ADB, CAI-Asia Release Walkability Assessment in 13 Asian Cities


 

The poor state of pedestrian facilities in some Asian cities was highlighted in the report published by the Asian Development Bank and the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities. Ironically, the lowest walkability ratings are found to be along public transport terminals and schools where footpaths, pedestrian amenities and access for persons-with-disabilities are sorely lacking.

 

Commercial areas get the highest walkability rating followed by residential areas. The walkability ratings were derived from field surveys where pedestrian facilities and the general walking environment were assessed. Cities included in the survey are Cebu, Davao and Manila (Philippines), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam), Hong Kong and Lanzhou (China), Jakarta (Indonesia), Karachi (Pakistan), Kathmandu (Nepal), Kota (India) and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)

The average walkability rating for the 13 cities was 58 out of 100.

 

“A sad fact is that there is a wide gap between investments made by cities for pedestrians and for motorized vehicles. Asian cities have traditionally been cities of walkers. If pedestrian facilities are more integrated and made comfortable, more people will choose to walk instead of drive resulting to less fuel consumption and less air pollution,” says Bert Fabian, Transport Program Manager of the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities.

 

Jamie Leather, ADB Principal Transport Specialist, expressed that the walkability study supports ADB’s Sustainable Transport Initiative as well as the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

 

The pedestrian facilities were surveyed by taking into account nine different aspects of walkability, including safety, amenities and disability access. Out of the 4,600 pedestrians interviewed, 41% states that sidewalks are in a bad state and strongly prefer making sidewalks cleaner and pedestrian crossings safer as priority areas for improvement.

Thirty seven percent of the survey respondents primarily walk to reach their destination and 30% travel less than 3 km and another 21% travel within 3-6 km.

 

The walkability study also provides an assessment of the current policies and institutions relating to pedestrians and walking environments in the cities, including discussions and interviews with government representatives. The full report is available online at www.adb.org and www.cleanairinitiative.org.

 

The Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities has conducted walkability surveys in 21 Asian cities to date with support from the Asian Development Bank and Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation. Ritchie Anne Roňo, CAI-ASIA

Farming conglomerate Agri Nurture Inc. ventures into white corn as a health food


 

Farming conglomerate Agri Nurture Inc. (ANI) is venturing into white corn as a health food that can capture the AB market that pays a premium for nutritive value.

 

ANI is introducing into the market First Choice Always (FCA) White Corn Grit set in July this year.  This is as soon as harvest is up under its production partnership with the Institute of Plant Breeding-University of the Philippines in Los Banos-College of Agriculture (IPB-UPLB-CA).  It will be priced a little cheaper than hybrid rice.

 

ANI Chief Executive Officer Antonio L. Tiu believes white corn offers a unique, vast untapped value.

 

“Although there was a mentality among the Tagalog’s before that it’s for the poor, white corn is actually healthier.  It’s widely accepted by the Visayas-Mindanao population and is the staple of boxing champs,” said Tiu.

 

ANI’s entry in the market will have a significant role in white corn’s consumption as a low glycemic index (GI) food ideal for reducing diabetic incidence. That will be crucial considering diabetes’s rising incidence in the country.

 

“We need private companies like ANI to bring investments into this low GI food. ANI’s reach in the middle to upper class market will make uptake of corn easier in all market levels. After all, nutritious food should be for all,” according to Dr. Artemio M. Salazar, IPB-UPLB deputy director and National Corn Research, Development, and Extension Network (NC-RDEN) head.

 

By July, ANI will distribute a few tons per week.  With demand expected to increase briskly, white corn will be harvested from a few hundred hectares of contract growers by October.

 

FCA White Corn Grits will be available in packs of two and five kilos in all major supermarkets and 50-kilo sacks for wholesalers.

 

ANI is initially infusing P20 to P30 million for a mid-size mill that turns grain into grits.  It also just started construction of a post harvest facility with Beidahuang in Central Luzon. Investment in inputs (seeds, fertilizer) involve P5 million for existing 100 hectares and P50 million into 1,000 hectares by yearend.

Salazar said that UPLB’s role is in the seed technology development, but the Department of Agriculture (DA) took a pivotal role of making this available on a wider scale. DA funded white corn’s seed production by P40 million and will release P7 million yearly for the next five years.

 

“Now that we have the confidence that the technology works, DA’s support to a company like ANI, which will commercialize it, is in order. This is in line with government’s Public Private Partnership approach. Other companies willing to put in the investment would be welcome as well,” he said.

 

Along with the aim to enhance food security and reduce rice imports, white corn production will give jobs to hundreds of farmers.  This is at an estimated one job for each hectare of land (1:1), aside from numerous jobs to be generated from farm to plate.

