Category Archives: Country: Philippines

In the News (Philippines): Urgency of agrarian reform, wage increase measures stressed

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno S. Aquino III has been urged to certify as urgent the pending measures on agrarian reform and the P125-across-the-board wage increase to ease the plight of farmers and workers who have been reeling from the rising prices of basic commodities, utility services, fuel and fare hikes.

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, principal author of the House Bills 374 and 375, called on the President to show his government’s sincerity in helping out the people by endorsing the two measures.

Read more at Manila Bulletin

In the News (Philippines): Gov’t to cut rice imports

MANILA, Philippines—The government will import less than one million metric tons of rice for 2011 because of improved harvests in the first quarter, according to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

Alcala said the figure could be between 500,000 to one million metric tons.

He noted that the amount was less than half of the 2.4 million MT rice imported in 2010.

Read more at Inquirer.net

In the News: PHL gives Thailand bulk of rice import volume

The Philippine government has allotted Thailand with a rice import volume of 98,000 metric tons (MT), the bulk of what the private sector may buy from abroad this year under the country specific quota.

A notice on country specific data the National Food Authority released Monday, the Philippines also assigned 25,000 MT to China, 25,000 MT to India, and 15,000 MT to Australia, for a total allocation of 163,000 MT.

Each Philippine importer is limited to 5,000 MT, with each shipment subject to a 40 percent tariff.

Read more at GMA News

In the News: Scientist Warns RP on BT Eggplant Risk

MANILA, Philippines – The government has been advised to consider the risks of the field testing of eggplants that have been genetically modified to create its own poison to kill pests that affect crop yielding of eggplants of up to 70 percent in Asian countries.

Dr. Pushpa Mittra Bhargava, a recipient of India’s third highest civilian honorary title Padma Bhushan, flew to the Philippines to conduct an information drive, along with non-government organizations, to warn the public of the danger of Bt eggplant.

Instead of embracing the genetically modified crop, Bhargava said it would be of greater advantage if farmers would embrace organic agriculture and integrated pest management as means to eradicate the fruit and shoot borer.

The Philippines is the second country to be introduced to Bt eggplant.

Read the full story at Manila Bulletin

In the News (Phils): Editorial: Agriculture needs more support

For 2011, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking the approval of Congress for a P37.25-billion budget, which surprisingly is lower than the P39.24 billion previously approved for the current year. The department’s slightly smaller budget for 2011, however, has not worried Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala Jr. that much since he is carrying out a policy where whatever funds his agency should be put to good use.

Also, Alcala said that his department will spend P13 billion for irrigation next year, which is almost the same level as this year’s budget. He said irrigation is a very important component in helping the country achieve rice self-sufficiency.

He further said that the DA’s programs to retrain farmers and involve more state colleges and universities in agricultural development will do wonders over the short to long term for the country’s farming sector.

While the Aquino administration’s statements to support the farming sector cannot be cast in great doubt, it should realize that Philippine agriculture needs more monetary support to get out of its largely backward state.

Read the full article at The Manila Times

In the News (Philippines): Organic fertilizer producer reeks of unqualified success

CONCEPCION, TARLAC – In 2006, Alfredo Gonzales had problems with chemical fertilizers, which at that time cost P2,000 per 50-kilogram bag.

He found the prevailing prices of urea to be ironic, considering the wasteful practice of most farmers.

“When I traveled around [Central Luzon], I saw palay husks being burned. When I go to sugar mills, I also saw wasteful practices,” says Gonzales, a sugar planter.

But instead of whining, the sugar farmer decided to do something about it.

His 40-hectare farm, which used to be buried under 20 feet of lahar (volcanic debris) following Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in 1991, is now the site of what is touted to be the first mechanized production facility for organic fertilizer in the country.

In a day, the farm churns out 500 fertilizer bags, which Gonzales sells for P240 each.

The product, which is registered with the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, goes under the brand name “Power” – Pilipino Ways for Environmental Reconditioning.

