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Rainmakers looking for clouds find blue sky Inquirer

2010-02-22

MANILA, Philippines—While rainmakers are having trouble finding clouds to induce rain over
northern Luzon, cash and food-for-work programs are being readied to help 1.3 million poor
families cope with the dry spell, according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council
(NDCC). Social Welfare Secretary Celia Yangco Monday said the Department of Social Welfare
and Development (DSWD) was just awaiting Malacañang's go-signal to implement livelihood
programs to help the poorest families as the El Niño phenomenon continued to dry up farmlands
and dams across the country. 'We will implement a...

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'Food crops must be grown naturally' The Hindu
2010-02-23

Staff Reporter Bangalore: Food crops must be grown naturally for attaining self-
sufficiency and not primarily for exports, scientist Shiv S. Chopra said on Sunday. He
pointed out that both our culture and agriculture have long been destroyed owing to
corruptive systems ever since Lord Macaulay's time, which continues to date...

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Energy execs assure stable power supply in Visayas starting March
Inquirer
2010-02-22

ILOILO CITY, Philippines—Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes on Monday


announced that the power situation in the Visayas would stabilize starting March 4
until 2014. Reyes who presided over a meeting here of energy industry stakeholders in
the Visayas said the almost daily rotational brownouts would stop in the next few days
and assured that there would be enough power in the region during the May 10
elections. "The Cebu-Negros-Panay grid will not experience any brownouts, any
shortage in supply, starting March 4 up to 2014 because of the entry of many power
plants," Reyes told reporters at the...

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Over a million Syrians affected by drought Middle East Online


2010-02-22
DEIR EZ ZOUR - Drought in eastern and northeastern Syria has driven some
300,000 families to urban settlements such as Aleppo, Damascus and Deir ez Zour
in search of work in one of the largest internal displacements in the Middle East in
recent years. The country’s agriculture sector, which until recently employed 40
percent of Syria’s workforce and accounted for 25 percent of gross domestic
product, has been hit badly, but farmers themselves are worst affected, say aid
officials. In some villages, up to 50 percent of the population has left for nearby
cities. “Farmers who depend on only one...

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Bremerton debates value, risk of backyard chickens The


Examiner
2010-02-22

Comments BREMERTON, Wash. (Map, News) - Hens and roosters have


no legal backyard ground to stand on in Bremerton. Roosters make so much
noise they're not likely to get any sympathy in the city, but the hens have
their allies as a movement to legalize egg-laying chickens in the city gathers
momentum. Such a move would give legitimacy to the four hens which,
during laying season, provide up to an egg a day to one Manette resident
who asked not to be named in this story. The resident fears that going public
would mean the end of the illegal egg operation.

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New hope emerges for local cotton industry


(The Philippine Star) Updated January 03, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Agriculture officials are confident that the country’s adoption of the Bt cotton
technology from China and India will help boost the local cotton industry and rev up Philippine agriculture in
the next few years.

Bt cotton, which has the ability to resist the highly-destructive bollworm, will soon be available for
commercial plantation as the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Cotton Development
Administration (CODA) steps up plans for the introduction of the genetically-engineered pest-resistant
cotton variety in the Philippines soon, Agriculture undersecretary for policy and planning Segfredo Serrano
revealed.

He said the CODA has planted transgenic hybrid cotton in one of its screen houses at the agency’s Cotton
Research Center located in Batac City, Ilocos Norte as part of a project to commercially introduce Bt cotton
varieties in the country.

The introduction of Bt cotton, like the Bt corn, aims to reduce losses because of infestation by pests - in this
case the bollworm, which adversely affects cotton production.

“The bollworm infestation of cotton plantations in the Philippines has been severely affecting the local cotton
industry. Our biotech solution to this problem is the introduction of a superior variety that resists pests,” DA
Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO) Director Alicia Ilaga said.

The DA BPO supports various research and development projects for “superior crops” that are disease-free,
resistant to pests, and high- yielding crops such as corn, papaya, eggplant and other varieties through
genetic engineering. The DA-BPO has been facilitating technology transfer, if not funding local research and
development of disease-free and pest-resistant crops.

Under the strict supervision of the Biosafety Committee of the Department of Science and Technology
(DOST) and the Bureau of Plant Industry- Quarantine Service, together with CODA Institutional Biosafety
Committee (IBC), six commercial transgenic cotton varieties imported from Nath Biogene (India) Ltd. were
planted side by side with three locally-developed commercial non-Bt cotton varieties.

The contained experiment will evaluate the efficacy of the six Indian transgenic hy-brid cotton varieties that
contains the Chi-na-developed fused Bt genes in controlling bollworm under local environments. Limited
field trials will be conducted in CODA’s experiment stations and selected farms in Luzon, Visayas and
Mindanao within the next one or two cotton seasons.

The transgenic hybrid cotton or Bt cotton in the trial contains the fused Bt-genes cry 1Ab/cry 1Ac that
provides the plant a high degree of protection against cotton boll-worm (Helicoverpa armigera Hubn.), the
most significant pest of cotton. In Asia, Bt cotton is already planted largely in China and India.

Bollworm is a great threat to local cotton farming. The pest attacks the cotton plant as early as the
vegetative stage feeding on the leaf terminals, fruit buds, flowers, and developing bolls.

Current control measure is predominantly through chemical insecticides. Aside from being costly and
hazardous to humans and the environment, the pesticide-based management scheme does not guarantee
full protection from the target pest. Local farmers spray chemicals 8-10 times, which cost them about 43
percent of the total production cost, yet lose 30-65 percent of their potential yields.

Four years ago, CODA inked a memorandum of agreement with the BioCentury Transgene Co. (China) Ltd.
to conduct Bt cotton testing in the country as approved by Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap.

Funds for the project came from the DA Biotech Program Office (BPO), headed by Ilaga.

The project, however, was stalled, according to CODA Administrator Orpia by regulatory procedures at the
source country, which is China then later, India.

“Nevertheless, we are finally rolling the very first Bt cotton test in the country after a long wait and we are
confident that we shall be commercializing the Bt cotton three seasons later, at the least. Our goal is to
provide the local cotton industry a viable alternative cotton variety which provides farmers a higher profit
from a technology that requires cheaper cost of producing high quality cotton fiber besides environment-
friendly“ Orpia reiterated.

The Philippines consumes an average of 40,000 metric tons of lint per annum valued at P3 billion, a volume
that is almost entirely – 97 percent – imported, primarily from the USA.
While the country has a favorable soil and climate to grow cotton, the local industry has been enduring a
major setback due to various socio-economic and technical factors with the bollworm problem as the most
critical.

The commercialization of Bt cotton locally is expected to provide the turning point for the cotton sector to
recover and enhance the country’s competitiveness in the global arena.

It will significantly reduce the cost of production while it increases yield. Besides, cotton is a feasible
alternative dry season crop grown after rice. It is also adapted to dry and marginal or saline areas where
water is a limiting factor.

This agricultural biotechnology product is a feasible import substitute that will save the country from costly
cotton importation.

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Rice import bidding hit


By Noel Bartolome (The Philippine Star) Updated February 23, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Importers and farmers’ cooperatives protested yesterday alleged irregularities in the
scheduled awarding of tariff-free rice import permits issued by the National Food Authority (NFA).

The program involves the tax-free importation of 200,000 metric tons of rice to be allocated to importers
from Metro Manila (125,000 MT) and Cebu (75,000 MT).

Sources said the importation of 200,000 MT or 4 million bags of well milled white rice could be worth P4
billion at P1,000 per bag tax-free.

Import permits, if resold, could net winning importers picked by the NFA up to P1 billion.

The source said if the government would collect tax from the importation, it could take in P2 billion since
tariff for rice importation is now at P500 per bag or 50 percent of purchase price.

The NFA allows tax-free importation of rice to give incentives to private importers, including farmers’
cooperatives, to assist the government in the rice procurement program to increase rice reserves.
Most importers, the source said, were caught off-guard by the sudden change in the guidelines that the NFA
published in The STAR on Feb. 19, 2010, which included the general requirements for the awarding of the
import permits to qualified importers.

The NFA traditionally awarded the allocations to import rice on a first-come, first-serve basis to make the
awarding fair to all importers.

The source said that on Feb. 19, a Friday, the NFA revised the guidelines by posting on their website
www.nfa.gov.ph the procedure to obtain priority numbers, which was not mentioned in the newspaper
advertisement of the agency.

The priority numbers that were issued to importers were later used by the NFA to choose the winners to be
given the rice import permits.

He said when news regarding the new guidelines were leaked, many importers proceeded to the NFA office
in Cebu City to fall in line to get priority numbers last Saturday and Sunday. Some even camped out at the
NFA offices overnight. The NFA offices were also surprisingly open last weekend.

The San Jose Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, was able to secure a
priority number at the NFA National Capital Region office along United Nations Ave. in Manila.

The source said that the importers and cooperatives were shocked when NFA officials announced yesterday
that the permits to import tariff-free rice were already awarded to 10 importers from Metro Manila and
seven importers from Cebu.

He said that shortly after the awarding of the import permits were announced, some of the winning
importers circulated offers that they would allow other importers to use their import permits for a fee of
P250 per bag of rice. At a fee of P250 per bag, that would mean a take of P1 billion to import 4 million bags
or 200,000 MT of rice.

The source said that with the expected rice shortage brought about by the El Niño dry spell, speculators and
even smugglers would pay the P250 fee per bag to the winners of the import permits to be able to
continuously import rice that could be sold at a higher price in the coming months when there is an
expected rice shortage.

Rizalina Fernandez, a representative of the Sa Jose Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative, sent yesterday a
letter of complaint to NFA Administrator Jessup Navarro to protest the alleged irregular process of awarding
the import permits.

She complained that the NFA did not inform the public through a newspaper advertisement of the changing
of the guidelines that included the giving of priority numbers. The giving of priority permits was only posted
on the NFA website.

Fernandez said the NFA should have published the new guidelines in newspapers so that all imtesrested
importers would know the new procedure.

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Ilocos Norte, Cagayan farmers win top prize in hybrid rice
promo
(The Philippine Star) Updated February 21, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Two hybrid rice farmers from Ilocos Norte and Cagayan won the top prize in the raffle
draw sponsored by SL Agritech Corp. to promote the planting of hybrid rice.

Ma. Diana Loreign Veloria of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte and Dante S. Padre of Sta. Teresita, Cagayan, will each
receive a Suzuki deluxe multicab, one of three major prizes given away by SL Agritech. The raffle draw,
dubbed, “Todo Hataw sa Tag-araw,” was held Feb. 15 at the firm’s offices in Makati City.

Over 130,000 ticket stubs submitted by hybrid rice farmers from different provinces and towns were raffled
off under the supervision of representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the
Department of Agriculture (DA).

Second prize winners were Dexter Guinto of Gapan, Nueva Ecija and Melanor Reyes of San Isidro, also of
the same province, who each won a Kawasaki motorcycle with sidecare. Two Shinski scooters were given, as
winners of the third prize, to Constancia Gallarga of Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija and Carmelita dela Cruz also of
San Isidrio, N.E.

Cathy Galura, SL Agritech senior vice president for operation, said the prizes will be given over to the
winners right in their respective provinces.

