Disaster Preparedness for the Big One

Agri think tank strengthens partnerships on School +Home Garden needed in crises like Covid 19

March 25, 2020

For any questions or interview requests, please contact0929-715-8669, 0917-102-6734 (Growth Publishing for SEARCA); https://growthfeatures.com/2020/03/25/agri-think-tank-strengthens-partnerships-on-school-home-garden-needed-in-crises-like-covid-19/

An agricultural think-tank has strengthened its partnerships on its “School Plus Home Garden Project” (S+HGP) as farming is evidently a pressing need in light of crises like Covid 19 that poses critical food security concerns especially in urban areas.

While old school garden programs used to focus on just “educating” children on agriculture, the S+HGP of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in AGriculture (SEARCA) also stresses nutrition and economic and overall welfare of learners.

Thus, its application includes homes even in urban areas that are faced with food security problems particularly in crises as the lockdowns.

Incidentally,lockdowns—when people could hardly go out of their homes just to buy food– are implemented globally may lengthen indefinitely for a period of time.

SEARCA is now replicating its S+HGP through partnerships, primarily with the Department of Agriculture (DepEd).

And this is open to other institutions even in urban areas that find it critically important to keep their own food gardens for food, sustainability—and many other purposes.

In its pilot work on S+HGP in six schools in Laguna, SEARCA found out even parents of schoolchildren learned the multiple importance of home gardens.”

“More than just establishing home gardens, the parents developed a greater sense of responsibility to ensure good nutrition for their children, while also saving on food expenses. It highlighted the multi-functionality of school gardens,” according to Blesilda M. Calub, Leila S. Africa, and Bessie M. Burgos—SEARCA resource persons.

Such “multi-functionality” of great significance includes home gardens’ use to promote environmental sustainability, organic agriculture, edible landscaping, learning about climate change, and solid waste management (use of agricultural wastes as organic fertilizer).

The S+HGP easily expanded from 6 schools to 2 adopted schools, 23 sister schools, and 3 brother schools, according to the SEARCA officials, along with team members Henry M. Custodio, Shun Nan Chiang, Ann Gale C. Valles, Elson IanNyl E. gAling, and Maria Katrina R. Punto

The S+HGP also stresses the important role in the local economy of local government units (LGU) that can provide funds for a more unified, LGU wide home gardening.

“Plus in S+HGP promotes year-round production of nutritious food from both the school and home gardens… and (involving) LGUs to allocate funds, providing capacity building initiatives and services to maintain the school gardens or helping parents establish home gardens,” said SEARCA.

SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio said an important function of home and school gardens is in opening minds of the youth in making them appreciate farming or agri-preneurship as a potential career, business, or profession.

Gregorio has pushed for SEARCA’s partnership with DepEd on including an agriculture subject or course into DepEd’s K-12 curriculum, particularly in senior high school, where youngsters are trained on technical-vocational skills.

Under the pilot study, the SEARCA program aimed to increase diversity and availability of food to meet the nutritional needs of children, increase knowledge and improve skills of students, teachers, and parents on food production and nutrition, reduce food expenses, create savings, and provide an alternative source of income for families to alleviate poverty.

Pilot program results

Under the pilot program, teachers learned to prepare cropping calendars, the sequence of plant specific crops based on good timing so harvest can be year-round. The top 10 most produced crops were mustard, pechay, okra, radish, lettuce, kulitis (amarathn), papaya, upo, patola, and talinum.

These are other positive results of the program, according to SEARCA report:

· The improved supply quality of fresh vegetables in the school-year studied had an estimated aggregate yield of 1,396 kilos valued at P42,559. Harvest per school ranged from 87-465 kilos depending on garden area with 19 to 77 percent used for school feeding, 0.5-36 percent shared with pupils and parent helpers, and 1-45 percent sold to other parents and teachers or cooked in class.

· There were significant increases in height, weight, and Body Mass Index (of participating students), translating to 33 percent rehabilitation rate from wasted to normal nutritional status among the pilot elementary schools and 44 percent rehabilitation rate in the secondary school.

