Agriculture Secretary William Dar welcomed 2021 with 12 new key strategies in a memorandum issued to the entire Department of Agriculture (DA), including its attached agencies, staff bureaus, and regional offices across the country, on January 2021.

 

The said strategies aimed to drive the agriculture and fishery sector of the country towards an inclusive growth, fostering an accelerated transformation of the sector into a modern and industrialized one.

 

Dubbed as the “One DA Holistic Approach to Agriculture and Fisheries Transformation” approach, the strategies are cross-cutting action plans involving measures to aid farmers and fishers through provision of various assistance and implementation of various programs, activities, and projects.

 

New ’12 key strategies’

The first strategy aims to establish ‘Bayanihan agri clusters’ (BACs) to streamline support services from the national and local government units (LGUs) for cost-efficient production and better resource management.

 

The Provincial Agricultural and Fisheries Extension Systems (PAFES) will also be institutionalized to initiate concerted efforts among DA, LGUs, academes, and the private sector. PAFES will serve as an extension hub to bring services closer to stakeholders.

 

Another strategy is the Agri-Industrial Business Corridors (ABCs) which is hoped to open doors for inter-regional and trans-national agriculture and fishery-related business activities.

 

Support to infrastructures is also highlighted through the prioritization of the establishment of farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, postharvest facilities, and storage and processing facilities, among others.

 

Marketing support will also be intensified through the strengthening and expansion of the implementation of the Kadiwa and e-Kadiwa programs of DA.

 

The introduction and strengthening of digital agriculture as part of the Agriculture 4.0 agenda is also part of the new strategies. Automated systems will be utilized to improve farm productivity.

 

Secretary Dar also intends to address pressing concerns on climate change by normalizing regional and provincial climate risk and vulnerability assessments to better craft measures on climate risks.

 

DA is also committed to empower and mobilize its partners and stakeholders. Partnerships with LGUs and individuals will continuously be pursued.

 

The strengthening of the position of Philippine agriculture in global trade will also be given priority by boosting top export crops such as coconut and banana, and cacao and coffee which are seen with lots of potentials.

 

As for food safety protocols and regulations, control measures particularly for animal and plant diseases will be strengthened, following agricultural products standards. Laboratory and research facilities for building traceability will also be prioritized.

 

Further, DA will help agripreneurs, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises, in reducing the costs in complying with regulatory standards of conducting business.

 

Finally, Secretary Dar instructed the department’s communication team to launch various information campaigns to share the success stories of its collaborations and integrated efforts.

 

Harmonized efforts

The DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), as one of DA’s staff bureaus, has committed to anchor its programs, activities, and projects to the One DA approach.

 

DA-BAR has channeled funds to increase productivity and profitability of farming systems by prioritizing support for initiatives that lead to defined farm and industry level application under an inclusive market-oriented agri-business approach.

 

Meanwhile, as part of the ABCs, expansion of high value food products will also be pushed, along with technology upscaling, to stir economic activities.

 

Support to research capacities is continuously being undertaken through DA-BAR’s Research Facility Development Grant program aimed at funding the establishment and enhancement of research facilities, and the acquisition of modern equipment to support precision and digital agriculture initiatives.

 

In addition, improved information and communications technology capacities for research initiatives are also eyed. This is still part of the Agriculture 4.0 agenda of DA.

 

The production and availability of quality planting materials and fishery commodities are also targeted. The bureau allotted more than 450 million of funding to this initiative, as part of its quick response program to aid farmers and fishers affected by the pandemic. ### (Jhon Marvin R. Surio)

 

References:

1 The One DA holistic approach: Twelve (12) key strategies. Retrieved from https://www.da.gov.ph/the-one-da-approach-twelve-12-key-strategies/

2 DA lines up key strategies to steer agri-fishery growth and transformation in 2021. Retrieved from https://www.da.gov.ph/da-lines-up-key-strategies-to-steer-agri-fishery-growth-and-transformation-in-2021/

In line with the search for young researchers contributing to research and development in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and related industries in developing regions, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) invites its partner institutions, universities, and research bodies in the country to participate in the annual event, titled “Japan International Award for Young Agricultural Researchers (Japan Award) 2021.”

Organized and presented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan and Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), the annual award officially accepts applications.

Kindly note that the deadline for applications is on March 22, 2021 (Monday).

For more details and information, please click these links: (http://bit.ly/Application_FormsAndGuidelines) and (http://bit.ly/About_JapanAward).

The bureau sends its warmest wishes to the participants of this endeavor.

Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), popularly known as kamoteng kahoy, is often branded as “poor man’s crop” along with sweet potato, taro, and yam. 