Henry Lim, chairman and CEO of SL Agritech, said 10 single door refrigerators, 10 flat TV sets, 10 washing
machines, 20 colored cellphones, 20 stand fans, 20 gas stoves and 20 oven toasters were given away as
consolation prizes.

Over 120,000 hybrid rice farmers from all over the country participated in the raffle promo which is being
held every year by SL Agritech, the country’s biggest producer of the high-yielding SL-8H hybrid rice seeds.
Last year, it gave away valuable prizes including a trip to Hong Kong, hand tractors, rice threshers and
water pumps.

Also present during the raffle draw were former food minister and NFA administrator Jesus Tanchanco and
Dr. Noel Mamicpic, SL Agritech vice president for quality control.

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A nutritious noodle made from bangus scrap and seaweed


(The Philippine Star) Updated February 21, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Enriched noodles can be produced from scraps of milkfish and Gracilaria seaweed.

This product has been developed by Aurora Afalla, a researcher of the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State
University (DMMMSU), a multi-campus school in La Union whose main campus is in Barangay Sapilang,
Bacnotan.

The technology won first prize in the Aquatic Technology Competition and Marketplace (ATCOM), an annual
activity that awards outstanding technologies for their significant contribution to the country’s aquatic and
marine industry and to the national economy as a whole.

Afalla prepared noodles from Gracilaria seaweed, milkfish scrap powder, flour and salt. The technology is
best suited for regions such as the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley where Gracilaria seaweed is abundant. Also,
bangus scraps (bones or tinik which are washed, pressure-cooked, sundried, and pulverized) are readily
available in areas where milkfish deboning is a big industry.

“No sophisticated equipment is needed to produce the noodles,” Afalla said.

She said that Gracilaria and milkfish bones are rich in nutrients and minerals needed by the body. Seaweed
is also a source of agar, a gelatinous extract used as gelling and stabilizing agent in foods.

“Enriched noodles are cheap and nutritious,” Afalla said.

These seaweed-based products can help address malnutrition problems in coastal communities and can
serve as source of livelihood for unemployed women and out-of-school youths. These groups can be
organized to engage in small-scale production and marketing of enriched canton noodles, thus, they can
earn additional income and eventually improve the quality of their lives.

In fact, the technology has been adopted by groups of women in coastal areas in Sto. Tomas, La Union;
Sto.Domingo, Ilocos Sur; and Buguey, Cagayan.

Each group has been producing 250 kilos of nutri-enriched noodles per month. The women's group sell most
of their produce to local residents and in provincial and regional trade fairs and exhibits.

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Farm group bats for higher DA budget


By Nestor Etolle (The Philippine Star) Updated February 21, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A party-list group has urged the government to increase the budget of the
Department of Agriculture to allow the agency more leeway in assisting the distressed farmers in drought-hit
provinces in the country.

“The government should increase the budget of the DA to buy more seeds, fertilizer and irrigation facilities
to the farmers to tide them over the calamity,” Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (AGAP) Rep.
Nicanor Briones said in a press forum.
He said that corn farmers in Isabela and Cagayan are now reeling from the P1.4-billion loss of their crops
from the harsh effects of the El Niño phenomenon. He said the figure could go up to P3 billion unless the
government provides assistance to cushion the effect of the drought. He said the government should
immediately give corn farmers water pumps to improve the irrigation facilities in all the towns of the two
provinces.

The lawmaker expressed fears the continuing losses to the corn farming sector in those provinces may result
in higher prices of products from other equally important agricultural sectors like hog and poultry raising and
other livestock business that include fisheries, which rely on corn as feeds.

Briones rejected the practice of the government to import corn products from nearby countries like China
and Vietnam, and urged the government to address the problems head-on.

He pointed out that the National Government is unnecessarily losing at least P30 billion due to the
importation of rice, meat, and other agricultural products in other countries. He stressed that these funds
should be earmarked to other national concerns like education, health care, and housing.

“Farmers in other countries are the ones earning due to the government’s importation practice,” he said.

Briones, vice chairman of the House committee on agriculture, said he will call an emergency meeting at the
House of Representatives to address the farmers’ concerns on the El Niño phenomenon.

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I, Gloria M. Arroyo, President of the Philippines, by the power vested in


me – by law, do hereby order - Rolling Out The Backyard Food
Production Programs In The Urban Areas – January 16, 2009
by Michael Levenston
Malacañang, Manila
By The President Of The Philippines
Executive Order No. 776
Rolling Out The Backyard Food Production Programs In The Urban Areas

WHEREAS, two-thirds of the world is in recession, though the Philippines is not;


WHEREAS, it is not business as usual; government agencies must hit the round running;
WHEREAS, the government should take advantage of the window of opportunity, i.e. declining inflation
and interest rates and good weather;
WHEREAS, the government has committed Three Hundred Billion Pesos (P300,000,000,000.00) to
economic stimulus programs, including comprehensive livelihood and emergency employment program
(CLEEP), that will save or create millions of new jobs.
WHEREAS, part of CLEEP consists of backyard food production programs like Gulayan ng Masa and
the Integrated Services for Livelihood Advancement (ISLA) for subsistence fisherfolk.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GLORIA M. ARROYO, President of the Philippines, by the power vested in me
by law, do hereby order:
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Philippines – Residents in poor areas in Manila plant


vegetables in their backyards to save on food expenses
by Michael Levenston

By Michaela Cabrera, Reuters, May 28, 2008 – With prices of food items reaching record-highs
in Philippines, residents in poor areas in Manila plant vegetables in their backyards to save on
food expenses and harvest enough to sell at a local market. See video story here.
For green thumbs living in Manila, urban farming is the answer to soaring food prices. It may
seem impossible to grow lettuce and eggplant in a crowded, humid environment, but city living
has not stopped farmers like Bernabe Atenta from cultivating greens. He and his wife Virgie
literally pick out their lunch from their backyard.
“This helps a lot, in securing your family’s welfare. You don’t need to buy vegetables in the
market. If all people here in Manila planted vegetables even in pots, it will ease some expenses,”
Atenta said.

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2010

Philippine Farm Sector Growth Declined in 2009

Philippine farm sector posts lower-than-expected growth in 2009

The country’s farm sector posted a lower-than-expected production growth rate of 0.37 percent
in 2009 as strong typhoons significantly slashed the output of farmers and fisherfolk from
October to December.

The farm sector’s 2009 output was lower than the low-end of the 0.5- to 1.5-percent growth rate
which the Department of Agriculture (DA) projected for last year. The increase in the sector’s
production last year was significantly slower than the 3.8 percent recorded in January to
December 2008. “The gains of the first three quarters were cut by huge production losses
during the fourth quarter of 2009,” said Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap in a statement.

Farm production for October to December 2009 declined by 2.43 percent, with paddy-rice
production getting slashed by 13.88 percent to 5.36 million metric tons (MMT) during the period,
as against the 6.22 MMT produced in October to December 2008.
“The heavily affected [rice-producing] regions were Ilocos, Central Luzon and Calabarzon,” said
the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) in its official report.

For the whole of 2009, palay production went down by 3.31 percent to 16.26 MMT. The sector
accounted for 16 percent of total farm output in 2009.

The corn subsector fared better last year as production grew by 1.53 percent to 7.03 MMT.

“Output gains were realized in the second half of 2009, particularly in Cagayan Valley, Northern
Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Expansion in area harvested was
recorded in Cagayan Valley as a result of recovery of corn farms from Typhoon Karen last
year,” said BAS in a report.

Figures released by the DA showed that the crops subsector, which accounts for 46.8 percent
of total farm output, registered a 1.42-percent decline in production in 2009.

Meanwhile, the livestock subsector recovered from last year’s downturn and grew by 1.24
percent last year. The subsector accounted for 12.47 percent of total farm output.

Hog production recovered from last year’s slump and grew by 1.16 percent while the outputs in
cattle and dairy farms went up by 2.5 percent and 3.33 percent, respectively.

The poultry subsector’s production grew by 1.82 percent last year. The subsector accounted for
14.33 percent of total farm output. Chicken production went up by 1.53 percent. Chicken egg
also put up a 5.04-percent production gain during the period.

The fisheries subsector, which accounted for 26.4 percent of total farm output, expanded by
2.45 percent during the period. The production growth rate in 2009 was slower compared with
the 5.81 percent registered in 2008 due to the lower production in aquaculture and municipal
fisheries. This, said BAS, is due to the damage caused by weather disturbances during the
fourth quarter of 2009.

At current prices, the country’s farm sector grossed P1.2 trillion, representing a 2.18-percent
increase from the 2008 level. The agriculture sector accounts for one-fifth of the country’s gross
domestic product, or the total amount of goods and products produced within a country’s border.

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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010

Better Food Crop Seeds Needed for Philippine Farmers

BPI challenged to develop ‘better-engineered’ food crops to help farmers vs climate change.

The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) was challenged to develop “better-engineered” food crops,
including genetically modified ones, that could withstand the devastating effects of climate
change.

BPI, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), has what Agriculture Sec.
Arthur Yap calls a “critical” job of developing seeds that can withstand harsh weather patterns.

“Your job at BPI is critical. You have to move our farms to better-quality crops and that begins
with seeds,” said Yap in a statement.

Yap called on the BPI to take advantage of the attention that the government and the world
have given agriculture by spearheading programs that would open opportunities for small
farmers to earn more and produce more food.
He cited the BPI’s achievements, which include working for the registration of 122 crop varieties
with the National Seed Industry Council and substantially contributing to efforts aimed at making
the Philippines one of the world’s leading sources of fruits and vegetables, including mangoes,
bananas and asparagus via the establishment of, among others, a mango gene bank that
contains 100 accessions of mango varieties and carabao strains for future breeding works.

The DA chief also cited the BPI’s initiatives in developing cheap, practical, and environmentally
safe technologies to control the bugtok bacterial hard-puff disease affecting bananas and the
crafting of genetically modified (GM) crop regulations and the biosafety regulatory framework on
GM crops that is regarded as a model system in Asia.

The Philippines is already feeling the effects of climate change with the onslaught of a mild El
Niño which threatens to destroy crucial food crops like palay and corn.

Under a mild El Niño, the DA estimates losses of 264,940 metric tons (MT) of rice worth close to
P4 billion and 174,224 MT of corn valued at P2.26 billion.  The fisheries subsector could lose
21,181 MT of catch worth P1.27 billion, while losses in the high-value commercial crops
(HVCCs) sector could reach 3.17 million MT valued at P583 million.

A severe dry spell could lead to losses of 816,372 MT of rice worth P12.24 billion; 440,429 MT
of corn worth P5.2 billion; 42,362 MT of marine catch worth P2.54 billion; and 3.08 million MT of
HVCCs worth 443 million.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration had


reported that this year’s El Niño would likely be moderate, the DA noted.

As early as December last year, the DA had already created a task force to carry out its five-
point program to raise crop production along with farmers’ incomes in the face of a looming El
Niño attack that is expected to last till early this year.

The task force, which will implement the DA’s El Niño Mitigation Program, will focus on 23
“highly vulnerable” areas and 24 “moderately vulnerable” areas in the country.

The areas considered highly vulnerable to El Niño are Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union,
Pangasinan, Cagayan, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales,
Cavite, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Misamis Oriental,
Zamboanga City, Sarangani and South Cotabato.

