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URC posts net income of P10 B for FY 2013 By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Gokongwei-led Universal Robina Corp. posted a net income of P10.01 billion for its fiscal year ending September 2013, up 29.4 percent from P7.74 billion in the same period last year on the back of strong gains from its branded food operations. Informed sources said URC registered revenues of P80.765 from October 2012 to September this year, 13.4 percent higher than the previous year’s P71.2 billion. Core earnings expanded 34.4 percent to P11.3 billion. URC’s domestic branded consumer food group registered P42.2 billion in sales, due largely to the beverage division. Sales of its ready-to-drink tea C2 expanded 27 percent, while the group’s coffee business saw a spike of 95 percent, outpacing the industry’s growth of 20 percent. The launch of new products likewise boosted URC’s positive cash-flow by around two percent of total net sales. URC’s overseas operations sustained its upward trajectory, growing 12 percent in US dollar terms owing to the robust performance of Vietnam and Thailand. Vietnam cornered the lion’s share of URC’s international sales, posting a 15-percent improvement owing to C2’s impressive showing. C2 maintained its market leadership with sales accounting for 34 percent of total volume sold. URC is expanding the capacity of its beverage plants to meet the growing demand for RTD tea in the region. The company is putting up two or three more beverage lines, targeted to be operational by summer 2014. Sales in Thailand continued to recover, rising eight percent in the fourth quarter.

Indonesia remains a problem for the company through as currency depreciation and the removal of all subsidies are affecting consumer sentiment. Indonesia’s sluggish performance,however, would have a minimal impact on URC’s bottom-line as it only accounts for six percent of international sales. Meawhile, URC’s flour sales dropped 4.8 percent due to lower selling prices brought about by the influx of cheap Turkish flour. Revenues from the sugar business, on the other hand, climbed 24 percent, while sales of the agroindustrial division were flat as higher revenues from the farms business offset the decline in revenues from feeds. To sustain its robust performance, URC has set a $200 million capital expenditure program next year, higher than the historical average of about 130 million. The huge increase in the budget was due to one-time investments planned for the year ahead. URC controls 39 percent of the snacks market, 37 percent for candies, 25 percent for chocolates, 16 percent for biscuits, 80 percent for canned beans, 43 percent for cup noodles and 80 percent for ready-to-drink tea. Overseas, RC holds 23 percent of the biscuits market and 26 percent of the wafers segment in Thailand. It also controls 36 percent of Vietnam’s ready-to-drink tea sector.

PCA pushes use of synthetic, aromatic coco varieties By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - To hasten the recovery of typhoon-damaged coconut plantations in the Visayas, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is promoting the use of synthetic and aromatic coconut varieties. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) would also implement a typhoon-resistant planting method for coconut trees. Coconut trees typically grow within seven to eight years, but synthetic and aromatic varieties could flower and bear fruit within three to four years. The synthetic coconut variety is a superior variety developed by scientists at the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). It is a high-yielding variety that produces larger nuts. Aromatic coconut varieties, on the other hand, bear small, fragrant nuts. The onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda in November caused P1.51 billion worth of damage in some 41,662 hectares of coconut plantations in Visayas. As a short term rehabilitation solution, the PCA is implementing a cash-for-work program to provide immediate cash to farmers who participate in clearing operations. The lumber gathered would be used to rebuild houses. The PCA is also promoting intercropping of corn with coconut trees to provide farmers with an alternative livelihood as their coconut lands undergo rehabilitation. “Coconut farmers who intercrop corn will have good returns because of sustained growth in livestock,” said Alcala. Phlippine coconut exports rose by 3.19 percent in terms of value in the first nine months of the year.

Government plans to boost abaca farming in Samar, Leyte Category: Agri-Commodities 25 Dec 2013 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning

WITH Ecuador reducing the area it plants to abaca, the Philippines may soon gain more than 95 percent of the world market for the product and provide an opportunity for farmers in Supertyphoon Yolanda-devastated Samar and Leyte to bounce back from a debilitating disaster. The Philippines used to have an 85-percent share of the market, which has been rising as more and more countries have opted for natural fibers and navies of various countries have decided to use abaca for their ships. Abaca rope becomes more durable as it is submerged in seawater. With its enrollment in the Rainforest Alliance, a global network that pushes sustained biodiversity protection, the Philippines may soon become the world’s only integrated abaca producer. The target for the abaca-integration project is the Leyte-Samar area, a region that has overtaken Bicol as the biggest abaca producer in the country. A project that combines abaca farming with other crops like coconut, “Abakayamanan” is also envisioned to help farmers in typhoon-stricken provinces to rebound from their tragedy. The project being implemented by the Fiber Industry Development Authority (Fida) and financed by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is called “Enhancing Productivity of Abaca Farms in Bicol through an Integrated Farming System Abakayamanan.” “We may be able to duplicate Abakayamanan in Tacloban City. Even prior to Supertyphoon Yolanda, Leyte and Samar were the biggest producers of abaca in the country,” said Dr. Editha O. Lomerio, Abakayamanan project head.

