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Alcala: There’s more cash for fisheries in 2013 Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 21 October 2012 18:47 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Contributor AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the budget for fisheries next year has been raised to P4.6 billion. With such a hefty increase, Alcala expressed hope that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will improve the performance of the fisheries sector, which has been in the doldrums for the past three years. He said the huge allocation for BFAR is not a case of good money going after bad. Alcala said the funds will be used to align the methods and systems needed to bring the sector back in shape and supply the country with all the fish it needs. He also announced that the closed season for sardine, herring and mackerel in the Visayas Sea will be enforced from Nov. 15, 2012 to Feb. 15, 2013 under the Fisheries Administrative Order 167. “When there are more sardines in the ocean, tuna species tend to stay longer in our territorial seas which eventually results to bigger harvest,” he said. Alcala said there are currently 36 Philippine-flagged fishing vessels in Pocket 1 of the Pacific Ocean, a rich fishing ground for tuna. He said, “We are the only country allowed to fish in the area because we are the only country able to comply with international policies.”  Last Wednesday, BFAR and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a joint-project which seeks to improve the management of Philippine coastal and marine resources. Alcala, BFAR Director Asis Perez and USAID’s Environment Chief Rolf Anderson launched the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries or the Ecofish Project as part of the government’s efforts to conserve and replenish eight marine key biodiversity areas (MKBA) in the country. Ecofish covers the following areas: Calamianes Group of Islands in Palawan, Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan; Ticao Pass-Lagonoy Gulf-San Bernardino Strait in Bicol and Samar; Danajon Double Barrier Reef in Bohol and Leyte; Southern Negros Occidental; Surigao; the Sulu archipelago, and the Verde Island Passage in Batangas and Mindoro.

Poultry growers urged to export to South Korea Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 21 October 2012 18:55 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter THE government is encouraging poultry growers to start tapping the South Korean market, six months after Seoul deemed  the Philippines compliant with its safety and regulatory standards. Agriculture Sec. Proceso J. Alcala said he has called on small poultry growers and broiler integrators to initiate  negotiations with possible takers of local chicken in South Korea. “The government has already done its assignment. I think it’s about time for the private sector to initiate discussions for the  export of chicken,” said Alcala in an interview. The chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said one of the factors that discouraged the private sector from shipping to  South Korea is that Seoul had initially wanted small-sized chicken. “South Korea said it is already open to accepting big-sized chicken so let’s hope that we will no longer encounter problems in our bid to export chicken,” said Alcala. Aside from chicken, the Philippines has also been trying to access the South Korean market for the pork products of local manufacturers. The Philippines is keen on taking advantage of its avian influenza (AI)-free status and is seeking to ship out chicken to more  markets abroad. So far, the Philippines is one among the few countries in Asia that remains free from the dreaded AI which  has crippled poultry industries in the region.  The opening of South Korea for local chicken products is one of the agenda of the PhilippineSouth Korea bilateral meeting on  agriculture held in Manila in November last year. Alcala had asked South Korean Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Food Suh Kyu Yong to fast track the final  analysis on poultry products from the Philippines.  Alcala said South Korea, which currently imports their chicken  requirements from the United States, is “more partial” to chicken produced from the Philippines because it is tastier.  He said the South Korean market is as huge as the Japanese market which has already relied on the Philippines for  its poultry products following the onslaught of the AI virus in Thailand. So far, Japan remains as the top importer of Yakitori chicken from the Philippines.