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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2009

Philippine Farming Agriculture Science

Instilling Agriculture Science back in RP Farms

DAVAO CITY — High commodity prices and low supply of food tend to rile consumers and the
first thing they’d most likely question is the agriculture sector.In time like these, agriculture tends
to be “on the defensive,” according to Dr. Calixto Protacio, chairman of the Initiatives for Farm
Advocacy and Resource Management (iFarm), a nongovernment organization.

He said, however, that the sector “must become proactive in order to make a real impact.”

iFarm is in the thick of instilling back the awareness within the sector and the society at large
“that what we have been doing all along in agriculture for the past several decades is science-
based, and yet many have forgotten this fact and have taken agriculture for granted,” said
Protacio. “It’s almost similar to thinking that agriculture is simply tilling the land and producing
crops for the immediate needs of the household.”

He noted in his Powerpoint presentation at the seminar-workshop here on Facing the


Challenges and Opportunities of Sustainable Agriculture in 2010, “while everyone in the
agriculture industry knows that agriculture is science-based, not everyone in society
understands this fact.”

Croplife Philippines, a private organization promoting safe and responsible use of manufactured
farm inputs, sponsored the seminar held at the Grand Regal Hotel here, facilitated by
iFarm.Science has enabled societies to produce both adequate and surplus amounts in
agriculture.

“We forgot that we’ve been producing adequately” over and above the surplus, “because of our
scientific knowledge and the application of appropriate technology,” he told the BusinessMirror
at the side sidelines of the workshop.Farmers produce not only for themselves “but for a lot of
other people as well,” he said.

Many people are ignorant “of food production and can be led to believe a lot of myths,” Protacio
added.

Scientists, agriculture experts and technicians know that the full potential of agriculture in the
Philippines hasn’t been harnessed yet, hampered by the high cost of farm technology used in
developed countries, according to Protacio.

“We are developing our own, and have been slowly accessing most technologies in agriculture,”
he said and cited the work now being done in the use of microorganisms, or plant growth-
promoting bacteria, that could raise farm yields per hectare at a lower cost.

The results of this work could have a positive impact on food production and be largely gauged
in how society’s food needs are met as well as in promoting human health and maintaining soil
sustainability.

Production of cash crops in large-scale plantations is an example of science at work in


agriculture, according to experts.Pineapple and banana—the country’s principal fruit exports—
could be produced several folds above the average production yield in small farms across the
country.

These farms produce 30 to 40 metric tons (MT) of pineapple on average per hectare per year,
compared to 93MT in large plantations.

The country’s mango, coconut and sugar exports, including other crops, rose 4.1 percent to
more than P150 billion last year.In 2006, crude and refined coconut oil production reached $300
million.
Two years later, it surged to $1.1 billion. Tobacco production last year totaled $100 million or
double than in 2006.These increases “can be attributed to advances in crop science. Studies on
planting density, nutrition, plant breeding and physiology, and soil science made the dramatic
yield increases possible,” Protacio said in his presentation.

“Primarily, the concern of the government is food security, especially after the recent crisis in
rice, which fortunately, was confined only to [southern and central region] part of Mindanao,”
said Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvador S. M. Salacup, who gave a speech at workshop.

A copy of his speech, Agribusiness and Marketing Support for High Value Crops, shows that in
2007, agriculture and fisheries accounted for 18.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP)
and employed 35.1 percent of the those employed at that time.

To avoid a repeat of the 2008 rice crisis, Salacup said that government aims for self-sufficiency
in rice by 2013 and in corn by 2010.The government also wants to sustain the growth of high-
value crops at the rate of at least 7 percent per year, as well as in livestock and poultry through
a massive program of breeder stock infusion, stocks upgrade, and prevention, control and
eradication of animal diseases.

The DA said it wants to increase fish production by at least 7 percent this year “to ensure
resource sustainability.”

To achieve these targets, Salacup said the DA would “identify and pursue agribusiness
development of two million hectares of agriculture and fisheries areas and to generate three
million jobs in six years.Farm inputs and good agricultural practices would largely help
government reach its targets, according to Dr. Dario Sabularse, deputy director of the Fertilizer
and Pesticide Authority (FPA).

But the rising cost of inorganic pesticides and fertilizers and issues about their impact on the
environment and human health have lead to a significant shift toward organic products—many
are manufactured locally and still undergoing tests in small farms.

Farm inputs are used mainly to improved growth and productive capacities of the crops and
control agricultural pests.

With the concern for environment and human health, environmental advocates have searched
and pushed for practices that could sustain the use of the soil and its resources.Sabularse said
there was a significant drop in the use of inorganic chemical inputs and a gradual rise in organic
fertilizers and pesticides in the Philippines.

Sabularse said his agency “would see to it that not only production be maintained, but to let
many people using them to understand how these chemicals work, especially on the 16
essential elements.”

Inculcating farmers with science-based agriculture “would help our agriculture serve the
country’s food needs,” he said.Florence Vasquez, president of CropLife, said the organization
would like to promote in the proper application of inorganic chemicals in farms, and promote the
proper mix with or shift to organic farm inputs “through the proper education of applicators and
farmers in the use of these inputs as found in their labels.”

She said that despite issues against chemical inputs “companies are doing their part in
promoting sustainable agriculture and to educate more farmers” on how to use these inputs.

“We all want to produce new results, and these companies are also producing green
pesticides,” she said, noting that the CropLife, was formed in the early 1960’s by big chemical
companies to help promote the proper use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Vasquez clarified that sustainable agriculture “does not necessarily mean discontinuing the use
of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. It’s the proper mix of both inorganic and organic inputs.”

Roger Gualberto, executive director of the Vegetable Industry Council of Southern Mindanao
(Vicsmin), told the BusinessMirror after the workshop that he was grateful of the event.

“We are also using inorganic inputs but we want these chemical companies to conduct their own
CSR and teach our farmers how to really use their products,” he said, citing a plant-growth
regulating chemical that was recently introduced to the Philippines “without saying in the label
when to stop its use.”

He said, “We warned the FPA that if it cannot compel that company to explain why its use was
only limited to the Philippines, India and Pakistan, [as] this would come out openly in the news
media,” he said.Gualberto said the decision of the vegetable farmers to shift to organic fertilizers
and pesticides “was due to the economics of our pocket.”

Protacio said production “must be efficient and this objective has been achieved largely through
advances in agricultural engineering. Machines were developed that made it easier to cultivate
and protect large tracts of cropland.”

He said that science-based agriculture “has been tested over time in several countries” and that
studies are deep “down to the genomic level and far-reaching as whole landscapes or
ecosystems are now being studied.”

But to make this popular and easy for people in general to embrace, Protacio said that “the
general public needs accurate, science-based facts from legitimate sources in order to better
understand agriculture’s importance to their quality of life.”

“Agriculture needs to have a strong, clear, truthful voice speaking on its behalf,” he added.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2009

Agricultural Extension Bill

Early Passage of National Agricultural Extension Bill Pushed

Sen. Loren Legarda wants Congress to fast-track passage of the National Agricultural Extension
Bill as ineffective extension services currently offered by the government limit the productivity of
Filipino farmers.

“It remains a puzzle to many Filipinos why the Philippines still has to import 10 percent of its rice
needs each year despite hosting for decades now the International Rice Research Institute
(IRRI), the source of many rice-farming innovations and research,” Legarda said in sponsoring
the bill at yesterday’s session.

According to her, the output of many agricultural research institutions are also not fully used in
the fields as local government units (LGUs) find it difficult to provide farmers extension services
like transfer of technology, credit and marketing assistance.

“Our extension services fail to translate the technologies from our research stations into actual
field practice by our farmers or agriculture producers,” she said and noted that its downside is
that agriculture’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product has been shrinking
through the years.
“For example, Vietnam and the Philippines have the same technology in rice. Yet, the difference
in yield is about one ton per hectare. If we increase Philippine yield by one ton per hectare in the
irrigated areas alone, it is enough to wipe out the annual average total rice imports of the
country,” the senator said.

She explained that the bill she is pushing for seeks to transform the Agricultural Training
Institute (ATI) into the Philippine Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Agency (PAFEA),
expanding ATI’s limited mandate. The PAFEA, she added, will be tasked to plan, make policies
and manage knowledge resources, as well as provide other extension services such as
demonstrations, mass media and human resource development.

According to her, the bill also proposes that grant aid be given by the national government to
increase the resources of LGUs, especially the fourth- to sixth-class municipalities.

These grants, she said, will be used to defray the cost of personal salaries and leverage against
the provision of funds of operations by the LGU concerned. “This addresses the often-cited
problem that municipalities provide funds for personal salaries, but do not have resources to
finance operations, severely limiting the productivity and usefulness of extension workers,” she
added.

mail@agriculture-ph.com
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2009

Road Construction To Help Farmers

DA Goes Into Road Construction to Help Farmers

In line with government’s Economic Resiliency Plan or ERP, the Department of Agriculture (DA)
said it would build 2,000 kilometers (km) of farm-to-market roads (FMRs) nationwide and create
53,000 jobs in the process.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the construction of FMRs will start this week as part of a
program designed to help Filipinos weather the global economic slowdown year through jobs
and higher food production by 212,000 farmers in the country’s hunger-prone areas.

The FMR projects would amount to P5.3 billion and put in place within Key Production Areas
and marginal lands or new sites to link these areas to higher class road systems and major
markets or trading posts, Yap said.

Yap said that more than half of the total length of the FMRs would be in major food production
sites in Central Philippines and the Mindanao Super Region.

About 567.6 km of FMRs to be built in Central Philippines are expected to benefit 56,760
farmers and create 14,190 new jobs, while 536.94 km of roads in Mindanao would have 53,694
direct farmer-beneficiaries and require 13,424 workers.

Yap said the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle would also get 420.80 km of new FMRs that
would benefit 42,080 farmers and generate 10,520 jobs while 366.8 km to be constructed in the
Metro Luzon Urban Beltway, which include Central Luzon, would benefit 36,680 farmers and
create 9,170 jobs.

Another 230.8 km of FMRs in other priority areas the DA has identified would create 5,770 jobs
and benefit 23,080 farmers.

Farm-to-market roads would also be constructed in sites that link other “nonconvergence areas”
to markets and trading posts. These sites are within the Strategic Agricultural and Fisheries
Development Zones, Community-Based Forest Management Agreements, and Agrarian Reform
Communities.

The construction would also take place in areas identified by the National Nutrition Council as
“very vulnerable areas” in line with the hunger mitigating measures of the government or within
peace-conflicted areas.

The plan, said Yap, is for the DA to speed up these intervention projects in the first semester of
the year to create many jobs and stimulate economic activity in the countryside by the time the
full brunt of the global financial crisis is felt in the Philippines.

He noted that faster bidding processes would help speed up the release of funds for the road
projects, given that under the government auditing rules, no disbursements can be made unless
the bidding process is complete and the winning bidders are named.
Yap said the DA would closely monitor the implementation of its high-impact projects to ensure
the judicious disbursement of funds particularly to its program partners in the private sector.

To maximize the use of DA funds, Yap said the DA is also shifting its focus this year on hard or
“big-ticket” projects for irrigation maintenance, postharvest facilities, FMRs and rural extension
work, in lieu of “soft” projects like fertilizer support to farmers.

