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Buy local fruits for New Year feast—DA By Riza T. Olchondra Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:26 pm | Saturday, December 29th, 2012

A Filipino vendor measures the weight of a fruit as people make their last-minute shopping along the busy shopping area of Divisoria in Manila on Christmas eve, Dec. 24, 2012. Ahead of the shopping rush for round fruits traditionally served in New Year feasts, the Department of Agriculture urged consumers to buy locally available fruits to support farmers and the country’s food sufficiency program. AP PHOTO/AARON FAVILA MANILA, Philippines—Ahead of the shopping rush for round fruits traditionally served in New Year feasts, the Department of Agriculture urged consumers to buy locally available fruits to support farmers and the country’s food sufficiency program. There are locally grown grapes from Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and other provinces, as well as citrus fruits from Central Luzon and Bukidnon, according to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala. However, families may also consider other fruits such as suha (pomelo), guava, atis (custard apple), duhat (black plum), rambutan, santol, melon, calamansi (Philippine lemon), dalandan (Philippine orange), lanzones, chico, avocado, chesa, aratiles (local cherry), mangosteen, pakwan (watermelon), bignay (currant), mabolo, papaya, coconut (buko), granada (pomegranate), lipote/igot/bahag (round black plum), calumpit (small and round black plum), sampinit (Philippine strawberry) and yambo (rose apple). Non-traditional homemakers might serve round varieties of langka (jackfruit), pineapple, mango, macopa, durian, balimbing (star fruit) and dragonfruit, Alcala said. “Buying imported fruits is OK. But isn’t it better to celebrate and also support local farmers at the same time?” Alcala said in an interview. Aside from improving incomes of farmers focused on fruit production, buying local fruits would help those who have been growing fruits to supplement their income from other crops or other forms of farming

such as livestock and fish farming, the agriculture secretary said. This would help sustain the country’s program to boost overall food production, Alcala said. The Philippines aims to achieve food staples sufficiency after 2013. The country is currently 97 to 98 percent self-sufficient in palay. As for corn, production currently matches the requirements of the livestock sector, according to the agriculture department. “High-value crops are also getting more attention, including organic growing of vegetables and fruits,” Alcala said. Alcala assured the public of enough food supply despite recent typhoons. He projected that the country’s agriculture and fishery sector would register positive growth. Tropical storm Quinta caused relatively “minimal” damage to agriculture but benefited some areas where growing crops needed rainwater, Alcala said earlier. Agriculture damage due to tropical storm Quinta has reached P124.4 million, according to data from the Department of Agriculture. Alcala said such damage was comparatively small and yet rains from the tropical storm saved some areas from drought.” There were in fact some areas where the DA had contracted cloud seeding to induce rains for flowering crops but no longer needed such services due to rains from ‘Quinta,’” Alcala said. Farm output grew 1.93 percent, a slower pace from 4.74 percent in the same period last year, even as fish production continued to slow down. For the whole year of 2011, farm output grew 2.34 percent, or lower than the revised three to 3.5 percent projected by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.

Agrarian reform chief pressed to ‘cut cleanly,’ resign By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:59 pm | Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes: Under pressure MANILA, Philippines—The union of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has released its own Christmas message to Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, asking him to “cut cleanly” and step down. In response to De los Reyes’ open letter to the DAR community, the DAR Employees Association (Darea) and the peasant group Task Force Mapalad (TFM) said the department should have a new secretary “that will motivate, inspire and lead the DAR employees.” Darea said the DAR community would hold President Aquino to his promise of finishing the land distribution aspect of the agrarian reform program by the end of his term. But it would require a different secretary, the farmers said. “He should not be an arrogant secretary who has the habit of bad-mouthing the employees because he is intellectually superior. He should be a secretary who cares for the welfare of his employees who are in the twilight of their productive years,” the group said in the letter. Darea, which represents some 11,000 rank-and-file employees of the DAR, said it was not merely repeating the line that the DAR under his watch was very slow. “We are appreciating the efforts of our fellow employees in spite of you,” it said, addressing De los Reyes.