 

DA and UPLB, through the Institute of Human Nutrition, are popularizing white corn’s health benefits and its use for champorado, lugaw (korngee), coffee, fritters, pulboron, pastillas, espasol, suman, hotcake, turon, maruya, and of course as rice blend.

 

“People need to be aware of its health benefits. It’s cheaper, but just a few percent lower than hybrid rice because corn is heavier as food and is healthier,” Tiu said.

 

Corn is the health food recommended for energy specially for athletes. Some successful athletes were found to have been regular corn-eaters. This is true not only for boxers from General Santos in Mindanao but also for boxers and other sports personalities from Latin America and Africa. It also has more protein, more lysine and tryptophan, more dietary fiber, more minerals, and more antioxidants than when eating rice alone.

 

ANI is now the biggest supplier of agricultural produce—fresh and processed—in local supermarkets. It will use such existing network in the distribution of FCA White Corn Grits.  White corn will further supplement its distribution of hybrid rice.

 

The main production areas for white corn for ANI’s distribution, which are being identified by DA and UPLB, include the Calabarzon provinces (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon).

 

IPB-UPLB is producing foundation and registered white corn seeds, while DA’s regional offices will be producing the commercial seeds for release to farmers nationwide.

 

Based on the national corn testing, the yield of IPB’s white corn open pollinated variety Var 6 is comparable with commercial white corn hybrids.  This is at an average of 5.84 metric tons (MT) per hectare in Luzon; 5.45 MT per hectare in Visayas, and 4.47 MT per hectare in Mindanao. Dr. Artemio M. Salazar, NC-RDEN

QC EVACUATION ALERT UP IN FLOOD-PRONE AREAS


Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista warned families living near waterways and riverbanks to start evacuating as QC braces for tropical storm “Chedeng”.

In a statement, the Mayor said there is an urgent need for these families to relocate to safer grounds to minimize loss of lives and properties against any eventualities that maybe brought about by “Chedeng”.

The Mayor ordered members of the QC disaster risk reduction management council and concerned barangay executives to start informing the informal settler families, especially those living near waterways and riverbanks, that they are facing greater risks should there be occurrences of flashfloods.

Barangays near the Tullahan River, including Sta. Lucia, Sta. Monica, North Farview and West Fairview, are among those considered as flood-prone areas in Quezon City.

The Quezon City government is putting in place preventive measures to bolster the necessary preparations as typhoon “Chedeng” moves towards the metropolis.

Recently, the Quezon City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (QDRRM), on orders from the Mayor, alerted the QC residents particularly those living in the low lying barangays against possible flashfloods that may be caused by typhoons similar to “Ondoy.”

According to QCDRRMC action officer and Department of Public and Order Safety Head Elmo DG. San Diego, the barangay officials from flood prone communities have undergone disaster preparedness training during a series of seminars to enhance their capabilities to carry out search and rescue operations.

QDRRMC has organized local response teams for a fast mobilization of local manpower during emergencies like flashfloods.

Mayor Bautista instructed San Diego to organize  24/7 standby rescue teams stationed in every barangay and within the Quezon City Hall compound to ensure the safety of all QC residents, especially those living along the waterways.

According to PAGASA, Typhoon Chedeng has maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour (kph) and is expected to bring heavy rains to several areas of the country, including Metro Manila. -30- Precy/Rico/Ej/ Maureen Quinones, PAISO

Use of microorganisms as bio-control agents vs. anthracnose in mango


 

Researchers at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) considered the use of two microorganisms: Trichoderma harzianum and Bacillus subtilis as bio-control agents against anthracnose disease, one of the major economic constraints in mango production worldwide, especially in tropical and subtropical regions.

 

Anthracnose is caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, a fungal pathogen, which manifests as round-to-angular spots with brown gray center on the leaves; blossom blight and small spots on flower buds, florets, pedicels and panicles; and brown to black sunken spots on ripening fruits.  The disease if left unchecked, can cause poor fruit quality and low yield.

 

The control of anthracnose is heavily dependent on the use of chemical fungicides.  But their use endangers the human health and the environment.

Thus, the MMSU researchers led by Pascua evaluated the effectiveness of T. harzianum and B. subtilis because of their antagonistic properties against pathogenic microorganisms.

 

In a report to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), the MMSU researchers said that T. harzianum and B. subtilis can be used as alternatives to commercial fungicides in controlling anthracnose.

 

PCARRD is a sectoral council of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that formulates policies, plans, and programs for science and technology-based development in agriculture, forestry and natural resources (AFRN) sectors.

