IFAD-supported agro-enterprise project beefed up “value chain” opportunities for Filipino farmers in 21 poverty-stricken provinces

February 8, 2022

An agro-enterprise project supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has beefed up “value chain” opportunities for Filipino farmers in 21 poverty-stricken provinces, linking them to markets, credit, training, and technology.

    In a webinar hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reported that a project called “RAPID” has been helping raise income for small farmers and unemployed rural women.

   RAPID stands for Rural Agro Enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth.

   The concept of RAPID is first to organize farmers into bigger groups as there is strength in number and in organization.  Then, they are provided with all the business support they need in order to succeed.

   “There was sustained growth of agri-based MSMEs (micro small medium enterprises) with strong backward linkages to farmers.  The project generates employment and livelihood opportunities,” said Mysol Booc Carcueva, RAPID national value chain officer told the SEARCA webinar.

   The webinar is part of SEARCA’s SOLVE (SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement) series in support of its five-year thrust toward Accelerating Transformation through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN).

   The RAPID project has so far helped 78,000 farming households increase their income by 60%. 

   Carcueva said this increase in household income is attributed to increase in production due to rehabilitation and expansion of farm production areas. 

   The farmers also reduced transaction costs from consolidation of produce, creating economies of scale.  There was better quality produce from improved production and post harvest technologies that raised prices of the farm goods.  The households also earned dividends from cooperatives.

   MSMEs were able to expand their markets and raised income from value addition.

   RAPID generated 31,000 direct jobs and 155,0000 indirect jobs.  A total of 1,050 micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) increased their sales by 100%.

   As an “anchor firm,”  or a market to purchase the farmers’ produce is vital to an enterprise’s survival, coffee farmers in Bukidnon have so far formalized their supply agreement to Nestle. 

   Cacao farmers have formalized their supply agreement with Kennemer International which supplies cacao products to global brand Hershey’s.  Coffee farmers are able to sustain their sale of specialty coffee to Gourmet Farms and roasted coffee to Equilibrium Intertrade Corp.

  RAPID also links organized farmers to a Financial Service Provider or FSP. That includes Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), rural banks, and other small banks.

Enabling small farmers to enter the global value chain– the business model that integrates them to the entire range of business activities like marketing and distribution– is critical to helping them become successful entrepreneurs.

   DTI which runs RAPID has entered in a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).  This is to facilitate the construction of roads, bridges, and needed infrastructure to support delivery of produce from farms to market.

   RAPID operates in seven regions including the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Region 7 (Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Negros), 8 (Samar, Leyte, Biliran), 9 (Zamboanga provinces), 10 (Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, and Misamis provinces), 11 (Davao provinces), and 12 (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, Gen Santos).

   Its focus crops are coconut, coffee, and cacao.

   There are now more than 500 coffee farmers whose produce are consolidated via the Bayanihan Millennium Multi Purpose Cooperative.  They are clustered based on their location—Nabaliwa, Mendis, Poblacion, Concepcion, Lantawon.

   Cacao farmers in the Davao provinces were assisted in acquiring post harvest facilities through RAPID’s matching grant in accordance to markets’ standards.  They were given support in farm expansion and rehabilitation. The project gave farmers training in entrepreneurship.

  The cacao farmers, totalling around 2,900,  were also linked to domestic markets—Nutrarich, Rosarios Delicacies, Cacao de Davao, MS3, CSI, AECMPC, and Malagos Chocolate

   RAPID has enabled farmers’ organizations (FO) to hurdle many kinds of difficulties in upscaling. 

   FOs that cannot provide counterpart financing are rather asked to provide non-cash counterpart such as labor, existing facilities, and assets.  They are trained in preparing their own farm plans, business plans, business proposals and in managing their enterprise. 

   They are also assisted in reconstructing historical financial statements.  

   RAPID helps maximize the interbank arrangements of government financial institutions (DBP, LBP) with other small banks to facilitate credit and matching grants.

   “Technical assistance to Financial Service Providers and assessing their capability for designing value chain financing schemes are pursued to make them more accessible to project beneficiaries. The project focuses on sectors where investments matter.  Partnerships should have a clear business case model with profitable returns,” said Carcueva. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Bayer donates Php 2.7 million to Philippine Red Cross for Typhoon Odette operation

Typhoon Odette relief operations

February 3, 2022

Bayer is supporting communities impacted by Typhoon Odette with a donation of Php 2.7 million to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). The donation will be used by the PRC to address the urgent need of families in evacuation centers and typhoon affected areas for clean drinking water and food.

