PCAFI opposes rice import liberalization bill

Danilo V. Fausto PCAFI President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Added profit

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

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

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

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

Land consolidation

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

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

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

Certification Schemes

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

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

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

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

Transparency

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

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

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

Legal requirements

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

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

Millennials, technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

vco certification cost benefit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell

Ph leads with Rockefeller University in pioneering clinical research on VCO anti-inflammatory property
December 23, 2018

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

’Value chain’study of calamansi carried out to beef up 170 MT export to UAE, Hongkong

_’Value chain’study of calamansi carried out to beef up 170 MT export to UAE, Hongkong
December 11, 2018

A “value chain study of calamansi is being carried out to beef up output and some 170 metric tons (MT) of export of fresh and processed fruits per year shipped to Hongkong, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has supported Bureau of Agricultural Research’s (BAR) piloting of the project in Oriental Mindoro.
“There are gaps and constraints in the calamansi industry that limit its potential to increase income and generate the much-needed employment for the calamansi-growing communities in Oriental Mindoro,” according to SEARCA.
“The project will strengthen capacities of calamansi stakeholders on the improved production and postharvest handling practices, calamansi processing, and entrepreneurship.”
Value chain concept involves creating “value” from activities that have been identified to make a business more profitable. For instance, activities that increase farm sales are hiring sales agents to market a product or training farm experts on pest management practices in order to increase harvest.
Value chain studies enhance a business’s competitiveness and was introduced by economist Michael Porter in his “Competitive Advantage (1985)”.
The country’s calamansi export ranged from 20 to 35 MT in 2008 with an average yearly export of 29.5 MT in fresh fruits.
A value chain advantage may be found in processing more fresh fruits. A total of 144 MT of calamansi juice and concentrate was exported to Hongkong, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in 2013. An important consideration in this project is on expanding employment and farmer’s income from the business.
Constraints in calamansi sector’s growth include lack of good-quality calamansi seedlings; high incidence of pests and diseases; declining volume of production; huge postharvest losses; limited access to market; inconsistent quality of processed calamansi products; low prices during peak season; and lack of resources, skills, knowledge, and experience in collective marketing among calamansi farmers.
The two-year project aims to address these technical and market constraints.
It intends to improve calamansi production and fruit quality by using proven technologies and practices in integrated pest management, fertilization, off-season fruiting, and postharvest handling.
It will also support the commercialization of calamansi-based products through value chain analysis of processed products, market study, and product enhancement.
Moreover, it will also promote faculty and student exchange for R&D (research and development) and technology transfer and promotion.
The project will build on the gains of SEARCA’s action research program “Piloting and Upscaling Effective Models of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (PUEM-ISARD) that helped revitalize the calamansi industry of Oriental Mindoro.
SEARCA has been implementing PUEM-ISARD with Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT) and the local government units of Oriental Mindoro since 2015.
Recently, Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI) of Japan also began conducting experiments at the project site to validate the effects of off-season production technologies suitable to the growing conditions of calamansi in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro.

PRoduction

Calamansi is indigenous to the Philippines . The largest production is fromVictoria, Oriental Mindoro.
According to the DA-Philippine Rural Development Program, buyers prefer calamansi from Oriental Mindoro because it has a thicker rind, stronger taste, longer shelf-life, and resists weight loss.
Calamansi, or calamondin, is used primarily as juice, puree, and for souring food.
Production has been declining for 6 years from 199,675 MT and 20,956 hectares in 2008 down to 164,050 MT and 20,246 hectares in 2013.
The decline is due to the greening disease or ”huanglubin’ which decreases yield and causes death of trees, reported the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center (FFTC).
Calamansi is produced primarily from MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblom, Palawan– 6,872 hectares), Central Luzon (Zambales, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bataan-1,734ha) and Ilocos Region (1,026ha) in Luzon.
In Mindanao, producers are in Davao Region (1,797 hectares), CARAGA (1,412 hectares) and Zamboanga Peninsula (1,077 hectares).
Yield has been dropping form an average of 9.53MT hectares in 2008 to 8.10 MT in 2013, down to an annual growth rate of -3.18.
A sizable 93% of the volume as of 2013 was used domestically for food and the rest for export.
With production decline, prices has been increasing at P23.13 per kilo in 2013 from only P13.28 per kilo in 2008. End (Growth Publishing for SEARCA).