Read the full story here

AFA, PAKISAMA train Mindoro farmer leaders on gender leadership

“Sex is biological, physical and physiological, while gender is cultural… Cultures dictates gender roles, or what males and females can or cannot do… Sex cannot be changed except through invasive means, but culture can be changed because it involves people… Gender roles assign reproduction to women and production to men… Gender roles result in social injustice for both men and women because they are not given equal opportunities in society… We must work for gender equality to improve society.”

These are just some of the many learnings and insights by participants during the “Provincial Training on Women Farmers Leadership and Gender Mainstreaming” held by PAKISAMA and AFA at the Silangan Training Center, in San Narciso, Victoria, Oriental Mindoro last August 27-29, 2010.

Continue reading AFA, PAKISAMA train Mindoro farmer leaders on gender leadership

In the News: Feeling the heat: Climate change forcing Filipino farmers to adapt

In the Philippines, farmers are already feeling the heat. While climate change is already hitting millions of vulnerable people in the country, farmers, too, are being affected—where drought, flooding, hunger and disease are becoming more common than ever. Our correspondent Imelda V. Abaño embarked on a mission to look into the plight of the farmers in the country and witness firsthand what they are facing in times of the changing climate

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—From upland vegetable and rice farms in the Cordillera to coconut and tobacco plantations in Albay and Ilocos Sur, signs that all is not well with the weather are telling.

Benguet vegetable growers have to confront disrupted planting cycles that result in crop failures.

Farmers tending the Ifugao rice terraces have started witnessing the crumbling of earth paddies that have withstood inclement weather for centuries.

In Albay low yield from their coconut and abaca plantations has been forcing Agta farmers to leave their farms for odd jobs in cities and other urban areas.

Up north in Ilocos Sur, farmers have been hurting from the low quality of tobacco leaves that their farms produce due to the erratic weather.

Read the full story at Business Mirror

In the News: RP to forge more free-trade deals

(While small scale farmers, who usually suffer from lack of agricultural support, continue to raise their concerns and objections to free trade agreements that put the agriculture sector at a disadvantage, ASEAN governments, like the Philippines, seem mindful only of the promised benefits, which usually go only to big producers and industries who are more prepared to take advantages of the opportunities for expanded trade. — Admin)

The Philippines is keen on joining the negotiations for the inter-regional economic integration as well as starting informal talks with the European Union (EU) for a possible bilateral trade pact, the Trade department said.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo told reporters that the government has to engage in trade talks because the country would be put in a disadvantage in light of the globalized economy.

“You have to be part of every trade agreement; to not be a part is a disadvantage,” Domingo said.

“Our interest is not free trade per se, but the interest of Filipino businesses and consumers,” he added.

Read the full story at The Manila Times

In the News (Philippines): NGO promotes ducks as solution to global warming, rice insufficiency

(Like the System of Rice Intensification or SRI, the Rice-Ducks Integrated Farming System or IRDFS being promoted by an NGO in the Philippines, is another organic farming technology that small scale farmers can adopt and benefit from. And with the unprecedented problems related to climate change and global food sufficiency, governments and development agencies should ensure that these environment and farmer-friendly technologies are fully supported. — Admin)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—While the world’s leaders are scratching their heads and expensive think tanks wrack their brains trying to find answers to global warming and food security, a nongovernment organization here is propagating a solution that hit these two problems at one go, but has not talked much about its successes.

Instead, the Philippine Agrarian Reform Foundation for National Development (Parfund) Inc. is letting its ducks do all the “quacking.”

Through its Rice-Ducks Integrated Farming System (IRDFS), Parfund is slowly spreading the gospel that rural Filipino rice farmers can feed the nation with its staple diet and help save the planet from the effects of global warming.

“The Integrated Rice-Duck Farming System is a proven organic-farming technology that is being propagated by Parfund to improve rice-production performance and ensure rice self-sufficiency in the country,” said Jose Noel “Butch” Olano, Parfund executive director.