Group smells something ‘fishy’ about ‘Ecofish’ project Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 21 October 2012 18:52 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga THE Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said something is fishy about the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries or Ecofish Project of the government. The group said the project launched last week will just promote an across-the-country fishing ban to the detriment of small fishers and even commercial fishing operators all over the country.  A project of the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and USAID, the Ecofish Proejct hopes to replenish fish populations in key marine biodiversity areas around the country. It is also meant to improve the capability and capacity of concerned government agencies to manage the country’s coastal and marine resources.  Generally, its objective is to make the fisheries sector sustainable through effective management of eight important biodiversity areas to replenish fish and ensure good catches for fishermen.  Fernando Hicap, national chairman of Pamalakaya, however, believes the project carries out something sinister to the detriment of local fisheries. “While the purpose is to allow regeneration of fishery resources, its overriding objective is to make sure that First World industrial fishing fleets would continue to enjoy stable supply of fish in the near future,” he said.  This, according to Hicap, is through a fish ban in biodiversity-rich marine and coastal areas. The fish ban will be implemented at the Calamian Group of Islands in Palawan, Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan, Ticao Pass-Lagonoy Gulf-San Bernardino Strait in Bicol and Samar region, Danajon Double Barrier Reef in Bohol and Leyte, Southern Negros Occidental, Surigao, the Sulu archipelago, and the Island Passage between Batangas and Mindoro. Hicap suspects the ulterior motive is to reserve the resources for the industrial fishing fleets. Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala said the Ecofish project was designed to contribute to priority goals laid out in the Philippine Development Plan, particularly in the areas of sustainable agriculture and fisheries and the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources.

The closed season for sardines, herrings and mackerels in the Visayan Sea which will take effect from Nov. 15, 2012 to Feb. 15, 2013, is part of the country’s efforts to replenish fish populations, the DA chief said. The fishing bans supports the current World Bank campaign to save oceans and seas. Earlier, Pamalakaya said that the World Bank initiated Global Partnership Oceans composed of governments, nongovernment organizations, scientists and businesses would lead “transnational plunder and corporate raid” of oceans and seas across Asia and the Pacific. (Jonathan L. Mayuga)

Bukidnon corn farmers ward off pests, debts Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Sunday, 21 October 2012 18:50 Written by  Noel Provido / Contributor

DON CARLOS, Bukidnon – While organized as vanguards against corn pests, farmers from this town are also gradually winning over another pest: their debts from non-formal lenders. This is how 38-year-old Marina Gabe describes the San Antonio West Bantay Dangan Farmers’ Association (SAWBDFA) where she acts as the treasurer. “Corn production is our main source of income but we often suffer from tremendous losses due to pests infestation,” she said.   “Good thing the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) through its integrated pests management program has introduced the natural and economic way of controlling corn pests,” Gabe said.  Thrichogramma, a biological control agent against corn borer and other insect pests, is environment-friendly and more economical compared to chemical pesticides so farmers were able to cut production costs. “The use of thrichogramma has significantly reduced pests infestation. Since then, we organized ourselves to promote the technology to other farmers which paved the way for the birth of SAWBDFA,” Gabe said. However, the battle for low productivity in corn farming does not end with trichogramma. Corn production is capital intensive and lack of financing to start up farming remains a challenge. Leaving with no option, farmers resort to non-formal lenders despite their unfair financial arrangements. “Most of these non-formal lenders are traders who require farmers to sell produce only to their stores. This tied-up farmers with cheaper price and lesser profit which usually not enough to finance the next cropping,” Gabe said.

“Such situation results to vicious cycle of paying to and borrowing from traders whom we owe money to finance corn production,” said Jovelyn Tuson, 29, the association’s secretary. Tuson said the debt they regularly incurred had been bothering farmers and limits their capacity to expand, as it would mean more debts with huge interest. “Some would even limit their expenses on food just to save money to catch up with the high interest rates of the money they had borrow to finance their farming activities,” she said.  Their break came when they availed themselves of funds from the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), a long-term poverty alleviation program under DA. Through the program’s Community Fund for Agricultural Development (CFAD) the group accessed P250,000 of which they use to provide assistance to start-up corn production of financially handicapped members.      Ten first in-line beneficiaries availed themselves of at least P25, 000 to P30, 000 assistance not in cash but in form of inputs such as certified seeds, herbicide, and organic fertilizer.   “We agreed that inputs will be given in lieu of cash to ensure that the assistance goes to farming instead of other activities especially gambling and drinking,” Gabe said.  “Farmers who can avail themselves of inputs must first prepare their field for planting so as not to waste the inputs received. During our training, we learned that certified seeds must be planted in prepared field to offer better yield,” she said.   “Each farmer who availed themselves of assistance must pay back at least P5,000 every cropping season to serve as roll over capital. We will continue the practice until all the 37 members will be served,” Tuso said. With barely a year of project implementation, 3 out of 10 farmers were no longer availing of the financial assistance, as they are now capable of financing their own corn production.  This means that the association can now extend assistance to another next inline beneficiaries.  Both officers agreed that corn farming could be a viable source of livelihood since the commodity is always in demand particularly among animal feed processors. “Bukidnon is highly suitable for corn production. A farmer with a hectare planted to corn could earn up to P60,000 per cropping. With two cropping in a year a famer could earn up to P120,000,” Tuson said.