“We are not ‘parroting’ but stating the fact that based on available records your more than two years at the DAR is a disaster not only for the farmers but to the employees as well!” Darea added. The union, however, said it found the tone of De los Reyes’ letter to be “refreshing,” and devoid of arrogant words the official purportedly had used to describe “some members of the DAR family” in a previous exchange. Darea did not explain what this meant. The group also accused the Cabinet member of fudging the facts. In his letter, De los Reyes said he considered 2012 a good year for the department and that it was able to accomplish much more than what his critics gave them credit for. He noted that his department had issued memoranda of valuation (MOV) to 13,327 landholdings covering 92,129 hectares as of November. He said the general public did not know that the issuance of the MOV, following a long and tedious process, meant that the DAR’s work was basically finished. “Very few among the agrarian reform advocates, much less the general public, know that with the issuance of the MOV, the DAR’s work is essentially done,” he said. But Darea said De los Reyes was not being truthful. “Again you lied when you wrote that partial November 2012 reports show that MOVs have been issued LBP compensable holdings totaling 92,129 hectares because it was Gilda Pico, the Land Bank of the Philippines president herself, who clarified that as of the cut-off date of October 31, claim folders that were processed amount to only 463 covering 5,554 hectares for processing of the MOV,” it said. “We are now eagerly awaiting your clarification that the figure you cited is your total accomplishment for the past three years and not for this year” alone, it said.

DOLE issues pay guide By Tina G. Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:21 am | Sunday, December 30th, 2012 MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued the rules on the payment of wages for the regular and special holidays next year. For the regular holidays on Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day), March 28 (Maundy Thursday), March 29 (Good Friday), April 9 (Araw ng Kagitingan), May 1 (Labor Day), June 12 (Independence Day), Aug. 26 (National Heroes Day), Nov. 30 (Bonifacio Day), Dec. 25 (Christmas Day), Dec. 30 (Rizal Day), Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha, the DOLE in Labor Advisory No. 6 issued the following rules pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 459: If an employee reports for work on a regular holiday, he shall be entitled to 200 percent of his regular salary for that day for the first eight hours, and an additional 30 percent of his hourly rate for work in excess of eight hours, Baldoz said. If the day falls on an employee’s rest day and he goes to work, he is entitled to an additional 30 percent of his daily rate at 200 percent. For work in excess of eight hours on those days, he should get an additional 30 percent of his hourly rate. “But if an employee does not render work on a regular holiday, he shall be entitled to 100 percent of his salary for that day,” Baldoz said. On the other hand, she said that for the special nonworking holidays—March 30 (Black Saturday), Aug. 21 (Ninoy Aquino Day), Nov. 1 (All Saints Day), Nov. 2 (All Souls Day), Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve) and Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve)—the principle of “no work, no pay” would apply, “unless there is a favorable company policy, practice or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) granting payment on a special day.

BFAR Crafts Pearl Farm Plan By MELODY M. AGUIBA December 29, 2012, 11:11am The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has come up with a Pearl Farm Plan (PFP) designed to maintain the Philippines’ position as world’s Top 3 pearl supplier with export that had peaked to P870 million. While there are large players in the culture of marine and freshwater pearl, BFAR is also encouraging small scale investment in the sector. BFAR has targeted Sulu as a prime pearl supplier as pearl is under the investment priority plan of the Department of Trade and Industry and local government unit of Sulu. Pearl farms in the country are found in Palawan, Surigao, Samar, Sulu, Tawi Tawi, Sorsogon, and Cebu. It can be a major livelihood generation program in Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which have the natural resources to grow this industry. “Pearl is our national gem. Production of pearl is an environment-friendly business enterprise, attracting investments that do not pose harm to the environment,” according to BFAR Aquaculturist Daisy F. Ladra, national action plan lead person. Pearl is the eight revenue generator in the fishery sector. Unfortunately, its capability to contribute to economic growth in Region 9 and ARMM has been limited despite abundance of pearl oysters in the area. Peck I. Orbita, BFAR mariculture specialist, said pearl farming in the Philippines has pioneered in Zamboanga provinces with the partnership of Japanese pearl culturists with Filipinos before they eventually moved to Palawan. This makes pearl farming a natural wealth creator in Zamboanga provinces. “Because pearl farm has become famous in Zamboanga, gathering of pearl oysters spread from Zamboanga to Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi Tawi,” said Orbita in an interview. The PFP aims to promote grow-out culture of pearl with other fishery products like seaweeds and scallops. “Studies on integrated spat collection and grow out cultures with seaweeds will mean more income of farmers,” said Ladra. Spat is the spawn or larval-stage pearl oyster which begins to develop into a shell where a pearl grows through marine or freshwater culture or through natural growth in the seas. These may be collected in pearl oyster-rich areas in Region 9 and ARMM.