· There was an increase from 49 to 55 percent in the proportion for studetns who ate vegetables.

· The program became a venue for learning environmental sustainability. Topics included producing organic fertilizer from segregated biodegradable wastes, and mulching to protect soil from erosion, conserve soil moisture, control weeds, and increase soil organic matter for soil carbon build up. The mini-greenhouse provided by the project was designed with a rainwater collection system to showcase a simple climate-smart strategy to adapt to climate change.

Garden tools

The S+HGP provided its participants garden inputs and tools, a mini greenhouse with rainwater collection system for schools, garden inputs, and tools. From these, the schools produced vegetable seedlings year-round.

“This used to be a major constraint because their practice of direct seeding exposed the seeds to too much rain, sunlight, or to insect pests. Capacity building for teachers included training on garden planning, edible landscaping, organic vegetable production and pest management, and vermicomposting,” SEARCA reported.

In Alaminos, the pilot school was provided by the LGU with a vermicomposting shed.

The S+HGP was funded by SEARCA and the Asian Development Bank-Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction through the SEAMEO College.

Meanwhile, SEARCA’s K-12 curriculum program already prepares youngsters for a more in-depth professional agri-preneurship career.

“The programs include faculty development — offering graduate scholarships in agriculture and allied degrees, short courses on agribusiness and agri-entrepreneurial mindset and education, and continuing education and professional licensure exams review services,” Gregorio said.

“The program shall embed upgraded agri-business context and examples in the K to 12 curriculum”.

DepEd Secretary Leonor M. Briones said the DepEd will explore urban-based gardening for schools in urban areas like gardening on rooftops and pots.

“Make agriculture sexy like grafting. That is very interesting, kasi may (application) ng science iyan (Science has an application on that). Hindi ka lang nagtatanim at gumagawa ng (You are not just planting and making) organic fertilizers,” she added.

Briones reported that there are existing schools with little farms and school sites bigger in size and even have tilapia farms.

With ages ranging from 15 to 34, Gregorio said the Southeast Asian population is young — providing their respective countries many benefits because “they can become good leaders and the catalyst for economic, social, and cultural development”



1. School+Home Garden model together with Department of Agriculture, DepEd, LGUs

2. Multi functions of School+Home Garden

3. Grade school pupils are able to eat nutritious vegetables, learn farming, and find work fulfilment from the School+Home Garden Program


 Private sector fears threat of massive buyout of farm land due to REIT revisions

March 16, 2020

For any questions or interview requests, please contact 09297158669, 09171026734 (Growth Publishing for PCAFI); https://growthfeatures.com/2020/03/16/private-sector-fears-threat-of-massive-buyout-of-farm-land-due-to-reit-revisions/

The private sector has expressed fear over imminent threat of massive buyout of farm land arising from the revisions in the Real Estate Investment Trust Act (REIT) that could leave more farmers jobless.

Despite envisioned intensified economic development to be brought by the revised REIT Act of 2009, the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) has expressed fear over imminent destruction of agricultural lands. These can be the cheapest land up for sale for developers.

“The REIT is a mode of floating in the stock market shares of properties. The (revised) law is now reducing public ownership of a REIT to 33 percent (enabling increased control of private companies). Therefore all developers – Ayala, Megaworld, Vistaland, Robinson’s Land—everybody is now up to develop more lands,” said PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto.

“You will see massive acquisition of land— (possibly even including big farm lands) in Central Luzon. Where will they get the land? From farmers losing in rice.” Incidentally, the Rice Tariffication Act (RTA) implemented last year appears to be supporting REIT as it has rendered many rice Filipino farmers bankrupt. “What is happening is there will be malls inside a vast track of land. In the next century, there will no more be land for food,” he said.

The revised REIT IRR took effect last February 7. The law, as of 2011, was imposing upon REITs to offer shares to public a minimum of 40 percent of the outstanding capital stock for the first year. This minimum public ownership (MPO) should be raised to 67 percent within three years from listing.