Farmers who have benefitted from the MRDP assistance are no longer under the control of non-formal lenders. Since they now choose where to sell their produce and haggle for better price. “One farmer has already acquired a land for lease to expand his production. Other are also interested to expand their area as they no longer think of how they can overcome huge interest from their creditors,” Tuso said. MRDP program director Lealyn Ramos commended the initiatives of SAWBDFA to improve the productivity of corn farmers in Don Carlos. Ramos who is also the DA regional director in Region 10 said Bukidnon is a major corn producing areas owing to its fertile soil and favorable climate. For farmers to optimize their production she said adequate support must be given to them.  “Much still needs to be done for our members to enjoy a profitable corn farming. We hope to improve further our financial standing that we could also venture into buy and sell business.We also hope to acquire farm equipment and post harvest facilities so that we can expand our services to our farmers,” Tuso said.

In Photo: Corn farmer Jovelyn Tuson of Don Carlos, Bukidnon, checks on her soon to be harvested corn. Tuson along with other farmers in the area is optimistic that given adequate support corn production can be a viable source of livelihood. (Sherwin Manual)

NIA, PNOC-RC to build mini hydro plants Published on 22 October 2012 Hits: 86 Written by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ REPORTER The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippine National Oil Co. Renewable Corp. (PNOC-RC) for the construction of four minihydropower plants in Nueva Ecija. NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel told reporters that they are in the process of working on a feasibility study with PNOC-RC, noting that the construction of the cost-effective mini-hydro plants will help maximize the usage of water resources before reaching the farmlands for irrigation. He said that they plan to construct the four mini-hydopower plants within the first half of 2013. The NIA chief said that the mini-hydro project will also be fast to develop, taking only four to six months for construction because identified water sources are ready for irrigation and power generation. “It is faster to fabricate the turbines. Capacity of the mini hydro may generally be just 500 kilowatt per project,” he said. Nangel said that they are talking with various groups and businesses for possible investments in mini-hydro technology, which has a high return of investment rate at a very low cost. Each of the mini-hydropower plant cost around P18 million to P20 million per megawatt to build, which is much cheaper than the P82 million to P180 million per MW requirement for bigger hydroelectric dams. The Department of Agriculture is planning to construct some 200 mini-hydropower plant. In August, NIA and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a memorandum of agreement for the implementation of the Mini-Hydropower Development Project in the Philippines, which aims to maximize the usage of water resources before reaching the farmlands. “These micro power plants, which will be constructed on our main irrigation facilities in the provinces of Isabela and Ifugao, will be the first of its kind in the country,” Nangel said. As part of the agreement, JICA will also bring in the latest Japanese technology in turbine manufacturing, which can generate higher electricity despite its smaller size.