The PFP aims to implement this integrated farming system (pearl with scallops and seaweeds) which should lessen investment cost while raising farmers’ income. Ladra said the economics of production of pearl should also be studied. “Financiers (such as pawnshops) do not know how to value pearl. We don’t have an economic reference for gemological properties of pearls,” Ladra said, explaining this is the reason why pearls are not accepted as loan collaterals, unlike precious metal like gold. Another problem of the pearl industry is the manufacturing of fake pearls, according to Orbita. While the main use of pearl is as an adornment, part of the plan is to develop other products from it such as for shellcraft industry, houseware, costume jewellery, and gifts. Its meat’s use product may also be promoted. Peace and order can be assured in areas where pearl farms may be established. “Poverty is the root cause of peace and order breakdown involvement of rebel returnees to engage in community-based projects. We can tap their expertise to provide security to projects being implemented,” said Ladra. Pearl export in the country peaked to P869 million in 2007 and was at P541.692 million as of 2008. There are presently around 30 identified pearl farms in the country. Ten top producers are the Calamian Marine Products Inc., jewelmer Corp., Hikari South Sea Pearl Corp., La Reine De mer Corp., Ecco farms Pearl Corp., Guiain Pearl Farm of Samar, United Multipurpose Cooperative, Southern Marine Mineral Corp., Surigao Marine products Inc., and Chio in Panglima Tahil, Sulu. The others are Gerry Matba of Parang, Sulu and Languyan Tawitawi,Howa ( Hoei,Pollilio Quezon which merged with Hikara Pearl Farm, Zambaonga Pearl Farm which transferred to Culion now known as Culion Devt. Corp., Hydra Sea Shells Culture Corp., Naglayan Inc, Chinadonan Inc, Castilla Pearl Farm,Castilla Sorsogon – BFAR assisted,Tierra Bay Farms, and Hydra Sea Shells Culture Pearl Farm - Divent Group – Cebu.

Rural Projects December 29, 2012, 5:02pm TALISAY CITY (PNA) – The Region-7 office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-7) is set to construct and rehabilitate farm-to-market roads in this city. The DA has already sought from city officials the template and maps for the projects’ location. Agriculture Undersecretary for Operations Joel Rudinas told the City Council that he tasked the DA-7 to prepare the maps needed for the proposed farm-to-market roads so the agency could validate them and provide funds for the project. Rudinas’ letter to the council was a response to a resolution approved by the local legislature asking President Aquino to set aside P50 million for the projects in the villages of Candulawan, Tapul, Jaclupan, and Linao. City Councilor Rodi Cabigas, who chairs the committee on public works and infrastructure, said repairs and development of the roads would give farmers better access to the city center, where they sold their produce. He said the city government has initiated efforts to rehabilitate farm-to-market roads but due to financial constraints, these did not materialize. Cabigas said the financial assistance from the national government will help the farmers and speed up the delivery of fresh produce to the city.

CV Posts Highest Land Distribution By PHOEBE JEN INDINO December 29, 2012, 5:04pm MANDAUE CITY – With over 20,000 free patent land distributed covering 9,443.1269 hectares of untitled public alienable and disposable (A and D) agricultural lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) Extension program, Central Visayas (CV) got the biggest accomplishment this year, said Region-7 office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7) Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo. “This is the biggest accomplishment thus far in the region and even in the entire country when it comes to land titling efforts of the government,” said Montejo. DENR-7 has granted a total of 20,486 free patents for agricultural land this year. The mandate is in line with Republic Act (RA) 3844, or the Agricultural Land Reform Code, where the DENR is primary responsible for the distribution and land disposition through the issuance of free patents or homestead patents for public agricultural A and D lands. Of the total number of land titles distributed under the CARP, the province of Cebu processed and issued 4,896 land titles covering 2,394.5184 hectares, Bohol with 14,254 land titles or equivalent to 6,086.0633 hectares, Negros Oriental with 728 land titles or 641.6081 hectares, while Siquijor province had 608 land titles or 320.9371 hectares. Meanwhile, Montejo stressed that the country’s land services is a must as it will redound to the overall productivity of idle lands in the country, and will therefore ultimately boost economic prosperity. He also added that the DENR vowed to accelerate the issuance of titles in 2013, with close to 21,000 patents in support of the spurring economic growth and land security, in line with President Aquino’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP).