The BAR has funded Abakayamanan with P1.8 million. The program has raised farmers’ income in two pilot areas by P14,400 per 1,000 square meters. The pilot areas are San Roque, Maliliput, Albay and Gubat, Sorsogon. BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar wants Abakayamanan implemented in other abacaproducing provinces. “We can have a holistic approach in our abaca production through Abakayamanan. Director Eleazar wants it duplicated in many areas. It’s a food security source, and we may also have it as a zero-waste crop,” Lomerio said. Abakayamanan’s beneficiaries are the Malilipot Abaca Planters Association in Albay and the Gubat Abaca Growers Cooperative in Sorsogon. The replication of the Abakayamanan project in Leyte-Samar will enhance the marketing of quality abaca manufacturing in the Philippines in the light of the certification obtained by manufacturers for sustainable forest management. Abaca manufacturer Glatfelter (Germany), which has a manufacturing plant in Barrio Maria Cristina, Balo, Lanao del Norte, has obtained an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) from New York-based Rainforest Alliance. Glatfelter manages Newtech Pulp, a producer and exporter of abaca pulp. The company has been teaching its farmers to plant trees sustainably and also encourages the greening of forests and soil-erosion prevention. Glatfelter manufactures composite fibers, specialty papers and engineered products made from abaca. Leyte, Southern Leyte and Northern Samar are among the country’s 10 biggest abaca producers. The other top provinces are Catanduanes, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, Leyte, Sulu, Davao Oriental, Camarines Sur and Surigao del Sur. Total area devoted to abaca in 2011 was 172,528 hectares, with the output at 73,274 metric tons of abaca fiber. “Bicol used to be the biggest in the country. It’s now just second to Eastern Visayas,” according to an Abakayamanan report authored by Lomerio, Daniel Lachica and Lea Casim. In recent years, abaca has been plagued by destructive viral diseases, including abaca mosaic, bunchy top virus and abaca bract mosaic.

Abaca planting has also been adversely affected by the destruction of forest ecosystems, nonadoption of production technologies, lack of information on value adding, and the low farm-gate price of abaca fibers. Due to these factors, farm holdings in the Bicol region have been reduced to less than 3 hectares per smallholder. Farmers have shifted to planting short-season crops like vegetables. The very durable nature of abaca is not the only quality of this natural fiber that makes it in demand in the market. Its environment-friendly, biodegradable nature makes manufacturers, especially those in Europe, use abaca over synthetic fibers. Coffee cups and tea bags are among the products that make use of abaca. These beverage containers highlights abaca fiber’s sanitary nature. Many European institutions had already adopted a policy of turning away from nonbiodegradable materials like plastics. The Philippines is considered the world’s biggest supplier of abaca products with an export value of around $100 million. It also has the competitive edge in abaca production due to its quality—durable, clean, white and long fibers. The country exports its abaca pulp, fiber and other products mainly to the United States, Europe and Japan. There is an expanding market for abaca fiber made into denim in Japan. Composites, an engineered material that uses two or more combined raw materials, are a biodegradable industrial product used as a durable material in luxury-car interiors and aircraft. The abaca industry is also a significant job generator. As of 2011, Fida noted it employed 111,112 farmers and 506 traders. Employment in groups include 17 licensed trader-exporters; 13 licensed GBEs (grading and baling establishments); six cordage firms; six licensed pulp manufacturers; and 109 licensed fiber-craft processors. The BAR-Fida project on Abakayamanan is an integration of abaca operations. First, there is intercropping particularly of abaca with coconut farms. For short-gestating crops, among the crops integrated with abaca are okra, pechay, squash, eggplant, upo, mungbean, sweet potato, pole sitao, snap bean, ginger, papaya and pineapple.

Abakayamanan brought a 13-percent increase in areas planted to abaca in the Bicol region to 50,212 hectares, employing 21,134 farmers. Bicol’s abaca fiber production contributes 37 percent of the country’s total production. Abakayamanan implemented IFS (integrated farming system), disease management, integrated pest management, and value adding through manufacturing of handicraft and other products. Integrated to abaca planting are animal (like goat) and mushroom growing, and composting to produce organic fertilizer. Among livelihood and value-adding activities introduced by Abakayamanan in the two Bicol pilot areas were the production of non-woven scrunch, bacbac bag making, and knotting, weaving, twinning, macramé, cordage-making and handmade paper-making. A mechanical dryer for abaca fiber drying was installed in Sorsogon. It was funded by the Philippine Center for Post-Harvest Development. Value-added products from Abakayamanan include mushroom, sinamay, pinukpok, scrunch, macramé bag, wine holder and crazy box. There are also wedding gowns, barong and casual dresses. As a world-class product, abaca bacbac bags command an attractive price ranging from P400 to P550 per piece. Marvyn N. Benaning (John Washington/ Wikimedia CC By 3.0)‐commodities/24894‐government‐ plans‐to‐boost‐abaca‐farming‐in‐samar‐leyte                