P44 million for New Zealand, Australia trip By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) Updated October 22, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - The government has allocated a total of P44 million for the two state visits of President Aquino in New Zealand from Oct. 22-23 and Australia from Oct. 24 to 26, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. disclosed yesterday. Aquino and his 96-member delegation left Manila last night for his first stop, New Zealand, where he will stay until Tuesday, upon the invitation of Prime Minister John Key. Philippine Ambassadors Virginia Benavidez (New Zealand) and Belen Anota (Australia) joined Aquino’s official party. The estimated expenses for Aquino’s New Zealand and Australia trip cover charter lease, accommodation, transportation, food and equipment, among others, of the entire presidential delegation. Ochoa said Aquino will proceed to Australia for a meeting with Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Among the Cabinet members included in the delegation were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang. Ochoa said Aquino hopes to further boost and strengthen the political, economic and defense ties between the Philippines and New Zealand, as well as cultivate deeper cooperation between Manila and Canberra. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Aquino will deliver a speech in Auckland during a business forum and later meet with the Filipino community. There are some 36,000 Filipinos in New Zealand, representing about one percent of the total population of the country. Aquino’s next stop is Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, where he will meet Key and Government-General Sir Jerry Mateparae to discuss various issues of mutual concern, including regional and international developments. In Australia, the DFA said Aquino will meet Gillard and Governor-General Quentin Bryce in Canberra to discuss developments in the two countries’ political, economic and defense cooperation. After his meeting with the Australian leader, the President will proceed to Sydney where he is scheduled to address the Philippines-Australia Business Forum, the Asia Society of Australia, and the Australia Philippine Business Council, and top business leaders.

Bridges program benefits rural folk - governors By Jess Diaz The Philippine Star Updated October 22, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - Local officials, including governors, yesterday said the President’s Bridges Program (PBP), which builds modular steel bridges, clearly benefits people in the countryside. The officials urged critics of the program, including Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, to visit some steel bridges in rural areas to see for themselves the structures’ “clear and tangible socio-economic benefits.” Osmeña has criticized Rep. Teodorico Haresco of the party-list group Ang Kasangga for supposedly being the “brains” behind the bridge construction project. “It’s easy to accuse a big ticket program of being fraudulent, especially if you only rely on statistics and a few pictures,” Aklan Gov. Carlito Marquez said. “But in reality, the lives of people in the countryside have truly improved,” he said. He cited the 200 meter-long Madalag Bridge that was opened recently. “With this bridge, access from Banga and Madalag towns to the capital is just 30 minutes, whereas before it would take two hours. The social benefit is obvious. Both teachers and schoolchildren travel much shorter distances; the same goes for those who work in Kalibo,” Marquez added. He said rural bridges in Aklan have opened access to idle lands, which people have started using for crop production. Gov. Felipe Nava of the island province of Guimaras said that despite the number of modular bridges already built, there is still “an urgent need for bridges throughout countryside.” “In Guimaras, the Tulay ng Pangulo program has provided three bridges, which are key elements in completing a road network that will link all the municipalities,” he said. Nava said connecting these areas could spur the growth of the island’s primary commercial crop, mangoes. He pointed out that mango growers would not be able to transport their

produce if towns separated by rivers could not be linked by roads and bridges. Echoing his colleagues’ concerns, Capiz Gov. Victor Tanco said: “Slowing down the bridge program in the countryside is tantamount to asking our people to continue enduring hardships for a longer time.” He said the bridge building program could “open tourist areas in his province to local and international visitors.” For his part, former mayor Allen Quimpo of Kalibo, Aklan said shutting down the program “would consign the countryside to a state of underdevelopment.” “Without farm-to-market roads and bridges, farmers are forced to work in the same conditions that have been around for decades. There’s no improvement in their lives,” he said. 1972

Landbank lends additional P4.7 billion for Food Supply Chain scheme By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) Updated October 22, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) has released an additional P4.7 billion in loan proceeds from January to August this year for its Food Supply Chain Program. In a statement, LBP said this brings to P14.5 billion the total loan releases under the program since it was launched in October 2010. This includes P4.6 billion in loan proceeds to beneficiary projects, firms, cooperatives and producers in northern and central Luzon; P3.5 billion in Visayas; 3.4 billion in Mindanao; and P3.1 billion in southern Luzon To date, the program has benefitted 152 anchor firms and 410 cooperatives, farmers’ organizations, and producer groups. “We, at Landbank, are pleased that the Food Supply Chain Program is further gaining momentum as more farmers and fisherfolk coops and organizations, SMEs, and NGO producers stand to benefit from this program. We are committed to seeing this program to fruition as we endeavor to provide better opportunities and improve the lives of our priority sectors,� said Landbank president and CEO Gilda E. Pico. The Food Supply Chain Program provides financial assistance to key players in the food system such as agricultural producers, service providers, and processors. Under the program, market linkages are formed between agricultural producers and processors. Capacity building assistance is also provided to farmers organizations to enable them to meet the production requirements of anchor firms. Anchors firms, in turn, are expected to buy the produce of the participating cooperatives and organizations and to provide technical assistance to improve productivity and product quality. Among the projects now being implemented under the program are hog fattening; oil palm production and processing; fruits and vegetable production and processing; rice and corn production, processing and trading; banana production and processing; fish production and processing; onion production, cold storage and marketing; and sugarcane production and milling.

