A Japanese humanitarian agency has adopted Bureau of Agricultural Research’s (BAR) edible landscaping (EL) program that encourages home-based organic vegetable planting to help reduce imports, enhance the environment, and raise food security.
The EL, a partnership between BAR and University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), has generated adopters including the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual, and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) of Japan.
Its aesthetic value and food security aims are hoped to have a significant impact locally.
“Edible landscaping may not be totally for commercial profitability. But it will raise consumption of vegetables and enhance food security. And we have an organic growing system that’s good for health and environment,” according to UPLB EL Project Leader Farnando C. Sanchez Jr.
BAR had budgeted P1 million for the first phase of the technology promotion of EL which initially had its site at the UPLB CA-Agripark.
“Instead of planting just ornamental plants, we want to encourage more households to plant vegetables in their front and back yards so we may provide for our homes’ basic needs, and we may be able to reduce our imports of vegetables,” said BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.
A United Nations data quoted by the Factfish indicated that as of 2012 the Philippines had vegetable imports of $3.013 million (P142 million).
This project can have extensive livelihood opportunity wherever people want to keep healthy and eat fresh, organic vegetables.
“It offers an opportunity for about 34.2 percent of the total household population or 5.2 million families of the country that live below the poverty threshold especially for families in the cities that cannot afford the high cost of basic needs as food,” according to a BAR-UPLB report.
OISCA, a Tokyo-based organization established by Rev. Yonosuke Nakano, has already been engaged in vegetable planting even before it took up EL.
Its EL farm is in Tiaong, Quezon.
OISCA had a value addition in its vegetable farming from BAR-UPLB’s EL as the beautification function of its farm enhances attraction of young farmers into agriculture.
EL also enhances the environment as the greeneries avert emission of more carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming and climate change.
When it was founded in the Philippines in 1961, OISCA’s aim was to bring Japanese agriculturists to the Philippines to train Filipinos on agriculture.
OISCA as of 1983 had sent 336 Japanese agricultural experts to the Philippines and 245 Filipinos to Japan.
The EL’s two phases were implemented from November 2009 to September 2012.
Aside from potentially helping reduce the country’s vegetable imports, the EL has economic value for agritourism. Agritourism sites can charge visitors an entrance fee.
One agritourism model is that of the Benguet State University (BSU) which generates around P2 million yearly from its tourist site in its campus in Benguet. It is planted with organic strawberry and Arabica coffee. BSU charges P50 per entrant.
Aside from OISCA, the EL of BAR-UPLB has been demonstrated in the gardens of several institutions. These include a Rotary Club of Los Banos-assisted public school, UP Rural High School, and even at BAR’s own office site on Visayas Avenue, Quezon City.
Since EL was introduced by UPLB in 1999, EL was also adopted by a Laguna provincial program called “Food Always in the Home” which popularized vegetable gardening.
“Sooner some private companies adopted the same concept for their model nurseries. A real estate developer incorporate dthe concept for its farm lot subdivision in Tarlac, “ according to the BAR-UPLB’s “Technology Promotion and Commercialization of Edible Landscaping” (TP-CEL).
In Antipolo, in an aim to orient children who are now mostly ignorant on agriculture, a resort has also used edible landscaping as a better alternative to planting ornamental plants.
The concept of EL was presented at the Flora Filipina Conference in Manila in January 2009.
BAR has been supporting projects that boost consumption of vegetables in the country which is known to be among the lowest in Asia.
The World Health Organization (WHO) indicated the Philipines’ vegetable consumption of 60 kilos per person per year in 2007 was one of Asia’s lowest, reported the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
This results in chronic malnutrition especially in children with shortage in people’s intake of vitamins and minerals. The National Nutrition Survey (NNS) of 2008 reported 33 percent of Filipino children less than 10 years old were too short for their age classification. Stunting also affects 29 percent of five-year-olds.
NNS reported the Philippines’ average daily consumption per person of 110 grams of vegetables as of 2008 was lower than the 145 grams consumption in 1978.
Furthermore, consumption of fruits was also lower as of 2008 at 54 grams per person per day compared to 104 grams in 1978.
BAR and the Department of Agriculture previously had campaigns on raising Philippines’ vegetable consumption.
One of these was the “Oh My Gulay” which was implemented with the East and Southeast Asia of the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC) based in Taiwan.
This program aimed to support health programs on reduction of incidence of vitamins and minerals that are linked to contraction of heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, and other degenerative disease.