Soccsksargen gets P3 billion agri budget by PIA  December 26, 2013  

The national government has allocated more than P3 billion to boost the agricultural sector of Soccsksargen Region in 2014, which provides one-third of Mindanao’s rice and corn supply. This was announced by Amalia Jayag-Datukan, regional executive director of the Department of Agriculture region 12, during the yearend Ulat ng Bayan at Koronadal, South Cotabato. The P3.043 billion fund will be specifically used to develop the production of corn and rice in the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan, and Cotabato. She said that in 2013, Region 12 produced 1,344,972 metric tons (MT) of rice from a total area of 350,896 hectares, with increase of 5.80 percent compared to the 2012 rice production. “Our contribution to the rice production in Mindanao was 31.84 percent and we ranked number 1,” Datukan was quoted in a PIA report, stressing that the region has contribution of 7.14 percent to national supply. In corn production, Soccksargen Region has produced 1,291,343 MT, noting that it comprised 32.50 percent of Mindanao’s total production. This was 18.40 percent contribution to the national corn production, he added. With enough funds, she challenged the farmers and stakeholders present at the forum to “increase production, increase contribution to the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), and increase contribution to economic growth not only of the region but also of Mindanao and the Philippines,” she said, which could be achieved by “increasing yield per production area.”‐gets‐p3‐billion‐agri‐budget/              

Surigao intensifies fish sanctuary protection by Mike Crismundo  December 25, 2013  

Surigao City – The local and provincial governments in Surigao del Norte, together with the operatives of the 1301st Maritime Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) are combining their efforts to protect the fish sanctuary in the area. The city government here, Surigao del Norte government, and the Maritime Group intensified their efforts following the alleged illegal fishing activities within the fish sanctuary area. It was learned that the illegal fishermen use noxious substances, and small nets to catch fish, which are both destructive. City Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas, and Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas, along with Surigao del Norte Representatives Francisco T. Matugas (1st District), and Guillermo A. Romarate Jr. (2nd District), are pooling their resources to address illegal fishing activities within the Surigao seas. “We are serious to put an end to these illegal fishing activities,” said Mayor Matugas. Aware of the urgency to protect the marine life in the area, including the coral reefs, against the proliferation of illegal fishing, the officials vowed to exert their efforts for the program. Meanwhile, the local Maritime Group station here also committed to provide a round-the-clock monitoring and protection, including sea patrols at the Buenavista Fish Sanctuary. Police Inspector Andres Banquel Jr., PNP 1301st Maritime Group station commander, said he was disappointed to know that the fish sanctuary had been constantly raided by illegal fishermen. Various reports reaching the PNP Maritime Group headquarters here also stated that illegal fishing is rampant at the Buenavista Fish Sanctuary. As an initial move to combat the illegal fishing activities, the village officials and operatives of the Maritime Group will be organizing a team of volunteers to be called as the Buenavista Fish Sanctuary Brigade, which will serve as the support group of the authorities in protecting the marine habitat.‐intensifies‐fish‐sanctuary‐protection/

PH expects bumper corn harvest in 2014  Anna Leah G. Estrada Dec. 26, 2013 at 12:03am   Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email Share on print More Sharing Services 0  

The government expects corn production to hit a new record level next year, after rising by more than a tenth this year to adequately cover domestic demand. The Agriculture Department said corn harvests were expected to surpass the corn self-sufficiency level in 2014, as the agency focused on corn as a primary crop. “Because of the continuing increase in livestock production, there is a need to sustain the main ingredient for feeds which is corn,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said. Alcala said the Philippines had a competitive edge in corn production over neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, which were highly dependent on the United States for imports. “Due to progressive cultivation methods, the country can produce corn all-year round which is a definite advantage over other Asean countries,” Alcala said. The agency earlier said the country had enough corn supply this year, with harvest probably reaching 8.2 million metric tons, in spite of the damaged wreaked by recent typhoons. It said production this year would include 5.726 million metric tons of yellow corn and 2.487 million metric tons of white corn. The estimated corn harvest in 2013 represented a 10.8-percent growth over last year’s output of 7.4 million metric tons. The national corn program forecast a national corn production of at least 8.4 million metric tons in 2014. “Investing on infrastructure facilities for post-harvest like corn in cob dryers and storage silos is a key strategy in attaining the DA’s target for corn self-sufficiency. Research is continuing for the improvement of inbred corn varieties as well as for the commercial corn hybrid seeds,” Alcala said.‐expects‐bumper‐corn‐harvest‐in‐2014/      

Economy Posted on December 25, 2013 09:04:30 PM   

Abaca farming tagged for typhoon areas THE GOVERNMENT is looking to introduce integrated abaca farming systems in  areas ravaged by super‐typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) to boost  production of the plant and create livelihood there.  The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) said in a statement yesterday that its abaca integration  project, Abakayamanan, could used to help farmers bounce back from the damage caused by the  typhoon.    "We may be able to duplicate Abakayamanan in Tacloban City. Even prior to Yolanda, Leyte and Samar  were the biggest provinces in abaca production," Editha O. Lomerio, Abakayamanan project head, said  in the statement.    Abakayamanan combines farming of abaca with other crops, such as coconut, to increase farm  productivity.    The total area devoted to abaca production as of 2011 was 172,528 hectares, producing 73,274 metric  tons of abaca fiber. The industry employed 111,112 farmers.‐farming‐tagged‐for‐ typhoon‐areas&id=81210                 

Vietnamese rice most expensive in Asia?