Filipinos Becoming Largely Environmentally Conscious By MARIO B. CASAYURAN December 29, 2012, 6:42pm MANILA Philippines --- A senator who has well publicized her environmental advocacies welcomed yesterday the results of a recent Pulse Asia survey showing Filipinos’ growing awareness on protecting the environment and increasing approval of government’s environmental programs. “The results of the recent Pulse Asia survey indicate that efforts of government policy makers, including legislators, are paying off. Environmental protection is a gut issue and I am glad that many Filipinos are now more aware of this fact,” Sen. Loren Legarda said. Legarda is the chairperson of the Senate climate change committee and the United Nations (UN) regional champion for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation for Asia-Pacific. She said the survey, conducted from November 23 to 29 among 1,200 respondents, showed that protecting the environment was among the national issues that received majority approval ratings. The government’s campaign to stop the destruction and abuse of the environment gained an approval rating of +60 percent, a 10 percent increase compared to last September. Legarda said more devastating and frequent natural hazards that hit the country in recent years have increased people’s awareness to care for and protect the environment. The lady senator said legislators also contributed much to the cause by enacting landmark environmental laws like the Clean Air Act, Solid Waste Management Act, Renewable Energy Act – of which she is among the major authors – as well as the Clean Water Act.

DA awaits South Korea, UAE nod on chicken exports By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 30, 2012 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is waiting for the go-signal from the South Korean government and the United Arab Emirates regarding the exportation of whole dressed chicken, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said yesterday. “We hope that by the end of the year, Korea will release the authority for us to export whole chicken. We are also waiting for the same from UAE,” said Alcala. In November, Alcala said the government is taking advantage of the country’s bird flufree status by negotiating with the South Korean government and private businesses to import dressed chicken from the Philippines. Alcala said the Philippine poultry industry could supply the Korean demand for whole dressed chicken because neighboring countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are not yet free from bird flu. Bird flu is an infectious disease in chickens, ducks and other birds caused by the influenza A virus. Korea imports 93 million kilos of chicken per year, mostly from Thailand. With the prevalence of bird flu in Thailand, the Philippines could corner a portion of the Korean market.The Philippines currently exports yakitori nuggets to Japan. The Philippine government and the South Korean government have been discussing the sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for chicken exports as well as the risks in local poultry production. Alcala has already informed poultry companies and organizations in the Philippines such as the United Broilers and Raisers Association (UMBRA) and San Miguel Corporation of the possible opening of the Korean market.Data from the Department of Agriculture shows that the Philippines is now 93 percent self-sufficient in poultry production. Production volume in the poultry subsector in the first nine months of the year, which had a share of 14.28 percent in total farm output for the period went up by 4.62 percent. All components of livestock and poultry posted output gains except duck. Gross earnings of the subsector amounted to P121.7 billion at current prices during the nine-month period, higher by 4.82 percent from a year ago.

Rural Dev’t Pushed In CL By MAR T. SUPNAD December 29, 2012, 7:06pm BALANGA CITY, Bataan — After seeking billions of pesos for the dredging of floodprone areas in Bataan towns and other parts of the region, the Regional Development Council (RDC) approved recently a resolution favorably endorsing the Central Luzon (CL) component of the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA). The RDC is headed by Mayor Oscar Rodriguez of the City of San Fernando and has as its members all governors, city mayors, municipal mayors of capital towns, presidents of municipal mayors’ league, regional directors of national government agencies, and representatives of the private sector. National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director and RDC Vice Chairman Severino Santos said the PRDP, whose Central Luzon part covers the provinces Nueva Ecija and Zambales, is a national government platform for an inclusive, value chain-based and climate-smart agriculture to be implemented in partnership with local government units and agri-fishery stakeholders towards improved food security. “The PRDP aims to increase farm and fishery productivity and income in the targeted areas in all 16 regions of the country by improving access to strategic networks of infrastructure systems, market information and support services, and increasing the value of producers’ market surplus within priority value chains,” said Santos. The PRDP consists of the Investment for Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Plan at the National and Local Levels (I-PLAN); the Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD); the Investments for Rural Enterprises and Agri-fishery Productivity (I-REAP); and the Support to Program Implementation (ISUPPORT). The target for the implementation of the World Bank-aided program is from 2013 to 2018. In line with this, local officials of Hermosa, Bataan, led by Mayor Danny Malana, had earlier passed a resolution for the dredging of the Almacen River all the way to Manila Bay, which was then personally submitted by the mayor to President Aquino for funding. The multi-billion peso proposal is aimed at solving perennial flooding in Hermosa, Dinalupihan and Orani towns in Bataan. However, nothing was heard from Malacañang after Malana submitted the project proposal to Aquino, whom he said agreed to it in principle.

