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2010 WINNERS

AGRICULTURE PHOTO OF THE YEAR

"LUNTIANG DAAN"
EDGARDO ESPIRITU
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

TOBACCO PHOTO OF THE YEAR

"THE BEST AMONG THE BEST"
ANDY ZAPATA
THE PHILIPPINES STAR
AGRICULTURE STORY OF THE YEAR
"NGO PROMOTES DUCKS AS SOLUTION TO GLOBAL WARMING, RICE INSUFFICIENCY"
BY: MACH ALBERTO FABE
BUSINESS MIRROR
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.
FULL STORY
2010 AGRICULTURE STORY OF THE YEAR
NGO promotes ducks as solution to global warming, rice insufficiency.
By Mach Alberto Fabe
Business Mirror



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.

Olano said the system also eliminates the use of synthetic and chemical-based inputs, thereby eliminating farmers' risk to pesticide poisoning and possible contamination of groundwater.

The IRDFS is a technology developed in Japan by farmer Takao Furuno, who personally mentored Parfund project director Jose Apollo "Poloy" Pacamalan more than a decade ago when the Xavier University Bachelor of Science in Agronomy graduate was still with the Church-based Bukidnon Center for Sustainable Agriculture (BCSA).

From the time he met Furuno, Pacamalan never let go of his "first love" and continued propagating the technology wherever he was assigned by his various employers throughout the years.

Thus, when he joined Parfund in March 2008 right after the Sixth International Rice-Ducks Conference in Cebu City was organized by Parfund in February 2008 through his initiatives, there were already existing patches of IRD farms in Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental; Trento, Agusan del Sur; and Zamboanga del Sur.

But it was only with Parfund that the technology went full blast, with the support of local government executives of various provinces.

Now, almost 1,000 hectares of farmlands in Mindanao are in the pipeline for conversion into full organic-rice farming using the IRDF technology, with Parfund at the helm.
Why ducks?

Among all the birds, ducks are the most intelligent and among the most trainable, claimed Pacamalan.

Pacamalan said that in the rice paddies, ducks serve as pest control, weeders, stimulant and fertilizer. In terms of weed control, he said that ducks (1) directly eat the seeds of the weed thus preventing weeds from growing again; (2) eat the newly-sprouted weeds; and (3) trample over newly-sprouted weeds. In terms of insect management, "ducks are very efficient in insect management. They eat all forms of insects in the rice paddies by chasing them and extending their necks to reach pests that are present in rice stem and leaves," he said.

Worms, bugs, stem borers, green leaf hoppers and golden snails are among the farmers' "enemies" that ducks like to eat.

Although there are some rice paddies that are weed- and insect-free, however, the rice plants are not as healthy as those using the IRDF system. This is because rice plants in these paddies lack the necessary stimulation that ducks provide.

"The paddling movements of the ducks, the shaking effects of their bodies when bumping the rice plant during swimming and the beak touching the stem during insect feeding provide stimulation to the rice, thereby producing healthy and abundant rice-tillers. In principle, the higher the number of tillers the greater the yield," he said.



Abundant harvest, low production cost

PARFUND and all its IRDFS implementors all over Mindanao have proven that the system really does provide abundant pure organic and highly nutritious rice harvest at very minimal production cost as it does away with all manual labor in the rice paddies since ducks do the weeding, pest control, fertilization and stimulation.

"Hundreds of ducks released in the ricefield provide direct organic fertilizer application from their manure mixed with the water and soil during swimming and paddling activities. This will provide regular nutrient requirements needed by rice plants to produce higher yield," Pacamalan said.

Felipa Pontillas, a retired employee of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in Gingoog City and a pioneer IRDFS practitioner in the city, attested to the effectiveness of using the system, harvesting 5.5 tons of pure organic rice from her one-hectare farm during her second cropping and earning a net profit of P23,000 from the sale of the rice.

Pontillas' bumper crop using the IRDFS is a far cry from the 2.3 tons of harvest using conventional, chemical-laced farming a year ago.

In Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, a farmer using the IRDF system reported the highest yield so far at 7.3 tons in his one-hectare farm.

In the IRDF system, the ideal ratio of ducks to rice paddy is 150 ducks to every hectare.

But contrary to the traditional rice-duck farming in the Philippines where ducks are herded and released to rice padiess after harvest, before transplanting and after transplanting are removed from the rice paddies to be moved to other newly-harvested rice paddies, the IRDFS integrate ducks into the rice paddies a few days after transplanting the rice.