Rice is packed for export at Gao Viet Company. The price of Vietnamese rice remains the most expensive across Asia, according to a market review. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu HA NOI (VNS)— The November Market Review by global rice market news provider Oryza has shown that that the price of Vietnamese rice remains the most expensive across Asia. According to data released last Friday, Vietnamese five percent broken rice was sold for US$410-420 per tonne, down $20 per tonne from two weeks ago, but higher by $10 per tonne from one month ago. The price of Thai rice (of the same variety), in comparison, declined $15 per tonne to $380 per tonne from two weeks ago. The price was also lower by $25 per tonne from one month ago. Compared with the same period last year, the Vietnamese rice price is higher by $5 per tonne, while the price of Thai rice fell $170 per tonne during the same period. Do Van Hao, an expert at the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, told Biz Hub that in recent times, there have been a few instances when the export price of Vietnamese rice surpassed that of Thai rice. He pointed out that it was not the first time that the Vietnamese rice price had climbed higher than the Thai rice price because such a phenomenon had occurred in the past, although for very short durations. "There are some reasons that have pushed the price of Viet Nam's rice higher than the price of Thai rice recently. First, Viet Nam won a contract to export 500,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines on November 25. The lowest price under this contract was $462.25 per tonne, while

Thai rice fetched a price of $475 per tonne. That has stimulated demand for Vietnamese rice and raised export prices," he said. Second, Thailand has permitted its rice granaries to export rice stored from earlier harvests. Currently, its granaries store tens of millions of tonnes of rice and the increasing exports have led to falling prices, he noted. Third, the exchange rate between the Thai baht and the US dollar has seen an increasing trend, which has lowered the price of rice in the local currency," he added. Echoing the same sentiment, agricultural expert Vo Tong Xuan noted that while Viet Nam is exporting its latest rice harvest, Thailand is selling rice from its granaries, leading to price disparities. "Enterprises exporting rice to China and Africa have lowered their reserves. Now, in the middle of December, we cannot purchase rice from farmers because the third crop was harvested in November. Lower supply is one of the reasons that have pushed the price higher," he added. "I think the current price is suitable because Thailand is not lowering the price of its high-quality rice. Right now, Cambodia is harvesting a new crop and a portion of that will be exported to Viet Nam," he said. Hao shrugged off worries about importing rice from overseas while the price is high, noting that price disparities are currently not too wide. He also pointed out that the variety of rice exported is different from that consumed in Viet Nam. Hao added that "Thai rice could, however, be imported for domestic consumption if its price is much lower than that of Vietnamese rice." "Recently, Viet Nam has imported large quantities of rice from Thailand, and if Thai rice is cheap and of good quality, the level of imports could increase," he said. According to the Viet Nam Food Association (VFA), between January 2013 and December 19, the quantity of rice exports reached 6.325 million tonnes, which had a free-on-board (FOB) value of $2.735 billion and a Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of $2.848 billion. Between December 1 and December 19, the quantity of rice exported was 183,897 tonnes, which had an FOB value of $86.569 million and a CIF value of $91.969 million. Speaking to the Vneconomy newspaper, general secretary Huynh Minh Hue said the total quantity of rice exports for 2013 is estimated at around 6.6 million of tonnes, lower than expected. The VFA had set a goal of exporting 7.5 million tonnes of rice at the beginning of 2013. — VNS‐rice‐most‐expensive‐in‐asia.html

Philippine importation make Vietnamese rice Asia’s most expensive December 25, 2013 8:50 pm HANOI: The November Market Review by global rice market news provider Oryza has shown that that the price of Vietnamese rice remains the most expensive across Asia. According to data released last Friday, Vietnamese 5-percent broken rice was sold for $410 to $420 per ton, down $20 per ton from two weeks ago, but higher by $10 per ton from a month ago. The price of Thai rice (of the same variety), in comparison, declined $15 per ton to $380 per ton from two weeks ago. The price was also lower by $25 per ton from a month ago. Compared with the same period last year, Vietnamese rice price is higher by $5 per ton, while the price of Thai rice fell $ 170 per ton during the same period. Do Van Hao, an expert at the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, told Biz Hub that in recent times, there have been a few instances when the export price of Vietnamese rice surpassed that of Thai rice. He pointed out that it was not the first time that the Vietnamese rice price had climbed higher than the Thai rice price because such a phenomenon had occurred in the past, although for very short durations. “There are some reasons that have pushed the price of Vietnam’s rice higher than the price of Thai rice recently. First, Vietnam won a contract to export 500,000 tons of rice to the Philippines on November 25. The lowest price under this contract was $462.25 per ton, while Thai rice fetched a price of $475 per ton. That has stimulated demand for Vietnamese rice and raised export prices,” he said. Second, Thailand has permitted its rice granaries to export rice stored from earlier harvests. Currently, its granaries store tens of millions of tons of rice and the increasing exports have led to falling prices, he noted. Third, the exchange rate between the Thai baht and the US dollar has seen an increasing trend, which has lowered the price of rice in the local currency,” he added. Echoing the same sentiment, agricultural expert Vo Tong Xuan noted that while Vietnam is exporting its latest rice harvest, Thailand is selling rice from its granaries, leading to price disparities.