BSP sees sustained economic gains in 2013 By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 30, 2012 - 12:00am 0 8 googleplus0 1

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is optimistic the country’s economic gains this year could be duplicated in 2013 as it touted its achievements a day after the government reported its own. “With six to seven-percent growth and 3.1 percent inflation, that is a performance that basically matches the performance of 2012. It is a continuation of strong combination of strong GDP growth and stable inflation,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. told reporters Wednesday night. The Aquino administration has set a six to seven-percent growth goal next year, while BSP forecasts inflation will hit 3.1 percent. The outlook is within the latter’s three to five-percent target in 2013. The Philippines enjoyed what investors and analysts call a “sweet spot” this year, characterized by strong gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.5 percent as of the

third quarter— beating official targets— and tamed inflation of 3.2 percent as of November. Normally, a fast growth in GDP— the sum of all products created and services rendered in an economy— results in an upshot in the prices of goods and services, hurting consumers. In the case of the Philippines however, both have remained well managed in 2012. All these were achieved despite challenging global economic times with Europe and US still trying to get out of their respective crises. Tetangco said he does not see any reason why the strong economic performance could not be maintained next year. “We have an election year next year, and then there is PPP (public-private partnership). If the signs of recovery strengthen, then we will also have higher exports and therefore higher manufacturing activity,” the BSP chief explained. “And then you have the anchor of driver of consumption. Given all of these, we expect sustained strong economic growth next year,” he added. As for inflation, Tetangco is confident prices will remain tamed even as demand is expected to pick up further as a result of the senatorial elections. A strong peso, which gives more purchasing power to consumers, is expected to help achieve that. “The experience in the past was there was some uptick in the inflation rate at around the time of the election. But not such is not significant and non-persistent,” Tetangco said. “The exchange rate is projected by market players to be firm,” he added. In a statement released Wednesday night, the central bank said it pursued its mandate of price and financial stability “carefully” this year as well as ensure banks remain healthy and able to lend to finance economic activity. It cited the four rate cuts it implemented this year that brought borrowing and lending rates to record low of 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. This “led to lower bank lending rates that helped encourage domestic investment and consumption,” it explained. Banks have also been well-capitalized, BSP said, putting them at a comfortable situation once Basel III banking reforms take effect in January 2014. The reforms are concentrated on having more capital and better liquidity management to avoid a repeat of the 2008 global financial crisis. “We are better prepared for Basel III than other jurisdictions in the West,” Tetangco said.

YEARENDER: Phl economy on track to full recovery – NEDA By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 30, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - After three consecutive quarters of robust growth, the Philippine economy now appears en route to a full recovery this year from a lackluster showing in 2011. The country’s chief economic planner, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Arsenio M. Balisacan, said he expects gross domestic product (GDP) growth to surpass the target range of five to six percent in 2012. GDP expanded at a two-year high of 7.1 percent in the third quarter, pushing the ninemonth figure to 6.5 percent. In 2011, growth registered at a relatively feeble 3.7 percent compared with a rapid 7.6 percent clip in 2010, the fastest in three decades. “We posted the fastest economic growth within the ASEAN region. We are well on our way to surpassing our growth target of five to six percent this year and this economic expansion continues to be broad-based, as almost all sectors posted higher year-on-year growth rates,” Balisacan said. In the third quarter, Indonesia came in second in terms of GDP growth with 6.2 percent, followed by Malaysia (5.2 percent), Vietnam (4.7 percent), Thailand (three percent) and Singapore (0.3 percent). “As you can see, our efforts at good governance are beginning to bear fruit. But we know that our task is far from over,” Balisacan noted. He pointed out that for the economy to really get off the ground, it must grow by at least the same rate consistently for the next two decades. For example, Balisacan said for the Philippines to hike real per capita income two-fold in 15 years, it must grow 6.7 percent annually, on the average, for the next 15 years.