Benguet pine, ipil, 3 other forest tree species put under genetic diversity program to raise survival of planting 1.5B trees, beef up quality wood supply

Benguet pine, ipil, 3 other forest tree species put under genetic diversity program to raise survival of planting 1.5B trees, beef up quality wood supply
PHOTO Saving Philippine Forest Trees Through Genetic Biodversity<img
Dec. 5, 2018

For any questions or interview requests, please contact 09297158669, 09171026734 (Growth Publishing for ERDB)

Five forest tree species—Benguet pine, Bagalunga, Molave, Ipil, and Narra—have been put under “genetic diversity” assessment of the government as part of the goal to plant 1.5 billion trees that sustain long term and help beef up quality wood supply.
The Ecosystems Research & Development Bureau (ERDB) has put this as a priority as a systematic way to ensure foresters will propagate the tree varieties have high survival potential amid rapid changes in climate and the environment.
The “Genetic Improvement of priority Forest Tree Species for Quality Wood Production Project,” (GIFTS-QWP) of ERDB is pursuing further study of the five tree species after successfully assessing the genetic diversity of Rattan Limuran, according to Project Leader Dr. Theresa delos Reyes.
Rattan Limuran is an important industrial species for wood products exported by the country.
For Limuran, Bataan turned out to be the best possible source of planting materials with highest genetic diversity.
ERDB had also initially found that the Ilocos province has the highest potential for tree improvement and breeding for narra based on broad genetic diversity.
“Assessment of genetic variation among and within populations is essential for the success of any tree breeding and selection programs. It holds vast potentials for the preservation of the forest ecosystems in the Philippines” said Dr. Sofio B. Quintana, ERDB Director.

What is the importance of genetic diversity?

With the changing environment and increase in global temperature, some species of forest trees fail to cope up to changes while others (under the same species) succeed in adapting.
By assessing the genetic makeup of forest trees through DNA analysis, differences among similar trees can be distinguished with the aid of molecular tools.
The variation that is observed in the genetic makeup of species is called genetic diversity.
. ”With more genetic variations, it is more likely that some individuals possess alleles (alternative form of genes) that better suit the environment,” according to ERDB authors Karol Josef Lucena, Jordan Abellar and Jorge Cyril Viray.
And because of the success of these individuals, their population will continue for more generations.
Having less genetic diversity leads to uniformity. Such population have individuals less likely to adapt to new environment.

Monoculture (1 crop planted in a large farm area) is beneficial only for growing and harvesting crops short term. In the long run, it will be a problem when a disease or parasites attack the field.
Due to genetic uniformity, every plant is vulnerable.
The same is true for forest trees. Tree domestication tends to decrease genetic variability as limited plants are selected and propagated.
Little genetic variation within a species impedes the process of healthy reproduction as evident by the expression of harmful traits in the offspring resulting from inbreeding (mating of genetically related organisms).
Inbred trees that develop slowly are often deformed. Many die suddenly and inexplicably before reaching maturity. Few inbred trees survive and reproduce in natural forest setting.
With low genetic diversity comes increased susceptibility to disease and increase mortality of the population in environmental disturbances.
In 1890, an epidemic had spread across Panama wiping out hectares of banana production. Being genetically identical, banana plants are susceptible to the fungal disease, providing little to no resistance against the disease.
Such scenario ultimately leads to extinction of the population and of the species.

Genetic variations

In order for plant geneticists to tell apart genetic variations, they use segments of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequence of the individuals to mine them out despite the limited availability of whole genome sequences from forest trees species.
These segments of DNA are called DNA-based molecular markers which are widely used in studying genetic diversity, as well as for identification of species.
Jordan Abellar, ERDB-based biologist, said after collecting the plant material (leaf, stem, or root), careful optimization of protocols follows wherein the DNA of the material is isolated.
This process is called DNA extraction. The process involves breaking the cell wall and cell membrane (cell lysis), removing the organelles, and destroying the nuclear membrane. After these processes, the “purest” DNA can be extracted.
After obtaning a desirable amount of DNA with superior purity, molecular biologists then subject this DNA to a temperature sensitive process that produces millions of copies of it in a matter of an hour or two.
This copying process is called DNA amplification or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) discovered by Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis in 1985. It involves a series of heating-cooling-heating the DNA. These temperature changes allow the enzymes and other reagents to copy the target regions (molecular markers) of the DNA.
PCR is an indispensable technique known to be used in medical and clinical laboratory research including forensic science in crime scene investigations. It also holds a potential swing in improving forensic botany for higher productivity and survivability of forest trees species and for the trees to achieve superiority in growth parameters.