However, this high MPO discouraged land developers as they would barely have control over the venture with a measly 33 percent. But the revision now encourages massive real estate development. However, this makes a despicable picture for farms. Therefore, PCAFI is pressing government to offer a compromise by raising investments in farm development.

Fausto said government should give agriculture a similar support since it is the backbone of the economy and is a source of raw materials for industrial  development. Particularly, government should pour money into guarantee for farm production in order to encourage banks and investors to lend to agriculture.

“The government should also develop farm lands (along with real estate lands). You look at the housing sector. It receives P180 billion in guarantee. But how much is the guarantee for agriculture? Only P5 billion. So, I’m asking them (policymakers), ‘Can you eat concrete walls?’”

While government is investing huge amount for Build Build Build including farm-to-market roads, this will just lead to massive conversion of farm lands into residential-and commercial lands without the support for farm production.

“Farm-to-market roads accelerate delivery of produce to market. But if you do not have goods to deliver, you will just accelerate sale of farm lands to real estate developers,” said Fausto.

“The REIT is a massive accumulation of capital to develop lands. We can’t stop that anymore. But why don’t we have a balance? Let’s develop lands, but also develop agriculture production so you can feed people in call centers,” he said.

PCAFI is also pushing for the immediate passage of the Land Use Act which will prevent massive conversion of agricultural lands into residential-commercial areas. Conversion is feared even of irrigated areas where government already put in huge investments.

Unfortunately,even irrigated areas are subject to threat of conversion into residential-commercial areas just by the passage of an ordinance by local government officials. Fausto said the Land Use Act will solidify the presence of investors in agriculture.

“Our investors will have stability with Land Use Act. They’re putting in millions and billions in investments. But at the end of the day, their land may be converted because we don’t have a proper land use law. Lands that are perfectly productive should remain producing food for our country,” said Fausto.

Without the Land Use Act, farm companies that invest huge amount for poultry or livestock farms and processing facilities may suffer losses from land conversion ordinances recklessly issued by influential government officials. End

PHOTO Private agriculture sector led by PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto (Second from left) push for agro-industrial development with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez (Leftmost) as audience


Hybrid corn of agriculture leader Bayer Crop Science posts record-high 14.85 MT yield, more Filipino farmers anticipated to grow corn

February 5, 2020

For any questions or interview requests, please contact 0929-715-8669 09171026734 (Growth Publishing for Bayer Philippines); https://growthfeatures.com/2020/02/05/hybrid-corn-of-agriculture-leader-bayer-crop-science-posts-record-high-14-85-mt-yield-more-filipino-farmers-anticipated-to-grow-corn/

· Two new Dekalb corn hybrids top Mindanao corn derby with record 14.85 MT yield, more farmers expected to plant corn

· Dekalb 8899S and 8719S hybrid corn varieties to be pushed by Bayer with their good performance in Mindanao region

Two corn Dekalb corn hybrids of agriculture leader Bayer Crop Science have come out as topnotchers in a government-led corn competition in in three Mindanao sites, posting a record high for the region with a computed yield of 14.85 metric tons (MT) per hectare.

A four-month planting program co-hosted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and municipal agricultural offices in Compostela Valley, Davao City, and Sarangani have exhibited the highest potential yield of the hybrids, given optimum growing conditions and proper crop management.

In Compostela Valley, Dekalb 8719S came out a first place with 14.85 MT per hectare. Its yield was 14.12 MT in Davao City, also the highest yield in the province.

In Davao City, the second place was garnered by another Bayer corn hybrid, Dekalb 8899S with 13.38 MT per hectare.

Samuel B. Ontic, DA Malungon municipal corn coordinator, said the government anticipates more farmers will be encouraged to plant corn as the new corn varieties offer bigger profitability potential for corn planting.

