Shellfish Bulletin No. 23 Series of 2020 dated October 20, 2020

Based on the latest laboratory results of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Local Government Units (LGUs), shellfishes collected at coastal waters of Bataan (Mariveles, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Hermosa, Orani, Abucay and Samal); coastal waters of Inner Malampaya Sound, Taytay and  Puerto Princesa Bay, Puerto Princesa City in Palawan; coastal waters of Milagros in Masbate; Coastal waters of Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol; Tambobo Bay, Siaton in Negros Oriental; coastal waters of Daram Island, Zumarraga, and Irong-irong and San Pedro Bays in Western Samar; Cancabato Bay, Tacloban City in Leyte; Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; Balite Bay, Mati City in Davao Oriental; and Lianga Bay and coastal waters of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur are still positive for paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond the regulatory limit.

Moreover, Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa City in Palawan; Maqueda and Villareal Bays in Western Samar; and Carigara Bay in Leyte are now positive for red tide toxin.

ALL TYPES OF SHELLFISH and Acetes sp. or alamang gathered from these areas are NOT SAFE for human consumption.


Corn entrepreneur and ex-VP of banana-exporting multinational Unifrutti pleads for help for poorer corn farmers

October 15, 2020

A former vice president of banana-exporting multinational Unifrutti has pleaded for help for poorer corn farmers who are being “killed” by illegal smugglers and importers even as price plunged to an all-time high P9 per kilo.

Rodolfo Pancrudo, farmer-owner of Pancrudo Farm in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, has asked

government not to allow the killing of corn farmers.

This may be the ultimate plight of farmers since they do not enjoy corn support price, supposedly expected before from the National Food Administration (NFA). Nor do they have post harvest facilities by which to dry and store their corn.

Mechanical dryers and storage facilities should enable them to hold their sale of corn and wait until prices become more profitable.

“Traders haggle for the lowest price and tell farmers, ‘Your corn is of low quality.’ That’s why farmers are forced to sell their corn even at only P9 per kilo because they need money. Otherwise the harvest will just go to waste since there are no post harvest facilities,”said Pancrudo.

While he is more fortunate because he is a retiree of Unifrutti, one of the world’s largest producer-exporters of fresh produce, more farmers are poor.

“I am just more fortunate since I am more of an entrepreneur. I have an integrated farm. It’s a kind of sustainable farming. But I see farmers having a very difficult life. They are in a hand-to-mouth existence,” he said.

Pancrudo Farm also has a piggery. The farm uses hogs’ dung to feed a biogas facility and uses it for fertilizer. It also grows papaya as Pancrudo is a sub-contractor of also multinational Del Monte.

“I hope other corn farmers may also become entrepreneurs. But most of them are not learned. When I retired from my company (Unifrutti), I went into farming just to practice my being an agriculture engineer. But many farmers run to me for these problems. I have to speak for them.”

The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) with its president, Danilo V. Fausto, has been seeking an audience from the Department of Agriculture (DA) regarding the plight of farmers in light of the Covid 19 food crisis. PCAFI asked for least an increase in tariff of farm commodities—mainly rice – so as to support local farmers.

For corn, DA should at least prohibit imported corn to coincide with the harvest.

However, PCAFI member and Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PMFI) President Roger V. Navarro feared DA’s inaction on the plummeting corn price forebodes a collapse of the sector. Worse, DA appears to be attempting to hide the problem of farmers experiencing low corn price.

“To my mind, this is not a good indication. (DA’s trying to cover up the truth) tries to tell the people to keep quiet as it intentionally tries to hide the problem and the reality,” said Navarro.

“We cannot hide the trutht that we have a problem in agriculture. In effect DA is building a high wall. But the crack on the wall runs down that it may suddenly collapse—shattered and badly broken. I don’t want to see that happen.”

PMFI has also asked government to investigate possible corn smuggling. Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director George Y. Culaste reportedly claimed that no permit has been issued for incoming importations of corn.

“This leads us to assume that this coming corn is smuggled,” Navarro said.

Expected to arrive soon are the following corn shipments: 6,000 metric tons (MT) for General Santos arrival; 20,000 MT, Cagayan de Oro; 50,000 MT, Bicol; and 30,000 MT, Iloilo.

“We reported this to DA Secretary (William) Dar, and we are awaiting his action. These corn shipments will strike the fatal blow to the corn farmers who painstakingly harvested a huge 3.5 million tons, wet season crop,” Navarro said.

Pancrudo said farmers will hardly be able to make money from gross earnings of just around P30,000 per hectare. This is against production cost of P35,000 to P40,000 per hectare.

Support for fertilizers and good seed varieties is also an important intervention Filipino farmers do not get, unlike farmers in neighboring countries as Thailand.

“There will come a time Filipinos will no longer have (locally-produced) food. All will be imported,” said Pancrudo. “Even a small amount of support for fertilizer will already be a (significant) help in raising yield. But there is no such support.”