   “Seeing the impact of Typhoon Odette and the severe damage on so many homes and livelihoods in the process – it was without question that Bayer would support relief efforts through organizations like the Philippine Red Cross. We want to help enable access to food and clean drinking water which are necessary for good health” said Angel Michael Evangelista, Managing Director for Bayer Philippines, Inc.

   The PRC is a foremost humanitarian organization actively aiding families whose homes and livelihoods were either partially or totally damaged by the typhoon.

   “On behalf of the staff and volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross, we would like to thank Bayer for their humanitarian aid. Bayer is certainly a company we’ve worked with in the past for Typhoons Yolanda and Ulysses” said PRC Chairman and CEO Senator Richard Gordon.

   “Typhoon Odette must not be a forgotten disaster. With this donation from Bayer, we clearly see that there are still good companies who are conscious of their social responsibility and helping people in need.”

Virtual turnover call between Bayer Philippines Inc. Managing Director Angel Michael Evangelista, Bayer Communications Manager Nadira Abubakar, and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO Senator Richard Gordon, PRC Secretary Secretary General Elizabeth Zavalla, and PRC Fund Generation Manager Michael Jalbuena

   As a life science company, Bayer provides solutions in pharmaceuticals, consumer health, and in agriculture. “Our vision at Bayer is ‘health for all, hunger for none’, and this aligns with what we want to achieve both as an organization and as individuals,” added Evangelista.

   According to PRC Secretary General Elizabeth Zavalla, they aim to provide aid to 29,900 families in the form of shelter and cash, to give food and non-food items to 20,000 families, and supply as much water as needed. So far they have provided over 4 million liters of water in the affected areas of Cebu, Bohol, Siargao Island, Agusan del Norte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Palawan, Lapu-Lapu, and Southern Leyte.

Bayer- Red Cross aids in Cebu’s restoration

   In line with its vision of “Health for all, hunger for none”, Bayer also donated Php 4 million in 2020 during Typhoon Ulysses, and donated products in 2013 during Typhoon Yolanda to the PRC. 

Hontiveros affirmed “Pagtanaw 2050” vision for Philippines to be one “truly great maritime nation” with its archipelagic nature

February 1, 2022

Senatorial aspirant Risa Hontiveros affirmed a vision in “Pagtanaw 2050” for Philippines to be one “truly great maritime nation” in light of the country’s archipelagic nature as its most uniquely significant economic asset.

   At the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI)-organized Halalan Para sa Agrikultura 2020 Monday, Hontiveros assured Philippines will have its biggest economic potential in harnessing its marine resources, more than any of its land or capital.

   “I recall advocacies for us to teach our maritime history to our people since our seas are bigger than our lands.  I congratulate you for your ‘Pagtanaw 2050’ as even goes beyond ‘Ambisyon 2040,’ said Hontiveros in Filipino during the agriculture online forum Monday.

   “That can be a legislative input in support of our fishermen at for all Filipinos who have legitimate claim to energy resources in the entire West Philippine Sea.”

   Hontiveros said the Philippines should highlight this distinctive islands-nation feature whether on regional or global stages.

   “This should be known by every Filipino, every student, to internalize such identity, and we should behave, should act such in regional and global stages.”

   The forum led by PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto was co-organized by Alyansa Agrikultura Convenor Ernesto Ordonez, National Scientist Emil Q. Javier,  Federation of Free Farmers Chairman Leonardo Q. Montemayor, and Rice Watch President Hazel Tanchuling.

   The Pagtanaw 2050 visioning, led by the National Academy of Science and Technology, noted that $3 trillion will be generated from ocean industries based Overseas for Economic  Cooperation and Development forecast.  Javier asserted Pagtanaw 2050’s role in agriculture modernization which will need the establishment of a separate Department of Fisheries. 

   The “Blue Economy” (sustainable ocean-focused) approach to economic prosperity is imperative for the Philippines’ provision of livelihood, food security, and industry raw materials, according to Pagtanaw 2050.

   Investments have to be made on coastal transport, ecotourism, habitat protection, and water use and supply management, among others.

   With 60 million Filipinos living in low-elevation coastal zones, economic opportunities will be on tourism (now with 5.71 million workers), resorts, coastal development, fisheries and aquaculture (1.6 million workers), coastal manufacturing (300,000 workers), ports, shipping, marine transport, ocean energy (with coal now taking up 40% of energy mix), seabed mining for oil, marine biotechnology and medicine, and environmental services. The Filipino protein diet of 40% comes from fisheries, and some 30 million Filipinos depend on it and related industries for livelihood.

   Among emerging industries and technologies from the Blue Economy are bioenergy through algal biofuel production, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food, feeds and beverages; multi-trophic aquaculture, and food and medicine.