“That is really our objective in putting up these technology-demo sites—to show farmers the best hybrid corn varieties suitable in their areas,” said Ontic. “Varieties perform best depending on the location and this activity demonstrates which corn hybrids are most ideal for their farm.”

The computed yield from Bayer’s products are highly significant in the Philippines where the average corn yield is only at 3.1 MT per hectare based on Philippine Statistics Authority records.

The corn derby in DA Malungon was conducted in MTDC – Integrated Communal and Research Garden, Sitio Basak, Malandag, Malungon, Sarangani Province during the September 2019 to January 2020 cropping season.

As part of the competition protocol, two different types of fertilizers were applied to all the competing hybrid corn varieties. This way, farmers would have the opportunity to determine which fertilizer and fertilization level to use for optimum plant growth.

“We recognize the importance of having a sustainable corn industry in Mindanao to meet

demand and we’re excited to have new corn hybrid varieties in the pipeline that farmers here may consider in the coming season,” claimed Erwin Vibal, head of marketing for Bayer Crop Science. “The corn derby results show an achievable scenario on the potential yield and income that Mindanao farmers can get with the right inputs and sound crop management practices.”

Farmers’ Perspective

Edwin Ligahon, a corn farmer in South Cotabato, said Dekalb 8899S is indeed a “super” variety among all corn hybrids. “A few hybrid corn varieties can get double ears per plant, but for 8899S, most of the plants have two ears that can be harvested with both being heavy,” said Ligahon.

From the two hectares that he planted with Dekalb 8899S, he reaped 312 cavans. Shelling recovery is high which he estimates to be more than 80 percent. With his highly satisfactory harvest, he plans to expand planting of 8899S to five hectares by the next planting season.

It even helps that Ligahon is a resourceful farmer as he runs his own feed processing business. With the value chain in place, his costs for producing feeds are reduced since he grows his own raw materials.

Mar Nacional, a farmer who tilled Dekalb 8899S, claimed that applying fertilizers at the right time is essential for good harvest. He added that proper cultivation of the soil aids moisture and nutrient retention which are vital for the crop.

“First and foremost, it’s the right choice of hybrid corn variety that makes the difference if you want to reach the optimum yield potential,” said Nacional.

Adaptability Across Mindanao

Ontic claimed that the biggest advantage of the new corn varieties from Bayer is their adaptability in both uplands and lowlands of Mindanao region.

“Some corn varieties that have tall plants cannot be grown in hilly or sloping areas, only on flat land. These new hybrids may be grown even on uplands because of their short height,” he said. “Shorter plants with strong stalks are more resistant to lodging, thus surviving strong winds or even some typhoons that destroy plants just before harvest.”

Bayer’s hybrid corn Dekalb 8899S, launched in late 2019, was bred to have a stable yield performance under drought conditions. Across high and low elevation corn areas in Mindanao, it has shown consistently high shelling recovery at 82%. It also has good resistance against Diplodia ear rot, Phaeosphaeria Leaf Spot (PLS) and other foliar diseases which are critical for the high disease pressure areas in Mindanao. Maturity ranges from 105 to 120 days, depending on the elevation level and season.

Another Bayer hybrid corn variety, Dekalb 8719S, will be launched this coming season. It boasts of good resistance against Gibberella ear rot, more known by farmers as ‘lipstick’ because of the purpling of the corn ear near the top during the later stage of the crop.

Having bold orange kernels adds to its attractiveness and potential for grains to be sold at a premium. The plant of 8719S has a stay green quality which can last until harvest period so it is able to absorb more nutrients for better ear development. (Growth Publishing for Bayer Ph)


1. Dekalb 8719S in the field ready for harvest

2. Mindanao corn farmers showing off ears of Dekalb 8899S and Dekalb 8719S in a harvest festival

3. Dekalb 8899S during a harvest in Mindanao

The Department of the Interior and Local Government as well as the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Public Works and Highways also with the Philippine National Police, the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the  Department of Science and Technology prepares for the Big One at DZMJ Online Season 25 Episode 6