“My battlecry is between six to seven, and seven to eight percent growth rates for the next 20 years, for example, to catch up with Thailand. If not, we will be overtaken by Vietnam and Cambodia,” he said. But the NEDA chief lamented that poverty reduction in the country has been slow and lagging, as the economy had not experienced sustained high growth over a long period. The Philippines must also generate high quality employment, which can help address poverty. “Manufacturing is a crucial part of the transition,” Balisacan said. From 2000 to 2009, the proportion of poor Filipinos had remained constant instead of decreased despite the continuous economic growth at the time. “This is why we term this period as our ‘lost decade’,” the NEDA chief said. In addition, he said the economy suffers from high income inequality, which indicates that economic gains have not been broadly distributed across the different sectors of the population. Opportunities remain unequal, in terms of access to health and education services, market infrastructure and the like. The socio-economic planning head also said inclusive growth represents a paradigm shift for reducing poverty. It contrasts with the terms “exclusive growth” and “trickle-down.” Inclusive growth includes the poor and marginalized groups in the growth process. This presents a better chance for the poor to benefit from growth. Exclusive growth, on the other hand, means that the benefits of growth are confined to a few. “In trickle-down growth, the poor also benefit from growth, but only after some time. Given the current volatile situation in the global market and even the physical environment, it would be very difficult to sustain rapid growth long enough for trickle down to happen,” Balisacan told a business forum last month. The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) enumerates a number of strategies to achieve inclusive growth. Most of these are needed for rapid and sustained growth. For inclusive growth, these strategies have to be targeted to benefit the poor and the marginalized. First is massive infrastructure development not just in the cities, but making sure that the rural and marginalized areas are connected to highly-urbanized centers. Second is human development and human capital formation. To ensure that productive sectors would have the pool of skills they would need for a growing economy and, at the same time, improve the capacities of the poor to benefit from growth.

Third is direct poverty relief. There are those who cannot be directly involved in the growth process but government has to ensure their basic right to live decent lives. For them, government is implementing targeted poverty reduction programs. Lastly is employment generation, where government can provide temporary employment to selected individuals in implementing public works, like rehabilitation of infrastructure in disaster-affected areas, construction of other small infrastructure, and other activities. At the same time that the infrastructure is built, the poor are able to earn incomes and learn new skills.

DA pursues organic farming of upland rice in Bicol By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Documented 56 strains of indigenous rice varieties in the Bicol region. MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pursuing the development of organic farming of upland rice in the province of Bicol. The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) said P6 million is being allotted for the twoand-a-half year project which would use drought-tolerant native rice varieties in the province. The organic rice farming project in Bicol aims to increase the province’s contribution to the country’s rice output. The province once contributed 20 percent to the country’s annual paddy rice production. According the BAR findings, Bicol’s upland varieties outperform some modern rice varieties because of higher yield and drought tolerance.

Upland rice varieties generally have an average yield of only one to two metric tons (MT) per hectare, but the selected Bicol varieties could exceed such yield average. In the 1960s, a total of 63,699 hectares of upland areas in Bicol actively produced rice. The productive upland rice area dropped to 53,480 hectares in the 1970s. BAR said all of these lands could be revived. “Our development of upland rice is very timely as these varieties have the potential to withstand higher temperature and less water supply which is what we really need amid the threatening climate change,” said BAR director Nicomedes P. Eleazar. The project is focused on popularizing upland organic farming, specifically in the river basin towns of Baao and Nabua in Camarines Sur. The profitability target is 20 percent above prevailing income in the covered uplands. Allocated BAR funding is P4.998 million, while a separate counterpart funding of P1 million would be provided by stakeholders. “Some upland rice cultivars in Bicol such as Palawan, Gayang-gang white, Kinarabao, and Magdami were found to have higher grain yield than PSB Rc9 (check variety),” according to the Bicolandia Greenfields Development Organization Inc. (Bigfis), project partner. The tallest upland rice strain evaluated was Sinalapi with 113 centimeter (cm) height. The rice plant with the longest panicle was recorded with Palawan white with 73.88 cm. Other notable rice cultivars are Bursege, Bolibod Red, and Gios which have the highest number of productive tillers – 15.53, 12.93, and 12.87 tillers. “The upland rice strain with the heaviest 100-seed weight was recorded with Kabring with 3.8 grams. This was followed by Kinalansing with 3.6 grams. Palawan Red had the highest number of grains per panicle followed by Gayang-gang, Palawan white, and Magdami with 226, 221, and 188 grains per panicle,” said Bigfis. Also part of the project is intercropping of upland rice varieties with vegetables or legumes. “The intercrops will act as live mulch in between the rows of upland rice. This will prevent weed infestation in the plantation. Expenses for labor on weeding can also be saved by adapting technology,” said Bigfis. Eyed for intercropping with rice are peanuts. A study showed that the return on investment (ROI) of a mixture of one row of upland rice plus two rows of peanut was 34.64 percent, better than sole rice cropping.