And to allay fears that that ducks will trample the rice plants, PARFUND Training Officer Jasmin "Pinky" Gamos-Fabe said that like other birds, "ducks can be trained." "Timing is very crucial in this system," she added.



Ducks help mitigate global warming

Aside from eliminating the Philippines' need to import rice from Asian neighbors, as proven by the high production yield of every IRDFS farms in Agusan del Sur, Zamboanga del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental, the system also effectively mitigates global warming, she said.

Fabe explained that water-logged rice paddies are one of the main culprits in global warming and that it is now high time that Filipino farmers know this and start practicing farming that reduces global warming such as the integrated rice-ducks farming system which is being propagated in the country by PARFUND.

Water-logged rice paddies, according to Fabe, emit methane, which is produced when bacteria decomposes organic matter. Methane is acknowledged as the second most important greenhouse gas produced by human activity after carbon dioxide and is responsible for about a fifth of warming effects. Its chief sources are landfill sites, fossil fuel energy and agriculture, particularly rice and livestock farming.

Reiner Wassmann, a biologist specializing in climate change at the International Rice Research Institute, said that methane is at least 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere. He said that methane was responsible for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions. About 10 percent of the methane comes from rice farming, while other sources include the flatulence of cows and decomposing landfill garbage dumps, he added.

Because of this, he said that it is very important that rice farmers in Asia, especially in the Philippines, and the rest of the world did their bit to mitigate climate change.
And PARFUND has the ready answer to Wassmann's suggestion - IRDFS.

A study done by Chinese scientists on rice paddies using the IRDF system in China showed that ducks constant paddling in the rice paddies effectively reduced the emission of methane.

Chinese scientists such as Chengfang Li, Cougi Cao, Jingping Wang, Ming Zhan, Weiling Yuan and Shahrear Ahmad who did a research on the "Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Wetland Rice-Duck Cultivation System in Southern China" found out that integrated rice-ducks farming "will contribute to alleviating global warming."

The Chinese research team evaluated the integrated global warming potentials (GWPs) of a rice-duck cultivation system based on methane (CH4) and N2O emission and they found out that integrated rice-ducks farming "could suppress the total amount of CH4 (methane) and N2O (nitrous oxide) emissions from rice paddies." "Moreover, because the decrease of CH4 emissions from rice-ducks compared to traditional rice farming was far more than the increase of N2O emissions from rice-ducks compared to traditional rice farming, rice-ducks farming greatly reduced integrated GWPs (CH4 + N2O) compared to traditional rice farming. So, the rice-duck cultivation system is an effective strategy for reducing integrated GWPs of the rice-duck cultivation systems based on CH4 and N2O in southern China and will contribute to alleviating global warming," the Chinese research team said in their report.



LGUs partnership

Because of the high impact of IRDFS to the production of rice and to global warming mitigation, various local government units are now slowly but surely flooding PARFUND with calls and appointments for the implementation of the system in their localities.

Mayor Leandro Jose H. Catarata of Valencia City, Bukidnon is the latest LGU chief executive to partner with PARFUND in the implementation of the IRDFS, even offering to convert 100 hectares of rice paddies in his city in his first 100 days back in office.

Catarata's initiative came at the heels of the 100 hectares of rice paddies offered for IRDFS implementation in Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur by Mayor Nacianceno "Jun" Pacalioga Jr. His initiative was born after seeing the effectiveness of the system in producing high-yielding quality organic rice in the demonstration/pioneer farms scattered all over Zamboanga del Sur through the leadership of former governor and now Rep. Aurora "Auring" E. Cerilles, who fast tracked the implementation of the IRDFS to help rice farmers in her province cope up with the rising prices of basic farm inputs. Under Cerilles' "May Bigas Na, May Ulam Pa" program, more than 100 rice paddies are now being converted into pure organic rice farms through the IRDFS. The Zamboanga del Sur LGU also allocated at least P2 million for the project.

But among all the LGUs that took Pacamalan's word seriously and started implementing the IRDFS in their locality even when he was alone in promoting and propagating the system before he joined PARFUND, was former Mayor Irenea Hitgano of Trento, Agusan del Sur. Through Hitgano's initiatives, Trento emerged as the national awardee in the 2008 Search for Outstanding Organic Farming Initiative: LGU Category.

