Rice, Corn Sufficiency This Year By Ellalyn B. De Vera February 9, 2013, 3:40pm MANILA, Philippines --- The Department of Agriculture (DA) expressed confidence yesterday that sufficiency in major staples, particularly rice and corn, could be attained this year. DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said while there are still many who doubt that rice sufficiency could be attained, President Benigno S. Aquino III himself is confident that it could be done. He said this is big a challenge, especially for the DA. This year has been declared by President Aquino as “National Year of Rice.” Last year, the country produced a record harvest of 18 million metric tons (MT) of palay (unmilled rice). The government aims to increase it to 20 million MT by end of 2013 to attain 100 percent self-sufficiency. Alcala explained that to achieve the 20-million MT target, the DA will encourage farmers to plant early right after the summer crop, and then undertake a “quick-turn-around” or QTA scheme immediately after the main wet season crop on or before September 15, 2013, that will cover at least 300,000 hectares. For the QTA, the DA will provide participating farmers with free certified seeds and crop insurance coverage. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/393230/rice-corn-sufficiency-this-year#.URhnWvJFyjs
Customs Revamp Looms Over Rice By Raymund F. Antonio February 9, 2013, 6:49pm MANILA, Philippines --- Heads will roll at the Bureau of Customs in connection with the alleged illegal rice shipment that reportedly entered various ports in Visayas and Mindanao region. The recent revamp could be expanded over the failure of some Customs officials to curb the entry of smuggled grains in the ports. â€œSmuggled rice have flooded the market, reaching Nueva Ecija, Baguio, Pangasinan, La Union and even Isabela, the rice granary of the Philippines," Abono Partylist chairman Rosendo So said. The rice shipment reportedly came from China and Vietnam. "We are facing a looming rice crisis not because of shortage of produce but because of oversupply. Smuggled rice has been flooding our markets, and millers cannot buy from local farmers because their warehouses are still filled to the rafters," So said. So said the government should increase the volume of paddy rice if rice smuggling remains unabated. It is the National Food Authority (NFA) that buys paddy rice to assist the farmers who were affected by the rice glut. The NFA allotted only R10.9 billion for the procurement of 615,985 metric tons of palay from farmers this year. "That's a mere three percent of the total harvest. If the government is really serious in helping farmers, they must increase the volume to 30 percent or at least R105 billion worth of palay," So stressed. The total rice harvest for this year is projected at 20.4 million metric tons, which would translate into R351 billion worth of grain. "With smuggled rice flooding the market, it is only incumbent upon the government to act immediately. If the prices of rice continue to plunge, local rice production will certainly collapse," he added. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/393246/customs-revamp-looms-over-rice#.URiJS_JFyjs
Dagupan’s ‘Bangus King’ leads way for others Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:55 pm | Saturday, February 9th, 2013
EDUARDO MARAMBA, Dagupan’s “Bangus King”. RAY ZAMBRANO/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON DAGUPAN CITY—If there is someone who deserves to be called “Bangus King” here, it is Eduardo Maramba, who belongs to four generations of milkfish growers. “My great grandfather, Franciso, my grandfather, Cipriano, and my father, Rufino, were all engaged in bangus culture, but it is only during my time when the industry blossomed into its present state,” says Maramba, 58, who owns 8 hectares of fishpond in this city, 5 ha in Alaminos City and 12 fish cages also in Alaminos. Maramba, who is accredited by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ Ilocos office as a fish grower, saw how the industry grew. He started helping his father tend the family’s fishpond when he was 12 years old. “We culture only few bangus then, only a fish in every square meter. The fish were also given solely lablab (algae) so they grew faster. From fingerlings, it took only 45 to 60 days to grow bangus to 300 grams each,” he says. Now it takes 120 to 150 days to grow bangus to reach the same size. “Our bangus still feed on lablab until they are two months old. In the third month, commercial feed is added to their diet. In the fourth month, it’s only commercial feed for them,” he says.