Pagtanaw 2050 visions Philippines as one truly great maritime nation

 “The contribution of ocean-based industries to economic output and employment is very significant.  In 2010, this was valued very conservatively at $1.5 trillion or approximately 2.5% of world gross value added.  Direct full time employment in the ocean economy amounted to around 31 million jobs,” according to Pagtanaw 2050.

   Regarding land reform which has yet to be completed in the Philippines, Hontiveros said that the efforts now to “cluster” lands in order to achieve economies of scale is not opposite to the effort in agrarian reform.    

   Fausto cited studies that the agriculture sector cannot achieve economies of scale due to the fragmentation of land brought by land reform.

   “There should be a win-win solution (land reform versus clustering).  Department of Agrarian Reform has a project called Split funded by World Bank.  Their job on one hand is to break down lands and on the other, to consolidate lands. To achieve economies of scale and lower cost of production, there should be a solution to this for our agriculture production,” Fausto said.

    “Wag po nila gawing problema ng agrikultura yung isang kasing halaga na programa ng repormang agraryo. May win-win solution po talaga kung ikakambal, ituturing nilang magkapatid yung dalawang programang.  May iba’t iba pong modelo iyon,” she said.

   “Yung empowerment ng ating mga agrarian reform beneficiaries, kahit sa unang award sa kanila at kahit pa ipamana na sa kanilang mga anak sa mas maliliit na parcel pero (dapat may ) programa talaga ang ating gobyerno in partnership sa ialng mga private sector (para sa agrikultura),” said Hontiveros.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Innovations in sustainable agriculture sought to be recognized amid typhoon destructions from climate change, Covid 19 pandemic

January 18, 2022

With the Philippines’ growing population and the many challenges faced by the agricultural sector already burdened by the pandemic situation to sustainably meet demand for food supply, the need to help both people and planet thrive is stronger than ever.

   To recognize and support much needed sustainable agriculture programs in the country, the Pest Management Council of the Philippines, Inc. (PMCP) and Bayer CropScience Philippines is now opening the PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award for nominees.    

   The Award aims to put the spotlight on high-impact programs and initiatives accomplished by individuals contributing towards promoting and strengthening agricultural sustainability in the country.

   The PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award is open to individuals from the private and public sector – such as researchers, scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs, government officials, employees, or part of the academe.

   Individuals should have accomplished either of the following within the scope of both pest management and agricultural sustainability:

• Developed a research paper contributing to sustainable pest management practices

• Demonstrated the importance of sustainable use of agricultural technologies for small holder farmers

• Conducted a field trial or experiment that resulted to a milestone or learning on sustainable pest management

• Spearheaded an initiative leading to advocacy or promotion (ex. educational programs) of sustainable pest management practices and adoption of sustainable agricultural practices

• Contributed to enactment of significant policies or guidelines on sustainable pest management

• Acted as a catalyst within his/her community or organization that led to shift in pest management practices with sustainability principles

   A newly established Award, the nominee’s accomplishments should have been completed within 2019-2021 with sufficient documentation to show evidence of his/her accomplishment and its PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award open for Filipino agri changemakers — impact on agricultural sustainability, including letters of recommendation from the nominee’s network.

   Nomination period runs from January 15, 2022 to March 31, 2022 with an evaluation period from March-April 2022. Nominations must be sent via email to pmcpbayer.sustainabilityaward@gmail.com.

   After the evaluation period, the chosen awardee will be announced during the PMCP Annual Scientific Conference in July 2022.

   He or she will receive a plaque and 50,000 pesos cash prize. About the PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award Guided by its vision of “Health for all, Hunger for none”,    

   Bayer promotes inclusive growth and responsible use of resources to help people and planet thrive.

Bayer’s Sustainable Agriculture practices contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals

   Sustainability is an integral part of its strategy and values, with sustainability targets that include reducing the environmental impact of crop protection while promoting sustainable production and circular options that reduce, recycle, reuse and replace.

    Thus, recognizing the vital role of experts and stakeholders in agricultural pest management to deliver effective & practical solutions for farmers, the PMCP-Bayer Agricultural Sustainability Award aims to highlight high-impact initiatives geared towards agricultural sustainability.

   For more information, please email pmcpbayer.sustainabilityaward@gmail.com.

Phils should put up more Climate Field School, rainwater harvesters, organic compost facilities—Loren Legarda

January 17, 2022

Philippines should put up more Climate Field School (CFS) similar to one in Siargao Island, rainwater harvesters, and organic compost facilities in order to adapt to climate change and flourish its agriculture sector amid weather-related disasters.