What once was an undervalued crop, cassava now stands as one of the staple food sources of carbohydrates in the country aside from rice and corn. 

Protocols for site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) for cassava production paved the way for opportunities to maximize the crop’s potentials in the country. 

In 2016, nationwide SSNM trials were undertaken to further verify the said technology. It aims to address low yield and income among cassava farmers. 

The Institute of Plant Breeding of the University of the Philippines Los Baños led and consolidated the findings across all the regions of the country.

 

Nationwide SSNM trials

Through the trials conducted, the efficiency of SSNM-based fertilizer recommendations was evaluated to address issues about the large yield gap between farmers’ yields and potential yields of different cassava varieties used in different cassava-growing areas. 

It was found out that cassava responded to the use of fertilizer despite medium to high soil fertility. 

However, cassava cultivation can deplete soil nutrients so non-usage of fertilizer will result to low yield. SSNM can compensate to such depletion by suggesting a set of management principles well-fitted to the growing environment. 

In average, the amount of fertilizer needed to produce a ton of cassava dry root yield per hectare was 17 kilograms of N, 4.5 kilograms of P, and 27 kilograms of K. 

Across all on-farm trials conducted, SSNM was found to be the most effective and efficient. However, it was not significantly different to the full NPK approach. 

Forty-eight sites reported significant yield results during the second cropping season: 19 in Luzon, 14 in Visayas, and 15 in Mindanao. 

Among the utilized varieties, Rayong 72 gave the highest yield for SSNM, reaching as much as 53.94 tons per hectare compared to Lakan 1, Lakan 2, and Golden Yellow varieties. 

Rayong varieties have high yield potential as a feed type variety; hence, the highest fresh root yield. 

Based on the data obtained through the nationwide trials, SSNM proved to be an efficient way to close the yield gap in the cassava production in the country. It can even help to close the yield gap mean of 10.53 tons per hectare. 

Aside from variety used, site characteristics have negative effects to cassava yield response to fertilizer management. 

Optimization of SSNM can be made by adjusting the fertilizer recommendation based on the following factors: variety used, soil fertility, management practices (crop residue management, crop rotation, and organic nutrient inputs), climate, water availability, fertilizer source, and price.

 

Significant results of trials

Across all regions, fresh root yields for food type varieties ranged from 15.69 to 91.18 tons per hectare using SSNM protocols. 

Zamboanga Peninsula region has the highest yield with an average yield of 91.8 tons per hectare. Varieties used in the region were Golden Yellow and Lakan 2 which are both food type varieties. 

High yields were result of expansion of areas. Newly cultivated sites has high indigenous soil nutrients to support cassava production. 

Meanwhile, fresh root yields for feed type varieties produced 10.49 to 76.35 tons per hectare. Region 12 had the highest yield among all the regions with a yield of 76.35 tons per hectare using the Rayong 72 variety. 

It was observed that regions in Mindanao have relatively higher yields in both food and feed type varieties compared to regions in Luzon and Visayas. 

Generally, growing areas in Mindanao have fertile soils and experience evenly distributed rainfall very fitting for cassava cultivation. 

For the comparison across varieties and locations, SSNM had the highest average yield among all treatments with 38.77 tons per hectare.

 

Optimizing data for recommendations

Data obtained from literatures together with the results of the nationwide trials were utilized in developing the beta version of the Nutrient Expert for Cassava, a decision-support tool for generating SSNM-based fertilizer recommendations. At present, the validation trials being conducted is paving the way of a mature/refined Nutrient Expert for Cassava Philippines. 

Once released, the software is hoped to give cassava farmers a fertilizer recommendation that can increase their yield and profit by suggesting a meaningful yield goal and providing a fertilizer management strategy. ### Jhon Marvin R. Surio

 

For more information:
Dr. Apolonio M. Ocampo
Project Leader
Institute of Plant Breeding
College of Agriculture and Food Science
University of the Philippines Los Baños
(049) 576 6947
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

            When one talks about Batanes, one will probably blabber about the endless rolling hills, the majestic view of the Pacific Ocean, the rustic Ivatan traditional house, the lofty lighthouses, the heartwarming Ivatans, among others. One would perhaps miss out on mentioning those pine-like trees that gloriously stand out along the sidelines and provide a decorative landscape on the roads and landmarks of Batanes. Given their abundance, particularly when traversing the streets of Basco, Mahatao, Ivana or even in the islands of Sabtang and Itbayat—this tree will awe any tourist on how the Ivantans make use of them.