In Alaminos, his fishponds are used as nurseries. The fish are later transferred to cages which serve as grow-out areas. He depends on the weather, practicing the “cold-rainy” season system of stocking fish. “When it is cold, I stock only 25,000 to 30,000 fish in a 1,000-meter cage. This is because bangus hardly eat when it’s cold and their growth is stunted. During rainy months, I stock up to 60,000 fish in each cage,” he says. The bangus industry has grown so big that the local supply of fry could not meet demand. Industry players, he says, have to get fry from Sarangani and Indonesia. While Maramba has been in fish farming for more than 40 years, it was only recently that he found bangus in different colors—three black and a blue one—in his ponds. He first saw the black bangus, now about four months old, when it was only at least two weeks old. “They are so black, from head to tail, that one reporter said we should call them ‘Obama bangus,’” he says, referring to the United States’ first African-American president, Barack Obama. Maramba says Mayor Benjamin Lim has asked him to lend the city government a black bangus when the city celebrates its annual Bangus Festival in May. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/355615/dagupans-bangus-king-leads-way-for-others
FOOD FESTS February 9, 2013, 6:57pm
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo (PIA) - The Iloilo Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Association (IHRRA) has organized two food festivals next week here to coincide with the Iloilo Paraw Regatta 2013 and Chinese New Year. IHRRA President Albert Ong said this year, the Iloilo Paraw Regatta Seafood Festival will be held in the city proper, at Mapa St., across Freedom Grandstand where some of the Paraw Regatta’s events will be held. Some 15 IHRRA members of the IHRRA will join the two-day food fest which opens at 5 p.m., Feb. 12. The food fest will also usher in the Torch Parade at 6:30 p.m. and Sinamba sa Paraw Regatta Mardi Gras Competition at 8 p.m. on February 12 and Grand Coronation Night of Miss Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival at 7 p.m. on February 13, all at the Freedom Grandstand.
FIDA Eyes 1,000 Hectares For Abaca By Edu Lopez February 9, 2013, 1:00pm The government is expanding the country’s abaca plantation by another 1,000 hectares this year in a bid to meet the demand for abaca fibers in both the local and foreign markets. Cecilia Gloria Soriano, administrator of the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) said the opening of new abaca areas will be undertaken in Bicol, Visayas region, western and northern Mindanao, Davao region, Caraga and Mimaropa. FIDA would also rehabilitate 600 hectares of old and unproductive, disease and typhoondamaged abaca areas in the Bicol and western and eastern Visayas. Soriano said FIDA would provide technical assistance in the expansion, opening or rehabilitation of abaca farms and make available to farmers high yielding and disease-free abaca planting materials. FIDA operates experiment stations, seedbanks, tissue culture laboratories, diagnostic laboratories and an immunology laboratory which are all strategically located throughout the country. The agency is collaborating with the local government units (LGUs) and the farmers’ organizations in major abaca-producing areas for the establishment of abaca nurseries. Soriano said the implementation of abaca disease management project will be sustained this year covering 15 municipalities with relatively high percentage disease incidence. Last year, the project covered nine municipalities which benefited abaca farms. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/393211/fida‐eyes‐1000‐hectares‐for‐abaca#.URiUVPJFyjs
PNoy asked to curb rice smuggling By Czeriza Valencia, Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 10, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - A farmers’ party-list group has warned that rice smuggled into Visayas and Mindanao has reached rice-producing provinces in Luzon, threatening to drag down local prices and discourage farmers from planting. In a statement, Abono party-list chairman Rosendo So said smuggled grains are now flooding markets in rice producing provinces of Nueva Ecija, Baguio, Pangasinan, La Union and Isabela. So is urging President Aquino to “crack the whip” on Customs officials, especially those manning the ports in Visayas and Mindanao, where grains from China and Vietnam are allegedly illegally entering the country. He said rice shipments were often mis-declared as slag, wood wall, tiles and used clothing. “We are facing a looming rice crisis not because of shortage of produce but because of oversupply. Smuggled rice has been flooding our markets, and millers cannot buy from local farmers because their warehouses are still filled to the rafters,” So said.
