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MMHRDC conducts research forum, advocates healthy lungs for a healthy life

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In celebration of the National Lung Month, the Metro Manila Health Research and Development Consortium (MMHRDC) held a research forum with the theme “Healthy Lungs, Clean Air, Good Life” last August 26, 2011 at the Manila Doctors Hospital.

 

The forum gathered researchers and experts from the 23 member institutions of the consortium to provide a venue for research collaboration among stakeholders.

 

Engr. Jean Rosete, Chief of the Air Quality Management Section of the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) presented the “Status of Air Quality in Metro Manila.” Engr. Rosete reported that the sources of air pollution in Metro Manila are natural and man-made or anthropogenic. Man-made air pollutants are from mobile sources like motor vehicles, industries, and area sources like open burning, building constructions and paved roads. Based on the National Emission Inventory conducted by the DENR, most (86%) of the pollution load comes from motor vehicles.

 

“In response to the findings of the inventory, DENR intensified its anti-smoke belching campaign. We also implemented the garage testing of public utility vehicles, intensified industrial monitoring, and information and education campaign in coordination with Local Government Units (LGUs) to undertake those activities.” said Engr. Rosete.

 

Dr. Josephine Tolentino of St. Luke’s Medical Center tackled “Personalizing Treatment for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: IPASS Study.” Her study proved that the drug Gefitinib is superior to carboplatin-paclitaxel as an initial treatment for pulmonary adenocarcinoma among nonsmokers or former light smokers in East Asia. The presence in the tumor of a mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene is a strong predictor of a better outcome with gefitinib.

 

Dr. Jubert Benedicto, Chair of the Council on Tuberculosis of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) discussed his research entitled, “The Incidence of Active Tuberculosis Among Health Workers with Latent Tuberculosis Infection in Tertiary Hospital Setting.” The study revealed that health care workers (HCWs) have a high prevalence of latent TB infection (LTBI) and low incidence of active TB.

According to Dr. Benedicto, “This was a cohort study done over two years involving HCWs assigned in the medical wards and medical intensive care units in ten tertiary hospitals. The findings of the study might have implications in screening and employment policies among HCWs and infection control strategies that should be employed in these tertiary settings.”

 

In her closing remarks, Dr. Lulu Bravo, Chair of the MMHRDC Steering Committee and the Executive Director of the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) expressed her appreciation for the efforts of the consortium in promoting research.

 

“We need more forums like this to motivate more people to do research. I encourage everyone to publish your researches for us to be more competitive with our ASEAN neighbors.” said Dr. Bravo. Philippine Council for Health Research and Development

 

Written by tuklasinnatin

September 10, 2011 at 10:27 am

PCHRD-Gruppo Medica recognizes outstanding undergraduate thesis in herbal medicine

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Winners of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD)-Gruppo Medica Award were recognized during the Metro Manila Health Research and Development Consortium (MMHRDC) research forum last August 26, 2011 at the Manila Doctors Hospital.

 

Three undergraduate students were awarded for their studies on herbal medicine that have shown potential for commercial applications.

 

Third prize was given to Ms. Luisa Gillian Angeles of the University of the Philippines Manila, Institute of Chemistry for her study entitled, “Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitory Activity of Mimosa pudica.” Mimosa pudica, more commonly known as “Makahiya,” was found to contain flavonoids which are essential in the treatment of gout. With this finding, Makahiya can be a possible alternative for allopurinol, a clinically approved drug used to treat gout.

 

Second prize went to Ms. Kristin Joyce Santos, Ms. Abegail Santillan, Ms. Chari Jane Rosales of the University of Santo Tomas for their research, “Fruit juice of unripe saba (Musa paradisiaca L.) inhibits free radicals, prevents lipid peroxidation and improves lipid profile.” The study showed that unripe saba can be used as a dietary supplement to reduce the risk of diseases associated with oxidative stress and hyperlipidemia.

 

First prize was awarded to Mr. Luis Tani, Mr. Leland Ustare, Mr. Von Luigi Valerio of the University of Santo Tomas for their project entitled, “A critical assessment of the cytotoxicity, hypoglycaemic and antioxidant potential of the ripe fruit of Musa sapientum var. saba on human fibroblasts in vitro.” Results of the study revealed that the crude aqueous extract of ripe Musa sapientum var. saba exhibits remarkable properties both as potentially effective antioxidant and as a probable nutraceutical agent for diabetics in the Philippines.