   Climate change, and its destructions as that of Odette all over Visayas and Mindanao, can no longer be ignored if Philippines’ agriculture sector should take off, according to House Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda.

   Speaking at the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc.’s (PCAFI) Halalan 2022 Para sa AGrikultura, Legarda said she will be pushing for “greening” of the supply chain once elected senator.

   PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto, along with Alyansa Agrikultura’s Ernesto Ordonez, and three other farm-based groups are orienting 2022 election candidates on the plight of Philippines’ agriculture. Others proposing recommendations are Federation of Free Farmers Chairman Sec. Leonardo Q. Montemayor, National Scietnist Dr. Emil Q. Javier, and Rice Watch Chairman Hazel Tanchuling.

   A Climate Field School for Farmers and Fisherfolks was first established in Dumangas, Leyte.

   Its 16 module program for farmers includes 1. Climate, Pests and Diseases, Crop Growth & Development 2. Cropping System/Pattern and Climate-Related Risks 3. Understanding Weather and Climate and Climate Parameters 4. Weather and Climate Information Products 5. Forecast Interpretation, Translation and Communication, and 6. Forecasts Generation.

   The rest of the training is on Incorporating Climate Forecast in Decision Making, Understanding Forward and Backward institutional linkages in Agriculture Sector

Learning, and Implementing the Rice Integrated Crop Management System Palay Check.

   Legarda said coastal greenbelts, largely planted with mangroves as that found in Del Carmen, Siargao Island, should be put up nationwide.

Mangrove-planted coastal greenbelts help protect islands from disastrous typhoons. Credit-CNN 

   “Their mangroves, their coastal greenbelt in Del Carmen, Siargao, helped them against the (typhoon destructions).  Their destruction has not been as serious as those in other local governments units in the island of Siargao,” Legarda said.

   She may not be the author of the Rainwater Collection and Springs Development Act of 1989, said Legarda. But she is pushing for rainwater harvester’s establishment in each barangay.

   “It makes sense because there’s so much water, but we don’t have water,” she said.

   Arsenio “Toto” Barcelona, president of vegetable producer Harvest Agribusiness Corp, said during the online forum that National Irrigation Administration’s (NIA) irrigation facilities irrigate largely rice only.

   “It’s high time we rationalize how we use our resources especially we are made up of many islands, so our waterways are not continuous.  Water resources should be done on island basis.  There should be a regionalized development of water resources,” said Barcelona.

   “NIA, under the Office of the President, has its 85 to 90% irrigation going just to rice fields.  We should look into this. We should see the importance of irrigation on the productivity of vegetables and fruits.”

   Barcelona said the Philippines has one of the lowest yield in high value crops among Association of Southeast Asian Nations due to deficiencies in irrigation practice.    

   “So we should give importance to new technology in irrigation especially precision irrigation,” he said.

   Legarda said organic composting should also be practiced among farmers as rice straws, animal manure, and other organic wastes are a ubiquitous source of fertilizers.

   PCAFI and the four farm-based groups have been orienting 2022 candidates on the state of Philippine agriculture and have filed the following recommendations:

  1. Allocation of at least 10% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) budget for agriculture which is just “fair” considering its GDP contribution of 10%.  At present, the sector just gets 1.5% budget.  Livestock and poultry contributes 27.7% to agriculture while it only gets 5.6% of the budget.  Corn contributes 6.4%, but it only gets 1.7% of DA budget.
  2. Tariff collections should be used to develop the corresponding sector—Corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry tariff should be used to develop corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry sectors.
  3. The Safeguard Measures Act, Anti Dumping Act, among others, should protect local farmers from unfair competition from imports.
  4. National Irrigation Administration should be administered by DA for proper irrigation coordination.
  5. The Bureau of Agriculture Cooperatives should be created under DA
  6. Local government Units should allocate funds for agriculture extension as part of the proposed Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System (PAFES) to ensure farmers get direct assistance on technology.
  7. Convergence of DA, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Science and Technology to promote food and beverage manufacturing
  8. Establishment of agro-industrial hubs and corridors
  9. Passage of Land Use Bill to preserve agricultural lands
  10. Diversification of agriculture production to invest more in horticultural and industrial crops, poultry, livestock, fisheries
  11. Developing biotechnology, food science, automation, digitalization to enhance productivity and competitiveness
  12. Regreening, watershed management, and agro-forestry implementation. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Proposed Bureau of Cooperative under DA to play pivotal role in consolidating fragmented farm land to achieve economies of scale, agri modernization

January 13, 2022

The proposed Bureau of Cooperative under the Department of Agriculture (DA) will play a pivotal role in consolidating fragmented farm lands to enable Philippines to achieve economies of scale and agro-industrial modernization.