Other potential intercrops with rice are bush sitao, corn, mungbean, soybeans, tomato, eggplant, leafy vegetables, and okra. BAR said the use of chicken manure as organic fertilizer for upland rice has been proven to have the highest ROI with 53.38 percent especially when compared to commercial organic fertilizer. Bigfis said that a study of upland rice chicken manure fertilization with peanut intercrop generated a net income of P29,589 per hectare. This is much higher than the P12,838 per hectare net income from the same crops with inorganic fertilizer. Biodegradable wastes like rice husks are being turned into compost fertilizer through a production facility.

Vetiver grass seen to prevent soil erosion By Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 30, 2012 - 12:00am

MANGALDAN, Pangasinan, Philippines – The adoption of Vetiver Grass Technology (VGT) through the initiative of Pangasinan fourth district Rep. Gina de Venecia was launched here last week to prevent soil erosion along riverbanks. De Venecia, who was a guest during the second World Summit on Ecological Safety held this month in Bali, Indonesia, said the use of VGT is timely as the problem of global warming is serious. She said planting of vetiver grass to prevent soil erosion has been successfully tested in Vietnam, Nigeria, Venezuela, Australia and China. De Venecia said vetiver grass would be planted in Mangaldan to strengthen the river banks and earth dikes in 12 barangays where Angalacan River passes through, namely Guesang, Landas, Navaluan, Osiem, Nibaliw, Tebag, Salaan, Pogo, Palua, Macayug, Inlambo and Embarcadero. Municipal agricultural officer Roberto Tamondong will take charge of the adoption of the technology.

De Venecia said the VGT has long been used as a bio-engineering tool for erosion control and slope stabilization. “The VGT was first developed by the World Bank for soil and water conservation in farmlands,” she said. De Venecia said, “ According to a study by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, vetiver grass has an extensive and thick root system that binds the soil, and at the same time makes it very difficult to be dislodged under high velocity flows of water.” She added that the grass could also withstand prolonged submergence in flood water, and more importantly, its vertical root system, with very little lateral root growth, ensures that, when intercropped, it does not compete with cash crops for nutrients. In October 1999, some 50 hectares of agricultural land and 29 houses along the Bued river in Binday, San Fabian were literally swept away by the rampaging flood water. A similar devastation happened in Sitio Pontok in Bonuan Binloc in 2010, when a hectare of land was washed away by the overflowing Cayanga River due to a seasonal typhoon. To prevent the recurrence of these destructive calamities, De Venecia prioritized the construction of the P36 million spur dikes in Binday in San Fabian town and the P20 million spur dikes in Sitio Pontok, Dagupan City.

Make tree planting a habit, Paje tells public (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 30, 2012 - 12:00am

President Aquino (left) and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje (center, leaning) lead a tree planting ceremony during the launch of the National Greening Program. MANILA, Philippines - Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje is urging the public to develop the habit of planting trees, saying it is the “perfect way of giving what we have extracted from Mother Earth.” “Tree-planting is not only a rewarding experience but also a great step toward improving and protecting our environment,” Paje said, as he announced the plan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to intensify its reforestation efforts in 2013 through the National Greening Program of the Aquino administration. The DENR chief said everyone is welcome to take part in the program which aims to plant trees covering about 1.5 million hectares from 2011 until 2016. Since the program was launched last year, the DENR has already planted seedlings on more than 232,000 hectares all over the country.