According to Hitgano, implementing the integrated rice-ducks technology in her municipality yielded the following benefits: increase in yield = increase in income; weed control; effective insect pest control; farmers can use spare time for other productive nonfarm activities; health: no exposure to pesticides and schistosomiasis; low production costs; organic rice production; unburden LGU's coffers or even my pockets; complement the ongoing organic rice farming technology; increase in real property tax because of the increased productivity; change of mindset as a local chief executive; from physical development to local agriculture development.



What is the IRDF System?

The Integrated Rice-Ducks Farming System is a technology of rice farming that relies on ducks to eat insects and weeds, fertilize and stimulate the rice plants. Known in Japanese as "aigamo method," the IRDFS was developed in 1989 by Takao Furuno, a farmer in Fukuoka Prefecture, which allows for the production of healthy pure organic rice while relying on less human labor. Rice grown using the IRDFS is more resistant to typhoons and other problems, and some farmers who have begun using it have called it a "gift from God." From its beginnings in Japan, it has made its way to rice-growing countries like South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and even to faraway Iran.

The "aigamo method" for growing rice involves releasing ducklings into a rice paddy about one or two weeks after the seedlings have been planted. Between 150 and 200 ducklings are released into every hectare of rice paddy. Also necessary is a shelter where the ducklings can rest and take refuge from rain. In order to protect them from dogs, cats and other predators, rice paddies are enclosed by a net.

In the IRDFS, ducklings help the rice seedlings grow by eating both insects and weeds that get in the way. The farmer can then grow the rice without using pesticide or herbicide or any chemical that will kick the ducks. He or she is also free from the back-breaking work of bending over to pull weeds by hand. The ducklings' droppings become an important source of natural fertilizer. In addition, they stir up the soil in the rice paddy with their feet and bills, a process that increases the oxygen content of the soil, making it more nutritious for the seedlings. And when it comes time to harvest the rice in the fall, the ducks have grown fat and can be sold for meat. By allowing farmers to grow crops organically and also raise ducks to sell as meat, the IRDFS really does "kill two birds with one stone."

This system is beneficial from a cost standpoint in that farmers will no longer have to purchase expensive chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Farmers also earn extra from the sale of duck meat or eggs or balut.



Benefits

As proven by actual and scientific studies, the IRDFS benefits everyone as it addresses climate change, the environment, health and rice self-sufficiency.

For PARFUND, it is highly ironic that the Philippines, with its 1.5 million hectares of rice paddies and where Asian neighbors learned rice production in the 1970s is now importing rice from these former "students" because local rice production, using convention and modern techniques cannot supply the needed amount.

But with the integrated rice-ducks farming system, PARFUND is sure that it will be able to reverse this scenario and at the same time help farmers elevate their economic status and transform them into protectors of the environment.

Back to 2010 Bright Leaf Winners

TOBACCO STORY OF THE YEAR
"TOBACCO NOT JUST MAKING CIGARETTES"
BY: TEDDY MOLINA
PHILIPPINE STAR
MANILA, Philippines - The Agro-Industrial Productivity Exponents (APEX) and the Philippine Association of Tobacco-Based Cooperatives (PATCO), the biggest organizations of tobacco farmers in the country, said the tobacco industry is more than just for cigarette making as they took exception to Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral's claim that the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) was being "inadvertently used" by tobacco companies to circumvent law by undertaking programs with them to promote their interest.
FULL STORY
2010 TOBACCO STORY OF THE YEAR 
"Tobacco not just for making Cigarettes"
By Teddy Molina
Philippine Star



MANILA, Philippines - The Agro-Industrial Productivity Exponents (APEX) and the Philippine Association of Tobacco-Based Cooperatives (PATCO), the biggest organizations of tobacco farmers in the country, said the tobacco industry is more than just for cigarette making as they took exception to Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral's claim that the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) was being "inadvertently used" by tobacco companies to circumvent law by undertaking programs with them to promote their interest.

Cabral cited as an example the Miss Virginia Tobacco 2009 search held last year as part of the weeklong Tobacco Festival in Candon City, Ilocos Sur which she said was graced by NTA Administrator Carlitos Encarnacion, Deputy Speaker Eric Singson and Philip Morris executive Chris Nelson.

The health secretary claimed in a news report that the festival gave undue promotion to the tobacco companies which she said violated R.A. 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act) specifically the ban on cigarette advertising and promotions.

