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Countryside development is best strategy for growth, says Science Secretary Mario Montejo

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Countryside development is the most effective and equitable strategy to achieve the Aquino administration’s pursuit of inclusive growth, Science Secretary Mario G. Montejo stressed during a meeting held at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Region 3 Office in San Fernando City, Pampanga.

 

Speaking before provincial directors and staff, Sec. Montejo highlighted the importance of regional offices in promoting DOST services that can help small- to medium-sized firms to be more competitive, employ more people, and spur more wealth-creating activities in their locales so that provincial folk will no longer move to the big cities looking for jobs.

 

“Despite our successes, we need to convince more people about S&T and their benefits toward improving their lives. Sa ganitong paraan natin maipaparamdam sa kanila na nasa syensya at teknolohiya ang daan sa pag-unlad,” Secretary Montejo said.

 

The Secretary also challenged the DOST 3 provincial directors and staff to go the extra mile and exceed their original targets, particularly in technology commercialization and public assistance in their respective areas. He added that people in government service should always strive to be relevant just as how their entrepreneur-clients strive to remain in business.

 

The Secretary’s visit was part of his regional trips to visit and inspect SETUP project sites in Regions 1 to 3 and CAR. SET-UP, or Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program, is a DOST-wide campaign to encourage and assist small and medium entrepreneurs to adopt technological innovations to improve their operations and boost their productivity and competitiveness.

 

Firms that apply for SETUP assistance are able to address their technical problems through DOST’s technology transfer and other related interventions. Businesses thus improve their productivity through better product quality, human resources development, cost minimization and waste management, and other operation related activities. (Alan C. Taule, S&T Media Service)

Written by tuklasinnatin

June 10, 2011 at 7:42 am

PCIC CONFERRED ISO 9001:2008 CERTIFICATE

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THE Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, was recently conferred the ISO 9001:2008 Certificate for Quality Management System.  The scope of the ISO certificate   covers the provision of agricultural insurance protection for crop, non-crop, livestock and term insurance services.

 

Atty. Jovy C. Bernabe, PCIC President received the Certificate from   TÜV Rhineland Philippines, an ISO certifying body with headquarters  in Germany. The conferment of the ISO Certificate was the highlight of the PCIC’s 30th Anniversary Celebration.

 

With the conferment of the ISO Certificate, the customers of PCIC – who are the country’s agricultural farmers and fisherfolk – will now be assured of a much improved, efficient and professional delivery of agricultural insurance services.

 

Also present during the event were Mr. Tristan Arwen G. Loveres (Country Representative  and Chief Operating Officer of TÜV Rheinland Philippines), Mr. Segundo H. Guerrero, Jr. (Chairman, Internal Quality Audit and PCIC Acting Vice-President for  Support  Services Group), Ms. Minerva  Altamarino (PCIC Quality Management Representative and Regional Manager of PCIC Region IV), Ms. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (DA Undersecretary for Special Concerns), Mr. Antonio Fleta  (DA Undersecretary for Administration and Finance) and Mr. Norman R. Cajucom (PCIC Acting Senior Vice-President for Regional Management Group).(RAFFY RICO/JIMMY CAMBA)

Written by tuklasinnatin

June 9, 2011 at 4:26 am

New land valuation guidelines offer attractive compensation package

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AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Gil de los Reyes said he is optimistic that his office could finish its land distribution program in time, saying that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension with reform (CARPer) Law offers definitive guidelines on land valuation that is good enough for landowners to have a change of heart.

 

De los Reyes said that many landowners are actually supportive of the program but are wary about the compensation package previously offered by the government. This resulted to the filing of numerous cases seeking better compensation.

 

He, however, expects the situation to be reversed now that production aspect of the land is given more premium in land valuation today. It is here, he said, where the big difference lies.

 

Add to this the location, especially if it is closer to the urban center, would help one get a fair price, De los Reyes said.

 

The DAR chief said that landowners can expect higher compensation depending on the productivity of their lands.

 

“The idea is to reward those who maximize the production of their lands,” De los Reyes said.

 

Generally, however, it’s not the price of the land that matters most. Many landowners still believe in the beneficial effects of the program to the lives of the rural folks, he said.

 

In Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, DAR regional director Alexis Arsenal said 42 hectares of the Hacienda Paz II were distributed to 52 farmer-beneficiaries, thanks to the sudden change of heart by the landowner who voluntarily placed his property under the program.

