DA Chief meets ‘Father of hybrid rice’

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala (2nd from left) meets Professor Yuan Longping (middle), China’s ‘Father of hybrid rice,’ and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing (left), who called on him, April 1, 2013, at the DA national office in Quezon City. Professor Longpin shared with the DA chief how he developed hybrid rice that made China self-sufficient and a major producer.

Currently the Director General of China Hybrid Rice R&D Center, Longpin is in the country to keynote the 1st National Hybrid Rice Congress, April 3-5, 2013, at the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute, in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. During the meeting, Secretary Alcala and Ambassador Ma also discussed the expansion of the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology (PhilSCAT) in Muñoz, including the establishment of 100-hectare production areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to field-test  PhilSCAT-developed hybrid rice varieties and farm machinery. Also shown with them are SL Agritech Corp. chairman and CEO Henry Lim Bon Liong and former PhilRice director and current DA rice program consultant Dr. Santiago Obien. (Photo by Katrhrino Resurreccion, DA Information Service)

Ancient Treasures in Agriculture

They survived, sustained life and lived life abundantly in the past.

Ancient folk talk of how the fields gave back life to humans as they treated the soil as if it were a living soul. This is ancient knowledge that have preserved the fertility of the soil and making it a treasure that could preseve mankind in the modern world of machines, computers, and terrible wastes that refuse to  decompose. Modern day farmers are now taking a look at how the ancient farmers created plentiful production despite the lack of farm machineries and soil treatment.   

We are just grateful that the meme to sustain organic agriculture has inspired the farmers in the region, who through the years have been battered with advertisements  to switch to  chemical agriculture.

The advancing world could be  blamed for the decay of the once fertile soil. This was the thought I gathered from an interview with the  Director for Research and Development of the Bohol Island State University, Marina Labonite, when she recalled in her highschool days how they were being trained in the academe to stick to conventional or organic farming to preserve the soil. But a disruption of the thought came when there was a deluge of advocacies  from multinational companies  for chemical farming. She reminisced , how farmers started to become heavy users of chemicals until in 1998, the farmers experienced problems in their farms.

Compacted soil, low yield,  surge of pests and diseases are just some of the problems that were encountered , not to mention the various illnesses chemical farming wrought to them. Labonite recounted the time when farmers came to her for help. A collaborative effort was then made to rescue the ailing farming communities- a needs assessment was necessary to unveil solutions of their current dilemma.

Interestingly, the farmers themselves realized that somehow their abandonment of the once treasured knowledge and practice in organic agriculture is the primary cause of their plight.

Hand in hand with the Department of Agriculture, the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE) and the Bohol Island State University- each institution gave her piece to solve the problem.  The DA assisted the farmers to re-learn the Natural Farming System (NFS), and introduced the use of the trichoderma and the effective micro-organisms in the field.

It was the need that made them realize   their mistakes  and made them discover the once forgotten treasure in agriculture.

Availabilty of the long lost traditional rice varieties  was a requirement to pursue their desire to harmonize with nature. Use of  the traditional varieties incur less expenses and less incidence of pests and diseases- the farmers recalled.

It was a long and tedious task as  to who should handle the storage of seeds due to lack of space but finally the brilliant idea to  have the farmers produce their own seed and bank it at BISU was a  relief to the stand off. Currenlty they have 162 accessions  and farmers  are taught to breed rice using the traditional cross-breeding technique. Farmers still look for the old varieties such as Malubang, Paganahaw and the Milagrosa., as these are less tedious to grow. Labonite confidently said that 90% of the farmers in Bilar have reconnected with their treasured past by practicing organic agriculture   and utilizing their self-made fertilizers using rice straw , rice hulls and other farm wastes.

Surprisingly, the farmers realized that going back to the ancient practice of organic agriculture has eradicated their seemingly perennial problem of pervading pests and diseases and even their products have sure markets  while it is yet  standing in the field.

Farmers as Entrepreneurs

The Department of Agriculture will strongly support initiatives to enable farmers sell their produce directly to institutional buyers, assuring them of sustained and bigger incomes. 