 

The PCHRD-Gruppo Medica Award provides motivation for students to view undergraduate thesis not merely as an academic exercise, but as an excellent opportunity to contribute to the national agenda. Philippine Council for Health Research and Development

Written by tuklasinnatin

September 10, 2011 at 10:25 am

Ill Effects of global warming being reversed by increasing area for Genetically Modified crops

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The ill effects of global warming is being reversed by the increasing  area for genetically modified (GM) crops which have been contributing to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emission.

 

Crop science experts expressed full confidence in the contribution of GM crops in countering predicted increasing global temperature as a result of emission of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide.

 

GM herbicide resistant crops, for one, enable farmers’ omission of tilling of the soil.  This prohibits emission of CO2 to the environment and enhances moisture in the soil.

 

Prevention of emission of CO2 also comes largely from non-razing of more forest lands for agricultural use.

 

Dr Wayne Parrott, a University of Georgia crop science expert said that global farmers have been able to triple cereal production from 650 million metric tons (MT) in 1950 to 1.9 billion MT in 2000.

 

This is without the need for more agricultural land due to higher yield from emerging farm technologies.

 

Despite the three times increase in production, land use over the 50-year period was about constant at 660 million hectares as of 2000.  Farm technology spared the use of a vast tract of land which could amount to at least one billion hectares.

 

”Land not used for agriculture was 1.1 billion hectares. Since you save on land, you have more land for other uses,” said Parrott in a Bureau of Agricultural Research-sponsored biotechnology forum.

 

The GM Bacillus thuringiensis corn which is resistant to the pest Asiatic corn borer, for instance, may raise yield from the conventional five per MT per hectare to seven to eight MT.

 

Another substantial contributor to decreased CO2 emission is the elimination of pesticide spray since many GM crops like Bt corn have pest resistance.  This consequently wipes out use of fuel for spraying.

 

London-based PG Economics estimated that decreased pesticide and fuel use from GM spared CO2 emission by a total of 17.7 billion kilos.  This comes from the elimination of herbicide and insecticide use over the 17.1 percent of total agricultural area now planted to GM crops

 

The GM crop Roundup Ready, a corn resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide at least in the United States, enables farmers to obtain high yield from corn without needing to spend for labor cost for weeding.    

 

More important, with this herbicide-resistant trait in the gene inserted in the corn, farmers do not need to till the soil.  This restores moisture and stores up CO2 in the soil.

 

“GM officially started in 1996.  Now we have 15.4 million farmers in 29 countries planting GM.  If organic farmers will use GM, it will make their life easier because in the end organic and GM farming has the same goal of environmental sustainability,” said Parrott.

 

If GM was not used by 14 million farmers for from 1996 to 2009, PG Economics reported that farmers would have needed to plant on 3.8 million hectares more for soybeans, 5.6 million hectares more for corn, 2.6 million hectares more for cotton and 0.3 million hectares more for canola. 

 

That in order to achieve these crops’ global production  at the 2009 levels.

 

“This total area requirement is equivalent to about seven percent of the arable land in the US, or 24 percent of the arable land in Brazil,” reported PG Economics.

 

Parrott said farmers in the Philippines have become a global leader in GM planting. 

 

“Philippines have been a leader in the region. It’s in the forefront.  You have sensible, logical regulations that were put in place early. You have half a million hectares of GM corn this year, and no other country in the region has that,” Parrott said.

 

Its benefit to farmers in increased yield and income is big.

 

The farm level economic benefit of GM crops from 1996 to 2009 totalled to $64.7 billion.       

 

This benefitted each and every individual farmer.

 

“For every dollar spent for GM, a farmer based on a study in Honduras gets $5.05,” said Parrott.

 

Countries are no longer food-secure without GM crops.  Ninety-two percent of globally-traded soybean is now GM. This high saturation level is true also in GM corn which has achieved an 80 percent global trade level and in cotton, canola, and sugarbeet at 90 percent each.

 

Definitely a more important benefit of GM crops is on human health. Farmers’ unprotected spraying of pesticide is now a thing of the past.  

