The Philippines, with a total coastline of 36,289 kilometers, has marine resources that provide food to millions of Filipinos. These resources include seaweeds, marine plants that grow abundantly in shallow reef flats and in lagoons with a water depth of less than two meters at high tide.
Globally there are over 9,000 species of seaweed divided into three major types: green, brown, and red. Red is the most species-rich group (6,000) followed by brown (2,000) and finally green (1,200).
Wikipedia reports that as food, seaweeds are consumed by coastal people, particularly in East Asia (Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam), and those living in Indonesia, Belize, Peru, Chile, Scandinavia, Ireland, Wales, the Philippines, and Scotland.
Batanes is the country’s northernmost and smallest province. Composed of eight islands, it has a land area of 20,928 hectares, marine waters of 4,500 square kilometers, and a population of about 17,000. The main economic activities of its people, called Ivatans, are agriculture and fishing.
In a 2010 survey conducted by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Region 2 headed by Dr. Jovita Ayson, it was reported that the marine waters of Batanes are rich in pelagic (surface-dwelling), demersal (bottom-dwelling), and coral reef-residing fishes and invertebrates.
The major pelagic fishes are the flying fish locally known as “dibang,” dolphinfish (arayo), and needlefish (hahay). The demersal fishes include moray eels, porgies, bigeyes, sharks, and stingrays. The surgeonfish, tang, jack, pompano, sea bass, grouper, and snapper are among the reef fishes. There are also swimming mollusks like squid, cuttlefish, and octopus caught along with lobsters.
One municipal head who is really serious about propagating organic farming in his town is Mayor Leoncio “Jun” Evasco of Maribojoc, Bohol. We met him at an organic agriculture presentation at the Natural Farming Institute in Panabo City last March 19.
The presentation was attended by the head of the Agricultural Training Institute, officials of TESDA, Department of Trade and Industry executives, farmers, Davao City officials, and other stakeholders.
Mayor Evasco is in the process of setting up the facilities for a demo farm and training center for organic agriculture in Brgy. Bayacaba, Maribojoc. He has already planted 10 kinds of grasses and several leguminous shrubs on two hectares that will be used as feed for the farm animals. The buildings for housing goats and pigs, offices, and other facilities are already up. A fermentation house where the fermented juices of fruits, vegetables, and other plants will be processed for use in organic farming is being constructed. He says training will start in the middle of this year when everything is ready.
You would think that 2005 Davao del Sur Outstanding Farmer, 2006 Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources Research and Development Magsasakang Siyentista, 2008-Department of Agriculture (DA) Outstanding Farmer, 2009 Micro-Entrepreneur of the Year, and DA Outstanding Farmer in the Organic Farming Category multi-awardee Benjamin “Ben” R Lao would fear nothing when it comes to farming.
But he is very grateful that he planted nitrogen-fixing species on his farm such as Flemingia macrophylla, Desmodium rensonii, and Indigofera anil in order to help restore the fertility of the soil. That’s because the soil had become so infertile, not even cogon grass would grow on it. There were coconut trees growing there which yielded 400-600 nuts every three months; after the nitrogen-fixing species were planted, yield increased dramatically to 15,000 nuts per quarter. In addition, the nitrogen-fixers are also good forage for his livestock; the legumes contain as much as 16 percent crude protein.
What caused the soil’s infertility in the first place? Soil erosion. “I am thankful to the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) for helping me realize (the importance of protecting) my soil from erosion,” Ben said in an exclusive interview. “By doing so, I was able to increase my coconut production. In addition, the leaves of the various nitrogen-fixing species even help restore the fertility of my soil.”
Brgy Villafranca Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte — When the women of this barangay were looking for ways to augment their husbands’ earnings, they hit on the idea of using their village’s foremost resource: nipa.
“Nipa (Nypa fruticans) is a mangrove palm that thrives in coastal areas like Gigaquit. The plant offers numerous benefits, whether as source of food or protection,” said Lourdes Olais, chairperson of the Villafranca Women’s Association (ViWA).
Olais said nipa palms are one of their sources of food and livelihood as it serves as a breeding ground for shrimp and some species of fish. She added that the palms also serve as a buffer crop which prevents soil erosion and provides breakers against strong winds and tides.
It’s a relatively cheap, highly palatable food crop that can be easily grown in very limited space any time of the year in any weather without soil, sunlight, fertilizer, or pesticide. It’s harvestable in only three to seven days, and contains abundant quantities of natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and protein. No, it’s not a fantasy food—it just seems that way because sprouts are probably the only food on our planet that meet these seemingly impossible requirements.
Sprouts are germinated seeds of legumes, cereals, vegetables, and herbs that are eaten either raw or cooked. These are living baby plants which make superb veggies and ideal ingredients that add flavor, texture, and color to salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, and soups. They have been part of the human diet for much of recorded history, as many civilizations have grown green sprouts for food for centuries. Sprouts are a convenient way to have fresh vegetables year-round, and can be grown in a mini-garden in the kitchen at home. One tablespoonful of seeds will yield from 150 to 250 grams of sprouts.
Sprouts are excellent for vegetarians and those on a gluten-free diet, and are common in Eastern Asian cuisine. Commercial production has been a small niche industry in the U.S. for the past 35 years, although they are much more widely consumed in countries like Japan, where they’re part of the mainstream diet.
In the wake of the outbreak of Fusarium wilt or Panama disease, which is affecting some Cavendish banana plantations in Mindanao, government agencies that have to do with agriculture are mobilizing their resources to help address the problem.
Large amounts of funds have been announced to have been allocated by government agencies to be used to address the banana disease problem. These are the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), and the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research.