ERDB’s studies

To date, Dr. de los Reyes said the diversity of five forest tree species are included in the study Assessment of Genetic Diversity of Priority Forest Tree Species through DNA Analysis of the Genetic Improvement of priority Forest Tree Species for Quality Wood Production (GIFTS-QWP) project.
The species were selected based on the criteria stated in DAO 2010-11 “Revised Regulations Governing Forest Tree Seed and Seedling Production, Collection and Disposition”.
Moreover, transferability of these SSR markers to progenies planted in Progeny Test Plantation of the Progeny Tests Cum Seedling Seed Orchards study is being documented. The genetic diversity of these plantations is also being assessed.
Genetic variation is the basis of evolution and the catalyst for species to adapt to ever changing environment.
“The implementation of efficient measures to conserve the genetic resources of forest tree species in the Philippines can be addressed by having a complete understanding on the patterns of genetic variation within species,” said Quintana.
As the country faces unceasing deforestation and its accompanying loss of genetic resources for its biodiversity, the necessity to study the genetic diversity and molecular characteristics of forest tree resources is very imperative and timely.
ERDB’s pursuit for genetic diversity studies has been supported since the establishment of its Forest Molecular Biology Laboratory.
Its researchers have been harnessing the potential of Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers to assess the levels of genetic variations of indigenous forest tree populations.
Because of the limitations presented by RAPD markers, ERDB utilized a new marker system called Simple Sequence Repeats (SSR), said Delos Reyes.
Using these molecular markers, the assessment of Kawayan tinik (Bambusa blumeana Schultes f.) was completed. Results revealed that the Pangasinan population was the most genetically diverse,” said delos Reyes. (Growth Publishing for ERDB) End

Private sector pressed banks to allot P1.1 trillion for agro-industrial business as PD 707 mandated

Private sector pressed banks to allot P1.1 trillion for agro-industrial business as PD 707 mandated
November 23, 2018

The private farm sector has pressed the banking industry to allot P1.1 trillion for agro-industrial activities as mandated by PD 717 in order to support industrialization and poverty reduction which can be accelerated through agriculture-based manufacturing.
The Philippine Chamber of Food & Agriculture Inc (PCAFI) urged banks to abide by the Agri Agra Law that mandates banks to allocate at least 25% of outstanding loan portfolio. Of this, 10% should be devoted to credit for agrarian reform beneficiaries.
PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said there remains an estimated P1.1 trillion, equivalent to 16% of banks total outstanding loan, that is not being aptly availed of by the agriculture sector.
Out of around P10 trillion total loan outstanding of banks as of end 2017, only 14% has been released for the farm sector.
“Banks’ loan portfolio has been growing through the years but not because of real, inclusive economic progress or reduced poverty. It’s merely because real estate and other industries are growing,” he said.
PCAFI has asked the Bangko ng Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to be updated on the status of Circular 908 which set up the Agricultural Value Chain Financing Framework (AVCFF).
Two years after an issuance on Feb. 24, 2016 of the lending features (Monetary Board Resolution 360) of AVCFF, the resolution has barely raised financing for agriculture value added manufacturing.
AVCFF was designed to reduce risks of banks that are lending to agricultural production.
In the sole nature of agricultural production, risks to banks of non repayment is relatively high. Pure agriculture production traditionally suffers from losses when a weather-related calamity hits.
But through the use of the value chain schemes, risks are significantly reduced.
In order to follow through the circular’s implementation, PCAFI asserts banks should have an Agri Banking Department, much as they have mortgage banking departments that assess collateral value in real estate lending.
It is imperative for government to strictly enforce each bank’s compliance with PD 717 if it has to take the path of manufacturing-based agro industrialization.
This is the solution that Thailand, Malaysia, and other Southeast Asian countries earlier took and should be embraced too by the Philippines.
“The solution that made an impact in our neighbors’ economy is they put agriculture in the forefront of their economy. They made it a tool for poverty reduction that results in increase in farmers’per capita income,” said agro-economist Pablito M Villegas, also PCAFI director.
“Investing in food and agriculture is the surest way to reduce poverty. But banks would rather pay a fine because they do not appreciate agro-based industries and its impact in poverty reduction,” he said.
PCAFI officials believe the budget of DA is severely low at P70 billion. Even over a 10-year period, this falls below the trillion level that should be channeled in loan by banks to the sector.
Even more deplorable, this yearly DA budget already includes the entire DA bureaucracy budget. It includes maintenance and operating expense for paying employees’ salaries and wages, utilities, and other operating expense.
“In reality, only around 50% or P35 billion of this DA budget goes to capital expenditure or investments in the farm sector,” said lawyer Elias Inciong, PCAFI director and United Broilers & Raisers Association president.
Banks should open their eyes on the opportunities from the agriculture value chain businesses rather than just assess the value of the collateral or assets of the farmer-borrowers that they may foreclose once repayment fails.
“Look at my business opportunities, rather than my collateral,” said Fausto, a farming entrepreneur. He founded DVF Dairy Farm Inc which produces “Gatas ng Kalabaw.
While poverty level in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam has already gone down to the 10% level because they bankrolled their agro-industries, Philippines’ poverty rate is still at a high 30%.
“President Duterte is targeting 20% poverty level. But our neighbors Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia have poverty level at just 10%. Malaysia’s poverty is even less than 10%,” said Villegas.