The country’s vegetable consumption is even far lower than WHO’s recommendation of 400 grams of vegetables and fruits per person per day or 150 kilos per year.
One of the reasons for low vegetable consumption may be the high price of vegetables.
Most vegetables are produced in farflung upland areas like Baguio and Nueva Vizcaya so that most urban residents do not have access to affordable vegetable.
“Vegetables and fruits can be more expensive than fish in the Philippines, and their prices fluctuate a lot,” according to Sheila Aclo de Lima of the AVRDC. “With these (space-friendly) methods (like container farming), underprivileged families can produce for themselves, and their vegetable and fruit consumption is resilient to weather and food crises.”
The EL project is not only about how to grow organic vegetables but on planning, design, and implementation of a landscape architecture program.
“Edible plants can provide the texture, color, and mass that we like to see in our garden as some of them are fine, dainty and lay, bright and attractive, tall growing or in prostate forms,” according to the TP-CEL report.
EL farms may have different shapes for the plots rather than just rectangular. These may be shaped as a circle, moon-shaped, square, or heart-shaped.
“A trellis does not need to be flat on top. Rather it can be in arch form or tunnel form to inject some novelty and excitement.”
An EL farm does not have to be very big. At the UPLB CA AGripark, the technology demonstration area was 2,900 square meters. At BAR’s building, the area only covered 10 by four meters or a total of 40 square meters.
A staff member has to be hired to maintain the gardens at the CA AGripark. They have been trained to implement in the EL farms calendared planting, soil amendment, composting, companion cropping or best crop combinations, seedling production, chemical-free or organic vegetable production, and horticultural practices.
The CA Agripark had a Pinakbet Garden planted with the vegetables Ilocanos love like eggplant, ampalaya, camote. It had a Sinigang Garden planted with radish, okra, eggplant, tomato, gabi, and kangkong. It had a Kamote Kaleidoscope with different kamote varieties of different colors and interesting shapes, and Salad Republic (lettuce, tomato, chives, celery, chicharo and onion).
A Fruit Tree Miracle garden had miracle fruits like kalamansi, guava, chico, kalamias, and papaya.
The Herbs Garden had basil, tarragon, mint, viola, oregano, gainura, and gotokola.
Urban gardening or container gardening is encouraged in EL so that city dwellers may take advantage of the technology.
Any commercially available recyclable plastic container, clay pots, coconut shells, and other commonly available materials were used as pots to demonstrate to many that one does not have to have rich resources to put up this garden.
Those planted in these containers are lemon grass, gainura, lettuce, mustard, and pechay.
To enhance beautification, the perimeter fence at CA AGripark was planted with different vines like ampalaya, upo, patola, cucumber, and singkamas.
Factors to consider in the choice of plants are nutrition, preference, color, texture, scent and attractive physical characteristics.
While one expects to see mostly plants in EL particularly vegetables (called softscapes), hardscapes are needed to beautify an EL farm. These are trellises, signage, pots and containers, waterfalls, and lights.
The TP-CEL had listed several indigenous fruit trees in the country that have potential use for EL.
These are abiu, alingaro, ambarella, araza, ardisia, bago or melinjo, batuan, bitungol, black palm, Brazil cherry, chico-mamey, eleagnus, galo, guava, mulberry, Indian, Philippine chestnut, pitomba, and raspberry bush, among others.
While one initially thinks EL may have limited applications, as he investigates he is surprised that it has vast applications. It includes that for home, commercial, and humanitarian purposes. It can be in homes, parks, schools, business and government offices, and industrial sites.
Instead of chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers are recommended in EL sites.
To repel some types of insects, marigold, onion, and garlic are planted around the garden such a on walkways or around perimeter walls.
Some insects are also repelled with the use of chili and soap sprayed on plants. Bagging of fruits using paper, plastic, and other innovative materials is encouraged to prevent infestation.
Pruning or thinning out of flowers, fruits, and leaves not only enhances plant shape but also its fruiting productivity.
Ratooning, retaining the plant from new emerging roots, is also practiced as it saves replanting and fast growth compared to growing plants from new seeds. Kangkong is one of those that are being rationed.
Commercial farms aim to harvest massive plants at the same time in order to achieve economies of scale.
However, EL is ideal for staggered harvesting which is ideal for small consumption in families. ### (BAR Press Release)
The Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) banner of program the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) continues nationwide in its campaign towards encouraging community involvement in profitable and sustainable agriculture and fishery ventures, brought about by research and development (R&D) initiatives of the agency in collaboration with both the private and public sector.