Instead of the fertilizer discount coupons that the DA gave out in 2008 to farmer-beneficiaries in
partnership with local government units, the Department will provide organic fertilizer
manufacturing support to farmers in 2,600 clusters or sites where the DA is channeling the bulk
of its funds for intervention measures this year.

These clusters of neighboring farms cover 48 provinces in rain-fed areas where yields per
hectare are below the national average of 3.8 tons of palay.

Philippines triples its rice yield in last 50


years

2010-02-20 15:30:00
Reports indicate that in the last fifty years, the Philippines has more than
tripled its rice yield, while the world average rice yield has increased only
about 2.3 times.
Despite being criticized as a poor rice producer because of its status as the
world's biggest rice importer, the Philippines has actually done remarkably
well in raising its rice yields from 1.16 tons per hectare in 1960 to 3.59
tons per hectare in 2009.
In 2009, Philippine rice yields were actually lower than the previous two
years due to the damage done by the tropical storms "Ondoy" and
"Pepeng".
In 2007, average rice yields topped 3.8 tons per hectare and in 2008 they
were 3.77 tons per hectare.
Rice yields in the Philippines are also higher than those in Thailand, the
world's biggest exporter of rice, where yields over the last few years have
been around 3 tons per hectare.
"The Philippines has enthusiastically taken up rice science technologies
that have helped farmers dramatically increase their yields," said Dr.
William Padolina, deputy director general for operations at the
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
"Filipino farmers have adopted more than 75 IRRI-bred high-yielding rice
varieties since 1960, have greatly improved their fertilizer and pest
management strategies, and are implementing water-saving technologies,"
he added.
According to estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture,
the average world rice yield in 1960 was 1.84 tons per hectare and in 2009
it was forecast at 4.24 tons per hectare.
Dr. Padolina acknowledges that the Philippines could improve its rice
yields even more and said that he was confident that "the Philippines will
continue to support rice research as a way of nsuring food security for
Filipinos, to help lift local rice farmers and consumers out of poverty, and
in turn improve the entire economy of the country." (ANI)
Rice Losses on Philippine Dry Weather May Deepen
(Update1)
Share Business ExchangeTwitterFacebook| Email | Print | A AA

By Luzi Ann Javier

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Rice production lost to dry weather in the Philippines,


the world’s biggest importer, may be more than the 800,000 metric tons
estimated, raising concern a shortfall may deepen, a government official said.

“Even with our assistance like cloud seeding, there have been some towns
where crops just dried out,” Agriculture Undersecretary Joel Rudinas said in an
interview from Manila today. “It’s probable,” he said, when asked if losses may
exceed 800,000 tons, the higher end of a range estimated this month by the
Department of Agriculture.

Increased losses may cause the nation to boost imports beyond the record
tons of the September-December harvest. Benchmark rice prices in Chicago
and Thailand surged to records in 2008 as the Philippines boosted imports and
exporters including India and Vietnam restricted shipments on global food
shortage concerns.

While some towns have reported some rainfall this month, “there have been no
rains in areas where we need it most,” Rudinas said by phone, referring to the
biggest producing provinces. “We deem it as a matter of concern.”

Rice for May delivery rose 1.7 percent to $14.20 per 100 pounds in after-hours
El Niño electronic
toll could worsen
trading on the Chicago Board of Trade at 1:32 p.m. Singapore time,
outpacing wheat’s 0.6 percent advance and corn’s 1 percent gain. Rice futures
reached an all- time high of $25.07 in April 2008.
BusinessWorld | 02/22/2010 11:52 AM
Price Gains
MANILA, Philippines - The impact of an ongoing El Niño-induced dry spell could be more severe than initially predicted,
officials said, with some areas possibly seeing a repeat of 1998 wherein a drought took its toll on the economy.
“Prices have pulled up,” said Ben Barber, a futures adviser at Bell
The dry spell, a National Food Authority (NFA) spokesman yesterday said, could mean the Philippines -- the world’s biggest
Commodities
rice buyer -- importing aroundLtd., citing
800,000 tonsthe production
more this year. comment by Rudinas. “Obviously it’s

The additionallending a little


rice imports wouldbitbring
of support” to the
total purchases to futures,
just over he said.3.2 million tons for the year. But bulging
a record
stocks from Thailand and Vietnam, the top two rice exporters, may cushion any impact on Asian rice prices which have
Pricessince
eased considerably areManila’s
unlikely torice
last decline
tenderamid “potentially tight” supplies, Robert Zeigler,
in December.

Last Friday, andirector


Agriculture official of
general said total
the farm damage Rice
International from El Niño could
Research increase as
Institute, more
told and morein
reporters provinces report
losses.
New Delhi on Feb. 18.
"It could reach beyond P10 billion because more and more areas are reporting more water stresses. [The dry spell] in the
northern [provinces] is becomingofmore
The committee intense,"government
Philippine Undersecretary for Fieldwhich
officials Operations Joel S. Rudinas
recommends the told reporters.
ceiling
"The way things are going right now it is already alarming because it (the toll) is already within our expectations. So far,
for state rice imports may meet in February, a month earlier than scheduled, to
the damages have not yet reached [beyond our estimates] but we are still in February and as the days progress and
unless relief isdecide whether
delivered, to raise
the impact thefelt
[will be] 2.4 million-tons
more," he said. limit set late last year, Romeo

Jimenez,
But Mr. Rudinas held out National Food
the hope that theAuthority marketing
final cost would director,
still be within said in an interview
the government’s Feb. P8 billion
projected range:
under a mild El Niño and P20 billion under a severe dry spell.
19.
A February 16 report by the Department of Agriculture’s Central Action Center said 14 provinces in Luzon and the Visayas
The dry
had been affected. weather
The dry follows
spell was said tothe development
have damaged overof an El tons
200,000 Nino,of characterized by the value of P2.84
crops with an aggregate
billion.
warming of sea-surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific. The event
Nathaniel A. Cruz, officer-in-charge of operations and services at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical
can reduce
Services Administration, rainfall
said in parts
the weather of Asia
bureau and
was still bringatexcessive
looking a moderaterains tothat
El Niño South America,
would likely last until June.

The impact in curbing global


certain areas, supply.
however, could be as bad as in 1998 when the country was hit hard by the weather
phenomenon.
El Nino
"We can have a moderate El Niño but the impact will be that of a severe El Niño. The water level in Magat Dam in Isabela
province, for instance, can already reach or even go below the 1998 water level," Mr. Cruz said.
“The current El Nino episode is near or at its peak,” the U.S. Climate Prediction
A dry spell that began in mid-1997 lingered well into the following year, with officials reporting drought conditions in 68%
Center said in a report dated Feb. 15. “After peaking, nearly all models
of the country. Drastic water conservation measures were implemented as levels at the multipurpose Angat dam in
Bulacan, which indicate
supplies Nino temperature
drinking departures
water for Metro Manila andwill gradually
irrigation water decrease, with about
to nearby farmlands, half
fell to of levels.
critical

A paper on thethe models Elindicating


1997-1998 Niño notedthat El Nino
that the economywill contracted
continue byinto April-May-
0.5%, although June,” thesituation was
it said the
exacerbated by the then-ongoing Asian financial crisis.
report said.
Yesterday, meanwhile, NFA spokesman Rex C. Estoperez told Reuters: "What is being harvested now by farmers is what
was planted from around
About September
2,000 last year
Philippine rice when the ricefields
farmers were hitswitched
have already by typhoons."
to planting
"With the dry vegetables
spell expectedinstead
to last until July, there might not
of water-intensive be because
rice, enough water available for
of potential the planting
losses caused season in May
and June which will be harvested starting around September. This means we may need to buy about 800,000 tons more to
by the shortfall."
offset any production drier weather, Rudinas said.
Asked for more details, Mr. Estoperez told BusinessWorld: "We do not have a final figure as to how much additional
The Department of Agriculture on Feb. 2 estimated losses from El Nino at
imports [the country] will need because we still do not have final figure of the [total effect] of the El Niño damage."
200,000 tons to 816,372 tons
Water levels at dams across the country have been dropping to near record lows due to the dry spell, putting at risk
irrigation for farms as well as hydropower plants. Wide swathes of farmlands in northern Philippines, including rice-growing
To contact the reporter on this story: Luzi Ann Javier in Singapore at
areas, have dried up completely.
ljavier@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: February 22, 2010 01:36 EST

Rainmakers looking for clouds


find blue sky

Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Publication Date: 23-02-2010

The government has forecast the loss of 800,000 tons of rice if the El Niño-caused dry spell becomes severe. The harvest
in the first half was projected to drop 1.7% from a year earlier to 7.25 million tons.

The Philippines has so far contracted to import 2.25 million tons of rice from four tenders in November and December
when it advanced 2010 purchases after strong storms purged 1.3 million tons of paddy, or unhusked rice, in September
and October. The entire volume is expected to be delivered by June.

The NFA on Friday also allowed private firms to bring in 200,000 tons of rice tariff-free, under an annual allocation, until
Sept. 15. While rainmakers are having trouble finding clouds to induce rain over the
Philippines' northern Luzon region, cash and food-for-work programmes are
Mr. Estoperez said a government panel had increased the volume of NFA’s rice imports for this year to about 3.2 million
being readied to help 1.3 million poor families cope with the dry spell,
tons, from 2.4 million tons previously. This allows the agency, tasked to stabilize domestic supply and prices of the
according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).
national staple, room to buy more rice overseas if needed.
Social welfare secretary Celia Yangco said the department of social welfare
"I understand there are ongoing discussions now for further purchases," he said.
and development (DSWD) was just awaiting Malacañang’s go-signal to
Reuters earlier reported that livelihood
implement the rice import limit for 2010
programmes to had
helpbeen
theincreased
poorest to more than
families three
as the Elmillion
Niño tons as a caution
against El Niño, phenomenon
a periodic warming in the Pacific
continued to dryOcean that affects and
up farmlands global weather
dams patterns
across the and occurs only once every
country.
two to seven years.
“We will implement a social integration program for over one million families
It is not clear whether part as
identified of Manila’s additional
the poorest imports
of the poorwould include
to help thema get
pending deal the
by until to buy 367,000
drought istons of rice from
Thailand in exchange
over,” Yangco said at the meeting of the Regional Consultative Committeea regional
for not cutting tariffs on rice imports from the start of 2010 as stipulated under on trade pact.

The agreement, Disaster


likely to beManagement in Pasig
signed at a regional City Monday
economic ministers’(February 22). the end of the month, was expected
meeting towards
to take effect from 2010 until 2014. With Reuters
The DSWD is among the agencies that make up the NDCC, host of the three-
day assembly of Asian countries, together with the Bangkok-based Asian
Disaster Preparedness Centre, a nongovernment organisation.