AVCFF

BSP has issued Circular 908 as a means to channel financing to agriculture and fisheries. It taps more sophisticated financing schemes that are extended to value chain players in other related agriculture manufacturing ventures.
“By encouraging linking of various actors, players in the agricultural value chain, credit risk of smallholder farmers can be reduced,” according to BSP.
“This is expected to further improve productivity in the agriculture and fisheries sectors and uplift the lives of these marginalized farmers.”
Credit products for farmers’beneficiaries are trade receivables finance and factoring (a business’ sale of its sales contract of goods or receivables to another so as to hasten cash turnover).
There is also the warehouse receipts—farmers and related value chain enterprises receive a receipt from a certified warehouse as a collateral to access a loan.

Loan disbursements

Another AVCFF financing program is Loan Disbursement. It may be cash—completed in one transaction or in installment. It may be loan proceeds to suppliers—suppliers of farmers (for example fertilizer, seeds) are directly paid by banks in order to control the loan’s use.
Another system is the use of an anchor firm which endorses a loan release to a farmer’s entity to ensure that the machine or technology to be acquired by the farmers are the proper technology to be used. This way, rejects are reduced and productivity is optimized.
Circular 908 also provided for the Disaster Contingency Mechanism (DCM). The DCM is an immediate financing relief to a farmer who has experienced a disaster in order to recover from losses resulting from weather or related calamities.
Circular 908 also provides for accountability schemes in the value chain system by allowing factors, aggregators to become directors of agricultural businesses. Melody M. Aguiba

Govt embarks on robust “genetic diversity” program on narra, industrial tree species rattan to reverse massive deforestation, 6 provinces identified

PHOTO Saving Philippine Forest Trees Through Genetic Biodversity

Govt embarks on robust “genetic diversity” program on narra, industrial tree species rattan to reverse massive deforestation, 6 provinces identified
November 20, 2018

The government has embarked on a robust “genetic diversity” program of the endangered narra and industrial tree rattan as a commitment to conserve forests amid seemingly irreversible deforestation that threatens economic resources.
The Ecosystems Research & Devt. Bureau (ERDB) has started carrying out DNA analysis of these economically important tree species as a long term support to the National Greening Program (NGP) of DENR.
Genetic variation is the basis of evolution and the catalyst for species to adapt to ever changing environment.
“Assessment of genetic variation among and within populations is essential for the success of any tree breeding and selection programs. It holds vast potentials for the preservation of the forest ecosystems,” said Dr. Sofio B. Quintana, ERDB Director.
Six provinces– Ilocos Sur, Cebu, Iloilo, Marinduque, Nueva Vizcaya and Quezon—has so far been identified as potential sources of good planting materials for narra reforestation.
“The genetic diversity analysis showed that the 6 populations of Pterocarpus indicus Wild (narra) from the 6 provinces have good levels of genetic variation and can serve as good sources of potentially useful genes,” according to ERDB genetic experts Maria Theresa A. Delos Reyes, Gracetine D. Magpantay, Aimee G. Cagalawan, Aida B. Lapis, and Nenita M. Calinawan.
Government has deemed a top priority to conserve forests as a top economic asset as Philippines that has among the most biologically diverse flora with 5% of world’s total.
Narra’s timber is prominent among importers in Asia, Europe, US, and Australia which “accept large volumes of sawn timber at high prices US$600 per cubic meter if it were available,” according to the “Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry.”
Narra is also known for its medicinal, ornamental, and nitrogen-fixing functions.

