Monday, August 26, 2019

Corn Farming: A Way of Life

Corn Model Farm at Lingayao, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte

Corn farming is our way of life.

Danilo Dismar, a farmer of Azpetia, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur said that since his childhood, corn farming is the main source of livelihood of his family.

“When I was still a small boy, I keep on helping my father in tilling our farm. This is a way of life that passed on from generation to generation,” he said.

Mang Danilo as fondly called preferred to plant white corn over yellow corn. “I preferred to plant white corn because this is our family’s traditional food,” he said.

Mang Danilo is the president of Azpetia Farmers Association with 65 members.

He said that when he heard that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has a project to establish flint type white corn model farm, he and his association members gladly accepted to be a farmer-cooperators.

During August 2018 planting period, the association planted around 50 hectares of white corn with free inputs provided by the DA. The counterpart of the cooperator is the area to be planted and labor.

“We were not hesitant to support the campaign of DA to promote white corn since it is our food too, and besides we were able to sell some of our products to buyers at a reasonable price,” he explained.

Aside from Azpetia Farmers Association, another association in Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte also became a recipient of the program, the Brgy. Lingayao-Maningalao Corn Growers Association.

Nicamel Bajao, a member of the Brgy. Lingayao -Maningalao Corn Growers Association expressed his gratitude to DA for the project and for extending support in marketing his produce.

“I am so thankful to DA that aside from giving us the technology and the inputs, they supported us in marketing our products,” he said.

In the combined area of 100 hectares of the two model farms, a total of 52 farmers participated and were able to harvest 423 metric tons (MT) with an average yield of 4.5 MT per hectare and a net income of P23,850.00 per hectare.

In 2019,  DA Caraga targetted additional one site for the model farm.

“Aside from Prosperidad and Las Nieves that will continue as model farm site, we will be establishing another one at Tago, Surigao del Sur,” Melody Guimary, regional corn program coordinator said.

As per guidelines, DA will provide the required seeds, fertilizer, pest and disease control inputs as well as marketing support while the farmer-cooperators will establish the farm of at least 50 hectares compact area per site.

“Model farm aims to showcase appropriate technology in producing white corn to serve as learning sites for other farmers,” Guimary explained. 

Establishing a white corn model farm is one way of promoting white corn consumption, in support of Rice Corn Blend (RCB) Campaign. Filipinos are encouraged to eat corn, either pure or blend it to rice at their preferred ratio whether 30:70, 50:50 or 70:30 corn to rice mixture. 

Corn is rich in vitamins and minerals and known for its low glycemic index which is good for diabetics.

Glycemic index is a numeric scale used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise a person’s blood glucose or blood sugar level. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)


Monday, April 8, 2019

RP on Alert Against African Swine Fever

The government is on heightened alert to prevent the entry of a deadly virus that may affect the swine industry in the country, the African Swine Fever (ASF).

Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Enrico Garzon, Jr. said that AWF is a deadly virus that if a pig can contact the virus, 2-10 days it will die eventually and will also affect the whole herds in just a span of few days.

“The problem with this virus is that as of now there is no vaccine yet,” Garzon revealed.
Garzon said that swine is a multi-billion industry in the country, that is why the government is implementing all possible measures to prevent the entry of the said virus.

“DA through the Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) is heightening its monitoring and surveillance in all point of entry of the country from overseas, whether airport and seaport, to protect our swine farmers,” he said.
“We are also closely working with the Bureau of Customs to allow our personnel on x-ray area for baggage to prevent the entry of meat and meat by-products from affected countries,” he revealed. 
Countries currently affected with ASF were Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and China.
However, Garzon clarified that the public should not panic on ASF since it will not affect other animals and or human.
“ASF is a virus-specific on swine. Since it is host specific, it won’t affect on a cow, or other animals, and even on human,” he said.
Historically, the first outbreak was recognized as having occurred in 1907 after ASF was first described in 1921 in Kenya, hence its name has been derived, and it is a reemerging disease on swine. 
Signs of illness include high fever, weakness, and decreased appetite. The skin may be reddened, or have blackened lesions, especially on the tail, ears, and lower legs
DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol issued a memorandum, declaring the temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild pigs and their products including pork meat and semen originating from Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and China.