Alejandrino Reyes, PATCO president and APEX leader, disputed Cabral's statement that NTA's job was "not to protect and promote the tobacco industry but to help the tobacco growers find alternative source of livelihood."

Reyes said the NTA charter enshrined under E.O. 245 which was issued by late President Corazon Aquino chiefly mandates the agency "to improve the economic and living conditions and raise the quality of life of tobacco farmers including those who depend upon the industry for livelihood; and, to promote the balanced and integrated growth of the tobacco industry to help make agriculture a solid basis for industrialization."

"Clearly, Secretary Cabral was misinformed on this matter," Reyes said.

According to the PATCO chief, the conduct of the Miss Virginia Tobacco pageant is part of the culture and tradition in the northern region that began during the days of the Philippine Virginia Tobacco Administration (PVTA), NTA's predecessor.

Candon City which is the country's biggest tobacco producer has revived the tradition by sponsoring a yearly Tobacco Festival and the beauty contest under the auspices of Deputy Speaker Singson to celebrate the tobacco season.

NTA corporate planning manager Rex Teoxon, defended the agency's participation in the festival saying NTA, as the sole government agency dealing on tobacco, can not afford to refuse the invitation of Candon officials to attend the tobacco festival that is specifically dedicated for the tobacco industry.

"As the sole regulatory agency of the government on tobacco, the NTA promotes and protects the welfare and interest of the stakeholders of the tobacco industry. It keeps the balance between and among the tobacco industry stakeholders that include the tobacco farmers, the tobacco buyer firms, the cigar and cigarette manufacturers," Teoxon asserted.

He assured Cabral of NTA's readiness to comply with whatever laws, regulations and policies or programs adopted by the government on tobacco, and as long as they do not run contradictory to its mandate under E.O. 245.

The NTA executive maintained that while the tobacco agency endorses government policies or programs intended to protect the public from the perceived deleterious effects of cigarette smoking, it also abides by the balanced policy mandated under Republic Act 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act), whereby "the use, sale and advertisements of tobacco products shall be regulated in order to promote a healthful environment and protect the citizens from the hazards of tobacco smoke, and at the same time, ensure that the interests of the tobacco farmer, growers, workers and stakeholders are not adversely compromised."

He said the NTA continues to register its vehement objection against the use of the word "tobacco" in all campaigns and matters that refer to "cigar/cigarette smoking."
"This is because tobacco has more beneficial uses," he stressed. Through NTA's R&D activities, it was learned that the agency was able to discover and develop other industrial uses to tobacco that include its use as organic mollusicide to control snails and predators and at the same time as fertilizer to promote the growth of 'lablab,' natural food of fishes, in fresh and brackish water fishponds.

Other beneficial tobacco products discovered were virgin pulp for various types of paper; tobacco extract as organic pesticide for mangoes, vegetables and ornamentals, to solve the problem of high pesticide residue; tobacco handmade papers and handicrafts; and, pharmaceutical and veterinary products (pediculicide, animal soap and shampoo).

Back to 2010 Bright Leaf Winner
BEST AGRICULTURE TV PROGRAM/SEGMENT
“BRINGING BACK TO THE GRAINS.”
BY: INEZ MAGBUAL
MAUNLAD NA AGRIKULTURA TV5
BEST AGRICULTURE RADIO PROGRAM/SEGMENT
“LIFE IN TOBACCO FARMING”
BY: JUN VILLANUEVA
BOMBO RADYO
BEST AGRICULTURE NEWS STORY (NATIONAL)
"DA BANKS ON RASTOONING TECHNOLOGY FOR RP’S RICE SELF-SUFFICIENCY IN 2013"
BY: JONATHAN MAYUGA
BUSINESS MIRROR
To help achieve the country's rice self-sufficiency targets, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is pinning its hope on ratooning, a technology that regenerates the growth of new rice tillers after harvest.

The DA is eyeing to promote the technology, which can be applied after the first cropping season, and will replicate the best practices from towns that practice ratooning.
FULL STORY
2010 BEST AGRICULTURE NEWS STORY - NATIONAL
"DA banks on ratooning technology for RP's rice self-sufficiency in 2013"
By Jonathan Mayuga
Business Mirror



TO help achieve the country's rice self-sufficiency targets, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is pinning its hope on ratooning, a technology that regenerates the growth of new rice tillers after harvest.