CPAR is a location-specific research cum extension projects that focuses in improving farming system technologies for specific micro agri-climatic environment within a province or municipality. Specifically, it aims to: 1) enhance the role of R&D through technology transfer to improve management systems; 2) develop strategies for effective integration of support services; and 3) institutionalize active community participation in overall farm and coastal resources management for enterprise and agribusiness development.
In a recent monitoring visit headed by representatives of the Project Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED) of BAR to Northern Mindanao, current coconut- and corn-based CPAR projects were monitored and evaluated through field visits and interviews. Farmer cooperators and regional field unit representatives gathered to discuss current achievements and issues encountered by participating farmer cooperatives, namely the Bubuntugan Farmers’ Association and the Jampason Farmers’ Association in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental.
In the municipality of Jasaan, the two barangays represent the most involved farmers in the project. In Brgy. Bubuntugan, 15 members and in Brgy. Jampason, 9 members were cooperators in the implementation of the coconut- and/or corn-based CPAR project. Both presidents of the Bubuntugan and Jampason Farmers’ Association were present during the meeting to assist in the documentation and clarification of concerns and issues in the project.
According to the farmers, the CPAR project allowed them additional income and they are now able to harvest other commodities while waiting for the coconut trees to produce. A farmer’s wife mentioned that because they are putting fertilizer on the ground for their other crops, the benefit also spills over to the coconut trees, which increases their yield come harvest time. They also mentioned that although there are only a handful of CPAR project participants, because their fields show positive yield, their neighbors become interested in the CPAR planting system.
Upon witnessing the benefits of the CPAR projects, neighbors are encouraged to copy and even join as an adaptor of the farming system. Apart from this, the participants mention how they are able to gain new and important knowledge on increasing their profits through the application of this new technology brought by BAR’s CPAR. On their own, the wives of the farmers have now proceeded to value-adding activities using their commodities planted in between the coconut trees. They now try to make banana chips, wine making, coco sugar, and lumpia, among others.
It is a popular belief that coconut farmers are among the poorest of all farmers. However, because of projects like CPAR, coconut farmers are now able to earn beyond their coconut profits and maximize land use. They acquire techniques and technologies that allowed them the capacity to grow more that the coconut they are used to. CPAR projects such as this one brings more than food on the table, but also hope that things can and will get better in the future. ### (Zuellen B. Reynoso)
Mina-angan, hungduan, ulikan, jekot, diket, and tinawon—they can be mistaken as names of people but they’re not. They are actually varieties of heirloom rice from the Cordillera region which are now making a niche in the export market and are heading their way in the United States through the efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
According to reports, the US-bound heirloom rice is considered “a milestone in the government’s effort to expand markets for premium varieties and promote the rich cultural heritage attached to it.” Exporting Cordillera’s premium rice will not only provide a bright spot in the world market but will also help sustain the status of rice terraces as part of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Preserving a taste, protecting a heritage – this is how the rice growers in Cordillera want the heirloom rice production to be recognized in the world. According to Marilyn Sta. Catalina, director of the DA-Regional Field Unit in the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), who represented Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala during the ceremonial send-off on 20 September 2013 at the Manila International Container Terminal, “more than profit, we are promoting the rich Cordilleran cultural heritage through this export.” She added that the grains represent the best in the Cordilleras, notably the industry and ingenuity of its people, as they are organically grown, and manually harvested and pounded to perfection.
Fifteen metric tons of organic heirloom rice, worth P870 thousand, were sent to the US. These were composed of three varieties: 10 tons of “mina-angan” from Banaue and “hungduan” from Ifugao, and 5 tons of “ulikan” from Pasil and Lubuagan in Kalinga. The volume of premium rice was consolidated by the Rice Terraces Farmers Cooperative (RTFC), in cooperation with Rice Inc. Eighth Wonder Inc, a non-government organization based in the US that helps market products from the Cordillera’s rice terraces. DA has been facilitating RTFC’s export to the US through Eight Wonder Inc. since 2005.
The 15 metric tons premium rice is part of the 27.6 metric tons that the Philippines will send to the US this year, which was bought from the 272 farmers from the three mountain provinces.The remaining 12.6 metric tons is currently undergoing organic fumigation at the Philippine Rice Institute (PhilRice) laboratory in Nueva Ecija. This procedure is in compliance with the strict US sanitary and phytosanitary requisites for importation.