Nation Posted on October 21, 2012 11:02:27 PM

Aquino to boost ties in two-nation swing PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. C. Aquino III last night left for a state visit to New Zealand and Australia hoping to strengthen political and economic ties with both countries. “His first stop is Auckland in New Zealand. He has a meeting with the Filipino community there,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail F. Valte said over state-run dzRB yesterday. There are approximately 36,000 Filipinos in New Zealand, she said. Mr. Aquino’s first stop is a meeting with Prime Minister John Key before proceeding to Australia on Oct. 24 for similar talks with Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Aside from meetings with his counterparts, Mr. Aquino will also meet with business councils in both countries. In his departure speech, Mr. Aquino said prospective business agreements are being eyed in the trip with other “good news” he hopes to bring home by Friday. “Kasama po sa delegasyon natin ngayon ang ilang negosyanteng Pilipino upang pagaralan ang mga kasunduan sa pamumuhunan na maaaring umusbong sa pagitan ng Pilipinas, New Zealand at Australia. [Our delegation includes Filipino businessmen to study the deals on investments that may be agreed upon between the Philippines, New Zealand and Australia,” he said at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday. “Iisang direksyon po ang tuon ng layun natin sa byaheng ito: ang ihakbang pagsulong ang ugnayan ng Pilipinas sa New Zealand at Australia. [This trip has one goal: to move forward the relations of the Philippines with New Zealand and Australia],” he added. A total of 96 delegates from the public and private sector will accompany the President. Joining him are Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan and Secretary Ramon A. Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office. The Palace will spend 44 million for the trip, according to a statement released yesterday by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr.

The budget will finance the chartered flight, accommodation, transportation, food and equipment, among others, of the presidential delegation. Mr. Ochoa said the President “hopes to further boost and strengthen the political, economic and defense ties between the Philippines and New Zealand, as well as cultivate deeper cooperation between Manila and Canberra.� Mr. Aquino will return on Friday at around 5-6 p.m., the Palace said. -- Noemi M. Gonzales

$627-million PRDP to be implemented in Mindanao By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) Updated October 22, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - The $627-million Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) will likely be implemented in Mindanao as early as January 2013 following satisfactory discussions with local government units (LGUs). PRDP is a six-year program aimed at strengthening the country’s agriculture sector by helping farmers engage in higher-value processing of their produce. The PRDP will be funded through a $500-million loan from the World Bank (WB), a $120 million counterpart from the Philippine government and beneficiary local government units (LGUs), and a $7-million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The program will initially cover six regions: CALABARZON (Region 4A), MIMAROPA (Region 4B), Bicol Region (region 5), Western Visayas (Region 6), Central Visayas (Region 7) and Eastern Visayas (Region 8). The MRDP2 covers the provision of rural infrastructure, and the creation of Community Fund for Agricultural Development (CFAD) components which will provide funding to agriculture-based livelihood projects. “Mindanao will lead the implementation as we already have the experience and have been consistently rated satisfactory by the World Bank,” said MRDP2 Deputy Director Arnel De Mesa in statement. “This means we can implement PRDP projects as early as January of 2013, ahead of everyone else in the country and that’s to our advantage,” he explained. “PRDP is a much bigger project as DA looks at a bigger rural development covering 16 regions and 80 provinces,” De Mesa said.