RP-Iraq sugar trade in the works

SPJA with Iraqi ambAgriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Iraqi Ambassador Wadee Batti Hanna Al-Batti discuss trade partnership on sugar, long grain aromatic organic rice and other agricultural products during a courtesy visit at the Department of Agriculture this month. Iraq has expressed interest in buying a huge volume of sugar under a $300 million budget allotted for some 2,500 projects. According to Alcala, the country is open to Iraqi investors who might be interested in farm mechanization and farm processing technologies. (photo by Kathrino Resurreccion) 

Ciao agricoltura

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala (left) and Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno share a light moment during the latter’s visit at the Department of Agriculture (DA) office in Quezon City on March 18, 2013. Alcala and Roscigno discussed possible initiatives between the Italian Government and the DA to uplift lives and livelihoods of rural folks in Mindanao. Roscigno stressed that he wants to avoid duplication of projects that are already in place thru foreign funding institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Thus, the Agriculture chief promised that he will ascertain which rural communities are already receiving aid to prevent overlapping of programs.  (Photo by: Jose Lucas, DA-Information Service)

DA helps boost mango industry

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala (3rd from left) forges a deal with the Philippine Mango Industry Foundation Inc. (PMIFI) thru its President Virginia de la Fuente (2nd from left) that will provide P10-million (M) assistance to the local mango industry during the commencement of the 15th National Mango Congress on March 20, 2013 at the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University in Iba, Zambales.

Under the agreement, the Department of Agriculture will provide farmers inputs and technical assistance, via the PMIFI, to improve and modernize the mango sector of the country. During the event, Alcala also provided 50,000 mango seedlings to Zambales mango growers and raffled out farm inputs worth P5 M.  Others in the photo are: DA-High Value Crops Development Program National Coordinator Jennifer Remoquillo (right), Zambales 2nd district Rep. Jun Omar Ebdane (standing, center) and Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane (behind Alcala). (Photo by: Alan Jacalan, DA-Information Service)

BAI receives rabies vaccines from OIE

Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Livestock Davinio Catbagan (2nd from left) and Office International des Epizooties (OIE) or World Organisation for Animal Health representative Agnes Poirier hold a box of rabies vaccines awarded by the OIE to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI)during a ceremonial turn-over on March 8, 2013. The BAI was given 500, 000 doses of rabies vaccines, 125, 000 dog collars, and advocacy materials including posters and flyers.

The event is part of the National Rabies Awareness Month and BAIS’s initiatives to fully eradicate rabies by 2020. Aside from the Philippines, OIE has provided vaccines to other Southeast Asian countries like Laos and Vietnam as part of its Highly Pathogenic and Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases in Asia (HPED) funded by the European Union. Also in photo are BAI Director Rubina Cresencio (right) and BAI OIC-Assistant Director Simeon Amurao, Jr. (left). (Photo by: Jose Lucas, DA-Information Service)

Mango harvest in Dasol, Pangasinan.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala (left) holds a basket of newly-harvested mangoes, at a 409-hectare Dasoland adventure park, in Dasol, Pangasinan. Boasting of 7,500 mango trees, Dasoland was recently accredited by the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry as a mango nursery operator and source of quality mango seedlings for propagation. During his visit, on March 7, 2013, the DA chief said Dasoland — owned by the family of Menardo

Jimenez, former president and CEO of GMA media network — will be included in the list agri-tourism sites that the DA will endorse to Filipino and foreign visitors. Joining him (from left) are Mrs. Carolina Jimenez of Dasoland, DA high value crops development program Director Jennifer Remoquillo, and DA Ilocos Regional Director Valentino Perdido. (Photo by Kathrino Resurreccion, DA Information Service)

DA to construct P50-M FMR, SWIP in Quezon

The Department of Agriculture will construct a P45-million farm-to-market road (FMR) and a P5-million small water impounding project (SWIP) in Bgy. Ibabang Talim, Lucena City, to further prop up the productivity and incomes of Quezon farmers. Photo shows Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala (left) instructing Bureau of Soils and Water

Management (BSWM) Region 4-A engineer Ernesto Brampio to fast-track the SWIP, during a capsule-laying ceremony, February 27, 2013. Joining them are BSWM director Silvino Tejada (2nd from left), Barangay Ibabang Talim captain Rolando Ebreo (right), and DA Region 4-A director Vilma Dimaculangan (partly hidden). While in his home province, the DA chief also led the launch of the ‘National Year of Rice’ advocacy campaign, starting with a holy mass at St. Ferdinand Cathedral officiated by Bishop Emilio Marquez, and several farmers’ forum in Lucena, Atimonan and Lopez, where he handed over and raffled off to farmers P2-7 million worth of hand tractors, knapsack sprayers, water pump engine sets, rice harvester-cutters, threshers, draft animals with implements, and Anglo Nubian breeder bucks. (Photo by Jose Lucas, DA Information Service)

P-Noy leads ceremonial Groundbreaking of P11-B Jalaur irrigation project in Iloilo

President Benigno S. Aquino III (2nd from left) and Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala (right) lead the ceremonial groundbreaking of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project (JRMPP) Stage II that will transform Iloilo and Western Visayas into the country's

major rice producer and help sustain rice self-sufficiency in Western Visayas.  Joining them (from left) are Senator Franklin Drilon, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr., and former Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas, Sr. ### (DA-Region VI)

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