 

Cancer-causing aflatoxin from corn mold and other toxins are eliminated with GM corn.

 

“After insects damage corn, fungus follows which has an effect of causing cancer, birth defects, and it depresses the immune system,” Parrott said.

 

But GM crops are saved from fungi infestation.

 

GM crops even cause a flourishing of biodiversity.  The presence of beneficial insects has extensively been documented in farms planted to GM.  On the other hand, pesticide-sprayed farms can never be found with beneficial insects as sprays are non-targeted to pests alone but kill all types of insects.

 

There is a misperception that “gene flow” from GM crops causes harm on conventional crops.

 

“Gene flow is the most misunderstood of all. People ask, will the genetically engineered plant cross with other plants?  The question to ask is, ‘Will there be negative consequence’? It doesn’t mean just because there’s gene flow, there’s negative consequence, he said.

 

“Maize production (of different varieties) near San andres, Xeoul, Guatemala have been crossing for centuries, but there’s no damage. Crossing is not automatically destructive,” Parrott said.

 

In the near future, Parrott said Philippines will have its own fruit and shoot borer (FSB)-resistant Bt eggplant which will spare more farmers from the use of pesticide spray for FSB. 

 

More so, this is developed by Philippine state-owned Institute of Plant Breeding at the University of Los Banos.

 

Bt eggplant is wonderful example because it shows what a public institution can do for the benefit of the country.  I think it’s now undergoing environmental safety testing,” he said.

Written by tuklasinnatin

September 10, 2011 at 10:21 am

Posted in Usapang Bukid

18.3 BILYONG PISO BUDGET NG DAR PINAGTIBAY NA SA KAMARA

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SI Public Affairs Staff Director Hugo Yunzon ng Department of Agrarian Reform habang kinakapanayam nina Precy Lazaro (People’s Monitor) at Cathy Cruz (DWAD) sa ginanap na misa na idinaos sa kanilang tanggapan kaugnay sa pagdiriwang ng kaarawan ni Mama Mary. Binanggit din ni Dir. Buboy ang pagkakapasa ng 2012 Budget ng kanilang kagawaran kaya’t Masaya sila dahil malaking maitutulong umano nito sa pagpapatupad ng kanilang layunin na matapos ang pamamahagi ng agrikulturang lupain para sa mga magsasaka subalit niliwanag nyang hindi dahil natapos na ang LTI ay mawawala na rin ang kanilang ahensya. Depende pa rin umano ito sa kasalukuyang tinatalakay ng tatlong ahensya na pagsasanib puwersa ng mga Kagawaran ng Agrikultura (DA), Kapaligiran at Likas Yaman (DENR) at Repormang Agraryo (DAR) upang matiyak na ang mga magsasaka sa bansa ay mapaunlad ang buhay at kabuhayan na magdudulot ng kasiguraduhan ng maihahapag na pagkain sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino. Cathy Cruz, PSciJourn Mega Manila  

PINAGTIBAY na ng Kamara kahapon ang 18.3 Bilyong Pisong pondo ng Kagawaran ng Agraryo para sa 2012 Budget dahil sa ginawang pagsulong at paninindigan ni Rep. Anna York C. Bondoc.

Napatunayan umano ng DAR na mapataas ang bilang ng agrikulturang lupaing ipinagkaloob sa mga magsasaka sa iba’t ibang lalawigan sa bansa kahit hindi sapat ang pondo nito ngayong 2011.

Sinasabing ang kabuuang 18.3 Bilyon Piso na 2012 Budget ay nakabaha-bahagi na sa ‘land tenure improvement’ na umaabot sa 10 Bilyon, 7.3 Bilyon naman sa programa ng pagpapaunlad ng mga makikinabang na magsasaka sa pamamagitan ng pangunahing panlalawigang proyekto, imprastraktura at pagsasanay. Samantala, 1 Bilyon naman para sa Agraryong Pangkatarungan paglilingkod.

Nagkaroon naman ng katuwang si Bondoc sa pamamagitan ni dating kalihim ng DAR na si Nasser Pangandaman na ngayon ay kinatawan ng AA Kasosyo Partylist.