The DA is eyeing to promote the technology, which can be applied after the first cropping season, and will replicate the best practices from towns that practice ratooning.
"Farmers should continue practicing rice ratooning, for it requires less inputs and labor but gives additional harvest in just one cropping season," Frisco Malabanan, the DA's Ginintuang Masaganang Ani rice program director, said.

Farmers would spend less in ratooning because they need not till the land, or buy new seeds and apply fertilizers, herbicides and molluscides, he said.
Ratooning is a practical solution to the farmers' woes, as it helps increase farm productivity per unit area per unit time. This is because a ratooned crop has shorter duration and besides, it almost costs less than growing a new crop.

Moreover, it minimizes risk of pest and diseases and unpredictable bad weather condition because of the shorter duration from the time new rice shoots appear until they are harvested. It also maintains the genetic purity of the variety and requires less irrigation water.

From March to May, a hybrid rice-ratoon project was initiated by the Ormoc City local government unit (LGU), led by Mayor Eric Codilla.

According to Judith Paredes, city agricultural technician, the project is piloted in 17 adjoining barangays covering 500 hectares and 274 farmer-beneficiaries.

The area of coverage will double in 2010. More technology-demonstration farms will be put up in 2010 to ensure high adoption rate from farmers. The Philippines wants to be self-sufficient in rice by 2013.

"This initiative of Mayor Codilla is the first local government-backed ratooning project in the Philippines," said regional executive director Leo Caneda of the DA-Regional Field Unit (RFU) 8.

Most of the farmers who were involved in the said project have attained an average yield of 20 cavans per hectare (cav/ha). Based on experience, the ratoon-crop yield of a hybrid-rice variety is higher than inbred rice.

One of the Ormoc City farmers who engaged in hybrid-rice ratooning harvested 32 cav/ha more in addition to the 160 cavans he already got from the main harvest.

During the focus-group discussion, farmers showed their interest to further improve their ratoon yield by following the recommended technology. Also present during the meeting were members of LGU-Ormoc, and regional officers of the DA, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

With this, the LGU-Ormoc, DA-RFU 8, ATI 8 and NIA 8 have agreed to intensify the promotion of hybrid- rice ratooning technology by providing location-specific interventions and advocacy programs.

This means giving each farmer-participant a bag of fertilizer per hectare and continuous technical briefings, trainings and field days.

Likewise, the concerned offices plan to continue the ratooning project from March to May each year until 2013. It aims for a harvest of 40 cav/ha for farmer-beneficiaries to maximize their profits on per-hectare basis despite minimal interventions.

By attaining 40 cav/ha, a farmer who sells his produce at P725 per cavan can have a gross income of P29,000. Considering that the cost of production is P7,170, a farmer can earn an extra income of P21,830 aside from what he already obtained from the main crop within a cropping season.
BEST AGRICULTURE NEWS STORY (REGIONAL)
"GEENING” MT. BANAHAW"
BY: ADORA RODRIGUEZ
PHILIPPINE STAR
MANILA, Philippines - Mt. Banahaw is considered by many Filipinos as a "Holy Mountain," as well as a "red area" or a lair of communist rebels. Today, portions of the picturesque slope of Banahaw have turned "green," as wide tracts of idle lands are planted to various semi-temperate, pinakbet and "chopsuey" vegetables.
FULL STORY
2010 BEST AGRICULTURE NEWS STORY - REGIONAL
"Greening" Mt. Banahaw"
By Adora Rodriguez
Philippine Star



MANILA, Philippines - Mt. Banahaw is considered by many Filipinos as a "Holy Mountain," as well as a "red area" or a lair of communist rebels.
Today, portions of the picturesque slope of Banahaw have turned "green," as wide tracts of idle lands are planted to various semi-temperate, pinakbet and "chopsuey" vegetables.

Now, the farm cluster is considered as one of Southern Luzon's major vegetable producing areas, supplying the requirements of Metro Manila, Bicol and adjacent provinces. And more recently, it serves as the alternate supplier of "Baguio vegetables."

What prompted it all is the establishment three years ago of a wholesale market and processing center, known as theSentrong Pamilihan ng Produktong Agrikultura ng Quezon (or SPPAQ), at Barangay Sampaloc 2, in Sariaya. It sprang up in May 2006, as a brainchild of Rep. Proceso Alcala (2nd district, Quezon), to provide a ready market for various farm commodities.

With Sentrong Pamilihan in place, dozens and later hundreds of farmers were encouraged to develop hectares of idle lands into vegetable gardens at the foothills of Mt. Banahaw, spanning the five towns of Mamala, Bugon, Sampalok, Dolores and Candelaria.