“Enterprises exporting rice to China and Africa have lowered their reserves. Now, in the middle of December, we cannot purchase rice from farmers because the third crop was harvested in November. Lower supply is one of the reasons that have pushed the price higher,” he added. “I think the current price is suitable because Thailand is not lowering the price of its high-quality rice. Right now, Cambodia is harvesting a new crop and a portion of that will be exported to Vietnam,” he said. Ho shrugged off worries about importing rice from overseas while the price is high, noting that price disparities are currently not too wide. He also pointed out that the variety of rice exported is different from that consumed in Vietnam. PNA‐importation‐make‐vietnamese‐rice‐asias‐most‐expensive/63109/                                  

BAS: Fewer carabaos produced during past 5 years Category: Agri-Commodities 25 Dec 2013 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent

THE production and inventory of the carabao, the country’s national animal, has been declining for the past five years, based on selected agricultural statistics recently released by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAS). The total carabao inventory in the country as of January 1, 2013, was 2.91 million heads. Last year the inventory was at 2.96 million heads, while in 2011 it was 3.07 million heads. In 2010 there were 3.27 million carabaos and 3.32 million in 2009. The number of slaughtered carabaos has also been on the decline since 2010. That year 485,000 were slaughtered but a year later, it was down to 481,000, and in 2012 the country slaughtered only 462,000. Carabao production seems to be more difficult than other livestock, and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology, agrees. The Department of Agriculture (DA) has an attached agency, the Philippine Carabao Center, tasked to undertake the propagation of the native animal through several programs that enhance its breeding. In its latest total carabao inventory on July 1, the BAS said 2.88 million heads of carabao was 1.62 percent lower than last year’s level. The DA attached agency also reported that the inventories of the carabao from both backyard and commercial farms dropped by 1.62 percent and 2.44 percent, respectively, adding that backyard farms produced 99.59 percent of the total carabao population.

“Carabao propagation is a multi-agency effort because of the importance of the native animal to our local economy,” Dr. Synan S. Baguio, assistant director for the livestock research division under PCAARRD, told the BusinessMirror in an interview. Baguio said under the buffalo-biotechnology assisted production, the government is now using the embryo-transfer technique, where eggs from newly slaughtered animals can be secured and frozen for future use. “These eggs can be transferred or injected eventually to a living animal’s ovule,” Baguio said. In its first-semester report this year, the BAS also said an average drop of 1.5 percent in the populations of four major age groups in the animal was observed. “The population of carabull, caracow, caraheifer and yearling decreased by 1.67 percent, 1.13 percent, 1.66 percent and 1.83 percent, respectively, and the inventory of carabao that belongs to other age groups decreased by 3.76 percent from the 2012 record,” the BAS noted. In its livestock production report for 2012, the BAS said livestock production recorded a 1.1percent increase. Gross output from hog improved by 1.71 percent, while poultry production grew by 4.53 percent. Increases were estimated at 4.61 percent for chicken, 4.37 percent for chicken eggs, 2.08 percent for duck and 5.52 percent for duck eggs. Carabao, cattle and goat production declined.‐commodities/24893‐bas‐fewer‐ carabaos‐produced‐during‐past‐5‐years                      

D.A.R. help to farmers, groups highlights 2013 accomplishment Category: Agri-Commodities 25 Dec 2013 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga A TOTAL of 6,499 farmers’ organizations with 921,378 members were provided various assistance and support services by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) this year. More than half of these farmers were agrarian-reform beneficiaries (ARBs), said Anthony Parungao, DAR undersecretary for legal affairs. From January to December a total of 3.24 million ARBs were also trained in organizational building and strengthening, leadership, enterprise development, farm technologies, product development and marketing, he said. These trainings, he said, aims to make farmers more productive and self-sufficient, thereby allowing them to maximize the benefit of having their own land to cultivate. During the period, Parungao said the National ARC Task Force also confirmed 70 agrarianreform communities (ARCs). ARCs are cluster of barangays composed of ARBs that receive various support from the government. During the period, Parungao said a total of 58,073 farmers became members of various organizations and cooperatives. The DAR official also said a total of 12,524 Physical Infrastructure subprojects were completed in 2013. These projects included farm-to-market roads, bridges, irrigation, postharvest facilities either through local and foreign-assisted projects and the Agrarian Reform Fund. Also, the DAR launched and completed a total of 2,128 basic social services subprojects such as health centers, potable-water supply, school building and classrooms, rural electrification and solar electricity supply. Last, the DAR said around 550,615 ARBs benefited from credit-microfinance assistance from DAR credit programs and other credit and microfinance programs implemented by partnerinstitutions.