Navarro invoked the implementation of prevailing laws that should help farmers during this Covid 19 crisis.

These nationally sanctioned policies will not require much budget:

.These are Republic Act (RA) 8800, the Safeguard Measures Act; RA 7607, Empowering Smallholder Farmers in their Economic Endeavors,” and RA 8435 or Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act.

“From the recent articulation of Congressman (Rodante) Marcoleta, he was saying DA should look outside the box, away from traditional structured intervention mindset that makes agriculture development restrictive,” said Navarro.

“There are non-funding interventions that need to be reformed or made new. RA 7607 upholds farmers’ rights to price support especially for corn. RA 8435 mandates banks to give loans to farmers. The best policy is derived from good consultation.”

The perennial problem of lack of storage and drying facilities will forever hinder farmers’ becoming more profitable – unless these are invested in.

“We need storage to (stretch shelf life of) surplus harvest that cannot be absorbed by the demand from industries. Without this infrastructure support, we will be the same year in and year out.”

“DA is trying to rally farmers to increase production, but when harvest comes, DA can’t help them.” End

PHOTO Rodolfo Pancrudo and grandchildren

Philippines sends agripreneurs to safe crop protection use virtual training ,Bayer to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30%

October 7, 2020

The Philippines has sent its budding agripreneurs to a virtual training mission on the proper use of more environment-friendly crop protection tools, supporting a Bayer goal to cut 30% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in its serviced cropping systems globally by 2030.

A training program on the safe use of crop protection has been put up by Bayer for the last few years. This is to prevent any untoward effect of pesticides and herbicides on human health and the environment.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that 23% of human GHG emission comes from agriculture forestry, and other land uses. The online Bayer Safe Use Ambassador (BSUA) program brought together more than 2,000 various stakeholders from 14 countries, including university scientists, researches, students, regulatory officials, ministries, and farmers. Students from Philippines’ state universities and colleges (SUCs) — University of the Philippines – Los Baños, Central Luzon State University, Mindanao State University, and others who were part of the previous training programs – attended the virtual training.

“By laying down the foundation of farm safety among young students, we can be assured that the next generation of farmers will embrace the need for safety and product stewardship,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, country commercial lead for Bayer Crop Science. “This would help farming become more enticing to more Filipinos and promote it as a safe and sustainable means of livelihood.”

The BSUA traditionally holds a competition on potential participants’ opinion on safe crop protection practices. The winners are sent to Bayer’s agriculture headquarters in Monheim, Germany where they are exposed to theoretical and actual sustainable farming practices.

Jane Mae Navasquez, a third year agriculture student from Mindanao State University, was one of the competition winners sent to Germany in the past, the first coming from the Philippines. She was one of the speakers during this year’s virtual conference.

“My eagerness to know more about the various aspects of agriculture and help farmers motivated me to join the competition,” said Navasquez. “It was a great opportunity for me as a Filipino student to impart these learning to our Filipino farmers.”

More than a million farmers across the world were trained in 2019 by Bayer on the safe use of crop protection products. Training was focused on countries with no statutory certification requirements for the products’ handling.

Bayer also trained 4 million farmers in 82 countries in collaboration with CropLife International.

Since 2017, the BSUA program has trained more than 500 university and college students in the Philippines on how crop protection products should be used in a safe and sustainable manner.

Aside from control on disposal of chemicals to counter pests and diseases, BCS promotes use of biological remediation system (Phytobac) to farmers. This prevents “water contamination with residues of chemicals generated during the filling and cleaning of spraying devices or the disposal of residual liquids”

Bayer has a long term goal of zero emissions of GHG which are believed to be the culprit in the two-degree Celsius rise in temperature, causing the known hazards—global warming and climate change.

These are some sustainable practices for Bayer’s zero GHG emission goal, according to Bayer’s “Carbon Zero Future Agriculture”:

No-till farming: by not tilling the soil, soil health improves, allowing it to better store carbon, nutrients, and water; and by not disturbing the soil, the carbon captured remains in the ground
Crop protection technologies, including biologics, are important to preserving and enhancing yield potential of crops (and help in no-till farming or cover crops
Innovative crop genetics (e.g. in Bt corn) require less inputs like fertilizer and crop protection agents and allow growers to pursue no- and low-till farming
Digital tools: data-driven tools ensure proper seed placement and that the right amount of fertilizers and crop protection is applied in the right place at the right time, preventing over-fertilization while also requiring fewer tractor passes in the field
Water use: precision irrigation systems improve energy use and reduce the amount of water used on crops
Equipping growers to capture carbon from the atmosphere with solutions such as: Cover crops: selected crops planted off season in fields maximizes the amount of carbon that stays in the soil, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere while also enriching with nutrients potentially reducing the need for fertilizer
Dry seeding of rice: a technique that reduces methane emissions from flooded rice paddies

The BSUA is also being implemented in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Brazil, and Peru.

PHOTO Bayer reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030