 

Arsenal said the distribution of the 41.8 hectares of agricultural lands was made possible after landowner Luiggi Batizztuzi recognized the importance of the program in improving the economic well-being of farmer-beneficiaries.

 

Arsenal reminded farmer-beneficiaries that the awarding of pieces of farm lands to them has accompanying obligations on their part to pay the annual amortization and real estate taxes.

 

“Don’t forget to pay taxes and the land amortization,” he said. -30- PAS, DAR

Written by tuklasinnatin

June 8, 2011 at 11:34 am

GREENPEACE VIOLATORS OF BT EGGPLANT TRIAL TO BE PROSECUTED FOR MALICIOUS MISCHIEF

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Greenpeace members led by Daniel Ocampo who trespassed and destroyed the experimental site of the fruit and shoot borer resistant (FSBR) Bt eggplant in the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) last February 17, 2011 are to be prosecuted for malicious mischief by the Provincial Prosecution Office of Laguna Province. Among those to be charged include Indian nationals Shavani Shah and Ali Abbas of Greenpeace. Both joined Ocampo and his team in vandalizing the legitimate experiment.

The resolution, signed by Provincial Prosecutor George C. Dee and passed last May 13, 2011, stated as an undisputed fact that the Greenpeace members forcibly entered the experimental farm of the University with the common purpose to pull up the existing experimental plants which caused damages to the experimental plant breeds worth Php25,000,000.00.

In an official statement, Dr. Luis Rey Velasco, UPLB Chancellor, said that the University will pursue the case “to ensure that the violators will be held liable for their actions. We have to protect the interest of the University and defend our academic freedom.”

He said that the prosecutor’s decision confirms that there is violation of the Law when Greenpeace members forcibly entered the experimental site in the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB), destroying the perimeter fence and uprooting the experimental plants.

He reaffirmed that the Bt eggplant field trial “is a legitimate experiment of UPLB designed to evaluate the merits and demerits of the technology.”

 

“We followed national policies and rules and regulations. We have permissions from the authorities”, said Chancellor Velasco.

Dr. Lourdes D. Taylo, research study leader of the Bt eggplant project in UPLB, said that the decision was a welcome news for those directly involved in the development of Bt eggplant.

 

She emphasized that Bt eggplant is a UPLB project that is still in the research and development phase. The project’s main objective, she said, is to develop a variety of eggplant that is resistant to eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB), thereby increasing the farmer’s yield and decreasing the overdependence on insecticide use.

 

“We are fully compliant with all the conditions stipulated in the biosafety permit for the conduct of field trial of GM eggplant issued by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). Our activities are strictly monitored by the Post Entry Quarantine Service of BPI and members of the UPLB Institutional Biosafety Committee,” added Dr. Taylo.

Eggplant is one of the most important vegetables in the country and ranks as the number one vegetable in terms of area of production and volume valued at more than Php 3 billion at current prices. Eggplant production and profitability are severely reduced by EFSB by as much as 50 to 75 percent. Farmers rely on heavy and often improper use of pesticides to control the pest. It has been documented that chemical spraying could reach up to 70-80 times per season or every other day, and farmers even resort to dipping the fruits in a cocktail mix of insecticides. This is a widespread practice that causes serious environmental and health hazards to farmers (including their family members who help in the farm) and consumers. The current farmer’s practice is considered to be highly hazardous, expensive and unsustainable.

 

The Bt eggplant is a promising biotechnological innovation that could control the damage of EFSB in eggplant farming. This biotech product being developed by UPLB-IPB and its partners in the Philippines under the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSP II), with public sector funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Agriculture (DA), is currently under multi-location trial and is being assessed for agricultural performance and biosafety.

Through the Seed Industry Development Act of 1992, UPLB-IPB is the lead institution mandated to use biotechnology in public sector variety improvement programs for crops other than rice in the Philippines. UPLB-IPB uses conventional and innovative science and technology and collaborates with various partners to develop safe technologies to address the needs of all clients and provide them safe and effective choices.

 

Another case lost
The legal dispute Greenpeace is facing from UPLB is not the first official case in which Greenpeace was involved. In 2009, the group of Greenpeace, SEARICE and other associates lost a petition they filed against the Liberty Link Rice 62, a herbicide tolerant variety, developed by Bayer Crop Science, Inc.

The group had earlier petitioned to declare as unconstitutional the public consultation provisions of the DA Administrative Order No. 8 and to bar the BPI from approving Bayer’s application to use LLRice 62 in the country. It also sought and got a preliminary injunction from a trial court barring the BPI from approving the application.