Read the full story at Business Mirror

In the News: RP’s 1st GM eggplant soon ready for commercialization

(Despite protests from farmer groups like PAKISAMA and other sectors over potential health risks, irreversible impact on the environment, and social equity issues, the Philippine government is set to commercialize the first genetically-modified (GM) eggplant in the country. — Admin)

MANILA, Philippines – One more experimental cropping season and the country’s first genetically modified (GM) or biotechnology eggplant is set for commercial production.

The penultimate phase of the scientific process of developing the new crop, done at an experimental farm of the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB-IPB), was completed recently.

The UPLB-IPB plot is one of three sites in Luzon where the research project on the development of an eggplant resistant to fruit and shoot borer (FSB) is being conducted. FSB, the most destructive pest attacking eggplant in the Philippines and other Asian countries, can cause yield losses from 51 to 73 percent.

The GM or Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) eggplants planted in Sta. Maria (Pangasinan) and Bicol State University of Agriculture in Pili, Camarines Sur, have also been harvested.

Read the full story at PhilStar.com

In the News (Philippines): Rice-policy shift divides experts

(The debate on rice-policy shift in the Philippines heats up, with one side arguing for the abolition of the NFA, which provides rice-price subsidy that benefits small farmers and poor consumers, while the other side demands for increasing support to rice production through irrigation, credit and post-harvest facilities and a review of NFA governance structure that causes inefficiencies. — Admin)

ECONOMISTS on Wednesday lauded the policy shift to abandon decades-old rice-price subsidies through the National Food Authority (NFA) in favor of a more “focused” conditional cash transfer for the poor, but some experts said the state-run NFA itself should be abolished, and sought a deeper scrutiny of its over P170-billion debt.

Lawmakers expectedly rejected the proposal of scuttling the rice-price support—as strongly recommended to President Aquino by the Department of Finance—saying this would abandon the poor households to market forces.

Minus the subsidy from the national government, the NFA says cheap rice sold to the poor in “Tindahan Natin” outlets could go up by 37 percent to P25 per kilogram, from P18.25 per kilo.

“[Without the subsidy], syempre mag-a-adjust ang presyo [of course, the prices will move accordingly],” said NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez in a text message to the BusinessMirror.

Read the full story at Business Mirror

In the News (Philippines): Aquino asked: Probe NFA debt, raise subsidy for small farmers

(Achieving rice self-sufficiency is an important food security concern for rice-consuming Asian countries like the Philippines. But government corruption and import dependency undermine food sovereignty and hurt small farmers and consumers alike. Further, advocates warn that the rice industry faces the threats of deregulation and privatization. — Admin)

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III should investigate first the source of surge in debt of the National Food Authority under the Arroyo administration before considering any proposal that may only worsen the problem, according to a network of food security advocates.

In a news release, the Task Force Food Sovereignty on Thursday warned that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima’s proposed solution to stop the NFA rice subsidy and to sell the staple at prices determined by the market may only increase hunger and poverty incidence in the country.

Read the full story at the Philippine Daily Inquirer

In the News: RP-EU wide-ranging deal OK’d

(AFA, with its Philippine member PAKISAMA, views with concern the RP-EU PCA for its implications for agricultural trade and its impact on small scale women and men farmers in the Philippines.)

MANILA, Philippines—Negotiations for the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the European Union (EU) have been finalized with both parties agreeing to protect and defend human rights, among others.

In an interview with reporters, Ambassador Alistair MacDonald of the Delegation of the European Union in the Philippines said the PCA is expected to be “initialed” within the month of June. The official signing may be on September or October once the text is translated into the 22 other languages of the EU.

The PCA, which was negotiated over a period of about 18 months, aims to further advance the bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and EU in a wide range of issues, including political security, counter-terrorism, trade and investment, development cooperation, education and culture, energy, transport, migration, and human rights.

Read the full story

Filipino farmers mark agrarian reform anniversary, death of farmer-leader

Philippine national peasant federation PAKISAMA, a member of AFA, joined various small farmer organizations, non-government organizations, and coalitions in the Philippines in calling for President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to distribute Hacienda Luisita (a huge estate owned by the Aquino clan in the province of Tarlac) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) within the first 100 days of his administration.