To date, shipments of various heirloom varieties to the US has totaled to 97 tons, including the 24.4 tons valued at P1.3 million in 2012. Among the heirloom varieties exported were: “Mountain Violet” of Mountain Province, unoy or “jekot” and ulikan” red grains of Kalinga, and tinawon, “fancy rice” and “diket” of Ifugao.
To assist the upland farmers in sustaining its production, DA has embarked on various initiatives to preserve organic farming practices in northern Philippine regions and expand overseas markets for indigenous rice varieties. Part of this initiative is the funding and supporting of various research and development initiatives on organic farming in the Cordillera region through its Commuity-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR).
Sustaining heirloom rice with CPAR
Heirloom rice is a special kind of indigenous rice that has been planted by the ancestors of Ifugao and other upland tribes. It is colored glutinous rice that possesses outstanding quality, aroma, texture, color (red, purple or violet), taste, and nutritional value. Most importantly, the heirloom rice varieties in the Rice Terraces are organically-grown. These qualities made the harvest very appealing not only to local consumers but also to foreign buyers.
One of the most popular among these varieties is Tinawon (local name which literally means “once a year”).True to its name, tinawon is the first rice variety of rice that was widely grown in the Rice Terraces and is grown only once a year.
To sustain this indigenous gem that is thriving in the Cordillera region, BAR supported the tnawon production through a CPAR project. Initiated in 2011, it aims to increase the production of tinawon to supplement the export volume of heirloom rice in the US and to sustain the needs of the farmers. Through the CPAR project, farmers were introduced to various R&D interventions on organic production without compensating the increase in yields. They were taught on using bio-organic and foliar fertilizers, early transplanting, and proper distancing.
Dr. Catherine Buenaventura, supervising agriculturist of Ifugao’s Provincial Agriculture Environment and Natural Resources Office (PAENRO) and CPAR project leader, said that these interventions led to a five percent increase in the production of tinawon rice during the first cycle alone. ###(Rita T. dela Cruz)
Products from a certain plant that looks a lot like the gumamela have been constantly featured in different agricultural trade shows and activities. However, many people may still be unaware of what it is, what it looks like, and what benefits it can give to us.
What is roselle?
One of the highlights during the 20th Farmers’ Field Days and Technology Forum of the Northern Mindanao Agricultural Research Center (NOMIARC) held at Malaybalay City, Bukidnon was value-adding technologies for different commodities–one of which is wine production technology from the roselle plant. According to Ms. Fe Abragan, a senior agriculturist in NOMIARC, when Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala graced a field day back in 2012, he urged the station to promote roselle. This is in line with the DA’s thrust of promoting indigenous plants for health and wellness and recognizing the need to explore the untapped potentials of such plants for them to be fully utilized, promoted, and more importantly to be developed as foods and sources of materials in the nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and cosmeceutical industries.
Roselle is included in the book of Dr. Roberto Coronel titled “Important and Underutilized Edible Fruits of the Philippines”. In the book, roselle was described as an erect, branched, herbaceous plant that grows to about 1 m high. It bears yellowish or pinkish large flowers and its fruits are enclosed in its large and red fleshy calyx. Roselle was first introduced in the Philippines during the 1900s where it has been cultivated in some home gardens and has adapted well in the country’s humid tropical climate.
Regarded as a low input and low maintenance crop, roselle requires less management but is very productive. Maintenance is only through pruning as it easily matures. Reproductive stage occurs in about 4-6 months. It is believed to be beneficial in an intercropping system, especially with legumes. The plant is considered to be an underutilized species that has economic importance and potentials for fruit processing which can provide farmers with alternative sources of food and income.
How useful is roselle?
Many countries in the world have been cultivating roselle for many purposes such as food, fuel, fiber, lipids, and decoration, among many others. It is popularly used in making cooling beverages and wines, and in making delicious desserts such as jams, jellies, puddings, cakes, pies and others. When dried, it is processed into a nutritious tea. Its tender leaves and stalks can also be eaten as a vegetable in salads, or as seasoning for various delicacies. In the country, it was found to be used as a souring agent in dishes such as sinigang. The stems are seen as potential raw materials for charcoal and as sources of bast jute-like fibers. Meanwhile, its seeds are rich in linoleic acid, a fatty acid essential for nutrition, and can be potential sources of vegetable oils.
Many of its parts are also believed to be of medicinal value. In Guinea, its leaves are used as a diuretic and sedative, while the Angolans found it as a useful remedy for coughs. Its seeds are used for debility in Myanmar and as diuretic and laxative in Taiwan. In the Philippines, its bitter root is used as aperitive and tonic. Additionally, the flavonoids contained in roselle can be used to naturally color foods such as yoghurt and rums.