Luzon, Visayas residents warned vs big waves By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) Updated October 22, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday residents in Luzon and the Visayas against big waves spawned by the northeast monsoon surge and low-pressure area. As of 2 a.m. yesterday, the low-pressure area was spotted near Surigao del Norte, embedded along the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ). “Strong to gale force wind is expected to affect the northern and eastern seaboards of Northern Luzon, the eastern seaboard of Central Luzon and the seaboards of Southern Luzon and the Visayas,” the weather bureau said. PAGASA said Northern, Central and Southern Luzon and the Visayas would have rough to very rough seas, with waves expected to be as high as 3.4 to five meters. “Fishing boats and other small seacraft are advised not to venture out to sea, while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves,” it added. Meanwhile, PAGASA weather division chief Robert Sawi said the Visayas and Mindanao will continue to experience moderate to heavy rains due to the low-pressure area.

Interest rates may hit new lows By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) Updated October 22, 2012 12:00 AM MANILA, Philippines - Policy rates could reach new historic lows this week as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) looks at boosting exports and taming peso’s strength, analysts said. All eight analysts polled by The STAR said BSP’s policy-making Monetary Board could slash interest rates by another 25 basis points to 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent for overnight borrowing and lending rates, respectively. Such will be the fourth cut for the year, and will mean a one-percent decline in interest rates since January, if it happens this Thursday. “BSP should cut policy interest rates by 25 basis points. The increased inflow of hot money has resulted in the rapid appreciation of the peso,” said Benjamin Diokno, a former Budget secretary. “The strong peso is the single most serious threat to sustainable, inclusive growth based on manufacturing and exports,” added Diokno, who is now senior economist at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Emilio Neri, economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands, agreed, saying: “It has been a little overdone for the peso. It has now become a big issue for the BSP.” By cutting rates, BSP hopes to discourage yield-seeking inflows from entering the country, which in turn, will help tame the peso. The local currency, which closed at 41.39 to a dollar on Friday, has appreciated by roughly six percent since the last trading day of 2011. A strong peso, while making imports cheaper, also trims the value of dollar export earnings and remittances from overseas Filipino workers, affecting their purchasing power. Latest data showed merchandise exports unexpectedly dropped nine percent in August. “A rate cut this week would be preemptive of further weakness in the export sector in the coming months,” DBS Ltd. economist Eugene Leow said in an e-mail. Furthermore, Victor Abola, senior economist at the University of Asia and the Pacific, said BSP has a wide space to make a rate cut given manageable inflation at 3.2 percent as of the third quarter. “They will become more comfortable to cut rates given that inflation is actually slowing down,” Abola said in a phone interview. BSP is targeting inflation to hit three- to fivepercent this year.

Prakriti Sofat, regional economist at Barclays Capital, said a rate cut is possible given “dovish comments” from BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. Last Friday, Tetangco said BSP “will not tolerate excesses in exchange rate movements and will not hesitate to consider other tools in our policy toolkit.” “Governor Tetangco said further easing cannot be ruled out if the need arises given unfavorable global growth prospects. He added that a rate cut would help to manage capital inflows,” Sofat said.