Higher prices seen in 2014 Category: Top News 25 Dec 2013 Written by Cai U. Ordinario THE destruction wreaked by Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) on sectors like agriculture will push commodity prices higher for Filipino consumers in 2014, according to a local economist. But University of Asia and the Pacific Associate Prof. Victor Abola was quick to add that food prices, particularly that of rice, are not likely to increase as there is a rice surplus in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and India that can provide rice supply to the Philippines through importation. Abola told reporters inflation could settle at around 4 percent next year and while this is within the 3-percent to 5-percent target set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), it is higher than this year’s average of a little over 3 percent. The impact of Yolanda on both inflation and economic growth, Abola said, could last for the duration of the entire first semester or from January to June next year. Abola maintained his forecast that growth will still be within the 7-percent range next year. “The initial effect [will be] in the first quarter [because there was a] destruction of productive capacity mostly in the agriculture [sector],” Abola said. But he said the oversupply of rice in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia is making rice prices cheap in the international market. Abola said this was brought about by the reaction of farmers after the 2008 rice price crisis where farmers were encouraged to plant more because of the high price of the commodity. “Even in the case of [Typhoon] Ondoy, my analysis was [there will be high inflation in] six months and [this] will dissipate in six months. So we are looking at two quarters essentially, in the fourth quarter this year and in the first quarter of next year,” Abola said. Earlier, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said the total damage and loss from Yolanda has been initially estimated at P571.1 billion. This, he said, includes physical assets, reductions in production, sales and income, as well as the value of increased operating costs resulting from the disaster. The Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda plan said the typhoon caused some P33.98 billion in damages and losses to infrastructure; agriculture, P62.11 billion; industry and services, P116 billion; and education, P23.9 billion.

Data also showed the damage to health is worth P5.57 billion; housing, P325.24 billion; and local government, P4.3 billion. The plan also said about 90 percent of the total damages and losses have fallen on the private sector with the remaining 10 percent on the public sector.‐news/24916‐higher‐prices‐seen‐in‐2014                                            

BSP says special deposit accounts at 2-year low • •

Details Category: Top News 25 Dec 2013 Written by Bianca Cuaresma ABOUT half-a-trillion pesos was pushed out of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’s (BSP) vaults as a result of the monetary authority’s fine-tuning measures on its special deposit account (SDA) facility, latest data from the central bank showed. The aim, according to central bank officials, is to push such funds out of the central bank’s vaults and into more productive sectors of the economy. The latest SDA tally as of end-November was at P1.41 trillion, the lowest SDA level for more than two years, or since June 2011. On May 20 the BSP banned all investment management accounts (IMAs) from the SDA facility. The monetary authority gave the banks and other trust entities two deadlines to calibrate the withdrawal of IMAs in the SDA window. A 30-percent pullout was required in July this year, and the deadline completion of the total withdrawal was set in end-November this year. The BSP has also been cutting interest rates on the high-yielding facility. From the initial 3.5 percent, it has been cut by 50 basis points thrice to reach its present rate of 2 percent. The SDA level in end-November was about 25 percent lower compared with the SDA deposits in the week ending May 24—or the week when the BSP’s new mandate on access to SDA was implemented— at P1.88 trillion. This means that between May and November, about P470 billion has been flushed out of the SDA facility. From end-July this year about P360 billion went out of the high-yielding facility. BSP Deputy Governor for the Supervision and Examination Sector Nestor Espenilla Jr. earlier said the trend in the movement of funds is toward time deposits as the SDA investors’ profile is largely conservative. He, likewise, said he expects some of these funds to go back to the SDA facility once repackaged as proper pooled funds.‐news/24915‐bsp‐says‐special‐deposit‐accounts‐ at‐2‐year‐low  

Foreign aid pledges reach P23.79B Category: Top News 25 Dec 2013 Written by

FOREIGN aid pledges from various governments, financial institutions and civic organizations for the survivors of Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) have reached around P23.79 billion ($538,978,033), according to the government web site monitoring the aid. Figures from the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), as of Wednesday, showed that of the total amount, P2.8 billion ($63,417,800) are cash pledges, while P20.9 billion ($475,560,233) are non-cash pledges. Since the outpouring of support came following the November 8 typhoon that damaged many parts of Leyte and Samar provinces, the government has received cash in the total amount of P592,580,631 ($12,337,478). The FAiTH web site was set up by the government to allow the public to monitor calamity aid and assistance pledged or actually given by donor-countries or organizations, as well as those coursed through the Commission on Filipino Overseas. Malacañang said it was important to show the public that the donations are actually reaching the communities and other intended beneficiaries of the pledges.The government said it will raise P130 billion from the budget and from foreign borrowings. But former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the government-appointed rehabilitation czar, said between P200 billion and P300 billion is needed to bring the provinces back to life. In Photo: Enduring leaking roofs, typhoon survivors gather during final dawn Mass on Christmas Eve at Palo Cathedral in Palo, Leyte, on Wednesday. The Christmas Eve Mass took place in the area devastated by the November 8 Supertyphoon Yolanda’s ferocious winds and the tsunami-like storm surge. (AP)‐news/24913‐foreign‐aid‐pledges‐reach‐p23‐79b

Palace cool on proposal to exempt water, power, oil from taxes By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is cool to the proposal of lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc to speed up the passage of three bills seeking to exempt water, electricity and oil from the value-added tax (VAT). Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office said: “This involves amendment of existing laws and requires a comprehensive study of far reaching implications on revenue collections and the budget deficit.” The Makabayan bloc said Filipino consumers are already weighed down by the unabated increase in the cost of utility services and petroleum products, as well as the high prices of basic commodities.‐cool‐proposal‐exempt‐water‐power‐ oil‐taxes    