The call was made by the Reform CARP Movement during the commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of CARP in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on June 10.

During the commemoration, PAKISAMA National President Crispino Aguelo said, “We expect more from him (President-elect Aquino III) because he said that he would pushfor serious changes for the sake of the Filipino people.”
Continue reading Filipino farmers mark agrarian reform anniversary, death of farmer-leader

Remembering Ka Rene Penas: 1st Death Anniversary

On June 5, 2010, in the Freedom Hall of the Sumilao farmers in Barangay San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon, family, friends and colleagues of slain farmer-leader Ka Rene Penas observed his first death anniversary – in remembrance of both the still wanting justice for his brutal killing, and the much-to-be-seen justice for …the landless farmers.

Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) for 68.25 hectares was also finally turned over to the PANAW Multi-purpose Cooperative by DAR Regional Director Felix Aguhob, during the first death anniversary tribute. Land titles for the remaining 10.11 hectares thus still awaited final distribution.

The investigation and prosecution against the suspect/s for the killing of Ka Rene Penas was also
disclosed to be too wanting – considering the lack of progress after already a year from his death.
After the morning observation at the Freedom Hall, family and friends of Ka Rene Penas headed to his burial site to pay their respects and tribute with candles, flowers, drinks, and a song. (BALAOD Mindanaw)

AFA, PAKISAMA supports rural residents to be affected by special economic zone

AFA and PAKISAMA supports the campaign of the residents of the town of Casiguran in Quezon province, Philippines (mostly farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples) who will be displaced by the creation of a special economic zone in the area.

The Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN), together with the Task Force Anti-APECO, held the first of a series of fora on “Addressing the APECO” in Quezon City, Philippines last June 4, 2010.

The activity convened multi-sectoral partners in support of affected residents of Casiguran, Aurora, largely comprised of farmers, fisher folk and indigenous peoples, who will be displaced by the passage of RA 10083 or the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO) law.
Continue reading AFA, PAKISAMA supports rural residents to be affected by special economic zone

AFA, WOCAN conduct gender leadership training in the Philippines

The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and the Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and NRM (WOCAN) are conducting the “Leadership Course for Women & Men Supporting Gender Equality” on May 24 – 31, 2010 in the Philippines.

The training has two parts:
–May 24-27 will be a trainers’ training with one person from AFA and four persons from PAKISAMA (4 women, 1 man)
–May 28-31 will be a training for a larger group of participants from the PAKISAMA National Council, National Execom, LAKAMBINI (women’s group in PAKISAMA), and the AFA secretariat
Continue reading AFA, WOCAN conduct gender leadership training in the Philippines

In the News: Making durian a heavenly fruit for all Filipinos

“IT smells like hell, but tastes like heaven.”

That’s one way the durian fruit has been curiously described by some. But think about it: Does hell have any smell? And for that matter, does heaven have any taste?

For first-timers, the stink usually overpowers the fruit’s heavenly taste, making it difficult for ordinary gastronomists to ingest.

The durian’s smell has been a major setback in marketing the fruit among Luzon and Visayas consumers. But those who have been to Davao and tasted the fruit have overcome the stink, they now love to eat the fruit and look forward to another delightful durian-eating experience.

There is an art to eating durian. It entails gradually tasting the fruit, getting used to the smell and, eventually, becoming fond of it.

Read the full story at Business Mirror

In the News: RP weighing options on protecting rice market under WTO

THE government is carefully weighing its options on protecting the Philippines’ rice market, as it could entail opening up the country’s market for other farm goods traded under the World Trade Organization (WTO).

An official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) also disclosed that it would be up to the next administration to determine whether it would negotiate for the retention of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice.

“[The DA] will just make a recommendation but it will be up to the next administration whether it will go for the retention of the QR,” said the DA official who is privy on trade matters.

So far, the official said the DA has not yet come up with a final recommendation regarding the possible extension of the QR on rice and that the matter is under “careful study.”

Read the full story at Business Mirror