   Senator Richard Gordon said government should promote “cluster” farming or cooperative farming so large scale of land can be consolidated amid the agrarian reform’s land fragmentation.

   “There is strength in number.  Even in foreign policy, treaties are a result of equal bargaining strength.  We should encourage cluster farming or cooperative farming.  They do that in Del Monte,” Gordon said during the Philippines Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc.’s (PCAFI) Halalan 2022 Para sa Agrikultura.

PHOTO Providing farmers cost-efficient farm mechanization becomes possible with land consolidation, farmers’ organization. Credit-DA

   “If farmers are  disorganized, if you let them by themselves, business will not come in as there are no rules.”

   PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto, along with Alyansa Agrikultura led by Ernesto Ordonez, and three other farm-based groups,  has been orienting 2022 election candidates on the plight of agriculture. 

   Also proposing recommendations through the online forum are Federation of Free Farmers Chairman Sec. Leonardo Q. Montemayor, National Scientist Dr. Emil Q. Javier, and Rice Watch Chair Hazel Tanchuling.

   In order for agriculture services to be rendered to farmers, such as providing for them cost-efficient farm machineries, their organization is pertinent.

   One of such way to organize farmers is for bigger farm companies to enter into contract growing agreements with small farmers.

    “Contract growing in the private sector will formally integrate small farmers into the supply chain,” said Javier, also chairman of the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization (CAMP).

   Gordon, a senatorial reelection aspirant, said the cooperative will be a way to protect farmers from exploitation of traders and middlemen who exploit farmers by paying the cheapest price.

   He said a law does not need to be enacted for the cooperatives to be put up.  The cooperative system has already been existing among successful groups such as the TADECO (Tagum Agricultural Devt. Co) or among sugar planters.

   Gordon envisions the establishment of industrial parks for agriculture ventures such as the parks in Subic where enterprises enjoy tax incentives in order to flourish.

   “The Department of Agriculture (DA) should create an atmosphere so farmers can sell their production and be supported with the extension.  Private sector can fund the farmers so that farmers have the assurance of a market for their produce,” he said.

   PCAFI and the four farm-based groups have also filed with the candidates the following recommendations:

  1. Allocation of at least 10% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) budget for agriculture which is just “fair” considering its GDP contribution of 10%.  At present, the sector just gets 1.5% budget.  Livestock and poultry contributes 27.7% to agriculture while it only gets 5.6% of the budget.  Corn contributes 6.4%, but it only gets 1.7% of DA budget.
  2. Tariff collections should be used to develop the corresponding sector—Corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry tariff should be used to develop corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry sectors.
  3. The Safeguard Measures Act, Anti Dumping Act, among others, should protect local farmers from unfair competition from imports.
  4. National Irrigation Administration should be administered by DA for proper irrigation coordination.
  5. The Bureau of Agriculture Cooperatives should be created under DA
  6. Local government Units should allocate funds for agriculture extension as part of the proposed Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System (PAFES) to ensure farmers get direct assistance on technology.
  7. Convergence of DA, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Science and Technology to promote food and beverage manufacturing
  8. Establishment of agro-industrial hubs and corridors
  9. Passage of Land Use Bill to preserve agricultural lands
  10. Diversification of agriculture production to invest more in horticultural and industrial crops, poultry, livestock, fisheries
  11. Developing biotechnology, food science, automation, digitalization to enhance productivity and competitiveness
  12. Regreening, watershed management, and agro-forestry implementation. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Loren Legarda pushes for more creation of micro farm industries like Antique’s Robusta coffee and patadyong weaves

January 12, 2021

The Philippines should create more micro farm industries like Antique’s Robusta coffee and ‘patadyong’ weaving products that have their own domestic markets, thereby easing “logistics” problems, House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda said.

   During the “Halalan 2022 Para sa Agrikultura” organized by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), Legarda, a senatorial aspirant, said her own province, Antique, hurdled the problems of Covid 19 as Congress supported marketing of local products.

   “We supported agriculture.  We had an amendment on the budget, provided mechanization to farmers and free seeds for palay and high value crops,” she said. 

   The series of agriculture online forum is being conducted by PCAFI led by President Danilo V. Fausto along with Alyansa Agrikultura led by Ernesto Ordonez, Federation of Free Farmers Chairman Sec. Leonardo Q. Montemayor, National Scientist Dr. Emil Q. Javier, and Rice Watch Chairman Hazel Tanchuling.

   While there has been difficulty marketing of agricultural goods since Covid 19 lockdowns hit Philippines in March 2020, it became an opportunity to improve farmers’ production.  