Ayon kay Pangandaman, dahil sa kawalang pondo magpahanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin magawa ng DAR na pagkalooban ang mga mahihirap na magsasaka ng pinansyal na tulong na mapautang man lang puhunan upang matiyak na ang kanilang lupang sinasaka ay hindi nila ipagbibili dahil sa kagipitan at sa halip ay lilinangin at pagyamanin ang lupang agrikultura na iginawad sa kanila. Sumang-ayon naman dito ang kinatawan ng Coop-Nattcco Partylist na si Cresente Paez.

Sinusugan ni Bondoc sina Pangandaman at Paez sa pangangailangan na maibalik ang pondo para sa ‘credit facility’ kasabay ang paghiling nito sa dalawa na tulungan syang maitulak ito hanggang sa DBM na mapagtibay.

Gayunpaman, sa pahapyaw na panayam ng inyong lingkod ay pinaghahandaan ngayon ni Director Teresita L. Panlilio ang mga karagdagang dokumento upang masigurong hanggang sa Senado ay susugan ng iba pang kinatawan mula sa Senado liban sa mga kinatawan sa Kamara ang 2012 Budget ng DAR. Cathy Cruz, PSciJourn Mega Manila

Written by tuklasinnatin

September 8, 2011 at 7:24 am

Govt sets new target area of 5,000 hectares in Region 2 for protein-rich, climate change-mitigating peanut

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The government has set a new target area of 5,000 hectares in Cagayan Valley for protein-rich peanut as the legume is deemed as an ideal climate change-mitigating crop with its nitrogen-fixing property.

 

The Department of Agriculture (DA)-Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CVIARC) effectively targets a 43 percent increase in peanut production in Region 2 in three to five years. Present area is placed at 3,500 hectares.

 

“We want to continue our support for peanut breeding and production because peanut remains to be a minor crop rather than a cash crop even if farmers have an opportunity to make money from it by replacing our big import,” said Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) director.

 

DA sees expansion of peanut area as a climate change-mitigating crop with its ability to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas-emitting nitrous oxide from nitrogen. 

 

 

Peanut is likewise considered drought-resistant with less water need at an average irrigation water requirement ranging from four to 50 millimeter per application.

 

Legumes– peanut, mungbean, and soybean included– can capture nitrogen from the air, “fix” this into plant food, and thus make it a natural fertilizer to the plant.

   CVIARC Peanut Project Leader Rose Mary G. Aquino said BAR’s program involves breeding for improved peanut varieties. This also has a seed support component from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD).

 

“We want to stabilize the peanut production in Region 2 which has been erratic due farmers’ shifting from planting peanut to yellow corn as a result of insufficient peanut seed supply during planting season,” said Aquino.

 

The country imports an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 metric tons (MT) of peanut yearly out of a total supply of 60,000 to 70,000 MT. This means Philippines imports more than 50 percent of its peanut supply yearly primarily from China.

 

The peanut project should revive Region 2’s leadership in peanut production. Its peanut area was at 22,000 hectares in the 1990s, although yield was very low at 0.65 MT per hectare.

 

“Region 2 was once a big peanut producer. But due to the low yield and therefore low income, farmers shifted to yellow corn,” a BAR report said.

 

Legumes in general are eyed by DA as poverty reduction crops.  When inter-planted with corn or rice, legumes can raise land use efficiency and farmers’ income. At a production cost of P27,030, a farmer may earn a net income of P22,970 out of a 2,000 kilo per hectare yield, given a P25 per kilo farm gate price.

The use of legumes will have a significant beneficial effect in reducing stress on the soil specially due to cropping intensity.

 

“Leguminous plants have a give-and-take (symbiotic) relationship with a (soil) bacteria called rhizobia that thrive in the plants’ root nodules. Rhizobia can supply about 225 kilos (4.5 bags) of nitrogen per hectare per year or equivalent to input cost of P4,500 ,” Aquino said.

 

Considered climate change-ready varieties of peanut are Namnama-1 or Philippine-registered NSIC Pn 11 and Namnama 2 or NSIC Pn 14. They have a pod yield of 2.2 to 2.6 MT per hectare. These are breeds shared by the India-based International Crops Research Institute (ICRISAT) to the Philippines.

 

Another ICRISAT variety is the Asha  meaning “hope,” with a pod yield of up to 3.1 MT per hectare. It is called a “3-in-1” variety because of its flexible size of Class A “export” quality (one gram per seed), Class B for domestic market, and Class C for planting and processing.