YEARENDER: 2013 a year of major natural disasters By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   1  1 googleplus0  0  

A crane sifts through the rubble of the damaged Our Lady of Assumption Parish church following a 7.2‐ magnitude earthquake, at Dauis in Bohol, central Philippines, Tuesday Oct. 15, 2013. (AP file photo) 

MANILA, Philippines - The year 2013 has been marked by major natural disasters for the Philippines as the country bore the brunt of a monster typhoon and a deadly earthquake that killed thousands and left billions of pesos in damage to infrastructure and properties. A total of 25 tropical cyclones have entered the country this year, surpassing the average of 19 to 20 cyclones annually, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. On Nov. 8, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) slammed Tacloban City, Leyte, Samar and other provinces in Eastern Visayas with strong winds and storm surges as high as seven meters, killing more than 6,000 people. As of Dec. 23, over 1,700 remained missing, including PAGASA weather observer Salvacion Avestruz. PAGASA Tacloban station chief Mario Pearanda said Avestruz, 42, tried to save the bureau’s microbarograph even though a huge wave was about to swallow the station.

PAGASA has incurred P74.24 million in damage to weather stations and equipment, including a P30-million meteorological buoy installed in Bantayan Island, Cebu. Yolanda also destroyed the agency’s Doppler radar in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, which serves as the country’s first line of defense against typhoons. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

PAGASA Visayas director Oscar Tabada said the destruction of the P450-million Doppler radar in Guiuan has made the country’s eastern section blind to incoming typhoons. Yolanda packed winds of 235 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 275 kph when it made landfall over Guiuan at 4:40 a.m. on Nov. 8. It made a second landfall over Tolosa, Leyte at 7 a.m. on the same day. In all, Yolanda made landfall six times before exiting the Philippine area of responsibility on Nov. 9. The damage to infrastructure and agriculture rose to P36.691 billion as of Dec. 23, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The typhoon affected more than 16 million people in the Visayas and some parts of Southern Luzon. Yolanda is now considered one of the four most powerful typhoons ever recorded in the world and the most intense to have made landfall. It is also the strongest and most destructive cyclone to hit the Philippines in more than four decades, according to PAGASA. Other destructive cyclones that hit the country this year were Labuyo, Odette, Santi and Vinta. Typhoon Labuyo (Utor) battered Northern Luzon last August, leaving at least 11 people dead and damage to property worth P1 billion. Odette (Usagi), the first super typhoon to hit the country this year, battered Northern and Central Luzon, Bicol, Mimaropa and the Visayas in September, leaving damage to property worth P59 million. A total of 6,728 families were affected by the heavy rains. Typhoon Santi (Nari) slammed Northern and Central Luzon in October, killing at least 15 people. Disaster officials said Santi left damage to infrastructure and agriculture amounting to P3 billion. Tropical storm Vinta (Krosa) also entered the country in October, killing at least four people and leaving P276.6 million worth of damage to property.

In August, torrential rains spawned by Tropical Storm Maring (Trami) flooded most parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. The storm left at least eight people dead. PAGASA climatologists said seven out of the 11 cyclones that visited the country from the second half of September to mid-December reached typhoon category. Experts also observed slightly warmer sea surface temperatures in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans during the period, which could have triggered the intensification of the weather disturbances. PAGASA said warm sea temperature is favorable for tropical cyclone formation. “The (Pacific) Ocean was so warm during Yolanda’s development,” PAGASA climatologist Ana Liza Solis said. Killer quake On Oct. 15, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the provinces of Bohol and Cebu, killing more than 200 people and displacing tens of thousands of residents. At least 797 were reported injured, 692 of them from Bohol. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) director Renato Solidum said the quake was generated by a blind fault, now called the North Bohol Fault. The powerful earthquake moved part of Bohol closer to Cebu by 55 centimeters but the phenomenon does not pose any threat to Cebu or Bohol, Solidum said. The tremor has generated more than 4,000 aftershocks. Solidum had warned aftershocks are likely to continue for months or years but these are expected to be weaker than the main shock. The Phivolcs chief also said the North Bohol Fault might not move in several hundreds of years. But there are other faults and volcanoes in other parts of the country that will generate earthquakes. The Philippines is no stranger to catastrophic natural disasters. It was ranked as the third most disaster-prone country in the world because of its high exposure to natural calamities based on the World Disaster Report 2012 released in Brussels, Belgium. A recent National Geographic article cited five reasons why the Philippines is prone to natural disasters, including warm ocean waters and low-lying coasts.‐2013‐year‐major‐natural‐disasters      

Tobacco firm’s plan to produce cheaper cigarettes bucked By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  2 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - The plan of tobacco giant Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) to manufacture cheaper cigarettes is being opposed by the Department of Health (DOH) as this would weaken the sin tax law. Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa said the scheme is a ploy to skirt around the sin tax law, which was designed to increase the taxes for tobacco and alcohol products. “If you lower the price of the premium brand, you will just tempt young people into smoking. That is being done to undermine the law,” Herbosa said in a recent forum. Reports showed the PMFTC was planning to come up with lower-priced cigarettes to be able to compete with local brands. Some smokers have shifted to the cheaper brands since the prices of premium cigarettes increased due to the sin tax law. PMFTC’s Philip Morris and Marlboro cigarettes are considered premium brands, as their prices are higher than their local counterparts, particularly Mighty cigarettes of the Mighty Corp., which has become popular among smokers. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