In the end, the Court of Appeals (CA) of the Philippines granted the petitions of BPI and Bayer to nullify the writ of preliminary injunction initially granted by the lower Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

 

The arguments by the Greenpeace and other petitioners were found by the CA to be “too contingent and speculative to warrant injunctive relief.” The decision further said that the Greenpeace and co-petitioners “have failed to prove any right in esse to entitle them to the issuance of a writ of injunction.

Bt eggplant trials: Legally endorsed
Despite concerted efforts from anti-biotech groups to stop its conduct, local governments and offices recognize the rightfulness and legality of Bt eggplant multi-location field trials in the country.

The provincial council of North Cotabato finally endorsed last May 19 2011 the conduct of Bt eggplant field trial in the University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, North Cotabato, after months of deliberation and public consultations.

North Cotabato Vice Governor Gregorio Ipong said that the decision on whether or not to push through with the trials now lies with the proponents.

Board Member Vicente Sorupia, Jr. said that the earlier decision of the Kabacan municipal council to allow the field trial should be respected since Kabacan is the host community and the subject of the Prior Informed Consent Doctrine. Sorupia also said that the proponents have complied with all the requirements set by the Bureau of Plant Industry.

 

The Governor, Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, said she will support the outputof the provincial council members, further explaining that field testing is a legitimate program of the Department of Agriculture and the state university to address the “pros” and “cons” of the technology.

Members of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) in USM were delighted with North Cotabato’s decision. The IBC is part of the regulating body of the field trial.

In a statement, the IBC wrote that the endorsement proves that the local officials are “open to new knowledge, new technologies, and useful cultural shifts; that they know how to strike a balance between facts and myths; discern what is logical, vital, critical and beneficial; and weigh the merits and demerits of issues. Above all, they have allowed reason to prevail over emotions.”

They also said that the council “acted on the issue objectively and mustered courage to take reasonable calculated risks in search for more truth without necessarily losing sight of the common good of the people…they exercised rational, critical and analytical thinking to generate sound judgment or decisions to unravel more science-based facts that shall eventually guide them in their future legislative actions and decisions.”

Several local government units have also expressed their support to conduct the trials.

 

Five (5) barangays and two (2) other town councils have already expressed their approval to carry on with the field trials in their respective sites.

 

Resolutions supporting the Bt eggplant field trials were passed by the following barangays: Paitan, Cauplasanand Sta. Rosa in the town of Sta. Maria, Pangasinan; Putho-Tuntungin in Los Baños; and Paciano Rizal in Bay, Laguna. Brgy.Paitan and Brgy.Paciano Rizal each hosts a field trial site in their jurisdiction.

The municipal council of Bay, Laguna has also resolved to authorize the conduct of the experiment. Last February 14, 2011, the municipal council decided to allow the University of the Philippines Los Baños continue their experiment. The Bay Municipal Agriculturist also said that such experiments were covered by biosafety regulations and is therefore closely monitored.

In Bicol, the town of Pili, Camarines Sur, where a field trial by the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) is being conducted, has denied the petition of anti-GMO group MASIPAG to stop the field test. Pili Vice Mayor Ronaldo Boclot, in his letter to CBSUA President Marito Bernales, said that the opposing group led by MASIPAG did not provide clear proof of Bt eggplant’s detrimental effect to health.

 

Farmers laud favorable decision
The Laguna prosecutor’s decision, meanwhile, was met by approving nods from farmers.

 

Rosalie Ellasus, a farmer and councilor from San Jacinto, Pangasinan, lauded the prosecutor’s decision and said that it proves that such acts that delay the release of beneficial farm technologies is not tolerated by authorities.

 

She also emphasized the fact that what the Greenpeace members destroyed was still an experiment. “What is the use of sending our children to school to learn these things if we would not use the technologies they are being taught?” she pointed out. “We need to know the facts.”

 

Many farmers in the country are already awaiting the release of Bt eggplant seeds. Last April 28 this year, farmers from different regions of Mindanao ratified a set of resolutions, which included the support for the continuation of the field trials. The resolution was from the conference conducted by the Asian Farmers Regional Network (ASFARNET) Philippines October last year during the 7th National Corn Congress. The farmers recognized that Bt eggplant seeds will be greatly beneficial in their farms.

 

The continuation of information, education and communication efforts on biotechnology for farmers and the coexistence of organic and biotech farming were also among the resolutions ratified by the farmers.