Piñol also ordered the immediate suspension of the processing, evaluation of the application and issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) import clearance of the said commodities.
In Caraga Region, Doctor Dale Franco Llentic, Regional Veterinary Quarantine Officer said that precautionary measures have been implemented in seaports and airports.

“We are strictly implementing footbath on points of entry here in Caraga Region as well as the hanging of streamers to raise awareness of the public on the said disease,” Llentic said. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)


Sunday, March 31, 2019

DA Supports Campaign against Food Loss and Waste

Minimizing food loss and wastage is everybody’s concern.

Assistant Secretary for Livestock Dr. Enrico Garzon, Jr., of the Department of Agriculture
(DA) underscored the importance of cold chain for maintaining the quality of food products.
On his keynote address during the Cold Chain and Food Loss Summit last January 24-26, 2019 held in Butuan City, Garzon lauded Winrock International which implemented Philippine Cold Chain Project (PCCP) in Caraga Region.
PCCP is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
 “We are grateful to USDA and Winrock International for implementing such noble project in Caraga Region, as it boosts government’s program in promoting the use of appropriate post-harvest equipment to prolong the shelf life of a farm product, thereby suppressing food loss and wastage,” he said.
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) defines cold chain as “the set of resources used to maintain temperatures that preserve the quality of products from production to consumption.”
To arrest food loss and wastage, Winrock International implemented cold chain projects in collaboration with local government units and people’s organization.
Winrock International technical director Olegario Ayensa, Jr. said that PCCP is a five-year project to formally end its operation on March 2019.
Since 2015, Winrock International has established 17 improved and cold chain facilities in the region such as slaughter houses, meat cutting plant, dry storage facility, multi-purpose processing facilities, and food safety equipment.
“As the program has come to an end, we are closely working with the beneficiaries for the sustainability of the projects even though the program is no longer around,’ Ayensa explained.
Food loss refers to any food that is spilled, whether accidentally or intentional, spoiled,  discarded (wilted, bruised) along the food chain before it reaches the retail stage such as rejects at harvest while food waste refers to any food that was not consumed due to spoilage, accidentally or unintentionally discarded  at the retail and consumer levels  such as expired food, overripe fruits, cooked and raw food that an individual failed to consume, leftover after meals, and more.
Based on 2015 data of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), one-third of food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted.
“Food wastage is about 1.3 billion tons per year which amount to roughly 680 billion US dollars in industrialized countries and 310 billion US dollars in developing countries. This can already feed millions of individuals suffering from hunger and malnutrition across the globe,” the data stated.
Accordingly, 40-50% food wastage globally accounted on fruits and vegetables including root crops and tubers, 35% on fish and seafood, 30% on cereals and its products, 20% on meat and dairy, and 20% on seeds and pulses.
In support to global effort to minimize losses and wastage, Philippine’s DA has been implementing farm mechanization program to help farmers boosts their production and improve quality of produce for safe and affordable food through the provision of the right technology and appropriate farm and off-farm equipment such as farm tractor, harvester, dryer, milling equipment, and among others . (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)


Friday, March 29, 2019

Soil Mapping Tool for Agricultural Development

A map is essential in planning for agricultural development.

Thus, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol directed the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) to conduct a nationwide soil mapping for soil fertility and suitability.

DA-13 RED Abel James I. Monteagudo (center) run through the suitability map.
In Caraga Region, BSWM has already come-up with soil suitability map for rice in five provinces and initially includes other commodities.