Philippines
The disaster‘Bracing
management meeting forwasthe Worst’
aimed at discussing thein Drought
priorities
each participating country and the implementation of community-based
of

disaster risk reduction in vulnerable communities in the face of climate


change.
The Philippines said it would share its expertise in disaster response and
learn from its counterparts some measures on how to cope with climate
change, particularly the prolonged dry spell, during the meeting.
Back-to-back storms
Food-for-work and cash-for-work programmes will be implemented to benefit
families who have been greatly affected by the back-to-back storms that
battered the country late last year, Yangco told reporters.
In an interview later with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, she said the 1.3 million
families targeted for the livelihood programs were those already being
subsidised by the conditional cash transfer program that was rolled out by the
DSWD two years ago.
These families come from the 40 poorest provinces in the country.
Cash, food programme
The cash-for-work programme will provide 150 pesos (US$3) a day to each
poor household for two weeks, while the food-for-work programme will give
one cavan of rice to each family for the entire month, according to Yangco.
Jobs will include cleaning parched farmlands to prepare them for the next
planting season and desiltation of canals, she said. Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

The department of agriculture has pegged the budget for the livelihood
A farmer walked with his carabao
programmes over
at about 1.5dried
billionfarmland in Batangas
pesos (US$32.5 province, south of Manila, on
million).
Thursday.
Looking for clouds
For his part, the NDCC chair, defense secretary Norberto Gonzales, said
rainmakers were ready to seed clouds
Top ofto help out farmers because “we’re
Form
having problems finding clouds”.
“So there is not much we can do but to repair water pipe leaks,” Gonzales
said at the press conference of the consultative meeting.
He said the NDCC had authorised the repairs of old water pipes across Metro
Manila in coordination with local government units and barangay (village)
officials.
Leaking pipes
old pipes. “We are making sure that repairs of water pipes are being done
24/7,” Gonzales said.
He placed the damage of El Niño to rice, corn and other crops at 3 billion
pesos ($65 million).
“Various measures are being taken up by the task force to reduce the impact
of drought,” NDCC Executive Director Glenn Rabonza said.
Shallow
Philippines‘Brac tube
in By CA RLOSwells
H. Chttp://w w w .ny timdef ault FEB 20 2010 The New Y ork Tim
Aside from cloud-seeding, the use of shallow tube wells is being implemented
“to save farms that are worth saving”.
ny times .c om 418
Rainmakers started cloud-seeding operations in January in Isabela province
and the southern part of Tuguegarao, among the areas worst-hit by the dry
spell, said Lt. Col. Gerardo Zamudio, spokesperson of the Philippine Air
Force. Bottom of Form

• He said Air Force pilots were “cloud chasers” because they fly once they
SIGN IN TO RECOMMEND
detect the appropriate clouds to seed.
• TWITTER
On Friday (February 19), pilots were able to seed clouds that triggered about
• 20
SIGN IN TO E-MAIL minutes of rain in Burgos town, Isabela, Zamudio told the Inquirer over the
• PRINT
phone Monday.
On Sunday, rainmakers were able to induce a 10-minute rain in another part
• REPRINTS
of the province, he said.
• SHARECLOSE

○ LINKEDIN
Rice output seen dropping

further
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02-23-10

○ MYSPACE
by Luzi Ann Javier
○ YAHOO! BUZZ
RICE production lost to dry weather in the Philippines, the world’s biggest importer,
○ PERMALINKmay be more than the 800,000 metric tons estimated, raising concern a shortfall may
deepen, a government official said Monday.
○ “Even with our assistance like cloud seeding, there have been some towns where
crops just dried out,” Agriculture Undersecretary Joel Rudinas said.
“It’s probable,” he said, when asked if losses might exceed 800,000 tons, the higher
end of a range estimated this month by the Agriculture Department.
Increased losses may cause the government to boost imports beyond the record 2.45
million tons planned for 2010 after rain last year wiped out 1.38 million tons of the
By CARLOSSeptember-December
H. CONDE harvest.
Benchmark rice prices in Chicago and Thailand surged to records in 2008 as the
Published: February 19, 2010
Philippines boosted imports and exporters including India and Vietnam restricted
shipments on global food shortage concerns.
MANILAWhile— Asome
drought in reported
towns have the Philippines hasmonth,
some rainfall this destroyed
“there havemillions ofindollars
been no rain
areas where
worth of producing we
crops, reduced need it most,” Rudinas said by telephone, referring
the country’s water supply and is threatening to the biggest
provinces.
widespread blackouts
“We deem as power
it as a matter companies contend with low water levels in
of concern.”
hydroelectric
Rice fordams, officials
May delivery rose 1.4said Friday.
percent to $14.17 per 100 pounds at 11:10 a.m.
Singapore time. The contract reached an all-time high of $25.07 in April 2008.
“It is such a difficult
Prices situation
were unlikely because
to decline amid wetight”
“potentially have just survived
supplies, the
Robert Zeigler, typhoons
director
in October thatof destroyed
general the International1.5 million
Rice Researchmetric tons
Institute, told of rice
reporters andDelhi
in New countless
on basic
Feb. 18.
infrastructure,” Joel Rudinas, an under secretary at the Department of
The committee of Philippine government officials that recommends the ceiling for state
Agriculture, said might
rice imports Friday.
meet “We are bracing
in February, forthan
a month earlier thescheduled,
worst.”to decide
whether to raise the 2.4 million-tons limit set late last year, Romeo Jimenez, National
Food Authority marketing director, said in an interview Feb. 19.
The dry weather follows the development of an El Niño, characterized by the warming
of sea-surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific. The event can reduce
rainfall in parts of Asia and bring excessive rain to South America, curbing global
supply.
“The current El Niño episode is near or at its peak,” the US Climate Prediction Center
said in a report dated Feb. 15.
“After peaking, nearly all models indicate Niño temperature departures will gradually
decrease, with about half of the models indicating that El Niño will continue into April-
About 2,000 Philippine rice farmers had already switched to planting vegetables
instead of water-intensive rice, because of potential losses caused by the drier
weather, Rudinas said.
The Agriculture Department on Feb. 2 estimated losses from El Niño at 200,000 tons
to 816,372 tons. Bloomberg

At a news briefing on Friday, Charito Planas, a spokeswoman for President


Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, asked Filipinos to use buckets to recycle
bathwater for additional uses, like flushing toilets.
Philippines
The damage to crops is to
nowBoost Rice
estimated at Imports
more than to
$61Record,
million, and Mr.
Rudinas NFA Says
said the (Update2)
Philippines, already the world’s largest importer of rice,
February 19, 2010, 01:16 AM EST tons because of the drought.
has imported an additional 2.4 million
Nearly 400,000
More From acres ofBusinessweek
farmland have already been affected, and
agriculture •officials expect
Thailand the 2drought
May Sell to continue,
Million Tons perhaps
of Stockpiled Rice until July.
(Update3)
Mrs. Arroyo said on Tuesday that she was concerned about the fall in
• Rice Imports by Brazil to Climb, U.S. Producer Says
farmers’ income, but assured Filipinos that the food supply would not
(Update1)
suffer. • Philippines’ Mindanao Island May Have Power Deficiency in
The government Mayhas begun cloud-seeding operations in hard-hit areas,
• Rice Output
particularly the north, andGrowth in Indonesia
has allotted someto$20
Slowmillion
on El Nino, Bulog
to aid farm and
Says
fishing in at least 14 of the country’s 80 provinces.
• Rice Losses on Philippine Dry Weather May Deepen,
Two weeks ago, Mrs. Arroyo
Rudinas Says signed an order that effectively ordered the
rationingStory
of water, asking utility companies “to maximize the limited supply
Tools
of water.” Other government
• e-mail this story measures include the drilling of more water
wells and the
• purchase of thousands of irrigation pumps. Some parts of the
print this story
country, particularly
• digg this the southern region of Mindanao, are almost certain to
experience power
• savecuts.
to del.icio.us
Carlito Claudio, anElofficial
(Adds latest with in
Nino forecast the National
12th Grid Corp., told a House
paragraph.)
energy committee hearing this week that he expected two- to three-hour
blackouts every day, possibly until the national elections in May. The
By Luzi Ann Javier and Cecilia Yap
comment prompted election watchdogs to urge the Commission on
Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The Philippines, the world’s biggest rice importer,
Electionswill
to allow
establish
privatesafeguards
companies to to buyprevent fraud.tons,
200,000 metric In previous
boosting elections,
blackoutspurchases
have often occurred
to a record while
this year, votesFood
a National wereAuthority
being counted.
official said.
The private purchases will take the country’s imports to 2.45 million tons,
At least one lawmaker has suggested that Congress give Mrs. Arroyo
Romeo Jimenez, the authority’s marketing director, said in a phone
emergency powers,
interview fromincluding theThat
Manila today. authority
will exceedtothe
taprecord
private powertons
2.4 million generators
bought in 2008, when prices reached an all-time high.
to supply additional electricity to the National Power Corp., the
Increased Philippine
government-owned firm purchases may stretch
that generates much a global ricecountry’s
of the trade estimated by
electricity.
the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 30.85 million tons this year,
The Philippines suffered
boosting prices. a severe
Benchmark ricedrought in 1999
prices in Chicago and
and two milder
Thailand surged todry spells
records
in 2004 and in 2008 on concerns that export restrictions by major producing
2007.
nations would help fuel a food crisis.
DSWD“Global
readies cash,
rice prices areprograms
likely to rise as for drought
the Philippines mayvictims
open a new bid
in March to import rice,” Vichak Visetnoi, director-general of the
Department of Foreign Trade in Thailand, the world’s biggest exporter of
the grain, said yesterday, before National Food advertised the planned
private imports in the Philippine Star newspaper today.
The additional Philippine imports “will start to fuel demand,” and support
Services Pty. in Sydney, said by phone today.
Rice futures in Chicago have dropped 17 percent from last year’s high of
$16.27 per 100 pounds in December since the Philippines ended a series of
tenders for 2010 supplies that took state purchases to 2.25 million tons.

By Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Strong Dollar
First Posted 19:40:00 02/22/2010

Filed Under: Environmental Issues, Agriculture, Disasters (general), Drought, Social Issues

May-delivery
MANILA, Philippines—While rougharerice
rainmakers opened
having trouble 0.5 percent
finding clouds tohigher at $13.705
induce rain per
over northern 100cash and food-for-
Luzon,
work programspounds
are being after
readiedNational Food published its advertisement. The contract
to help 1.3 million poor families cope with the dry spell, according to the National Disaster
Coordinating Council (NDCC).
traded 0.3 percent lower at $13.60 at 1:38 p.m. Singapore time. Wheat lost
Social Welfare Secretary Celia Yangco on Monday said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was just
as much
awaiting Malacañang's as 1.5to percent
go-signal implement and cornprograms
livelihood declined as the
to help much as families
poorest 1.1 percent.
as the El Niño phenomenon
continued to dry up farmlands and dams across the country.
A stronger dollar may limit gains in rice and other commodities traded in
"We will implement a social integration program for over one million families identified as the poorest of the poor to help them get by
Chicago,
until the drought Barratt
is over," Yangco said said. “Everything
at the 8th meeting of theelse willapparently
Regional take a second seat”
on Disaster to the in Pasig City
Management
yesterday. dollar, he said. The dollar reached a nine-month high against the euro after
the Federal
The DSWD is among Reserve
the agencies raised
that make up thethe discount
NDCC, rate
host of the charged
three-day to banks
assembly forcountries
of Asian directtogether with the
Bangkok-based Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, a non-government organization.
loans for the first time in more than three years.
The disaster management meeting was aimed at discussing the priorities of each participating country and the implementation of
“It’s
community-based possible”
disaster the Philippines,
risk reduction which accelerated
in vulnerable communities purchases
in the face of climate change.after storms
The Philippineslast
said year destroyed
it would harvests,
share its expertise mayresponse
in disaster buy 3 and million tonsitsthis
learn from year assome
counterparts El Nino
measures on how to
cope with climate change, particularly the prolonged dry spell, during the meeting.
parches crops, Jimenez said. Still, the government limit of 2.4 million tons
of state
Food-for-work and rice purchases
cash-for-work programs willinbe2010, set late
implemented last year,
to benefit
back storms that battered the country late last year, Yangco told reporters.
familieshasn’t been
who have beenraised yet, heby the back-to-
greatly affected

