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 PiƱol 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.