'Vegetable carpet'

Soon the area was carpeted with lush vegetation of eggplant, tomato, beans, ampalaya, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce and carrots, among other popular vegetables.
Hence, vegetable farming and trading has been a major source of income and livelihood of 300 or so Quezon farmers and their families.

"Gusto namin talagang tulungan ang aming magsasaka, na pagtatanim lang ang ikinabubuhay," (We are indeed keen on helping our farmers, whose main livelihood is farming), said Cong. Alcala in his native Batangueno tongue.

"Sa ngayon ay napakaganda ng aming partnership," (Now, we have a very good partnership), he added, referring to the relationship he built with about 300 pioneering farmers who partnered with SPPAQ as contract growers.

To nurture its partnership with them as well as with entrepreneurs and traders, the Sentrong Pamilihan gives them marketing, merchandising and transport assistance, including education and training programs, according to Ariel Manalac, SPPAQ market administrator.

"Para dun sa mga ka-lalawigan naming nagtatanim at nagdadala ng mga produkto dito sa Sentro, binibigyan namin sila ng mga pagsasanay sa values formation at entrepreneurship. Nagbibigay din kami ng environmental training," Manalac said. (We provide training on values formation and entrepreneurship, as well as environmental training.)

These capacity-building programs do not only equip farmers with modern technologies, but also impart to them socio-civic and environmental responsibilities, as they are taught to employ sustainable and environment-friendly farming methods, Manalac added.



180 tons of veggies weekly

With the joint efforts of the national and local governments, as well as the perseverance and determination of the SPPAQ farmer-partners, their families and entrepreneurs, the volume of vegetables produced and traded peaked at 40 tons every Tuesdays and Fridays, their market days.

On ordinary days, volume traded reaches 20 tons. Hence, for the entire week, up to 180 tons of vegetables are produced and traded at the Sentrong Pamilihan.
Aside from Metro Manila, the vegetables are transported to Bicol and Marinduque.

Thus, since May 2006 the SPPAQ has compiled a host of stories to encourage other farmers.

One worth sharing is the triumph of Felipe Heli of Mangalang Tulo-Tulo in Sariaya, who borrowed P70,000 worth of tomato seedlings and farm inputs from SPPAQ. Combining his diligence and learned farm technologies, he was able to gross more than P160,000.

Dahil sa Sentro, nakapagpatayo s'ya ng maayos na bahay. Ngayon may sari-sari store pa s'ya," Manalac boasts of Heli's accomplishment as a farmer-trader. (Because of the Center, Heli was able to put up a decent house. Now, he also has a sari-sari store.)

In the years to come, SPPAQ and Alcala commit to help more Quezonians in their quest for a better life.

"Tuloy-tuloy lang po itong mga proyekto nating ganito" (We will continue to pursue similar projects), Alcala said.

Likewise, he expressed his gratitude for the firm support and assistance extended by Secretary Arthur C. Yap and the Department of Agriculture, as the agency has helped linked the SPPAQ farmers directly with markets and bagsakan centers in Metro Manila.

In addition, the DA has provided Sentrong Pamilihan a cold storage facility and a refrigerated truck.

"Napakalaki na po ng ipinagbago ng industriya ng paggugulay sa lalawigan ng Quezon, at malaking bahagi po nito ay dahil sa tulong ng DA at ng national government" (The industry of vegetable farming in the province of Quezon has developed and improved dramatically because of the assistance of the DA and national government.) Alcala said with a smile. - DA Information Service

Back to 2010 Bright Leaf Winners
BEST AGRICULTURE FEATURE STORY (NATIONAL)
"R&D: EFFORTS TO MANAGE AND RESTORE SEA CUCUMBER POPULATION UNDERWAY"
BY: EDMON AGRO
BAR CHRONICLE
"Ugly as you may see it but sea cucumber is a delicious and nutritious delicacy," said Dr. Marie Antonette R. Juinio-Menez, professor from the University of the Philippines Diliman-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) and project leader of a sea cucumber research program based in Bolinao, Pangasinan.
FULL STORY
2010 BEST AGRICULTURE FEATURE STORY - NATIONAL
"R&D: Efforts to manage and restore sea cucumber population underway"
By Edmon Agron
Bar Chronicle



"Ugly as you may see it but sea cucumber is a delicious and nutritious delicacy," said Dr. Marie Antonette R. Juinio-Menez, professor from the University of the Philippines Diliman-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) and project leader of a sea cucumber research program based in Bolinao, Pangasinan.