said.
In an interview later with the INQUIRER, she said the 1.3 million families targeted for the livelihood programs were those already
being subsidized by the conditional-cash transfer program that was rolled out by the DSWD two years ago.
These families come from the 40 poorest provinces in the country.
El Niño
The cash-for-work programLosses
will provide P150 a day to each poor household for two weeks while the food-for-work program will give
one cavan of rice to each family for the entire month, according to Yangco.
Jobs would include cleaning parched farmlands to prepare them for the next planting season and desiltation of canals, she said.
The Department of Agriculture has pegged the budget for the livelihood programs at about P1.5 billion.
About 1.38 million metric tons of rough rice was wiped out when the
"We will implement this program once President Macapagal-Arroyo gives us the go-signal to do so. We will talk about this at our
Philippines
Cabinet meeting was ravaged
[Tuesday]," Yangco said. by storms last quarter, according to data from the
Department of Agriculture. Losses caused by El Niño may be as much as
Farmers want
816,372 tonsto
thisown land
year, the in national
department said Feb. 2.park
Actual losses reported
by some local governments reached 56,696 tons as of Feb. 8.
By Delmar Cariño
El Niño, which is characterized by the warming of sea- surface
Inquirer Northern Luzon
temperatures along the equatorial Pacific, can reduce rainfall in parts of
First Posted 22:39:00 02/21/2010

Asia and bring excessive rains to South America, damaging rice output.
Filed Under: Government offices & agencies, Agriculture
“The current El Nino episode is near or at its peak,” the U.S. Climate
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, Philippines -- Tired of being called squatters, farmers living within the Mt. Data National Park that straddles
Prediction
Benguet and Mt. Province areCenter
asking thesaid in agovernment
national report dated Feb.their
to declare 15.lands
“After peaking,
as alienable nearly all
and disposable.
models
More than 2,000 indicate
Igorot families Niño temperature
are preparing departures
to petition the provincial board will gradually
to pass a resolution decrease, with Gloria
that will ask President
about half of the models indicating that El Niño will continue into April-
Macapagal-Arroyo to issue a proclamation converting and segregating their lands as disposable agricultural land.
May-will
In return, the families June,” theto report
be willing said. with the government not to expand their vegetable farms and to protect the
sign an agreement
watersheds, according to Loreto Buya-an, Benguet Farmers Federation Inc. (BFFI) public relations officer.
Thailand
"If their lands are awarded toprobably
them, they will
would sell 2 million
be willing tons
to become ofguards,"
forest the grain from
he said. state stockpiles
over two months to take advantage of demand as supplies from competing
A survey that the provincial environment office conducted in 2003 showed 2,284 households occupying 1,851.95 hectares of the
exporters
5,512-ha national park. including Vietnam and Myanmar begin to slow, Vichak said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said being a protected area Mt. Data must be off limits to private settlers
Prices are unlikely to decline amid “potentially tight” supplies, Robert
and ownership.
Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute, told
The survey showed that the households were found in villages in Tublay, Buguias, Bakun, Kibungan, Atok and Mankayan towns in
reporters
Benguet and Bauko in New
and Sabangan Delhi
towns in Mt.yesterday.
Province.
Buya-an said improvements and the expansion
The 200,000-ton of vegetable
Philippine imports farms within
will bethe park have to
allocated renewed the bid to make the occupied
farmer
portions alienable.
cooperatives and private companies, for delivery by Sept. 15, according to
But farmers have long wanted to own the lands because their families have been living there for decades, he said.
a newspaper advertisement in the Philippine Star. Import tariffs will be
subsidized by the National Food Authority.

--With assistance from Supunnabul Suwannakij in Bangkok and Pratik


Parija in New Delhi. Editors: Matthew Oakley, Jake Lloyd- Smith.
To contact the reporters on this story: Luzi Ann Javier in Singapore at +65-
6212-1304 or ljavier@bloomberg.net; Cecilia Yap in Manila at +63-2-306-
7022 or cyap19@bloomberg.net

Guillermo Fianza, provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the DENR was advised of the families' move as early
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Wendy Pugh at +61-3-
as 10 years ago.
9228-8736
He said the DENR or wpugh@bloomberg.net
already conducted a protected area suitability assessment within the national park.
The assessment included a survey to find out if the occupied portions were still fit to be considered as protected areas, Fianza said.
SEARCH
He said the survey showed the occupied portions were no longer suited as protected zones and have become "built up areas."
The families' appeal to own the lands, he said, must be addressed to the Office of the President and Congress since any change in
the status of forest or watersheds needed legislative approval.
"The term is called disestablishment of the national park," Fianza said.
The provincial board passed two resolutions -- one on July 9, 1993 and the other on May 9, 2000 -- that asked former Presidents
Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada to issue the proclamation.
The resolutions, approved by former Governors Jaime Paul Panganiban and Raul Molintas, respectively, urged the DENR to
delineate the area to be excluded from the national park.
The resolutions, however, had not been acted upon, Buya-an said.

After the floods, comes the drought for Antique farmers


By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Inquirer Visayas
First Posted 16:56:00 02/21/2010

Filed Under: Weather, Drought, Agriculture

SAN REMIGIO, Antique, Philippines —Ramon Riobaca cringed at the scorching mid-day heat and muttered about how many
pails of water he had to fetch to water his vegetable patch.
“I need at least seven pails of water morning and afternoon to water them and help them survive,” the 60-year-old farmer said.
Like most of the 600 residents of Barangay (Village) Vilvar in San Remigio town in Antique, some 21 kilometers northeast of the
capital town of San Jose, Riobaca has been struggling to cope with the prolonged dry season that has destroyed crops and
rendered farms cracked and barren.
“It has not rained here since December last year and our wells and rivers are drying up,” he said.
But Riobaca remembered that it was not the lack of water but too much of it that also destroyed crops and farmlands in the
village more than a year ago.
“That was my land but nothing was left of it,” he said as he pointed towards the Sibalom River, Antique's main tributary.
The river overflowed and flooded the village due to the heavy and continuous rains brought by typhoon Frank in June 2008.
The flood destroyed at least 10 houses and around 80 percent of crops, said Vilvar village chief Carlos Edison Butiong.
Riobaca's 1.5-hectare farm was among those destroyed and is no longer arable. He now farms at the land of his son near the
village proper.
Butiong said residents have resorted to planting corn, root crops and vegetables because these have more chances of survival
during the drought.
“We sell any surplus so we can buy rice,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas said the drought has affected at least 30,000 farmers in the region based
on initial reports.
In a media briefing of a multi-agency task force on Friday, DA regional director Larry Nacionales said losses in rice production
has reached around P635 million. The damage and losses are expected to go higher because complete reports from Capiz and
Aklan provinces, among those with the most vulnerable areas, have yet to come in.
Nacionales said 42,000 hectares of rice lands in the region have been threatened by below normal rainfall. At least 33,300 ha of
these have been affected by El Niño with 11,031.92 already beyond recovery and another 21, 268. 84 damaged.
Nacionales said the projected dry season rice production in the region was expected to be cut by 10.68 percent due to the
destruction and damage to crops.
Western Visayas has one of the biggest rice lands in the country at 309,212 hectares. More than half or around 176,000 hectare
is rain-fed while 132,000 hectares are irrigated.
The dry spell has also affected areas planted to corn, reaching 87.5 hectares, with 57.5 destroyed and another 30 hectares
damaged. Total losses in production reached 237.40 MT worth P2, 758, 424.
The Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas has requested for P190 million to fund mitigation measures. It has urged
farmers to temporarily shift to vegetable and root crops as alternative sources of income to offset the damage of the drought.
The mitigation program includes the distribution of seeds, livestock growing, vaccination for farm animals, insurance for crops,
rehabilitation of irrigation systems and shallow tube wells.
But Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano said on Sunday that the government's mitigation measures would not be enough to
help the farmers. He called on the government to fully subsidize agricultural production and called for a comprehensive plan to
cushion the drought's impact on farmers.
“Farmers have yet to recover from the enormous losses brought by the typhoons during the last cropping. This cropping season,
our farmers face another calamity,” Mariano said in a statement.
“It is only just and reasonable for the government to fully subsidize our farmers and food production,” he said.
Mariano said the government should extend full subsidy for areas that can still be saved or have minimal damage especially in
the production of rice, corn, vegetable, fisheries and livestock.
The subsidy should include water pumps, seeds, fertilizers, credit and marketing support, Mariano said.

Loren: Distribute rice to farmers affected by El Niño


phenomenon
Cebu Daily News First Posted 06:42:00 02/21/2010 Filed Under: Government,
WeatherSEN. Loren Legarda, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, said
the government could help cushion the effect of El Niño through the mandatory
distribution of rice to farmers whose farms were affected by the dry spell.

Legarda, who is running for vice president in the May polls, said that affected
farmers should be given money as capital for other businesses, so they can be
temporarily relieved from poverty while El Niño is still affecting the country.

“You can't do that and wait for the El Niño to be given solution, what’s needed are
cash transfers, pantawid gutom ngayon, and NFA must give away rice. It's should be
done now because when I visited the farms, they’re really parched and there will be
no harvest until March,” she said.

She said the Department of Agriculture (DA) should ask the Department of Budget
Management (DBM) to release funds for victims of El Niño.

“At the height of El Niño, it will be worse. Thus, it is important to give cash transfers.
Let’s make it simple and just release the funds. Give money to the farmers and their
families who were affected by the El Nino. It cannot wait,” she added.

She also said free scholarship should be given to children of farmers and NFA should
distribute rice to all indigent, farmer families, whose farms and lands, have been
affected by El Niño.

She also called for massive reforestation in the province of Cebu and all areas in the
Philippines specially those who have water supply deficit./Reporter Fe Marie D.
Dumaboc
Moderate El Niño may have severe impact
02/22/2010 | 09:49 AM

Share5

The impact of an ongoing El Niño-induced dry spell could be more severe than initially predicted, officials said, with some areas possibly
seeing a repeat of 1998, when a drought took its toll on the economy.

The dry spell, a National Food Authority (NFA) spokesman said on Sunday, could mean the Philippines — the world’s biggest rice buyer —
importing around 800,000 tons more this year.

The additional rice imports will bring total imports to just over a record 3.2 million tons for the year. But bulging stocks from Thailand and
Vietnam, the top two rice exporters, may cushion any impact on Asian rice prices, which have eased considerably since Manila’s last rice
auction in December.

Last Friday, an Agriculture official said total farm damage from El Niño —an occasional seasonal warming of the central and eastern Pacific
Ocean that upsets normal weather patterns from the western seaboard of Latin America to east Africa, and has caused droughts in the
Philippines before — could increase as more provinces report losses.

"It could reach beyond P10 billion because more and more areas are reporting more water stresses. [The dry spell] in the northern
[provinces] is becoming more intense," Undersecretary for Field Operations Joel S. Rudinas told reporters.