“One does not have to be part of the government or an environmental group to make a positive impact on his surroundings,” Paje pointed out, adding, “Filipinos from all walks of life are encouraged to do their part in sustaining the environment by planting trees.” Paje elaborated that planting a tree is like investing in the future given the “environmental rewards” that trees provide. As an essential part of the ecosystem, he said, trees not only provide homes and food for humans and wildlife, but also produce much of the earth’s oxygen, help reduce noise and air pollution, and prevent soil erosion. Paje said trees could lessen the impact of global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions. “Planting trees not only greens and beautifies the areas in which they are planted; it is also one of the ways of offsetting our carbon emissions,” he explained. According to studies, trees inhale carbon dioxide – one of the major contributing elements to the greenhouse effect which causes climate change – and exhale oxygen that is needed by humans and other living organisms. The decimation of rainforests and mass consumption of trees destroy what experts call the “carbon sinks.” Paje lauded recently the Department of Education (DepEd) and thanked DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro for requiring all public schools in Metro Manila to plant at least five species of native trees within their campuses. The DepEd project, Paje said, would complement the urban greening component of the National Greening Program which, together with the Aquino government’s total log ban policy and three other categories, received a perfect score of 100 percent in the 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) of the World. Because of the perfect score garnered by the administration’s twin forest policies, the Philippine ranking had improved eight notches to No. 42 in 2012 from No. 50 in 2010 among the 132 countries evaluated by four respected international institutions. The Philippines outranked countries like South Korea (43rd), Australia (48th), United States (49th), Singapore (52nd) and Israel (61st). EPI is an evaluation of the sustainability of the environmental programs and policies of the countries concerned.The evaluation was made by Yale University, Columbia University, the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Center of the European Commission.

Executive returns to PH to produce coconut wine By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Dec. 30, 2012 at 12:02am | 807 views 4

George Vacal Paraliza and his wife George Vacal Paraliza returned to the Philippines from the US to set up a company that will produce premium coconut wine. “My wife, Tila and I shared a dream to create a legacy for our family so we founded the DJCRATER Inc. after I retired from a rewarding career in an oil company in the United States of America,” Paraliza says. Paraliza was born in La Paz, Leyte and educated in Cebu City. While working abroad, he spent his pastime making wine. “We first established the winery in August 2010 in Tacloban City, Leyte and named our product Vino de Coco in April 2011,” he says. Vino de Coco (Spanish term translated as coconut wine) is produced from the fresh sap of cut flower buds of the coconut tree. Farmers harvest the blossoms of a coconut tree. They make a cut on the blossoms, and the sap starts to flow from the cut. The sap is then collected in containers. The collected sap, which is translucent and with about 80-percent water, is naturally fermented into wine with 11-percent alcohol content. “Farmers use the educational guidelines for responsible farming developed by the Philippine Coconut Authority and the Department of Science and Technology to harvest

the sap from the blossoms of coconut trees. To ensure the quality of fresh sap, strict controls are implemented in collecting and processing the coconut sap to wine,” Paraliza says. Paraliza continued perfecting his technique of producing coconut wine. He now has three varieties of coconut wine: dry red, sweet red and sweet white. “For centuries, coconut wine has been enjoyed here in the Philippines but it was not given the refinement it merits until now. Our wines are endowed with the aroma, flavor and sophistication that will upgrade the current quality of the country’s coconut wine to meet international standards,” Paraliza says. To promote these products here and abroad, Paraliza’s company participated in local and international trade shows facilitated and organized by the Trade and Industry Department. The company recently displayed its products in the regional trade fair dubbed as Bahandi (or treasures) 2012 at the Megatrade Hall of SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City as well as the trade exhibit during National Export Congress at the Philippine Trade Training Center in Pasay City. It will also participate in the IFEX Philippines, Asia’s ethnic food and ingredients show at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on May 16 to 19, 2013. “Early this year, our company already got a license from the Food and Drug Administration Philippines to operate as a food manufacturer and exporter having complied with the prescribed requirements,” Paraliza says. The company actually started exporting to Macau in October 2012 and plans to sell its products in Korea, Japan and China. It has initially sought the assistance of the Bureau of Export Trade Promotion. “I believe that the production of coconut wine is a big boost to our coconut industry. It provides opportunities for our coconut farmers to earn. In line with this, we intend to expand our operation and marketing through our distributors, and further develop coconut sap collectors through strict farming guidelines to increase employment in the Eastern Visayas,” Paraliza says.

2012 12 30 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  
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