Sea cucumbers which are locally known as "balat" are soft-bodied tubular invertebrates that live in the bottom of coastal waters. Like earthworms, they are important in the cycling of sediments and nutrients in marine ecosystems.

These bottom-living animals are considered a great delicacy in Chinese and other Asian cuisines, such as Malaysia (gamat), Singapore, Japan, Korea, and Indonesia (trepang), and often eaten during feasts and holiday celebrations. Sea cucumbers are also considered a delicacy in certain Mediterranean countries such as Spain.

Aside from being delicious and nutritious, they are also valued for their medicinal properties. In Chinese medicine, sea cucumbers are good for nourishing the blood and vital essence, kidney disorders including reproductive organ problems, debility of the aged, constipation due to intestinal dryness, and problem of frequent urination.

Sea cucumbers are also called a tonic food because of their high protein and low fat contents than most of the other food served in restaurants. That's why dried and extracted sea cucumbers are used as a nutritional supplement and now come prepared in tablet and capsule forms.

With their high market demand, sea cucumbers are major fishery and export commodity in the fisheries sector.

In the Philippines, there are over a hundred species of sea cucumbers and about 40 species are reported to be commercially important. Production of sea cucumber relies solely on wild catch. However, most of the wild populations have been over-harvested or depleted resulting to a reduced biodiversity and the loss of an important source of livelihood for fishers. This translates into multi-million losses in both export and local markets.

To help address the problem of rapid depletion of sea cucumbers and other echinoderms, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), together with the experts from UP-MSI, embarked on a project titled, "Refinement of sea cucumber (Holuthuria scabra) culture techniques and assessment of co-culture system for commercially important echinoderms."

The project aims to improve the hatchery and the field grow-out methods to increase survivorship of cultured H. scabra or sandfish locally known as "putian". It also aims to contribute to the development of environment-friendly mariculture methods and subsequently expands the options available to the local aquaculture industry.

In the first year of the project, successful spawning trials were carried out using broodstocks from Bolinao, Pangasinan, and Masinloc, Zambales producing a total of 175,000 juveniles that were used in various experiments while 30,000 larger juveniles were released in the pilot sea ranching sites.

Furthermore, the project also assessed different food types to determine the best diet to improve growth and survivorship of early juveniles that led to the identification of brown seaweed, commonly known as Sargassum, as an effective diet for sea cucumber juveniles to grow faster due to its high nutrition content.

Generally, this project has gone through important steps to manage and restore the depleting populations of sea cucumbers, said Dr. Menez. Through this project, one of the high-valued species of sea cucumbers can now be bred in captivity with broodstock collected in the wild. Adults are induced to spawn with thermal shock. In hatchery tanks, the fertilized eggs are reared. Juveniles are reared in ponds and in ocean nursery systems to about 5g and then released in sea ranch until they attain the desired market sizes, she added.

Dr. Menez also explained that this project is part of a broader national research program titled, "Sea ranching and Restocking of Sandfish in Asia Pacific" supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Marine and Aquatic Research and Development (PCMARD), and the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through World Fish Center. This program is developing culture and resource management technologies to restore natural populations of sea cucumber not only in the Philippines but also in other regions in the Asia Pacific to provide sustainable supplemental livelihood for poor fisher families.

According to Dr. Menez, research and development in culture technologies for commercially important invertebrates like sea cucumber is very important not only to increase its production and ease the harvest pressure in the wild, but also to enhance the country's ability to capture the international market demand, and supply a highly valued, in-demand marine resource - the sea cucumber.
BEST AGRICULTURE FEATURE STORY (REGIONAL)
"BRINGING BACK THE GRAINS"
BY: CHARISMA LOVE GADO
PHILRICE MAGAZINE
Francia Tolentino-Azuela of Calabanga, Camarines Sur still recalls her disappointment when she and her husband failed to buy in cash their dream farm equipment to welcome the new year. To facilitate easier farming, they had planned to cash out for a land master - a machine used for land preparation, from their expected income for the wet season.