"The way things are going right now is already alarming because it (the toll) is already within our expectations. So far, the damages have not
yet [gone beyond our estimates] but we are still in February and as the days progress and unless relief is delivered, the impact [will be] felt
more," he said.

But Rudinas held out hope that the final cost would still be within the government’s projected range — P8 billion under a mild El Niño and P20
billion under a severe dry spell.

A February 16 report by the Department of Agriculture’s Central Action Center said 14 provinces in Luzon and the Visayas had been affected.
The dry spell was said to have damaged over 200,000 tons of crops worth P2.84 billion.

Nathaniel A. Cruz, officer-in-charge of operations and services of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services
Administration, said the weather bureau was still looking at a moderate El Niño that would likely last until June.

The impact in certain areas, however, could be as bad as in 1998 when the country was hit hard by the weather phenomenon.

"We can have a moderate El Niño but the impact will be that of a severe El Niño. The water level in Magat Dam in Isabela province, for
instance, can already reach or even go below the 1998 water level," Cruz said.

A dry spell that began in mid-1997 lingered well into the following year, with officials reporting drought conditions in 68 percent of the
country. Drastic water conservation measures were implemented as levels at the multipurpose Angat dam in Bulacan, which supplies drinking
water to Metro Manila and irrigation water to nearby farmlands, fell to critical levels.

A paper on the 1997-1998 El Niño noted that the economy had contracted by 0.5 percent, although it said the situation was exacerbated by
the Asian financial crisis then.

Meanwhile, NFA spokesman Rex C. Estoperez told Reuters what is being harvested now by farmers is what was planted from around
September last year when the ricefields were hit by typhoons.

"With the dry spell expected to last until July, there might not be enough water available for the planting season in May and June, which will
be harvested starting around September. This means we may need to buy about 800,000 tons more to offset any production shortfall," he
said.

Asked for more details, Estoperez told BusinessWorld they did not have a final figure yet on how much additional imports the country will
need since the total damage from El Niño was still unknown.

Water levels at dams across the country have been dropping to near record lows due to the dry spell, putting at risk irrigation for farms, as
well as hydropower plants. Wide swathes of farmlands in northern Philippines, including rice-growing areas, have dried up completely.
The government has forecast the loss of 800,000 tons of rice if the El Niño-caused dry spell becomes severe. The harvest in the first half was
projected to drop by 1.7 percent from a year earlier to 7.25 million tons.

The Philippines has contracted to import 2.25 million tons of rice from four auctions in November and December when it advanced 2010
purchases after strong storms purged 1.3 million tons of paddies in September and October. The entire volume is expected to be delivered by
June.

Last Friday, the NFA also allowed private firms to bring in 200,000 tons of duty-free rice under an annual allocation until September 15.

Estoperez said a government panel had increased the volume of NFA rice imports by 800,000 to about
3.2 million tons this year. This allows the agency, tasked to stabilize domestic supply and prices of the
national staple, room to buy more rice overseas if needed.

"I understand there are ongoing discussions now for further purchases," he said.

Reuters earlier reported that the rice import limit for 2010 had been increased to more than three
million tons as a caution against El Niño.

It is not clear whether part of Manila’s additional imports will include a pending deal to buy 367,000
tons of rice from Thailand in exchange for not cutting tariffs on rice imports from the start of 2010
under a regional trade pact.

The agreement, likely to be signed at a regional meeting of economic ministers towards the end of the
month, was expected to take effect from 2010 until 2014. — from reports by Kristine Jane R. Liu Pet
and Reuters
er
Des
isto
PHILIPPINES: Organic Farming - The Way is
one
Forward hap
py
By Prime Sarmiento far
mer
wh
o
NUEVA ECIJA, Sep 11, 2008 (IPS) - Sustainable agriculture was far from farmer Peter Desisto’s swi
mind when he went to an organic farming seminar organised by the Philippine Rural tch
Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) ten years ago. He and other farmers attended because they ed
heard that PRRM was giving out loans.
to
Borrowing is a way of life for farmers who need to purchase expensive chemical pesticide and fertiliser org
before they can even plant rice in their fields. Such borrowings, usually from local money lenders who ani
charge high interest, keep farmers perpetually in debt. The harvest gives them little surplus to avoid c
fresh loans in the next cropping season. rice
cult
Desisto came out from the PRRM seminar loaded, not with borrowed money, but with new knowledge ivat
and a firm conviction that organic farming was the way forward. He gave up chemical-based inputs
and instead bought cheaper chicken manure to fertilise the fields, raised ducks that eat the snails that ion.
were ruining his rice stalks, and used indigenous herbs to control pests.

Instead of solely relying on rice, Desisto diversified into hog and poultry raising and planting onions for Cre
extra income. "I spent more time applying chicken manure and planting other crops. The extra effort dit:
paid off," he said. Pri
me
Now Desisto is not only free of debt but also able to provide adequately for his family. He is also
content that the land he’s renting remains productive, with an annual rice harvest at 90 sacks, which Sar
he attributes to the fact that his land is not bombarded with chemicals. mie
nto/
Desisto is one of a growing number of farmers in Nueva Ecija -one of the main rice growing areas in IPS
the Philippines - who have abandoned pesticides and synthetic fertilisers in favour of organic farming.
"Sustainable agriculture in rice farming addressed the problem of high cost of chemical farming and
acted on health, environmental and ecological considerations,’’ the Manila-based Rice Watch and
Action Network (R1) noted in its study published last year.

Organic agriculture products trading in the world is increasing by 20-30 percent every year and the Philippines can easily claim a large share
of a market that is estimated to be worth 100 billion US dollars. Popular organic products exported from the Philippines include bananas,
beef, mangoes, muscovado sugar, papayas, peanuts, poultry, soya milk, vegetables from the uplands, yellow corn and rice.
Introduction of the so-called Green Revolution technology in the 1970s helped increase yields - but at a high cost. The high yielding seeds
were also dependent on expensive chemical inputs that poisoned the soil and water sources, hurt land productivity and harmed farmers’
health. This is why NGOs like PRRM have been advocating a return to organic farming, believing that this will not just solve environmental
problems but will also ensure food security.

"Organic agriculture is the answer. It won’t only retain soil productivity but it can make farming viable. If farmers will have additional income
from their land they will continue to plant rice,'' R1 lead convenor Jessica Reyes-Cantos said.

Cantos believes that the government should channel more funds to develop organic agriculture and ensure self sufficiency instead of
spending money on stop gap measures like rice imports or giving out subsidised seeds.

Cantos urges the Philippine department of agriculture to implement the following measures: support farmers to improve their own seed
varieties; promote credit support for organic farmers; provide more post harvest facilities and create a marketing fund to protect the farmers
of organically- grown products from unscrupulous traders.

Philippine agriculture officials are now seeing the benefits of organic farming. At a press briefing last month, agriculture secretary Arthur Yap
said the department will set aside P800 million (16 million dollars) to encourage rice farmers to engage in organic farming for the September-
October planting season.

Yap said he is hoping that this will at least help farmers cut overheads as costs of synthetic fertiliser rise along with global petroleum prices.

The Philippines Triples Its Rice Yield


ScienceDaily (Feb. 19, 2010) — In the last fifty years, the Philippines has more
than tripled its rice yield, while the world average rice yield has increased only
about 2.3 times.
Despite being criticized as a poor rice producer because of its status as the world's biggest rice importer, the Philippines has actually done
remarkably well in raising its rice yields from 1.16 tons per hectare in 1960 (according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization) to 3.59 tons per hectare in 2009 (according to the Republic of the Philippines, Department of Agriculture).
In 2009, Philippine rice yields were actually lower than the previous two years due to the damage done by the tropical storms "Ondoy" and
"Pepeng." In 2007, average rice yields topped 3.8 tons per hectare and in 2008 they were 3.77 tons per hectare.
Rice yields in the Philippines are also higher than those in Thailand, the world's biggest exporter of rice, where yields over the last few years
have been around 3 tons per hectare.
"The Philippines has enthusiastically taken up rice science technologies that have helped farmers dramatically increase their yields," said Dr.
William Padolina, deputy director general for operations at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
"Filipino farmers have adopted more than 75 IRRI-bred high-yielding rice varieties since 1960, have greatly improved their fertilizer and pest
management strategies, and are implementing water-saving technologies," he added.
IRRI was established in the Philippines in 1960 following a hunt throughout Asia that identified Los Baños in Laguna as the most
advantageous location for an agricultural research program to expand food production in Asia. Los Baños was seen as an emerging hub of
agricultural science and economics and the government of the Republic of the Philippines was supportive of research, teaching, and
extension programs to improve farm management.
"This year, IRRI is celebrating its 50th anniversary," said Dr Padolina. "During our 50 years we have established some important and
productive partnerships with institutions such as the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the University of the Philippines Los Baños that
share our goal to help alleviate poverty through improved rice production."
According to estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture, the average world rice yield in 1960 was 1.84 tons per hectare and
in 2009 it was forecast at 4.24 tons per hectare.
Dr. Padolina acknowledges that the Philippines could improve its rice yields even more and said that he was confident that "the Philippines
will continue to support rice research as a way of ensuring food security for Filipinos, to help lift local rice farmers and consumers out of
poverty, and in turn improve the entire economy of the country.
"IRRI is also dedicated to delivering rice science innovations specifically suited to Philippine conditions that are of practical use and value to
Filipino farmers," he added.
In May 2008, the Philippine Department of Agriculture and IRRI signed a Memorandum of Agreement on Accelerating Rice Production in the
Philippines.
Last year, IRRI released eight new rice varieties in the Philippines as well as Nutrient Manager for Rice, a Web-based tool that helps farmers
make wise fertilizer decisions. Also, in the International Rice Genebank housed at IRRI, 4,670 rice samples from the Philippines are
conserved, including 4,070 traditional varieties, 485 modern varieties, and 115 wild relatives -- all are available to share with Filipino farmers
and scientists

Gov’t bans imports of pork, poultry from S. Korea, Taiwan


Posted on 10:09 PM, February 14, 2010
THE GOVERNMENT has banned importation of pork from South Korea, as well as
poultry and live birds from the same country and Taiwan, an Agriculture official said over
the weekend.
Davinio P. Catbagan, director of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), said in a phone interview
that the ban on pork, poultry products and live birds from South Korea was issued last Jan. 5,
while the one on poultry and live birds from Taiwan was issued Jan. 26.
He attributed the ban to reports of outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD) as well as low-
pathogenic avian influenza, or bird flu, in those economies.
Last Jan. 30, South Korea reported its sixth FMD case in a cattle farm north of Seoul.
The same country reported last Jan. 26 that tests conducted in December last year confirmed that
about 26,000 ducks in a farm in Seosan City were infected with the H5 strain of bird flu.
Taiwan, on the other hand, reported on Jan. 21 that 7,000 chickens in a farm in Changhua
County, Taiwan died of the virus.
Last year, the Philippines imported 114.36 million kilograms of pork, 7.6% of which came from
South Korea. But the Philippines does not import poultry or poultry products from either South
Korea or Taiwan.
BAI data show that the local livestock sector lost about P2.3 billion to FMD between 1995-2005.
The country has not had any reported case of the disease since then.
The Philippines has a pending application with the World Organization for Animal Health for
"FMD-free without vaccination" status for Luzon -- the remaining part of the country without
such certification.
Department of Agriculture urges youth to consider career in
agri

Google Images

Published: December 14, 2009, Posted by: BGN Administrator

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is urging young Filipinos to consider a career in agriculture
to reverse the country’s aging farmer population and ensure the sustained growth of this critical sector.

