 million unplanned pregnancies from 2010 to 2014, of which 56 percent ended in abortion, according to “Uneven Progress and Unequal Access” published in 2018.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Population Fund projected that unplanned pregnancies in the Philippines will total to 214,000 this year. For 2021, it will increase to 740,000—almost a 50% increase. As part of its sustainability targets, Bayer is looking to provide 100 million women in low- and middle-income countries with access to modern contraception methods by 2030 to address this global concern in developing countries. It has regularly supported POPCOM’s social-media programs, so that more child-bearing women can be empowered to make wise choices in their reproductive health. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)
November 27, 2020 – Artificial intelligence-driven drone has started revolutionizing Philippines’ rice farming n as Bayer Crop Science (BCS) completed a “drone seeding” demonstration in Paniqui, Tarlac that is significantly eliminating costly and time-consuming labor in rice planting.
A technology demonstration completed by BCS in Brgy. Sampot last November 20 has shown the success of using drone to broadcast (‘sabog tanim’) rice seeds. Sabog tanim or direct seeding is a method of sowing rice seeds.
The drone seeder is being received enthusiastically by Filipino farmers in Central Luzon as it substantially cuts labor and cost of direct seeding. The drone seed spreading service fee is being placed at only P3,000 per hectare for Bayer Arize farmer-customers.
Labor cost for transplanting rice traditionally costs P11,000 to P13,000 per hectare.
Instead of a whole day to do direct seeding in one hectare, drone seeding for the same area can be completed in only 30 minutes. Based on the conducted trial, seeding rate is 20 to 25 kilos of hybrid rice seeds per hectare, which is far less than the 40-50 kilos seeding rate in the manual sabog tanim, indicating effective seed distribution.
“We are preparing farmers for a complete package of smart technology. We can now use the drones to support agriculture modernization. Other countries in Southeast Asia have started to use drones in farming, including Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Meanwhile, It’s already used extensively in China,” said Aaron Cano, BCS new business activation manager during the technology demonstration. “This is the future of farming. We are opening an opportunity for the youth to get interested in farming.”
BCS has started setting up a “one-stop-shop” for farmers to bring a complete service of hardware, apps, and inputs—high yielding Arize hybrid rice seeds and crop protection products.
“We’re developing that model right now—a complete service that goes beyong distribution of farm inputs. Down the road, we’ll also look at other hardware and applications that collect relevant data on climate, weather, and plant health to be provided regularly to farmers,” said Cano.
New Hope Corp. (NHC) Founder/Director Anthony Tan said NHC, which distributes drones in the Philippines, has already been licensed by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) to use drones for spraying application. However, approvals for specific crop protection products that can be applied using drones have yet to be realized. This is where BCS is working to ensure regulatory compliance with FPA guidelines for priority products and crops.
A sprayer, much as the broadcaster, is an attachment of the drone that enables farmers to conveniently spray pesticides or other granulated materials on their plants.
The Department of Agriculture (DA), particularly Region 3 under Director Crispulo G. Bautista, has already adopted a drone technology program. “We are scheduled to have a technology demonstration in mid-December in Candaba, Pampanga. We are also providing other venues for demo. Those who want to request us to hold demo in their place may just contact us,” said Shiela Hipolito DA Region 3 Rice Program Manager.
Cano added that BCS is introducing a web-based app called Agrolink. Bayer Arize rice seeds users just have to sign up an account to access Agrolink. Through this integrated Smart Farming program, farmers are given points from purchases that they can acculmuate to get discounts and likely include the drone services.
“All the data we’re going to get will be part of an integrated agriculture—a complete, integrated solution for smallholder farmers is what we’re aiming for to boost their yields and incomes,” said Cano.
For now, Tan said the drone’s seed broadcasting service will initially be carried out in partnership with Bayer’s Arize seeds. “We’ve been successful in testing the technology with Bayer’s Arize rice seeds. We find comfort in this partnership since we have been testing this for two years,” Tan said.
“Any new technology goes through trial and error stage,” Tan added. “That is what the drone technology has hurdled under the partnership between NHC and BCS. The collaboration successfully proved that Arize hybrid seeds can be utilized efficiently using drones in certain soil types.
First, farmers have to prepare Arize hybrid rice seeds by soaking in water for 12 to 18 hours with Gaucho seed treatment. Next, the seeds are incubated for 18 hours. Afterwards, the rice seeds are loaded on drones for aerial distribution and seeding. The seeds shouldn’t have shoots so it can freely be dropped to the soil by the drone. Seed treatment with Gaucho prevents birds and other pests like preying on the seeds for up to 30 days.
The drone, registered with the Civil Aviation Authority of the PHilippines (CAAP), has a weight of 25 kilos and a rice seed loading capacity of 10 kilos. Drone pilots are also registered by CAAP.
Good seeding has also been observed when land preparation has been done properly. For now, the introduction of the drone seeding service will be focused in Central Luzon, Philippines’ rice granary.
“We want to put farmers at ease with the technology. A lot of farmers in Iloilo have been pressing us on the supply of the drones, but these have to be scheduled,” Tan said. While direct seeding has been known to be less productive than transplanting (producing seedling first then transferring these to permanent locations), transplanting is laborious, costlier, and takes a longer time to complete.
“You can’t expect different results from doing the same thing. With drones, we do things very differently. First, the seeds should be quality seeds. The choice of farmer is to transplant hybrid seeds, but now, there’s a new hope with Bayer’s proposition on automated drone technology,” said Tan.
Within just one day, 20 hectares may be planted with the seeds using drones versus 1 hectare if done manually. The drone distributes rice seeds aerially from an altitude of 2.5 meters at a speed of one meter per second.