“With smuggled rice flooding the market, it is only incumbent upon the government to act immediately. If the prices of rice continue to plunge, local rice production will certainly collapse,” he added. So said the price of palay has dropped from P18 per kilo last year to about P15.50 per kilo. In the absence of large volume milling, rice bran price has risen up to P14 per kilo from P10. “Where will the farmers go now with the harvest season and no one is buying? The smugglers are killing the industry,” he said. The party-list group also urged the National Food Authority (NFA) to increase its palay procurement from local farmers to 30 percent of the total production to curb smuggling. The NFA earlier announced that it is allotting P10.9 billion to procure 615,985 metric tons of palay from farmers this year. The country intends to produce 20.4 million MT of palay in 2013 after producing 18.03 million MT in 2012. “That’s a mere three percent of the total harvest. If the government is really serious in helping farmers, they must increase the volume to 30 percent or at least P105 billion worth of palay,” So said. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/02/10/906880/p‐noy‐asked‐curb‐rice‐smuggling
Farmers barricade hacienda By Danny Dangcalan (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 11, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
BACOLOD City , Philippines – About 200 farm workers of a hacienda in Moises Padilla town, Negros Occidental have taken turns since last Wednesday to form a “human barricade” to prevent Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) personnel from installing alleged “illegal” beneficiaries in the estate. Farmers at Hacienda San Benito in Barangay Crossing Magallon have blocked the main entrance to the estate to prevent the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office from installing beneficiaries belonging to two other groups. The farm workers, who belong to the Hacienda San Benito Employees and Laborers MultiPurpose Cooperative led by Erlito Batallon, said they have a pending petition with the Office of the President for the inclusion of regular farm workers and the exclusion of holders of certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) in the hacienda. The group is questioning the impending “expansion” of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) coverage by about 80 hectares, and the installation of its purported beneficiaries who belong to the Agraryo Benepisaryo Reporma sang San Isidro Labrador and the Crossing Magallon Multi-Purpose Cooperative. Batallon said they are the rightful beneficiaries once the hacienda is divided under CARP because they have long tilled the land. The 334-hectare estate, formerly owned by the MJ Lacson Development Co., was placed under CARP coverage more than 10 years ago. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/02/11/907236/farmers‐barricade‐hacienda
BIR requires gov’t agencies to use eFPS By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 10, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has required national government agencies (NGAs) to file tax returns and pay taxes through the electronic filing and payment system (eFPS). The eFPS was launched in 2001 as part of government’s efforts to provide fast and convenient manner of transacting with state-run agencies. It was initially introduced to the large taxpayers duly notified by the BIR. The BIR decided to include NGAs in the coverage of taxpayers required to avail of the eFPS since they make use of the electronic tax remittance advice system (TRA) in settlement of their withholding tax liabilities arising from the use of funds being released by the Department of Budget and Management. The scheme of remitting taxes withheld through TRAs started with the issuance of the joint circular signed by the Department of Finance, DBM and the Commission on Audit in lieu of the other modes of withholding tax remittance such as cash remittances, the modified disbursement system checks and authority to debit the account of the agency. With the TRA system, NGAs need not go to the BIR to secure blank TRA forms and to manually file the tax returns. The system is expected to enhance transparency and efficiency in revenue collection reporting and reconciliations will be enhanced as all concerned parties can view and record on real time the remittances made by the NGAs. Aside from the NGAs, other taxpayers earlier mandated to use the system include top 20,000 private corporations, top 5,000 individual taxpayers, those who intend to enter into contract with government offices, corporations with paid-up capital of P10 million, entities registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and those located within special economic zones. With the eFPS, taxpayers can avail of a paperless tax filing experience and can also pay their taxes online through the convenience of an Internet-banking service via debit facility from their enrolled bank account. Taxpayers can file and pay taxes anytime and anywhere as long as they are using a computer with an Internet connection. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/02/10/906904/bir‐requires‐govt‐agencies‐use‐efps
Coco fund issue tackled Published : Sunday, February 10, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 70 Written by : Joel dela Torre
NATIONAL Anti-Poverty Commission chief Joel Rocamora urged militant group leaders to submit their proposals on the handling of the coconut levy funds instead of engaging in violent protest actions. Rocamora yesterday opened his door to representatives of Anak Pawis and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas to thresh out the issue of coco levy funds disposition. Officials of the militant groups insisted that the funds should be given to every individual coconut farmer. This was the militants’ concern when they staged a lightning rally outside the NAPC office that turned violent. Rallyists ganged up on a uniformed police official who was deployed to secure the area. Rocamora explained to the militant groups that the coco levy funds are public funds meant to be used for a special purpose. The money is also meant for the development of the coconut industry and for the benefits of small coconut farmers. “Distributing the funds to each and every coconut farmer would violate the clear mandate of the high court,” Rocamora said. Reacting to allegation that the funds are currently being used, the NAPC chair said that the funds are intact and presently in the National Treasury which no one has access to.