 

The researchers, based on their study, found that the degree of control on anthracnose by both microorganisms is comparable with the use of commercial fungicide.  At 12-14 weeks after treatment, the efficacy of both antagonists increased compared to the chemical fungicide.

Also, the commercial chemical pesticide was less effective by 8-23 percent compared to T. harzianum, and 4-18 percent compared to B. subtilis.  Further, the study showed that there was no significant effect on the incidence of anthracnose and on the degree of control by the two antagonists insofar as mango varieties (carabao and Hawaiian) were concerned.   

Therefore, the researchers believed that the use of bio-control agents could also be integrated with mango disease management programs to reduce dependence on chemical fungicides.  (Bengie P. Gibe, S&T Media Service)

Disaster and hazard-prone areas studied


 

TACLOBAN CITY-A study identified the disaster and hazard prone areas in the city and paved the way for the preparation of maps for areas that are vulnerable to fire, flood, and typhoon.

 

The maps will guide local policy makers and executives in determining priority projects and serve as tool for better disaster management and adaptation.

 

The fire hazard map developed for the purpose showed that out of the city’s 138 barangays, 83 are very highly hazardous, 12 are highly hazardous, 32 are hazardous to a medium degree, and 11 are hazardous to a low degree.

 

The classifications made were based on the high frequency of fire occurrence in a particular barangay, presence of access roads, number of houses and their distances, as well as the building materials used.

 

With regards to fire vulnerability, the study identified those structures where large group of people usually gather. These include churches, shopping centers, schools, hospital, business establishments and government offices and facilities, among others.

 

The flood disaster map showed areas where floods constantly happen even with only short heavy rains. These areas include those low-lying areas with no proper drainage and areas along shores, rivers, creeks, and swamps.

 

The study further showed that areas that have 10 meters elevation and 500 meters distance from the shore and river buffer of 500 meters on both sides are vulnerable to floods.

 

There were some areas in Tacloban City though where floods do not occur like the elevated areas in the northern barangays situated in the mountains and hills.

To solve the problems as reflected in the maps, the researchers from Eastern Visayas State University who conducted the study, recommended certain measures. These include the provision of roads for urban poor communities and the widening of existing ones to allow passage of fire trucks during fire.

 

They also suggested the conduct of regular inspection of fire hazards in every home by residents, fire safety drills, inspection of flooded areas to identify causes, construction of drainage facilities, and even the construction of dikes or seawalls, among other measures

 

These information, which find importance in recent environmental disasters,  were taken from the 2009 Highlights, a publication of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD). (Ricardo R. Argana, S&T Media Service)

ViCARP launches TechnoMart and Pasalubong Center


 

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)

ViCARP-RRDEN dedicates TechnoMart Counter to PCARRD ED


 

The Visayas Consortium for Agriculture and Natural Resources Program-Regional Research and Development/Extension Network’s (ViCARP-RRDEN) TechnoMart and Pasalubong Counter (TMPC) is dedicated to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) Executive Director (ED) Patricio S. Faylon, according to ViCARP–Regional Research and Development Coordinating Committee Chair Jose L. Bacusmo.

 

TMPC’s inauguration was timed by ViCARP and RRDEN on March 17, which is the PCARRD ED’s birthday. Bacusmo said that TMPC was built in honor of the ED because “Dr. Faylon has been pushing for technology promotion and commercialization and has been very supportive of ViCARP’s programs”.

 

Bacusmo explained that TMPC “is the first of three buildings envisioned for the Technology Business Incubator (TBI) project”.   He also announced that Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Tekonolohiya para sa Mamayan (AGHAM) Representative Angelo B. Palmones has already committed to donate the second building.

 

Meanwhile, Bacusmo emphasized that bringing research results to the market is “probably the most difficult phase”. With the establishment of TMPC, “technologies generated by the researchers in the region will now have a market”, he added.

 

Also at the launch was Dr. Edwin Villar, PCARRD Livestock Research Division Director. He represented the PCARRD ED who unfortunately could not make it to the event.

 

In his message, Villar said that “the products (to be showcased at TMPC) must be identified along the line of the consortium’s S&T Agenda”. He also congratulated ViCARP for another trail-blazing project that would hopefully win more awards for the consortium.

 

A special guest, Baybay City Mayor Carmen L. Cari, was happy to note that VSU was able to put up the building.  She prided that Baybay has VSU, as VSU is well-known for its innovative and successful strategies. She also lauded ViCARP-RRDEN for coming up with the TMPC and that its establishment “would offer more support to researchers, in terms of technology promotion and commercialization”.

 

Incidentally, Mayor Cari, along with Senator Edgardo Angara, are among the donors in the construction of the TechnoMart Building. (Ireen Grace S. Palima/ViCARP-RCTU)