 

Legume growing also supports a climate change mitigation measure called “conservation agriculture” which reduces soil tillage.  With reduced tillage, carbon is stored in soil rather than emitted to the air.

 

Aside from high protein content at 26 to 28 percent, peanuts are rich in B vitamins, folate, niacin, and Vitamin E. It has the good fat that helps remove cholesterol from blood, consequently helping reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

 

Peanut as a plant has other uses.  Its hay is a good fodder for livestock with its rich crude protein, better palatability compared to other fodder materials, and digestibility.

 

“Peanut hay is a high quality forage for cattle, carabao, horses,goat, sheep, rabbits,” said Aquino.

 

The peanut protein cake residue from oil processing and extraction is also used as an animal feed.

 

Crops inter-planted with peanut usually have better performance even with low or no fertilizer application due to legumes’ nitrogen-fixing capability.

 

This makes organic legume production possible.

 

In fact, peanut-white corn inter-cropping practices in Cagayan Valley involves organic farming. It does not use pesticide sprays or chemical fertilizers.

 

For the region’s mungbean and soybean production after upland rice planting, the same chemical free rhizobia seed inoculant-dependent practice is adopted.

 

The legumes are supplanted with macro and micro-nutrients through spraying of organic foliar fertilizers.

 

One of such organic fertilizer is the humic acid– a complex mixture of different acids forming humic substances that come from soil (humus), peat, coal, and many upland streams.  Another is the bacteria-mineral which is produced from bio-reacted manure.  Seeds are soaked on this bacteria-mineral water to enhance germination.

 

Vermi-tea, the worm tea or the liquid extract from a worm bed, is sprayed on the legume plants as an anti-fungal agent and provider of trace elements in the legumes.

 

Cagayan Valley farmers have also learned to fight pest infestation in mungbean and soybean through biological control measures or insect management.

 

For soybean in particular, government eyes the organic soybean to be used for food and the conventionally-bred ones for feed milling.

 

BAR’s organic production of peanut and soybean is being implemented together with the organic farming group called Earthkeepers Foundation and Cooperative for Rural Development (CORDEV). Rose Aquino/ Zeny Sison

Written by tuklasinnatin

September 2, 2011 at 6:42 am

Posted in Usapang Bukid

Art and science of natural dying revives T’boli ancient craft

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Fusing the ancient craft of natural dyeing with modern, efficient and cost-effective natural dye application technologies, the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI – DOST) helped enhance the T’bolis cultural heritage the tinalak. The revival of their ancient craft of natural dyeing is now through anchored on a more scientific and modernized process. The PTRI training on natural dye extraction and application provided the T’boli weavers and dyers the knowledge and skill to further improve their craft. As a result, the weavers were able to further experiment, discover and innovate their ancient craft of weaving tinalak. “Through these technology interventions, we can see how science and technology can boost and nurture the rich cultural traditions of our indigenous people as well as contribute to the improvement of their lives and yet, still remain true to their traditions,” explained PTRI Director Carlos C. Tomboc. He added that the application of science to their process enables their crafts to stand the test of time and carry on forever.

 

The tinalak is a sacred fabric woven from the tensile abaca fibers and is unique to the T’boli tribe of Southern Mindanao. It is a totem reflecting the ingenuity and exquisite craftsmanship of the T’boli women and an insignia of their individuality outpoured in an intricately patterned fabric exuding the yearnings of their souls, their struggles and, more importantly, their dreams as revealed to them by the spirits. The tinalak emerges as a primary commercial commodity of the T’boli tribe along with the effective promotion of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, with its lush rainforest, majestic lake and cultural bounty, as one of the country’s top ecotourism destinations,

 

The T’boli, like other prolific weavers and cultural craftspeople in the country, are in a predicament whether to forego their traditional processes in order to realize a higher yield or to sacrifice the badly needed extra income to still uphold tradition. Coping with the demands of their growing clientele and the widened application and commercialization of the tinalak, some of the T’boli weavers turned to synthetic dyes to hasten the process and went into mass production of the fabric. This resulted in poor quality outputs on top of health and environmental hazards brought about by the chemicals from the improper use and disposal of synthetic dyes.