BSP prescribes new reporting system for banks By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) Updated October 22, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A new reporting requirement for banks has been directed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) which would give a clearer view of how lenders cover for losses from unpaid loans. BSP Circular 772, issued last Oct. 16 by the Monetary Board, prescribed for the reporting of net non-performing loans (NPL) and its corresponding ratio beginning January 2013. NPL are loans which remained unpaid 30 days from their due date. Currently, banks are only required to make public their gross NPL and its ratio to their total loan portfolio. The new circular amended that rule under Section X309.1 of the Manual of Regulations for Banks. “This will show banks’ prudence in proactive loan loss provisioning,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said in a text message last Friday. Net NPL, the order stated, is computed by deducting the total amount of bad loans to the banks’ “specific allowance for credit losses.” Espenilla said the new directive is “related” to lenders’ NPL coverage ratio. NPL coverage ratio measures banks’ capability to absorb losses from soured loans. While it shows banks’ absorption capacity, net NPL pits that capacity to the amount of soured loans, he said. “They are related but it is like looking at the same thing from a different angle,” Espenilla explained. Latest BSP data showed universal and commercial banks’ total loan portfolio at P3.371 trillion as of July, of which a total of P73.76 billion remained unsettled at least a month after their due date. This translated to an NPL ratio of 2.18 percent for the first seven months, up from 2.06 percent in the first semester. The year-to-date figure, however, was still an improvement from previous year’s 2.45 percent. Excluding banks’ loans to each other, the ratio likewise increased to 2.28 percent from 2.16 percent as of June. The same however was a drop from 2.62 percent a year ago. NPL coverage ratio, on the other hand, went down to 134.19 percent from 136.45 percent during the same period, figures also showed. This, nevertheless, was still better than last year’s 126.14 percent.

Agri-tourism industry emerging in the country By Rudy A. Fernandez (The Philippine Star) Updated October 22, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - An agriculture-tourism (agri-tourism) industry is taking shape in the country. And research is being harnessed to unravel the vast potential of this fledgling venture, whose development can considerably perk up the rural economy. Encouragingly, too, state colleges and universities (SCUs) across the country are taking the lead in developing this new field. Agri-tourism refers to working farms, ranches, winery, or any agriculture operation being opened to the public for their enjoyment and also for outdoor recreation activities, education, shopping, dining, or even lodging. An agri-tourism activity, as explained by House Bill 1808 introduced in Congress, means “any activity carried out on a farm or ranch or in a forest that allows members of the general public for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy rural activities, including farming, ranching, historical, cultural, harvest-your-own, or nature-based activities and attractions.â€? HB 1808 notes that agri-tourism has been providing additional incomes to farmers, farm owners, and producers in many states in America. To harness the potential of this evolving industry in the Philippines, the Los BaĂąos-based, government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in

Agriculture (SEARCA) and Tourism Foundation Inc. of the University of the Philippines-Asian Institute of Tourism (UP-AIT) sponsored recently the ‘First National Agri-tourism Research Conference in the Philippines’. Held at SEARCA in UP Los Baños (UPLB) in Los Baños, Laguna, the conference was sponsored by the Departments of Tourism (DOT) and Agriculture (DA), Manila Hotel, Tourism and Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), Primer Group of Companies, Center for Outdoor Recreation and Expedition (CORE), Costales Nature Farm, Dispatch, and Laguna provincial and Los Baños municipal governments. About 100 investors and entrepreneurs, industry regulators, professors and staff members of SCUs engaged in agri-tourism research and development (R&D), and students attended the conference. The forum, which had ‘Strengthening Agriculture-Tourism Linkages through Research’ as its theme, aimed to consolidate the current loose agri-tourism community that is expected to champion issues and concerns of the emerging industry. SEARCA Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. stressed that “agriculture and all its wonderful trappings, when properly and uniquely packaged, can help attract tourists to the country and visitors to the countryside.” “Essentially,” Dr. Saguiguit said, “the question we hope to address through research is what products, activities, services, and attributes could attract both foreign and local visitors. Underscoring the importance of R&D in agri-tourism, Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano enjoined the participants “to provide with workable policies, programs and recommendations” focusing on agri-tourism’s vast potentials. UPLB Chancellor Rex Victor Cruz also stressed that “the future development of agritourism in the country must be pursued with due emphasis on science if it is to take on a strategic relevance to national development.” Along this line, Dr. Cruz said, UPLB has instituted agri-tourism’s inclusion in select curriculum and the establishment of the UPLB “AgriPark.”