Senior Agriculturist Salvador Fabula of BSWM and Soil and Water Area coordinator Marcelo Dayo presented to DA Caraga Regional Executive Director Abel James I. Monteagudo the result of soil mapping for the Province of Dinagat Islands (PDI) recently.
The map which was eventually turned-over to PDI contains soil suitability on ten various commodities such as coconut, fruit trees, banana, coffee, cacao, pineapple, root crops, corn, vegetables, and rice.
Monteagudo lauded BSWM for coming up with the map as it is a great help for the LGU development planners and farmers as well.
“We owe BSWM for this very valuable document since it could serve as a basis to ascertain what are the interventions needed in a particular area to develop agriculture,” he said.
Through the map, farmers would know what particular commodity is suitaible in their specific area and the needs for fertilization. 
“I hope that the respective LGU will maximize the use of the said map as it is so important especially in guiding the farmers,” the director said.

Farmers can access the said map through their respective LGU and or through BSWM website. 
Under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, ten basic foundations of a sound agriculture and fisheries programs were identified wherein a national color-coded agricultural guide map is on top of the list.
Other priorities include national food consumption quantification study; institutional restructuring and paradigm resetting for the Department of Agriculture and its officials and employees; intensive technology updating and sharing, modernization and mechanization program; and easy access financing program for farmers, fishermen and agriculture and fisheries stakeholders, or known as production loan easy access (PLEA). 
DA also implements strategic and effective post-harvest, storage and processing facility; government-initiated and supported aggressive marketing campaign especially for high-value crop;  national livestock, dairy and poultry program; relentless campaign for the enforcement of agricultural and fisheries laws, especially on land conversion and illegal fishing; and re-introduction of basic agriculture in the primary and elementary grades of the Philippine schools system.


Friday, February 8, 2019

DA Conducts Rice Corn Blend Sensory Test

No dominant  aroma, enough stickiness, and  balanced taste.

These are the traits that makes 50:50 ratio of rice corn blend (RCB) a preferred choice based on the result of the sensory evaluation conducted by the Research Division of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Caraga during the CY 2018 Corn Program Year-End Review and Assessment recently.
The sensory evaluation was participated by 51 respondents composed of 15 male and 36 female who are mostly local government unit based -agricultural extension workers and DA Region staff.
Participants were asked to choose their preferred ratio of cooked rice and corn in terms of tenderness and moistness, stickiness, and aroma and flavor. Ratio samples were 30% rice and 70% corn, 50:50 or equal ratio of rice and corn, and 70% rice and 30% corn.
The 50:50 ratio which means equal volume of rice and corn dominates across the 3 attributes.

Agriculturist Benjie Duque of Research Division who facilitated the sensory evaluation said that based on observation, the three different rice and corn mixure had varied cooking time. Each sample mixture was cooked wth the same amount of water in 3 separate rice cooker. 
“The 30:70 ratio cooked at 21 minutes, 50:50 cooked at 23 minutes, while 70:30 was 25 minutes ,”  Duque said.
RCB is an initiative of the Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the PhilMaize Federation to encourage Filipinos to eat white corn to help the country attain food sufficiency and enjoy the health benefits corn has to offer.
Corn has low glycemic index hence good for diabetics and health conscious individuals. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Farmers’ Life Easies with Farm Mechanization

“Farm mechanization makes our life easier.” 
Photo Credit: Enrick Tiquil/DA Caraga
This is how Carlito De Paz, president of one of the oldest farmer association in Agusan del Sur, the Boan Barangay Irrigators Development Association Incorporated (BBIDAI) in Rosario, Agusan del Sur described with the advent of mechanizing agriculture. 
BBIDAI was formed way back 1977 started as a group of rice farmers; an irrigation recipient of the National Irrigation Administration, and as time goes by progress into an enterprising association.
With strong leadership, BBIDAI became a recipient of various interventions from the Department of Agriculture.
“We are fortunate that DA provides us various support such as a rice planter, farm tractor, multipupose drying pavement, multipurpose open storage, rice mill with building, warehouse, and combine rice harvester,” De Paz said.
He said that with support of government agencies such as DA, they are now engaged in various services for their 178 members such as marketing, trading, mortgage, savings and loan and agri input provisions.  
“The support of DA really makes our life more convenient especially during harvesting. With the provision of rice combine harvester, harvesting is no longer laborious as compared to manual and it can be done in a faster time,” De Paz explained.
Using the combine harvester, a three-hectare ricefield could be done in just three hours, but in manual harvesting for an average of 10 persons, the three-hectare could be done in a whole day.
Rice farm owners could also save a lot since in manual harvesting, for every 100 sacks of harvested palay, the payment could be 8 sacks for the harvester plus another 8 sacks for the tresher or a total of 15 sacks; while with combine harvester for every 100 sacks of palay harvested, the payment is only 10 sacks. Moreover, palay wastage is only minimal in using mechanization as compared to manual process. 
“Undoubtedly, farm mechanization is a big help for the farmers. We could save time, effort, and money,” De Paz said.
True to its name, rice combine harvester combines basic important job during harvests such as harvesting, threshing and grain cleaning or winnowing and morever, sacking of the harvested palay.
From its income from various services, the association had acquired additional two units of combine rice harvester servicing its members and non-members as well. 
Currently, DA has also established recirculating dryer for the association which soon to be in service. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)