FULL STORY
2010 BEST AGRICULTURE FEATURE STORY - REGIONAL
"Bringing back the grains"
By Charisma Love Gado
PhilRice Magazine



Francia Tolentino-Azuela of Calabanga, Camarines Sur still recalls her disappointment when she and her husband failed to buy in cash their dream farm equipment to welcome the new year. To facilitate easier farming, they had planned to cash out for a land master - a machine used for land preparation, from their expected income for the wet season. However, rice tungro disease hit their farm; losing their grains.

Like Francia, farmer-participants of the Location Specific Technology Development (LSTD) project in Calabanga and Libmanan mustered their hopes to forget their helplessness watching their fields turn yellow, wilt, and then die. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics confirmed tungro attacks in the rice-producing towns of Calabanga, Pili, San Jose, and Tigaon in October last year that affected 531.38 ha and an estimated yield loss of 30 to 100 percent.



Persecuted by Tungro

Tungro, which means degenerated growth, causes stunted rice plants and less tillers. Owing to the uncontrolled occurrence of tungro disease, Francia only harvested 46 cav/ha. She had expected 130 cav/ha.

Meanwhile, Romeo Capal, a farmer of 20 years in Brgy. Bonot-Sta. Rosa, Calabanga, harvested 22 cav in his 0.5 farm, where normally he gets 60 cav/ha. Roland Bautista, 26 of Brgy. Inalahan, Libmanan had a more depressing experience. The land he tills for his father - a barangay captain, was totally devastated, leaving them nothing. However, the 200 m2 he allotted for one of the varieties showcased in the LSTD rice variety trial yielded 32 kg. Ricardo Cabucungan, 55, also shares similar experience. His 200 m2 allocation for a variety in the LSTD trial gained 25 kg.



Optimism from LSTD

It was raining as the farmers in Calabanga and Libmanan fallow and prepared their lands. With the rains came their promise of applying the knowledge they received from Francis Anthony Malabanan and Sheryl Cosa, rice self-sufficiency officers in the area. Described as patient, sensitive to their needs, and hardworking, the rice self-sufficiency officers promote, monitor, and evaluate technologies suited for specific areas.

With the LSTD project, farmers can "see with their own eyes" and experience the technologies, which they think are best for their rice farms. The attack of tungro and their helplessness in fighting the disease brought about the commitment of some 20 farmers in Brgy. Sogod, Calabanga practice synchronous planting. Synchronous planting, or planting of the same crop in an area at same time in a cropping season, breaks the cycle of the disease. This practice starves the carrier of the disease; preventing its multiplication.

"Kahit na ginagawa ko ang alam kung nakabubuti sa aking palayan, kung hindi naman gumagaya ang nasa aking paligid, hindi pa rin maganda ang aking magiging ani dahil kailangan ang kooperasyon para labanan ang tungro (My effort would be useless if my farm-neighbors wouldn't cooperate)," Roland said.

For Romeo, Roland, and Ricardo, the tungro attack could be considered a blessing in disguise as they discovered a new resistant variety.

"Wala akong inani pero 'yung sa tinanim kong NSIC Rc 152, may nakuha akong 25 kg sa 200 m2 (I harvested nothing from the variety I planted but with NSIC Rc 152 [one of the varieties on trial], I got 25 kg from the 200 m2," Ricardo said.

In another farm, Roland said that he harvested 10 cav in their 2. 5 ha. Their average yield is 80 cav/ha. "Siguro nga ang pinakanatutunan ko sa nangyaring ito sa aming bukid ay ang pamimili ng tamang variety (What I learned most in this tungro attack is choosing the right variety)," he said.

Meanwhile, veteran farmer Romeo said farmers have all their ups and downs, and that every struggle teaches them how to recover successfully.

"Hindi lang tungro ang umaatake sa amin. Bacterial leaf blight din at kuhol. Pero ok lang dahil may natutunan kami. Nitong huli, na-tungro lahat ng mga palay pero 'yung ang tanim ay PSB Rc18, may naani kahit konti (We're also attacked by bacterial leaf blight and golden apple snail. But that's okay for we learned things. During the tungro outbreak, all farms were affected except those fields planted with PSB Rc18)," he narrated. With this, Romeo intends to plant PSB Rc18 for the 2010 dry season.

As a barangay official, Francia urged his co-farmers and their wives to participate in LSTD project so that someday, farmers would have savings which they could use for emergencies. With LSTD, she believes that farmers in Camarines Sur would have a better life as the technologies they would adopt and localize will hopefully bring back the grains that tungro stole from them.

Back to 2010 Bright Leaf Winner
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