Herbosa said efforts to derail the sin tax law are expected even as he urged the public to remain vigilant. The measure was enacted exactly a year ago this month after a grueling battle in Congress. “The battle is not over yet and that’s why we continue our battle. Some people will continue to try to remove the effects of the law,” he said. The health official described PMFTC’s plan as “not very good” as it would lure young people – who are “price sensitive” – into smoking. He said the sin tax law is important to DOH, as this would enable the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to include in its coverage more indigent Filipinos.‐firms‐plan‐produce‐cheaper‐ cigarettes‐bucked    

More bank branches being built By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   18  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - Banks continued to build more branches as of September this year on the back of expansion plans and a growing banking system. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data showed the total number of bank offices climbed to 9,720 as of September from 9,301 in the same period last year. This also reflect continuing efforts to extend financial services especially to the rural areas to reach the unbanked or underbanked. BSP data also showed the number of head offices fell to 676 from 705 a year ago following closures of a number of rural banks. Bank branches, meanwhile, increased to 9,044 as of September from 8,596 last year. Universal and commercial banks made up more than half of the total number of bank branches at 5,330, higher than the 5,028 recorded a year ago. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

The number of head offices slid to 36 from 37 following the merger of Philippine National Bank and Allied Banking Corporation, while the number of branches grew to 5,294 from 4,991 on the back of big banks’ aggressive expansion. Thrift banks saw the number of their head offices increase to 71 from 69, and their branches to 1,702 from 1,476. But rural and cooperative banks saw a decline in the number of their head offices and branches due to foreclosures experienced by a number of small banks over the past year. Head offices of rural and cooperative banks fell to 569 from 599, while branches decreased to 2,048 from 2,129. Aside from bank offices, BSP data also showed non-banks grew their offices as of the third quarter from the same period last year. The total number of non-bank offices went up to 17,927 as of September from 17,323 a year ago. Breaking it down further, the number of head offices fell to 6,267 from 6,449 amid foreclosures and mergers, while branches climbed to 11,660 from 10,874 due to office expansion.‐bank‐branches‐being‐built                          

More funding support for SMEs urged By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - More funding support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and exports promotion are in the wish list of exporters for next year to allow them to reach higher export earnings. Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said in a telephone interview exporters would like the government to put more focus on the development of SMEs, particularly in terms of improved access to financing. “For SMEs, this will help them weigh in on competition,” he said. He noted that access to financing has always been a challenge for SMEs. “The key is for the government to make the Magna Carta for M(micro)SME work,” he said. Republic Act 9501 or the Magna Carta for MSMEs mandates lending institutions to set aside at least eight percent for micro and small enterprises, and at least two percent for medium size firms, of their total loan portfolio based on their balance sheet as of the end of the previous quarter. Ortiz-Luis said providing more funding for exports promotions would also help exporters expand their market and increase revenues from outbound shipments. “There is no dedicated fund focused solely on the development and promotions of exports which will be at par with our competitors,” he said. He noted that the government’s budget for export promotions, which is a little over P200 million, is small compared to the billions spent by other Southeast Asian nations which spend billions. If more funding support would be provided by government for export promotions, Ortiz-Luis said, more firms would be able to participate in trade shows overseas. Latest available data from the National Statistics Office showed that for the January to October period, merchandise exports registered a 1.3 percent increase to $45.085 billion this year from $44.518 billion in the same period of 2012. Ortiz-Luis said Philexport is hopeful that merchandise exports would post positive growth by the end of the year compared to 2012 despite the weak performance of electronics which make up the bulk of total merchandise shipments. Last year, total merchandise exports were valued at $51.994 billion.‐funding‐support‐smes‐urged

PCHRD study finds heavy metals in fruit juices by Edd K. Usman  December 26, 2013 (updated)  

A study conducted by an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) found traces of heavy metals in some ready-to-drink fruit juices and other condiments. The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), without naming brands, said cadmium and lead contaminants were found in 17 fruit juices, five bottled ice teas, and 18 condiment samples found in local supermarket. They also “detected Cd and Pb in fruit juices and condiment samples but not in tea samples.” The study described cadmium (Cd) as “a bluish-white element used in batteries, pigments, and protective plating, while lead (Pb) is a bluish-white soft plastic but inelastic heavy metallic element found mostly in pipes, cable sheaths, and batteries.” While Cd and Pb are present in the environment through natural processes and activities, the study said, these heavy metals have chances of ending up in food, thus, posing health risks to people. “Although the concentrations [of heavy metals] in the fruit juice and [condiment] samples are relatively low, routine monitoring is still necessary as effects of these contaminants are dependent on the extent of the exposure,” the agency said.‐warns‐of‐heavy‐metals‐in‐fruit‐juices/                      

2013 12 26 quedancor daily news monitor  
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