Monday, January 7, 2019

Farmer’s Group in Surigao del Sur Receives Farm Machinery from DA Caraga

To help boosts rice and corn production in Madrid, Surigao del Sur, the Department of Agriculture Caraga turned-over various Pre and Post Harvest Facilities (PPHF) in the said town recently.
Photo credit: DA-APCO SDS
In an interview over Bahandi sa Kaumahan radio program, June Anthony Ouano, chief of the Agricultural Program Coordinating Office in Surigao del Sur said that two farmer associations were recipient of the said farm implements, particularly the PABANTABA Farmer’s Association and Upper San Antonio Farmer’s Association.
PABANTABA, a cooperator of a Rice Processing Center in Madrid, received one unit of rice combine harvester, one unit mobile corn mill and one unit rice transplanter while Upper San Antonio received one unit of rice combine harvester.
Ouano said that the turned-over ceremony was a festive occasion as local government officials attended the ceremony headed by municipal mayor Baladay Kimura.
“PABANTABA Farmer’s Association was given the mobile corn mill to help them process white corn into grits as a way of promoting rice corn blend in the locality,” Ouano explained.
Corn is an alternative source of carbohydrates known for its low glycemic index which is ideal to control spike of blood sugar.
On the other hand, Ouano reiterated that government supports are focused on an organized group of farmers.
“Those who are intested to avail government interventions, they should have to be organized and coordinate with their respective local government units through the municipal agriculture office,” he said. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Caraga Region is Rich in Tuna

Commercial fishing of tuna and processing is one of the potential investment opportunities in Caraga Region.
Visa Tan-Dimerin, the new regional director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Caraga said that the region is rich in high-value fish such as tuna.

“We have abundance of tuna in Caraga Region but bulk of our catch goes to other places in Mindanao where post-harvest and processing centers are located such as in General Santos City,” the director said.
Director Dimerin said that Surigao del Sur is one of the sources of fresh catch of tuna for the tuna processing industry in General Santos.
“Caraga is blessed of various tuna species such as skipjack or commonly called tulingan, yellowfin, bluefin, albacore and other,” Dimerin narrated.
She said that currently there are small-scale processors of tuna in the region for bottled tuna products and semi-processed.
“We are promoting our region to investors to consider Caraga Region particularly in fish processing industry so our local catch would be processed here, since we have abundance of fish,” she said.
The director revealed that Caraga Region posted an 88% sufficiency level of fish, however she said that part of Caraga’s catch has been accounted in another region.
“Based on statistics parameters, accounting for fish is based on landing or where it is being unloaded. So in the case of fresh catch from Caraga Region being unloaded outside the region, the data will be credited to the said area,” Dimerin explained.
Dimerin disclosed that 90% of tuna catch in Surigao del Sur particularly from Bislig area are bound for General Santos tuna processing.
Yellow fin in particular, has been exported to other countries such as in Japan and China, hence cold storage facility is neccessary to maintain its quality and such big facility are located in other region.
To boost the fishing industry in the region, BFAR has been conducting training for the fisher folks, provision of fishing paraphernalia and facility for fish processing, and stringent implementation of fishery laws. 
BFAR is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)