Senatorial aspirant Loren Legarda shows off Antique Coffee during the Halalan 2022 Para sa Agrikultura

   The Antique government bought tomatoes, leafy vegetables, and melon from farmers. It hauled these via private cars and tricycles, and gave these away during the lockdowns to residents.  These– instead of giving away canned goods.   

   Also, Antique’s coffee received its needed promotion.

   “People don’t know that Antique has Robusta coffee.  I bought more than one ton (1,000 kilos) of coffee.  I arranged for its packaging, wrote its short story, and named it Antique Coffee.  It’s now being sold in online stores and the Echo store.  It’s my Christmas gift for friends,” she said.

   As another important industry for Antique women, the Antique local government also put up a small cotton processing plant in order to support the “patadyong” weaving craft.

   “When we speak of farming, it’s not just food crops.  In my province, we grow cotton so we won’t have to import cotton or we won’t have to use polyester for natural weaves,” said Legarda.

   “I put up a cotton processing facility, manual labor.  We have hand looms provided and cotton threads from our cotton farm.  We do the same thing for abaca.”

   Roberto C. Amores, President of the Philippine Food Processors Inc (Philfoodex) and PCAFI member, said logistics has been a perennial problem in the Philippines.  Cost of inter-island shipping is prohibitively expensive. 

‘Patadyong’ weaving in Antique. Credit-Benjie Layug

   Industries have been pressing for an amendment of the Cabotage law. Prohibitions against international shipping lines’ entry into the domestic waters are reportedly sending shipping costs to exorbitant levels.

   This is where supporting local products should come in, Legarda said.

   “The logistics issue is a challenge.  But by supporting local and selling and buying locally, then we don’t even have to think of export because our products may be easily consumed even within our islands,” said Legarda. 

   PCAFI and the four farm-based groups have been orienting 2022 election candidates on the state of Philippine agriculture and have filed the following recommendations:

  1. Allocation of at least 10% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) budget for agriculture which is just “fair” considering its GDP contribution of 10%.  At present, the sector just gets 1.5% budget.  Livestock and poultry contributes 27.7% to agriculture while it only gets 5.6% of the budget.  Corn contributes 6.4%, but it only gets 1.7% of DA budget.
  2. Tariff collections should be used to develop the corresponding sector—Corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry tariff should be used to develop corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry sectors.
  3. The Safeguard Measures Act, Anti Dumping Act, among others, should protect local farmers from unfair competition from imports.
  4. National Irrigation Administration should be administered by DA for proper irrigation coordination.
  5. The Bureau of Agriculture Cooperatives should be created under DA
  6. Local government Units should allocate funds for agriculture extension as part of the proposed Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System (PAFES) to ensure farmers get direct assistance on technology.
  7. Convergence of DA, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Science and Technology to promote food and beverage manufacturing
  8. Establishment of agro-industrial hubs and corridors
  9. Passage of Land Use Bill to preserve agricultural lands
  10. Diversification of agriculture production to invest more in horticultural and industrial crops, poultry, livestock, fisheries
  11. Developing biotechnology, food science, automation, digitalization to enhance productivity and competitiveness
  12. Regreening, watershed management, and agro-forestry implementation. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Philippines signs Preah Sihanouk Ministerial Declaration in support of regional cooperation on coastal resilience on climate change

January 10, 2022

The Philippines has signed the Preah Sihanouk Ministerial Declaration in support of regional cooperation on coastal resilience to climate change programs and of PEMSEA 2030 which will address marine plastic pollution and foster the Blue Economy.

   Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu signed the ministerial declaration during the Seventh Ministerial Forum of the East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2021.

   “Being the most vulnerable region in the world to climate change, we need to enhance strategic partnerships under the existing mechanism which PEMSEA provides,” Cimatu said. PEMSEA stands for the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).

   The Philippines also reiterates its commitment to the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia 2022 to 2027.

   Cimatu said the need for regional cooperation in coastal management has intensified even in light of the Covid 19 pandemic along with the challenges of climate change.

   He said the Covid 19 pandemic and climate risks have been adversely affecting the Philippine economy.  These have huge negative impact national revenue, people’s livelihood, and the budget for environmental protection.

   The Philippines lost in 2020 $8 billion in tourism revenue including loss due to closure of beach resorts and Marine Protected Areas  and may continue to lose 6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) due to climate-associated risks.

   “These have exacerbated the funding gap on marine environmental protection,” Cimatu said at the East Asia Seas (EAS) Congress 2021.

   PEMSEA 2030 is a decade program of collaboration in South East Asia for reducing marine plastic pollution, enhancing management of Marine Protected Area Network (MPAN), and adopting the SDS-SEA.