1.5 billion trees

ERDB’s project, “2018 Genetic Diversity: A Key Component for Conserving Philippine Forest Trees,” aims to identify trees with molecular markers that indicate high survival rate as part of planting the targeted 1.5 billion trees under the NGP.
“With the increase in global average temperatures, some species of forest trees fail to cope up to such changes. With more genetic variations, it is more likely that some individuals possess alleles (alternative form of genes) that better suit the environment,” said ERDB authors Karol Josef Lucena, Jordan Abellar and Jorge Cyril Viray.
Having less genetic diversity leads to uniformity, with population having individuals less likely to adapt and survive in the changing environment.
While monoculture in agriculture is good for harvesting a good volume of a single crop,
it will be a problem when a disease or parasites attack the field in the long run.

Inbreeding harm

Little genetic variation within a species impedes the process of healthy reproduction as evident by the expression of harmful traits in the offspring resulting from inbreeding (mating of genetically related organisms or in human, within one family).
Inbred trees grow slowly, are often deformed and many die suddenly and inexplicably before reaching maturity. Few inbred trees survive and reproduce in natural forest setting.
In 1890, an epidemic had spread across Panama wiping out hectares of banana production. Being genetically identical, banana plants are susceptible to the fungal disease, providing little to no resistance against the disease.
Such scenario ultimately leads to extinction of the population and eventually extinction of the species.

Genetic diversity

“Knowledge of the extent of genetic diversity in selected narra populations may be used in determining the susceptibility of these narra populations to pests like the ambrosia beetles which are the causative agent of fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum),” said the Delos Reyes, Magpantay, Cagalawan, Lapis, and Calinawan in a scientific paper.
Forestry experts use molecular markers as part of effective reforestation strategy because of the
“ease, rapidity and reliability in producing results.’
“One of the factors that caused delay and failure to reforestation in the Philippines is the lack of proper evaluation of individuals (trees) of known origins, which includes both morphological and molecular characterization.”
With knowledge of superior traits of trees species, the combination of superior ones will be chosen as planting materials. Among desired traits are timber quality and durability, fast growth, and disease resistance.

DNA sequence

In order for plant geneticists to tell apart genetic variations, they use segments of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequence of the individuals to mine them out despite the limited availability of whole genome sequences from forest trees species.
These segments of DNA are called DNA-based molecular markers which are widely used in studying genetic diversity, as well as for identification of species.
According to Abellar, ERDB biologist, after collecting the plant material (leaf, stem, or root), careful optimization of protocols follows wherein the DNA of the material is isolated.
This process is called DNA extraction. The process involves breaking the cell wall and cell membrane (cell lysis), removing the organelles, and destroying the nuclear membrane. After these processes, the “purest” DNA can be extracted.
Having a desirable amount of DNA with superior purity, molecular biologists then subject this DNA to a temperature sensitive process that produces millions of copies of it in a matter of an hour or two. This copying process is called DNA amplification or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) discovered by Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis in 1985.
It involves a series of heating-cooling-heating the DNA.
These temperature changes allow the enzymes and other reagents to copy the target regions (molecular markers) of the DNA.
PCR is an indispensable technique known to be used in medical and clinical laboratory research including forensic science in crime scene investigations.
It also holds a potential swing in improving forensic botany for higher productivity and survivability of forest trees species and for the trees to achieve superiority in growth parameters.

Bataan, Ilocos

For rattan, the study found Bataan population holding the highest genetic diversity, therefore was rendered as a potential source of genes useful for tree improvement and breeding programs; while for Narra, Ilocos was the most genetically diverse population.
To date, de los Reyes said the diversity of five forest tree species (Narra, Benguet Pine, Bagalunga, Molave, and Ipil) are included in the study Assessment of Genetic Diversity of Priority Forest Tree Species through DNA Analysis of the Genetic Improvement of Priority Forest Tree Species for Quality Wood Production Project.
The species were selected based on the criteria stated in DAO 2010-11 “Revised Regulations Governing Forest Tree Seed and Seedling Production, Collection and Disposition”.
Using these molecular markers, the assessment of Kawayan tinik (Bambusa blumeana Schultes f.) was also completed. Results revealed that the Pangasinan population was the most genetically diverse (Delos Reyes M.A., et al., 2015).