 

            The tree, known as Arius (Podocarpus costalis), is an endemic in Batanes. It serves as an excellent ornamental tree often used by the Ivantans as Christmas tree during the Yuletide season.

 

Arius bears fruits during the months of July to October. Its berries are edible and its appearance and taste compare to that of duhat. The Arius berry is fleshy and turns from red to purple when mature. The taste is mildly sweet and tangy. The berry has a single green seed attached to it, just like the cashew. Its seed is found at the end of the fruit.

 

Not just for decoration

 

            “It is regrettable that the Ivatans are not aware that these fruits can be processed into valuable products” said Dr. Edwin F. Macaballug, president of the Batanes State College (BSC). This observation was reaffirmed by the faculties of BSC who also shared that the Ivatans would just usually let the Arius berries fall and rot from the tree or be eaten by the birds. “I told them that in the mainland (general term for Luzon) Arius is only used as ornamental plant because it would not bear berries outside Batanes,” added by Macaballug.

 

            The potentials of Arius berries to turn into processed food products only started in 2012 when the director for research and extension of BSC, the late Dr. Roger G. Baltazar, took interest on Arius berries. This prodded him to submit a proposal to the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) which was then funded under its National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP). The realization of a vision to make Arius known across the country as commodity that is uniquely Batanes started to take shape.

 

Developing food products

 

            Upon the approval of project, the first product that BSC developed was the Arius wine. Fruit-based wines are considered a healthy beverage if taken in moderation. Red wine, such as those from Arius wine, helps fight heart diseases. The berries are high in flavonoids which function as antioxidants in human.

 

            Capitalizing on the situation that fruit-based wines have progressively carving its niche in the beverage market, the BSC joined numerous product trade fairs and exhibits to market test Arius products especially the wine. Based on the results, Arius wine passed the standards of a fruit-based wine.

 

            After being satisfied on the quality of Arius wine, the project team focused on the improvement of its packaging which they have satisfactorily done. They have tapped the weavers of Batanes to make the special wine holder and it is made out of the same material used in making vakul (Ivatan traditional headgear). “We paid the elderly weavers 100 pesos for every wine holder. It is especially designed for the Arius wines. It is our way of helping them in getting income and promoting the handicrafts of Batanes,” said Djovi R. Durante, study leader of the project. Other Arius-based products developed include pastillas, tart, jam, jelly, and tea.

 

            The project team has foreseen that the demand for the Arius wine and other Arius-based products will boom once it has been commercialized in the whole province and most likely, the products will also appeal among the tourists who are looking for souvenir gifts.

 

The BSC is making strategies on how to expand their production and widen their market reach. However, they are having problems on the availability of the Arius berries because of its seasonality. The influx of tourists visiting the island starts from November to June which is the lean season for the Arius berries. They came up with a solution which is to acquire additional cold storage equipment to store the Arius berries so that even if it is off-season, they can still produce the products. They will start on the technology transfer of Arius processing to the Ivatan housewives to help them in supplying the Arius products.

 

            “Due to word-of-mouth, the tourists came to us to buy Arius products especially the wine which surprised us because we are not yet promoting it heavily to the public. There are also travel agencies who were vocal in their intentions of becoming an exclusive distributor,” shared Durante.

 

            The project team is also planning to organize an Arius tree planting activity. Durante mentioned that with the recent developments in Batanes such as the road widening, many Arius trees are being cut down. A newly-planted Arius tree usually takes 10-15 years before it bears fruit. With this initiative on tree planting, there is an assurance that there will be Arius trees available for the future Ivatans.

 

            Owing to the uniqueness of the commodity, the Arius wine was given a citation award as “Best New Product” during the BAR-organized event, the 9th National Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition held at SM Megamall in 2013.

 

A year after, heeding the recommendations for the further improvement of the product and its packaging, the Arius-based products bagged the grand prize for the “Best Packaged Product” and “Best Newly-Developed Product” during the North Luzon Cluster S&T Fair organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). ### Diana Rose A. de Leon

 

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Contact person:

Mr. Edwin F. Macaballug

President/Project Leader

Batanes State College (BSC)

Basco, Batanes

Mobile: 09396590971

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In our goal to continually improve the services we provide, we would like to get your insights on the second part of the online seminar on Commercial Production of Cheese from Goat, Buffalo, and Cow's Milk with Dr. Olive Emata you attended. Your views and comments will really help us make our upcoming online seminars and events even more useful and relevant. Please let us know what you think. You can say as little or as much as you'd like.

For those who wish to obtain a certificate of participation, kindly also provide us your email address, where we will send the certificate, through the online evaluation form.

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