   The Philippines, Cimatu recalled, asserted before the  26th Conference of Parties (COP) that financing climate change mitigation and adaptation projects need three types of funding support. 

   These are grants, investments by private businesses in climate-ready technologies, and subsidies for renewable energy.

   Investments in climate-friendly systems are a necessity.  Or much more will be lost in national revenue because destruction of the environment destroys natural resources that are a source of income, jobs, and livelihood.

   “Climate change exacerbates the current pressures that our coral reefs are experiencing.  Based on a study, the Philippines is estimated to lose 6% of its gross domestic product every year until 2100 if it disregards he risks associated with climate change,” he said.

   The application of “blended protection,”  the protection of both land and sea (rivers), and environmental protection through “adaptive management” will be done in the Philippines.    

    This DENR aims to do in order to protect biodiversity.   It includes imposition of a ban on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF).

   It also involves both the protection of river ecosystems and establishment of natural infrastructure (fortress, fence).  Both will support “human social, cultural, and economic needs” (according to the the Stockholm International Water Institute’s exposition on blended protection).

   Cimatu said the government is gratified that the famous Boracay beach has bounced back in attracting tourists. This is despite its closure for six months in order for government to set up sewage treatment facilities and water improvement measures.

   “The renewed image of Boracay worldwide now provides the local government and communities with sustained tourism and livelihood,” he said.

   Likewise, despite the seemingly insurmountable task of cleaning the Manila Bay, DENR has started pursuing its rehabilitation.  This cleanup includes cleanup of the 16 major rivers and 14 river outfalls that drain into Manila Bay’s shores.

   “Massive cleanup and dredging of esteros, construction of solar-powered sewage treatment plants, relocation of informal settlers, and beach nourishment of the baywalk are continuously being undertaken,” he said.

   “Significant reductions in fecal coliform counts were recorded at several monitoring stations in 2020.”

   Cimatu said generating income through the “Blue Economy” has become imperative to support protection of  coastal and marine habitats. Blue economy  is the concept of good stewardship of ocean and its resources.

   “To promote the Blue Economy, the Philippines continues to support sustainable tourism where we ensure the protection of coastal and marine habitats, resources and water quality as well as promote viable livelihood for coastal communities.”

   To promote the Blue Economy also means that the country will engage in sustainable fisheries through multi-species aquaculture and supplemental livelihood for fishers.  It is supporting traceability for sustainable tuna fisheries.

   “The country further invests in more green ports using renewable energy, solar panel lighting, and the establishment of shore reception facilities,” he said.

   Conservation of forests and terrestrial ecosystems to eliminate land-based pollution has to continue as land pollution also finds its way to oceans.

   The Philippines will also pursue emerging Blue Economy industries such as marine renewable energy, marine biotechnology, and green shipbuilding. 

   In relation to this, it will produce the National State of Oceans and Coasts Report.   It reports East Asian Seas’ progress in promoting sustainable and inclusive ocean economy and the nations’ ocean assets.

   The Integrated Coastal Management Act supports Philippines’ sustainable development of coastal and related ecosystems, food security, poverty reduction, and elimination of circumstances that makes the country vulnerable to climate change impacts.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR averts climate-vulnerability in flooding-prone Ilog Hilabangan (Negros), Tagum Libuganon (Davao Region), “ecosystem-based” management done

January 7, 2021

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is implementing an ecosystem-based management on Ilog-Hilabangan in Negros Isalnd and Tagum-Libuganon in Davao Region (mainly Davao del Norte) in an aim to reduce their vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters.

  DENR and the Deutsche Geselschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) signed a technical cooperation agreement for the implementation of the Ecosystem-based Adaptation in River Basins (E2RB) project.

   DENR’s River Basin Control Office (RBCO), implementation partner of the project, initiated activities in 2021 despite challneges due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

   “A Project Management Committee has already been created.  We can start implementation this year after some delays due to Covid 19,” according to RBCO Executive Director Nelson V, Gorospe.

   The Philippine government is receiving a E4.6 million grant from the German government  for the “Ecosystem-based Adaptation in 2 River Basins” . 

Tagum Libuganon River in Davao Region

   It will strengthen the river basins’ ecosystem services, protect their biodiversity, and important, reduce their vulnerability to climate change as destructive flooding have been experienced in the river basins.

   “One of the basis for the choice of the site is perennial flooding,” said Gorospe.

   The German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservatin and Nuclear Safety through the International Climate Initiative has commissioned GIZ to implement the project.

   E2RB is in line with DENR’s program on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction Roadmap 2018-2022. It also aligns with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, Philioppine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, and enhanced National Greening Program.