“There must first be an entry of judgment by the Supreme Court before we can even proceed to release the funds,” he added. “We invite all groups, especially farmer organizations, to work with us in ensuring that the coco levy funds be used for the interests of poor coco farmers. We respect the right to assembly and free speech but those rights are not a license to harass government employees and destroy public property. Humarap tayo ng maayos. Bukas ang aming opisina para makipag-usap sa lahat,” Rocamora said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/44570‐coco‐fund‐issue‐tackled
PAC now a State U Published : Monday, February 11, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 34 Written by : Bernard Galang
ANGELES City, Pampanga -- The Senate has approved on the third reading House Bill 4450, authored by 1st district Rep. Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin, which seeks to convert Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) into a state university. Currently, the House of Representatives is awaiting for the Senate counterpart of the bill to be sent to them for ratification. Disagreeing provisions between the two versions of the bill, if any, will be resolved in a bicameral conference. “The bill is basically passed,” Lazatin said, “Once the consolidated version is set, the bill will be forwarded to the Office of the President for signing”. Once the bill is approved, PAC will be named Diosdado Macapagal Agriculture and Science State University (DMASSU) and will be given academic freedom and institutional autonomy. The bill also allows DMASSU to offer undergraduate and graduate courses in the fields of agriculture, arts and sciences, teacher education, industrial technology and engineering, information technology, business management and accountancy, tourism, health services and other courses within its areas of specialization. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/provincial/44596‐pac‐now‐a‐state‐u
BSP urged to allow multi-currency deposits Published : Monday, February 11, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 41 Written by : Lee Ann P. Ducusin
THE recruitment sector has urged the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas to allow commercial banks to accept foreign currency accounts for overseas Filipino workers to mitigate the effects of rising appreciation of the peso against the dollar. Recruitment sector leader Lito Soriano made the call in reaction to BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Gunigundo’s statement that OFWs are not paid in dollars but in local foreign currencies and are therefore less affected by the strong peso. Soriano pointed out that the appreciation of the peso, now down to P40 to $1 as compared to P55 to $1 in 2004, has greatly affected millions of OFW families since the dollar lost 27% of its value. He said the BSP should open multi-currency deposits facilities with commercial banks so that earnings of OFWs in various countries can be deposited in different currencies directly to their foreign currency accounts. Soriano, co-convenor of the Competitive Currency Forum said that if the BSP allows the move, OFWs can now deposit local currency earnings like Riyals, Dirham’s, EU, Pounds, HK dollars, NT dollars, Malaysian Ringit and all other foreign currencies convertible by the BSP to their foreign currency accounts and reduce the cost of exchanging their local currency to US dollars for remittances to their beneficiaries. Many recruitment leaders have also noted that while they are not paid in dollars, OFWs still have to go to banks or remittance centers to have their salaries converted into dollars for transmission to the Philippines. “This is where a small amount is lost during that transaction. Allowing banks to accept foreign currency deposits will keep the value of the currency intact and can be converted into pesos directly by the depositor,” Soriano stressed. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s standard salary table is computed in dollars and foreign employers merely convert these wages into their local currency for payment to their employees.
Meanwhile the recruitment sector urged the Department of Labor and Employment to initiate discussions with the Banko Sentral on how to moderate the effects of the strong peso on OFW families who now have to tighten their belts in order to cope up with the rising appreciation of the peso eating into their dollar remittances. The welfare of the onshore families of overseas Filipinos, especially OFWs -who account for the majority of Filipinos have become poorer by more than 27% over the past 18 years, as the peso/dollar rate moved from P55 to the current P40; this is the insidious “hidden inflation” which can reduce their buying power due to the rising inflation of 3.2% A recruitment leader said a strong peso is acceptable if the government could also regulate the prices of commodities by maintaining the buying power of the peso. “But what is difficult to understand is, if the peso is stronger, it means paying less in the imported merchandise, how come the prices of goods never go down? When the dollar was P55 to a dollar, the price of gas was only P38 pesos, so your $1 can buy 1.5 liter of gas. Now $1 is not even enough to buy a liter of gas,” he said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/business/44627‐bsp‐urged‐to‐allow‐multi‐currency‐deposits