 

Driven by its pursuit to revive the local textile industry and challenged by the T’boli’s predicament, PTRI assessed the practices of the Lake Sebu Indigenous Women Weavers Association, Inc. (LASIWWAI) that revealed their lack of systematic dyeing procedure often compromising the quality of the dyed materials and decreasing their productivity. To help resolve this, PTRI provided LASIWWAI members with a training course on natural dyeing involving a more systematic, standardized and scientific approach in dyeing abaca fibers akin to their age old tradition of dyeing using plant dye sources. Experts from the Institute introduced the fiber pre-treatment as part of the scientific process of natural dyeing to the T’boli women. Fiber pre-treatment is a crucial step of cleansing the abaca fiber, rendering it white in appearance and improving its capacity to absorb dyes and colorants. The participants were delighted to see the luster effect and the whiteness of the abaca fibers resulting from the pre-treatment process of scouring and bleaching which eliminates waxes, dirt, gums and other impurities that interfere with the even and effective application of natural dyes. This method permits the use of light and pastel dye colors to be incorporated to the abaca fibers.

 

They were also primed in the technique of mordanting the abaca fibers. Mordanting the fibers for a stronger bite of the dyes also increases its colorfastness and decreases the time spent about a hundredfold. The weavers were taught other sources of natural dyes and were also trained on a more cost-effective and standardized extraction and application of natural dyes from plant sources such as achuete, sibukao, yellow ginger, talisay, mahogany and loco roots to produce the color orange, fuchsia, yellow, black, brown and red, respectively. The traditional dyeing process can stretch on for weeks, whereas with the aid of this new PTRI technology, dyeing is cut short to a few hours.

 

In the past, the weavers were not consciously taking into account the measurement of chemicals, water and accuracy of parameters in dyeing. Through the training they were able to realize the importance of weighing their abaca fibers, dye sources, and chemicals prior to dyeing to ensure reproducibility and to maximize the use of scouring and bleaching solutions. Still not content with the abundance of natural dye sources in Lake Sebu, the T’bolis have now learned to cultivate dye yielding plants to ensure abundant and sustainable supply. The men are also slowly getting involved in the cultivation and stripping of abaca.

 

“PTRI’s natural dye technology provides the perfect solution offering the eco-friendly dyes and colors while enhancing productivity thru shortened, more accurate and efficient dyeing techniques,” explained PTRI scientist Julius Leaño. This technology intervention of PTRI lessened LASIWWAI dyers’ exposure to health hazards and provided additional value to the tinalak fibers. Also, the natural dyes are environment friendly and do not pose any threat especially to the life-sustaining rivers of the Lemkwa Village.

 

“The wide array of colors now available to the weavers as well as the technology available to them enables them to use other potential dye sources indigenous to their region,” remarked Julius Leaño. Through the efforts of the Non-Timber Forest Products – Task Force (NTFP-TF), a collaborative network of Philippine grassroots-based non-government organizations and peoples organizations addressing the livelihood needs of upland forest peoples, and linkages with PTRI and DOST Region IX, various products of  LASIWWAI are now being exported in various countries all over the world.  Joy Camille A. Baldo and Jona M. Bernal, S&T Media Service

Written by tuklasinnatin

September 2, 2011 at 6:35 am

Three Mindanao watersheds present excellent agriculture potential

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For many years, Mindanao has been labeled “The Land of Promise”, because of its vast potentials for agriculture given its vast land and typhoon-free climate.

 

But the deep-seated conflicts in Mindanao have made it hard for the government and local people to make their lands highly productive. Climate Change also presents new sets of challenges to farming activities in Mindanao.

 

This is sad considering that Mindanaoans, Muslims and Christians alike, are an industrious lot who can make their island a source of pride when it comes to agriculture production.

 

Yet many people still see lots of hope for Mindanao, including the public servants of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), which is among the agencies actively involved in the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP).

 

The BSWM is actively involved in the Mindanao Rural Development Program – Adaptable Program Loan Phase 2 (MRDP2), which is a poverty-alleviation initiative implemented through the Department of Agriculture (DA) jointly funded by the World Bank, National Government, and local government units. The project covers Mindanao’s 26 provinces and 225 municipalities.