   “The effective protection of forests in river basins supports the objectives of the Philippine intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) in the area of mitigation through the contribution of forest sector to the planned total greenhouse gas reduction of 70% in 2030,” according to the DENR-GIZ implementation agreement.

Ilog Hilabangan, Negros

   The project intends to have the following impacts:

  •  Secure access to drinking water for 500 households and sufficient supply of water for 3,000 hectares of agricultural land
  • Introduction of financial instruments to support the EbA activities
  • Use of ecosystem services valuation instruments in government policies, plans and monitoring procedures for conservation financing for river basins
  • Reduce vulnerability to climate change  with improved biodiversity protection (from landslide, flood risk in four watersheds in at least 20 municipalities by 10 %.
Flood hazard map, Ilog Hilabangan. Credit- Mahar Lagmay

   Government has also been arresting extinction of important species in the forests in the river basins.     Among the threatened species in the Ilog Hilabangan watershed are hornbills (Penelopides panini and Aceros waldeni), the endangered Philippine spotted deer (Cervus alfredi), and the Philippine warty pig (Sus cebifrons (WCSP 1997). (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Philippines wins Global Wildlife Programme award as it combats illegal wildlife trade, fights Covid 19 traced to wildlife disease transmission

December 14, 2021

The Philippines has recently won the 2021 Knowledge Market “Most Useful Project Resources” award at the recently concluded Global Wildlife Programme (GWP) Annual Conference held virtually last November 30-December 2, 2021.

   The country bested 36 projects in 31 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

   The award was part of a series of mini-competitions that included “Best Knowledge Market Pitch”, “Best Overall Knowledge Share/Need”, “Most Useful Project Resources”, and “Best HowSpace Collaboration.” Team Philippines was also nominated in the “Best Knowledge Market Pitch” category.

   As the prize, the GWP Team will co-design a webinar with Team Philippines.

   With the theme Working Together for Wildlife Conservation, the 2021 GWP Annual Conference focused on successfully collaborating, engaging, and empowering stakeholders to support wildlife conservation and sustainable local livelihoods.

   The Team Philippines’  Knowledge Products and videos may be viewed at Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Biodiversity Management Bureau’s YouTube Channel.

   The Philippines has been aggressively disseminating information on wildlife conservation considering its huge impact in human lives, surprisingly on human health.

   In “Illegal Trade:  A Conduit Through Which Coronavirus Transmitted to Human, Atty Theresa M. Tenazas said pandemics have clearly shown “links to virus reservoir in wildlife populations.”

   “The SARS outbreak in 2002, which infected more than 8,000 people and resulted in 774 deaths in 37 countries, came from a novel betacoronavirus sourced from bats through masked palm civets as the intermediate host before reaching humans,” said Tenazas.

   Tenazas is Wildlife Resources chief of DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB).

   “The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2012, which infected 2,494 and cost 858 human lives, also came from another coronavirus passing though dromedary camels to humans,” she said.

   Even African Swine Fever (ASF) which has caused huge economic losses to Philippines and many Asian countries is attributed to wild African suids.

   Tenazas noted that the wildlife of the Philippines includes a significant number of endemic animal and plant species. Sixty-seven percent of the 52,177 species in the country are endemic and 418 are listed as threatened by the Rest List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources as of year 2000.

   Hunting for international trade, massive land conversion and climate change have all been wreaking havoc on these wildlife population.

   Today, wildlife trafficking is a transnational organized crime. It is the “fourth largest transnational criminal activity in the world next to drugs trafficking, human trafficking and counterfeit goods trafficking”.

   Disease transmission through animals have long been documented in the Philippines.

  Tenazas noted that evidence of Reston ebolavirus (RESTV) infection was found in domestic pigs and pig workers in the Philippines in 2008-2009.  And bats were suspected to be the possible reservoir of RESTV.

   DENR-BMB is now advocating for stricter penalties for illegal wildlife trade through proposed amendments to Republic Act 9147 or the “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.”

   It has so much to protect as Philippines is one of the 17 mega-diverse countries in the world with its unique endemic flora and fauna species.

   DENR-BMB has been continuously holding workshops as part of controlling illegal wildlife trade (IWT).  It is training people on  IWT expertise including Online Trade Investigation, Financial Investigation on Wildlife Crimes Advance Prosecutor and Enforcement Workshop.     

    In these efforts, it has partnerships with USAID Protect Wildlife Project,  BMB-ADB/GEF (Asian Development Bank-Global Environment Facility) IWT Project and the United States Department of Justice Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, &Training Counter Wildlife Trafficking.