During the conference, results of 20 researches were presented. The popular areas initially covered by the studies included the rice terraces in the Cordilleras; agri-tourism initiatives in the CALABARZON (Southern Tagalog) and Bicol regions; Taal Volcano protected landscape; the “beachescapes” in Camarines Sur; ecotourism activities in Camiguin Island and Caraga in northern Mindanao; and the Davao pawikan (sea turtle) venture in Davao City. Among the SCUs actively involved in agri-tourism R&D are UP Los Baños, Benguet State University, Batangas State University, Nueva Vizcaya State University, Partido State University, Bicol University, Central Bicol State University of Agriculture, Surigao del Sur State University and University of Mindanao. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB) has also been conducting agriculture-tourism/ecotourism studies.

Nestlé sets sights on Bukidnon as ‘coffee basket’ Category: Companies Published on Sunday, 21 October 2012 17:57 RECOGNIZING the potential of Bukidnon as a top coffee-producing province, Nestlé Philippines Inc. (NPI) has partnered with the Northern Mindanao Agricultural Research Centre (NOMIARC) of the Department of Agriculture regional field office 10 (DA-10) in the production and distribution of high-quality Robusta plantlets and cuttings, bringing the coffee plants closer to small-farmers in Bukidnon and nearby provinces within the region. Speaking at the sidelines at the recent 19th DA-NOMIARC Farmers’ Field Day and Technology Forum in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, NPI agriculture head Arthur Baria said they are looking to tap Bukidnon as a “coffee basket” where Nestlé can directly source high-quality Robusta coffee beans. “There is great potential for coffee-farming in Bukidnon with the province having a firm backbone in coffee production since the early 1960s,” said Baria. “In addition, the province is conducive to coffee growing with its rich soil, ideal altitude, and well-suited climate for the production of quality Robusta coffee beans. Bukidnon is rightly apt to be optimized in the coffee supply chain to respond to the current supply-demand gap in coffee.” Baria explains that while annual local demand for coffee beans is currently pegged at 64,000 metric tons, the country only produces 20,000 metric tons to respond to the demand, outlining further the reason behind tapping key agricultural areas such as Bukidnon to its base of coffee suppliers. Embarking on a road to expand its coffee-resource base, Baria emphasized that it is imperative that key coffee-producing areas have access to coffee farming best practices, including effective and adaptable technologies, to help thousands of small growers realize sustainability and profitability in coffee farming, and eventually help address the gap in supply-demand. “Through this partnership which started in 2010, we have converted a 6-hectare field in NOMIARC into a demonstration farm. We have a mother plant garden where farmers can get high-quality Robusta coffee cuttings; a coffee nursery, which serves as a trial site for different types of Robusta coffee plants; a composting facility for organic fertilizer; and a Nestlé research and development station within NOMIARC,” Baria adds. Nestlé is also sharing its technical expertise in coffee planting with the center through different coffee training programs, designed to enable farmers to get hands-on exercises on the various ways to better plant coffee. The coffee monocropping and sustainable agriculture initiative systems are taught in the center, all backed by demonstrations at demo plotsby Nestlé agronomists.

Juanita Salvani, center manager of DA-10 NOMIARC, outlines how these agriculture developments in coffee farming benefit thousands of coffee-dependent farmers in Bukidnon. “Bukod sa mabibigyan natin sila ng quality planting materials, natutulungan sila paano mabuting mag-culture ng coffee sa kanilang mga sari-sariling bahay. [Aside from sharing with them quality planting materials, we are able to teach them how to better culture coffee in their own fields]. With the presence of Nestlé, they are also assured of the market because they are planting quality materials capable of producing quality beans.” Salvani, in another interview during the forum, further explains the “beauty”of the cooperation between Nestlé and the DA. “Nestlé obviously has the capacity in terms of resources; they can implement projects outright when you need the resources. Public institutions like the Department of Agriculture cannot do the pushing of agriculture development alone; we need our private partners to help us. It’s really a good thing that Nestlé has chosen us.” With Nestlé currently the biggest buyer of Robusta coffee in the country, purchasing an estimated 80 percent of the entire Philippine coffee produce, Baria noted that Nestlé is planning to establish more partnerships with the public sector, establishing other demonstration farms like the one in DA-NOMIARC in key coffee-growing areas in the country to reach other untapped small coffee farmers.

2012 10 22 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

News monitor for 2012 10 22

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