 

The objective of the MRDP is to “further improve rural incomes and achieve food security through agri-fishery infrastructure, livelihood enterprise, and biodiversity conservation projects,” according to the project’s website (http://www.damrdp.net/).

 

The role of the BSWM in the project is to undertake “Soil and Land Resources Evaluation” of various watershed areas in Mindanao, which are essential in increasing or stabilizing agriculture production in the southern island.

 

“Unless watershed areas are protected, lands planted to agriculture cannot be assured of having enough water supply for crop production. Watershed areas are also important in checking erosion or siltation, which can be damaging to farm lands,” said Mr.Sunny de Guzman of the BSWM.

 

Among others, the BWSM already finished the evaluation of the watersheds of Linamon in Lanao del Norte, Gigaquit in Surigao del Norte, and Nasipit in Agusan del Norte.

 

Overexploited

 

The BSWM’s survey of the Kinabangan Watershed in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte showed that its soil, land and water resources are “over exploited beyond its capacity resulting to low productivity of various farm areas.”

 

“Evaluating said capacity, adopting appropriate land use and employing farming systems, soil and crop management practices that realize the potential of the land and restore its productivity, are important considerations in long-range planning for the effective development and sustainable use of soil and land resources,” the BSWM’s report said.

 

The soil and water agency’s survey of the land showed that around 4,250 hectares or 68.53% of its total land area could potentially host agribusiness activities like the planting of high value commercial crops (HVCCs) like fruit trees and vegetables like sweet pepper, pole sitao and ampalaya. Industrial crops could also be planted in the said lands.

 

“The introduction of agriculture development interventions like proper organic and inorganic balance fertilization, composting and liming will improve sustainable productivity in the long run for the above mentioned crops. The provisions of support services such as construction, improvement and rehabilitation of the farms machinery equipment and post harvest facilities as well as the introduction of improved and modern technology, facilitation of credit and market assistance are all crucial in the attainment of the aforementioned goals that will jive with the development strategy of the watershed,” the BSWM report said.

 

Low fertility

 

For the Linamon Watershed in Linamon, Lanao del Norte, the soil and water agency’s evaluation revealed that “soil, land and water resources are optimally utilized and hence, resulting to low productivity of various farm areas.”

 

“The inherent fertility is generally low, especially in the upland and hilly and due to soil erosion, shallow soil, moderate to steep slope that limit the crop producing sustainable productivity,” the BSWM report further stated.

 

The DA has identified around 1,824.79 hectares or 88.26% of the lands of the Linamon Watershed as potential sites for HVCC cultivation.

 

Similar set of findings were also made by the BSWM on the Gigaquit Watershed in Surigao del Norte, particularly, noting the “low productivity of various farm areas.”

 

Gigaquit boasts of the largest area among the three watershed areas evaluated by the BSWM, since around 15,769 hectares or 67.25 percent of its total land area was found to be potential agribusiness sites for HVCC cultivation.

 

The BSWM also recommends the same set of interventions for the development of th eLinamon and Gigaquit watershed areas, particularly: proper organic and inorganic balance fertilization, and composting; provision of support services such as construction, improvement and rehabilitation of the farms machinery equipment and post harvest facilities; introduction of improved and modern farming technology; and facilitation of credit and market assistance.

 

Large potential area

 

With a total of around 21,843 hectares of lands that could be planted to HVCCs and other crops, the BSWM said that the development of the three watershed areas presents vast development potentials in agriculture for Mindanao.

 

“The potential employment and livelihood opportunities from the development of the Kinabjangan, Linamon and Gigquit watershed could help Mindanao achieve its potential as the food basket of the Philippines. Likewise, the development of the three watershed areas would greatly help in achieving peace in Mindanao because many still believe that poverty and lack of livelihood are also the causes of conflict in Mindanao,” said Sunny de Guzman, MRDP, focal person.

 

The soil and water agency’s role in the MRDP underscores the need to take into account the environmental factors in developing farming clusters in the rural or hinterlands of the country. The BSWM thus remains committed to its role in undertaking the MRDP to help realize the Mindanao’s vast agriculture potential. Veron A. Hernandez, Greenfields Magazine & PSciJourn Mega Manila

Written by tuklasinnatin

August 31, 2011 at 6:44 am

Posted in Usapang Bukid

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