In the case of PCAARRD, an agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), it has been addressing the needs of the smallholder banana farmers. For instance, one ongoing PCAARRD project centers on the “Adoption of Science and Technology-Based Integrated Crop Management and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Lakatan and Cardaba.” The project was launched even before the Fusarium disease was played up in the newspapers and other media.
Our good friend Max Ricohermoso is all smiles these days. The reason is that the industry he loves most got its biggest ever budget from the Department of Agriculture in 2013.
Ricohermoso, of course, is the chairman of the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines. The DA allocated a total of P265 million for the expansion of seaweed production in suitable areas throughout the country. The allocation is about six times the 2012 budget for seaweeds which was P40.8 million.
There is a lot of room for expansion of seaweed production. The area suitable for production is about 255,000 hectares.
Paraoakan is becoming the choice of native chicken raisers. And it is for a number of good reasons.
Paraoakan, of course, is the native chicken from Palawan. Of the several strains of native chickens, Paraoakan is the biggest of them all. It has long legs, bigger body than the rest, long neck and bigger head.
Latest to be convinced about the Paraoakan is Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao. He has launched a provincewide dispersal program of Paraoakan chicken to provide his constituents with a new source of income.
The Philippines Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) will host a patent library to encourage more innovation in rice science and development following a memorandum of agreement (MOA) it recently signed with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines)
Also called Innovation and Technology Support Office (ITSO), the patent library aims to educate researchers on global scientific and technology information and facilitate access on patent database, says Jerry C. Serapion, in-charge of PhilRice’s Intellectual Property Management.
ITSOs are IP Philippines’ flagship project which will be established in areas and institutions with high potential for patent activity such as usage of patent information, filing of patents, and commercialization of patented inventions.
Nuclear applications can benefit agriculture by reducing water and nutrient losses by almost 25 percent without adversely affecting the overall yield of rice and corn, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) said.
The use of nuclear analytical techniques, which is a major component of Smart Farming-based Nutrient and Water Management (NWM) program for rice and corn production, can help local farmers increase farm productivity by enhancing the efficient and sustainable use of water and fertilizers, according to Dr. Alumanda Dela Rosa, director of PNRI during the agency’s 40th Atomic Energy Week Celebration.
PNRI collaborates with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the program leader, and with other agencies such as the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), and the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) in the conduct and implementation of Smart Farming-based NWM program which is now on-going up to 2015.
Recently we had the good fortune of joining a dinner with Dr. William Dar, the director general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India.
The dinner was tendered by our friend Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness which was attended by agri-people like Dr. Rolly Dy of the University of Asia and the Pacific, Dr. Joy Eusebio of PCAARRD and Dr. Pons Batugal of a foundation engaged in rural development.
If he were to recommend something that would help the Philippines produce not only more rice but also other crops, what would Dr. Dar recommend?
There is a saying, “when a butterfly flaps its wings in one place, a tsunami may occur in another place.” This is obviously an exaggeration, but the point is that small things can have great effects. This is the essence of the “tipping point.” The concept of tipping points has major impact on understanding swine health and production.
Although its principles are clear, a disease-control program including biosecurity doesn’t always work for all farms. No single “recipe-style” program will always work under all situations in any pig farm. Each farm is on its own “unique” situation that sets it apart from other farms. A disease may strike separate herds but the approach to its control differs from farm to farm.
This is because the combinations of risk factors leading to “explosion” of disease are not the same for all farms. When a disease breaks out in a herd, it indicates that risk factors have crossed the “tipping point” for that disease.
Being a Negrese, Roberto “Bob” Cuenca has all his life been involved in traditional agricultural practices of the province—growing sugarcane and breeding fighting cocks in Guintubdan, La Carlota City. He was first to discover the potential of Sitio Hagdan, Brgy. Mailum, Bago City, southern Negros Occidental for game fowls and so about six years ago, he moved his game farm to his newfound paradise.
A few years later, the 30-hectare land in Hagdan was still underutilized. And since even the game fowl industry is also affected by the economic crisis that our country is facing, Bob decided to maximize the use of his land by growing vegetables and now, fruit trees, for extra income.
Hagdan is a beautiful mountainous area that encompasses a rainforest. It lies on one side of legendary Mt. Kanlaon, about 2,500 feet above sea level. The temperature is cool and the mineral water from the mountains is free flowing. It is just the perfect spot for growing high-value crops. Aside from having a good land and a passion for what he’s doing, Bob also has a keen business sense. And so, the secret to his farming is getting ahead of the pack.
Corn grain price fluctuations during the peak harvest in Mindanao has dampened the spirits as well as the livelihood of many Filipino farmers. This sad development in the corn sector is aggravated by the unabated soaring cost of farm inputs, such as fertilizers.
Efren Sarto, a corn farmer from South Cotabato, in the midst of this entire dismal scenario still has a success story to share to his fellow corn farmers. Sarto is the candidate of Region 12 for the prestigious Gawad Saka Award given annually by the Department of Agriculture to technologically inclined and successful farmers in the country.
In December 2004, Sarto planted Pioneer hybrid 30M50. He harvested his corn crop and, to his satisfaction, he obtained a dried weight of 8,500 kilos per hectare. With a grain price of P8.25 per kilo, his gross income per hectare reached nearly P70,000. Even with the high input cost of around P26,000, he was able to net more than P40,000.
In March, corn grain prices fluctuated to an average low of P7.20 and average high of P8 per kilo. Fertilizer prices in the national level soared from 34.89% to 53.57% over the previous year. This farm input constitutes around 35% of the total corn production cost.