Various studies in many parts of the world have also been conducted which are aimed at studying the plant’s biological activities. Results have showed promising outcomes such that roselle can provide protection from atherosclerosis, and are regarded to possess anticarcinogenic and high antioxidant properties.
NOMIARC, as a research station that believes in the potentials of the plant, is conducting research initiatives to further explore and promote the plant. As of the moment, the station is subjecting their roselle wine for further analysis before making it available to the public. It is also now in the process of submitting a proposal to the Bureau of Agricultural Research for the product utilization and processing of roselle into products such as tea, jam, and candies. NOMIARC also provides seeds to interested farmers and individuals priced at P5 per pack.### (Anne Camille B. Brion)
One of the key officials of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has lauded Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala for his strong support to the country’s agricultural research and development (R&D) community, including IRRI itself.
Dr. Bruce Tolentino, IRRI’s Deputy Director General for communication and partnerships, said Secretary Alcala has provided the biggest funding and other provisions for the R&D community of all the 11 agriculture secretaries from 1986 to present. For IRRI alone, the Philippine government’s annual contribution to the institute’s research agenda ballooned to US$2 million under Secretary Alcala’s leadership – from the average of US$38,000 since 1960 when IRRI was established.
“This is very important because it means the Philippine government through the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the Department of Agriculture has the first call on any research that IRRI produces [before it is released to other partner countries so Filipino farmers benefit from it first,” said Dr. Tolentino, who once worked for the DA’s Office of the Secretary in various capacities from 1986 to 1993, and then 1998 to 2003. He is one the few Filipinos holding a major position at the global institution.
IRRI is, in fact, supportive of the government’s food security blueprint dubbed Food Staples Sufficiency Program, under which DA aspires to become self-sufficient in rice by the end of 2013. In December last year, both institutions entered into a 5-year agreement to jointly pursue eight major areas of collaboration. These areas include which include strategic mapping of current rice production and expansion areas using GIS and remote sensing to provide a better estimate of the country’s total production, area planted and harvested.
Dr. Tolentino made the statement on Thursday at the annual awarding ceremony for outstanding agricultural researches at the BSWM Lopez Hall in Quezon City. Now on its 25th staging through the lead effort of the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research, this year’s National Research Symposium was dominated by scientists and researchers from the Visayas State University in Baybay, Leyte and the University of the Philippines-Los Banos in Laguna, which bagged three and two gold medals, respectively, from eight categories that attracted a total of 130 entries.
These are Basic Research; Applied Research; Applied Research (Technology/Information Generation – Fisheries); Applied Research – Technology Adaptation/Verification (Agriculture); Applied Research – Technology Adaptation/Verification (Fisheries); Socio-Economics Research; Development (Agriculture); and Development (Fisheries).
Higher investments, wider engagement
DA’s investments and engagement with the R&D community have indeed flourished under the Aquino Administration, as proven by the Department’s increased allocation for R&D as well as extension activities. In its proposed 2014 budget, DA has earmarked around P2.41 billion for its R&D operations and projects –arguably the highest in history – in a bid to raise farm and fishery productivity and efficiency.
For DA, the challenge now is how to ensure that these investments get mobilized in such a way that the right technologies reach smallholder farmers, who constitute the majority in the country.
“At the end of the day, ito po ‘yung kailangan: ‘Yun pong tulong na maibibibay ng inyong researches ay masusukat lang po natin kung gaano nagtagumpay kung mas marami pong barya at mas marami pong buong pera ang matitira sa bulsa ng magsasaka at mangingisda (At the end of the day, the success of your research will be measured by how much money is left in the pockets or our farmers and fishers.),” Secretary Alcala said in his remarks directed to R&D stakeholders at the same symposium.
Over the next three years, DA has set its three central goals as follows: (1)Food Staples Sufficiency Attained and Sustained; (2) Environment for Enhanced Competitiveness in Agriculture and Fisheries Established; and (3) Climate Resilient Agri-fishery Technologies and Infrastructure Developed and Improved. And through all of these, research will play a major role as Philippine agriculture have to contend with multiple challenges including climate change, ever-rising population,
“Wala pong aabanteng programa sa sakahan at pangisdaan kong walang tamang research na gagawin (No agri-fishery program will ever succeed without the support of relevant research),” said Secretary Alcala. ### (DA News Release)