The use of Bt eggplant offers significant economic and environmental benefits. Socio-economic studies conducted showed that farmer adoption of Bt eggplant could provide additional income of about Php50,000 due to increased marketable yield and reduced insecticide use by us much as 48% thereby reducing environmental footprint by about 20%.

 

Farmer Isidro Acosta from Naguilian, Isabela said that such decisions give justice to farmers because Bt eggplant would be an additional choice for them. Farmers, he said, should be given the right to choose the technologies they would like to apply to their farms. Bt eggplant is one promising biotechnology product that farmers are anticipating to be made available to them. -30- Jenny A. Panopio and Sophia M. Mercado, SEARCA

Written by tuklasinnatin

June 7, 2011 at 10:38 am

Introducing the Philippine rice combine harvester

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The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) research team in cooperation with the Briggs and Stratton (B&S), a private company supplying farm engines in the Philippines, modified the original design of rice combine harvester from China to fit local farm conditions.

 

China’s design has reaping, crop conveying, and threshing components only. According to a report submitted to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), PhilRice and B&S improved the machine’s efficiency by incorporating cleaning, bagging, and recycling components.

 

Technical evaluation on its performance, which was conducted by the Agricultural Machinery Testing and Evaluation Center of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (AMTEC-UPLB), indicates that the machine performed well with 0.194 hectare per hour field capacity, 86.6 percent field efficiency, 90.3 percent purity of threshed grains, total grain loss of only 1.68 percent, and fuel consumption of 3.68 liters per hour.

 

AMTEC-UPLB test results are comparable with the data gathered from the endurance tests conducted in Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Tarlac, Pangasinan, and Cagayan, involving farmer-cooperators.

 

Economic analysis on the use of machine for custom hiring to service farms of organized farmer groups shows that at harvesting cost of P5,442 per hectare, the capital investment of P350,000 can be recovered in 1.7 years or from a harvesting area of 87.3 hectares to break-even.

 

For individual farmer’s use and ownership, economic viability is high at benefit-cost ratio of 1.36 with a break-even land area of 48 hectares and a payback period of less than one year. Additional income can be realized from the recovered harvesting losses of 5 percent, which is better compared with unrecovered manual harvesting losses of more than 6 percent.

 

Incidentally, the AMTEC-UPLB research team is composed of Dr. Eulito U. Bautista, Engr. Arnold S. Juliano, Engr. Evangeline B. Sibayan, Dr. Caesar Joventino M. Tado, Mr. Leo B. Moliñawe, Engr. Rolando R. Nicolas, Mr., Rollie L. Carganilla, and Mr. Rodrigo A. Villota.  (Ofelia B. Domingo, S&T Media Service)

 

Written by tuklasinnatin

June 7, 2011 at 10:25 am

ViCARP launches TechnoMart and Pasalubong Center

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Science and technology (S&T)-based products produced by member-agencies of the Visayas Consortium for Agriculture and Resources Program (ViCARP) are now more prominently displayed with the launching of the TechnoMart and Pasalubong Counter (TMPC) at the Visayas State University (VSU) in Baybay, Leyte.

 

Formally launched on March 7, 2011 through the efforts of ViCARP and the Regional Research Development and Extension Network, TMPC now serves the dual purpose of being a marketing center and Regional One-Stop-Information Shop (OSIS).

 

Dr. Edwin C. Villar, director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD)-Livestock Research Division, Baybay Mayor Carmen L. Cari, and VICARP and VSU staff members, were among those present during the occasion.

 

Rootcrops, jackfruits, abaca, and coconut, among other products, are displayed in the TMPC. Each of these products is provided with information education and communication materials.

 

The establishment was dedicated to PCARRD Executive Director Patricio S. Faylon for his commitment on the promotion and commercialization of S&T products through various programs. Most notable of these programs are the Techno Gabay Program and TechnoMart. (See related story in From the Regions) 

 

The TechnoMart Program realizes its advocacy on the marketing of S&T-based products through the investment portfolio from each of the participating member-agencies.

 

The site where the TMPC is located will likewise serve as the Technology Business Incubator of VSU and the consortium. Two more buildings will soon be erected in the TMPC site.  (Danellie Joy O. Medina, S&T Media)

Written by tuklasinnatin

June 7, 2011 at 10:24 am

Flavors of science unleashed for more luscious foods

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Written by tuklasinnatin

June 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

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