Agriculture Undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla said that just like other “white-collar” career paths, agriculture can
become a profitable venture for the country’s youth by tapping its countless opportunities and working hard to achieve
their goals.

Fondevilla lamented that many students usually shy away from agriculture-related courses, preferring instead to
pursue careers in more prestigious professions such as law and engineering, despite the many potentials offered by
the country’s farm and fisheries sector for the country’s enterprising young Filipinos.

The priority thrust of the DA is not only to further boost farm yields, but also to make agriculture and fisheries a lot
more profitable for farmers and fisherfolk to encourage more investors and stakeholders to enter this sector.
Fondevilla expressed concern over the country’s aging farmer population where the average age is above 60 years
old.

Fondevilla acknowledged though that the problem of an aging farmer sector population is not just in the Philippines. It
is also a problem of countries like Japan, the US and many of the Philippines’ neighboring countries, he added.

Fondevilla pointed out that despite the twin challenges of a growing population and climate change on agriculture,
the sector offers young Filipinos various opportunities for career growth because food will always be in demand.

The global demand for rice, for instance, is growing steadily at 1.5 percent annually, according to data from the
International Rice Research Institute, Fondevilla said.

The problem of a growing population, he said, can be an opportunity considering that this means more mouths to
feed, and hence, more consumers of rice and other food staples.

As for climate change, Fondevilla said, the DA has begun implementing a series of measures to mitigate its effects on
Philippine agriculture and help small stakeholders adapt to altered weather patterns.
Source: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=532211&publicationSubCategoryId=66
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer
Last updated: December 14, 2009 3:20 PM

NEWS UPDATE

DA launches P250M program for pili, abaca


& coconut (Feb. 12, 2010)
Tabaco City, Albay...Albay
1st district representative, Edcel Lagman (at the rostrum) addresses the crowd of
over 1,000 consisting of abaca, coconut and pili farmers who will benefit from the newly launched
Project to Revitalize Bicol's three major Indigenous crops (abaca, pili and coconut) with the release of
P250M fund thru the initiative of Rep. Lagman who is chairperson of the committee on Appropriations.
The occasion held at the Hermon Lagman Gymnasium in this city was also attended by officials of the
implementing national agencies and LGUs.

Panic buying of rice in the Philippines


By matt
April 11 2008
The government of the Philippines is trying to ration the purchase of the food staple rice by its
own citizens, as the price shoots up, causing tense scenes in Manilla. The Philippines is the
largest importer of rice in the world but supplies from exporting countries such as Vietnam and
Thailand are tightening as more is kept back by these governments for their own people.
Filipinos spend an avergae of 60% of their income on food and 40% of this goes on rice. As the
price of rice rises rapidly government security forces have been leading investigations into some
warehouse operators hoarding rice to take advantage of the situation.
The agricultural minster has gone on record admitting that past governments have neglected
investment in agriculture over the last few decades. He now says there will be a concerted drive
to increase the country’s self sufficiency in food. To do this more investment will need to be
made in irrigation networks and support given to farmers in other ways.
The wider global situation is not helping with high fuel prices driving up the cost of many
factors, from higher fertilizer costs to increasing transport costs. The people of the Philippines
have every right to be concerned and to expect more from their government but the government
in turn will need help from the World Bank to aleviate this growing problem, both in the short
and long term.
The last thing any country needs right now is for precious agricultural land to be taken away
from them for biofuel crops.
Udderly awesome Holstein sets production record

From AP News | 2010-02-20 01:08:03


<div id="subtitle">Udderly awesome Holstein sets milk production record with 8,400 gallons of milk in one
year</div><div><p>This Holstein is more than just another udder in the herd. The cow from the
Ever-Green-View Farm in eastern Wisconsin has set a new national milk production record. A Holstein tagged number 1326 in Waldo has
pumped out about 8,400 gallons of milk in one year.</p><p>The cow's milk production of 72,170 pounds is well
above the previous record of nearly 68,000 pounds held by a cow in Marathon. The Holstein Association USA keeps records on top
producers dating back to 1971.</p><p>Owner Tom Kestell said his standout Holstein received no special
treatment and was never sick during the record-setting year, which ended Feb. 6.</p><p>The Sheboygan
Press said the average registered Holstein in Wisconsin produces 23,000 pounds of milk
annually.</p><p>___</p><p>Information from: The Sheboygan Press,
http://www.sheboygan-press.com</p><img src="http://admatch-syndication.mochila.com/images/ad.gif?
aid=69763499&bid=informcom" /></div><div id="copyright"><div>

Atty: Poultry companies turned watershed into mess

From AP News | 2010-02-18 23:54:10


<div id="subtitle">Attorney: Poultry companies 'knew better,' but polluted watershed anyway; trial testimony
ends</div><div><p>Motivated by greed, several Arkansas poultry companies cut corners when getting rid of thousands of tons
of waste and allowed it to pollute a sensitive watershed, an attorney for the state argued Thursday.</p><p>But the 11 companies
accused of poisoning the Illinois River watershed shared by Oklahoma and Arkansas accused the state of using bad science and flimsy
evidence to make its case.</p><p>After a trial that lasted four months, attorneys made their closing arguments Thursday. U.S.
District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell, who heard the trial from the bench, gave no indication when he might rule.</p><p>Louis Bullock,
an attorney for Oklahoma, said the poultry industry had turned a once-pristine recreational area enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors each
year into a "green, slimy mess."</p><p>"Judge, I'm all in favor of making a buck, but it's never an excuse to destroy the beauty of
this country to make a buck," he said.</p><p>The state says the companies, including industry giants Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill
Inc., for decades disposed of hundreds of thousands of tons of chicken litter each year by giving it to local crop farmers to use as fertilizer.
The state says the companies knew the litter — or the feathers, droppings and bedding left in barns after birds are taken to slaughter — was
harming the watershed, but that it was cheaper to give it to the farmers than to dispose of it properly.</p><p>"They knew better, but
they did it anyway," Bullock said.</p><p>Attorneys for the poultry companies said their clients handled the waste responsibly and
lawfully. They said Oklahoma failed to produce evidence that the waste threatens people or the environment, and they instead blamed the
pollution in the watershed on 12 wastewater treatment plants and the runoff from cattle waste.</p><p>"We've got scattered dots
and scattered lines of evidence that are not connected," Tyson attorney Mark Hopson said of the science Oklahoma presented to make its
case.</p><p>Frizzell ruled last year that the state can't pursue monetary damages, but Oklahoma is seeking injunctive relief,
including a temporary moratorium on application of the litter to farmland and the appointment of special monitors to ensure the companies
properly dispose of the waste.</p><p>The case is being monitored by other states that are considering challenges to the poultry
industry.</p><p>The other defendants named in the lawsuit are Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc.,
Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cargill Turkey Production L.L.C., George's Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc. and Simmons Foods
Inc.</p><img src="http://admatch

PHILIPPINES - Farmers face disaster from


El Nino, priest says
Published Date: February 10, 2010

QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UCAN) — A priest fears the drought could spell disaster for his
18,000 parishioners, many of them farmers.

“This year we are having unusual heat and a lack of normal rain because of El Nino and
because Magat Dam can no longer supply water needed for crops,” Father Buencamino
Mendoza, pastor of Saint Andrews in Cabatuan, Isabela, told UCA News. A dried-up cornfield in the Philippines
All 22 villages of the town have been placed under a “State of Calamity” to allow the local attributed to El Nino
government to release some of the 260,000 pesos (US$5621) calamity funds to aid affected
communities.

El Nino is a change of weather patterns caused by a major warming of the equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean.

Citing agriculture department data, the town council said 80 percent of the flowering crops are showing signs of deterioration.

The local government has allotted funds for gasoline to be used for water pumps. Cabatuan is near Magat Dam in Ramon, Isabela, but water from the
Magat Dam River Irrigation System cannot reach farms farther away.

The priest said his parishioners can get 500 pesos from calamity funds. “Some farmers have deep wells supplying water for their households, but they
need the gas pumps to try to get water to the fields,” Father Mendoza said.

The latest provincial Department of Agriculture report estimates damage to rice crops by El Nino has reached 1 billion pesos (US$ 22.2 million) and
500 million pesos for corn crops.

The latest advisory of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration reports the phenomenon is now in its “mature”
stage in the equatorial Pacific.
Unusually heavy rainfall in southern Philippine provinces in recent months are attributed to El Nino, while Isabela and neighboring northern provinces
heat up in a dry spell.

The national government is on alert against possible power deficiencies due to failure of hydroelectric sources. Authorities are looking to avoid the
hunger that hit parts of Mindanao, the southern Philippines in the 1997 and 1999 El Nino.
PL08789.1588 February 10, 2010 33 EM-lines (337 words)

Bishops Encourage Christian Social Action During Troubled Times


Bishops Stress Anti-Poverty Efforts And Dialogue As Problems Grow
Help Available For Dioceses To Pipe Water To Tribal Villagers

Philippines Sees Record 2010 Rice Output


Source: Reuters
13/01/2010

Manila, Jan 13 - The Philippines' unmilled rice output is likely to rise to a record level this year, with an ongoing dry spell expected to be
mild, suggesting the world's biggest rice buyer may not need to import more grain.

Manila purchased more than 2.2 million tonnes of rice from four tenders last year, including re-orders, and officials have said supplies for 2010 are
adequate, barring any major calamity.
"What we have is mild El Nino, and a mild El Nino in our experience is good for rice," Frisco Malabanan, programme director for rice at the Department
of Agriculture, told reporters on Wednesday.
"I don't think production will be affected."
El Nino is an abnormal warming of waters in the equatorial Pacific, which may wreak havoc in global weather patterns, especially around the Asia-
Pacific region.
The weather phenomenon has been linked to the weak monsoon that hit cane areas in India, and a U.S. government agency said last week a
potentially damaging El Nino anomaly would last into the early summer of 2010.
Rice production shrank 24 percent in the last severe El Nino episode that hit the Philippines in 1998.
Several provinces in the country have already experienced below normal rainfall in the past three to four months, including rice-growing areas of
Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Benguet, Pampanga, and Quezon, according to the latest El Nino advisory from the Philippines' weather bureau.
Malabanan said paddy output this year was likely to be at least 17.4 million tonnes, a record, and could go up to more than 18 million tonnes under the
proposed 2010 budget bill which provides for increased spending on irrigation facilities and subsidies for farm inputs.
The 2010 national spending bill, up 8 percent at 1.541 trillion pesos ($34 billion), has been approved by Congress but is yet to be signed into law by
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Malabanan said the lower end of the expected rice production volume this year assumes the national spending budget would not be increased from
2009.
The country lost 1.3 million tonnes of paddy rice following three strong typhoons in September and October, prompting it to go to the market early to
boost its rice stocks.
Because of the typhoon destruction, the Philippines' 2009 rice crop is forecast to drop to 16.42 million tonnes from 16.82 million tonnes in 2008, the
first time output would fall since 1998, according to government estimates in November.