RAPD

The ERDB genetics researchers used a technology called Random Applied Polymorphic DNA or RAPD as a molecular marker in determining genetic characteristics of individual
rattan trees because it is cheaper and simple to use compared to other marker technology.
Because of the limitations presented by RAPD markers, ERDB also utilized a new marker system called Simple Sequence Repeats (SSR) for its other genetic diversity studies.
Moreover, transferability of these SSR markers to progenies planted in Progeny Test Plantation of the Progeny Tests Cum Seedling Seed Orchards study is being documented.
The genetic diversity of these plantations is also being assessed.

Limuan (rattan)

The ERDB biologists had found that Limuran Calamus (rattan) in Bataan, Camarines Norte, and Quezon showed enough variation in the populations, making the 3 provinces an ideal source for Limuran rattan planting materials.
Calamus is the largest genera of rattans with 388 accepted species names. Their canes are used for furniture, walking sticks, and flooring and implement handles. Limuran rattan also has potential pharmaceutical uses with bioactive components found to be anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrhetic. (Growth Publishing for ERDB)

PHOTOS 1. Amplified! A thermal cycler unit for producing millions of copies of DNA. Photo by JMAbellar
2. Genetic variations between two Molave individuals are determined through band patterns.
3. ERDB Genetic Diversity Program

International conference on Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture to help boost nutrition-rich food production, cut malnutrition that affect 15-25% of population

PHOTO Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture
International conference on Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture to help boost nutrition-rich food production, cut malnutrition that affect 15-25% of population
3 November 2018

An international conference on Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture (NSA) will be held in the Philippines to help boost vitamins and minerals-rich food production and cut malnutrition that’s adversely affecting 15-25% of 105 million Filipinos.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), in a tieup with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will host “Strategic Approaches to Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems in Southeast Asia” on Nov. 7-10, 2018.
“Our food security ranking globally shrunk from rank 62 in 2011 to 72 in 2017 out of 109 countries. FAO through its Integrated Food Security Classification mapped the entire Philippines as food insecure,” according to a SEARCA NSA primer.
“Food security is continuously challenged by poor agricultural productivity brought about by climate change, environmental degradation, higher input cost, low farm income and lack of competitiveness.”
NSA is a concept that has recently emerged in light of the pervasiveness of malnutrition especially in developing countries as the Philippines.
It seeks to maximize a farming system that enhances nutritional supply especially in impoverished areas through provision of a variety of affordable, nutritious, culturally appropriate and safe food.
“It is generally recognized that addressing malnutrition requires an integrative approach in the food chain from production, processing, retail to consumption,” said SEARCA.
“Making agriculture and food systems nutrition-sensitive also requires that we have to address input quality, production, post-harvest handling, processing, retailing and consumption, and to deliver safe and nutritious foods all year round to the consumer.”
Also supporting the conference are the Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Food and Nutrition Security of the University of the PHIlippines Los Banos and Cavite State University (CvSU).
The conference will formulate polices and strategies to enhance NSA in relation to food and nutrition security.
In line with Food and Nutrition Security program in Southeast Asia, SEARCA has put in sessions on case studies on integrating nutrition into agriculture. It will focus success stories of addressing nutrition across stages of the food system.
Fisheries production—aquaponics, organic food farming, hydroponics, agricultural biotechnology, potato and mushroom production, nutrition in vegetables, plant factories in urban setting, Palaymanan, rice-corn blend for diabetics, and development of MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) are among the topics of the conference.
Dr. Marco Wopereis, Director General of the World Vegetable Center, will speak on nutritional power of vegetables; Dr. Leila S. Africa of Human Ecology-Institute of Human Nutrition and Food will present outcomes of Promoting Nutrition-Sensitive School Gardens and Feeding Programs through the School-Plus-Home-Gardens Project (in Laguna).
Dr. Wei Fang, director of the Center of Excellence for Controlled Environment Agriculture and Professor of Bio-Industrial Mechatronics Engineering of the National Taiwan University, will discuss how plant factories in Taiwan to promote food and nutrition security in an urban setting.
Other speakers are International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) Country Director Emily Monville (sustaining and scaling-up nutrition-sensitive agriculture); Rizal G. Corales, program lead, Integrated Rice-based Agribiosystems of Philrice, (Palayamanan as a strategy to promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture); and Dr. Mallikarjuna Swamy, Healthier Rice Breeding Group of the International Rice Research Institute (nutritional security through development of healthier rice).
It will be held at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City. (Growth Publishing for SEARCA) End
PowerPoint Presentation