As a single drone would cost around P1 million which are out of reach for most farmers, NHC plans to provide the service at a reasonable fee for farmers within selected communities.
The Tarlac government is also supporting the supply of drones to its farmers. “Rep. Charlie Cojuangco wants average rice yield of Tarlac farmers to increase to more than five tons per hectare. We just finished just one techno-demo first, and maybe we will add more techno demos to introduce the technology to farmers,” said Ar-ar Molic, Carlos O. Cojuangco Foundation project manager. Melody Mendoza Aguiba
The government foresees a P20 billion economic loss for corn’s crop year due to the highl-infesting Fall armyworm (FAW), affecting 1.6 million metric tons (MT) of harvest on a total of 2.5 million hectares of corn area.
On top of making life more difficult for corn farmers, the infestation has a negative domino effect on the cost efficiencies of feed millers, food processors, livestock and poultry raisers, traders and consolidators, and finally consumers.
Department of Agriculture’s (DA) FAW Crisis Management Team Chief Dr. Lorenzo M. Caranguian reported government is intensifying strategies against FAW as loss is foreseen to be worsened by the incoming dry season planting.
“As we approach the dry season, this November to December planting up to harvest in March to April (2021), mostly likely FAW will peak. That is a period when we’re really expecting harvest to be bountiful,” said Caranguian in a FAW forum co-hosted by Bayer Philippines Inc.
DA has already adopted an FAW Integrated Pest Management (IPM) protocol. Under this, corn farmers are advised to detect presence of the pest at the earliest stages and apply three actions against the pest, according to Brueau of Plant Industry Crop Protection Chief Wilma Cuaterno , also resource person at the “FAW:Status & Management Strategies.”.
These are use of trap crops (planting legumes 20 days prior to corn planting); field inspection (observe feces, egg masses, larvae that indicate FAW presence); and use pest attractants –organic bait trap such as molasses with vinegar; and use of commercial pheromones as traps and lures).
DA has released a P150 million quick response fund for the program. It has also allocated another P100 million to intensify pest control . This P100 million is part of the P470 million alloted from the national government’sBayanihan 2.
Caranguian said government is also studying corn varieties claimed to be resistant against FAW, particularly the Dekalb VT Double Pro.
“DA will conduct a nationwide corn derby where all corn varieties claiming resistance against FAW will be grown and tested for their pest resistance and yield. It will be multi-locational in order for farmers to see for themselves varieties suitable to them,” Carangian said.
Field studies have shown the Dekalb VT Double Pro corn plants have withstood FAW in the last dry season.
The biotechnology-bred corn variety has a multiple Mode of Action (MOA) against the pest. Multiple MOA) has enabled corn plants to combat infestation, according to John Fajardo, Bayer Philippines Agronomic System Corn & Knowledge Transfer manager.
Some Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) seeds, also biotechnology-bred, only has one MOA which is against Asiatic corn borer. As such, some Bt corn plants have been destroyed by FAW.
HOwever, Dekalb VT Double Pro corn plants sustained only 2-3% damage in the last dry planting.
With Dekalb VT DoublePro, given the proper climatic condition, cultural management, and a growing period of 115 to 120 days depending on the variety, corn can yield as much as 13-15 metric tons (MT) per hectare.
As a rather auspicious development, Caranguian said FAW has not been observed to infest rice plants which is possible based on the pest’s polyphagous (feeds on various food) nature.
“Corn is their favorite. It is more palatable to them,” he said.
However, it has been observed to hurt some sugarcane crops in Region 2.
Cuaterno said DA-BPI has also adopted under the FAW Protocol three actions for prevention of the infestation.
These are crop diversification (planting different crops or alternate crops after corn), synchronous planting (so that plants, particularly those in vegetative stage, can avoid the pest), and field sanitation (weeding and plowing under of stubbles).
DA is also using natural enemies or biocontrol agents (predators) as natural pesticide against FAW.
“It is better to use natural enemies because that is sustainable management. For high population of pests, we use organic pesticide, and then we apply inorganic pesticide,” she said.
FAW infestation has already adversely affected corn harvest in 57 out of 81 provinces covering 288 out of 1,488 towns and cities. Average degree of damage in surved areas is 44.43%, DA records showed. Destruction is severe in Cagayan Valley, 5,428 hectares; Zamboanga Peninsula, 1,154 hectares; SOCKSARGEN( South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, General Santos), 1,703 hectares.
Other serious incidence has been found in Northern Mindanao, 1,191 hectares and Bicol, 533 hectares.
FAW reproduces quickly with female adults laying 2,000 eggs in a single instance. Its dispersion is fast as it can fly at night over a 100-kilometer distance and up to 500 kilometers with the aid of wind.
Being able to eat anything at hand enables the FAW to increase in population at exponential rate and travel to far distances. By flying, it can travel 100 kilometers per night.
All Dekalb varieties with VT DoublePro have a 5% refuge in a bag. This government requirement is part of the Insecticide Resistance Management (IRM) strategy of the industry. It is aimed at minimizing the risk that corn varieties resistant to FAW will one day become ineffective in killing the pest.
Fajardo said members of Croplife Philippines, a group of bioscience companies developing corn varieties resistant to pests, are collaborating on coming up with a common IRM. It will ensure corn farmers will enjoy the use of FAW-resistant seeds as the Dekalb VT Double Pro for a long time.
In the Philippines, FAW was first observed in March 2019 in Piat, Cagayan. “It was first identified morphologically by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). From Piat, Cagayan, it was then seen in Gonzaga, Sta. Ana, and other municipalities until it reached the provinces of Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino.
FAW was first found infesting farms in Africa in 2016. It had spread all over Africa in just one year. Afterwards, it was found in India, devastating 60 to 80% of farm harvest in some areas. It was in 2019 when it reached Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)