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Adlay TWG members, focal persons convene to set the direction for Adlay R&D Program

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Following the directive of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to intensify initiatives on adlay, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) called for a special meeting and planning among members of the National Adlay Technical Working Group and focal persons from the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Offices (DA-RFOs), Central Mindanao University, and BAR held on 15-17 February 2017.

With guidance from the Adlay TWG members, the Adlay R&D Program’s direction was reviewed and revisited to ensure that activities are aligned to the DA’s current thrusts – with emphasis on harnessing the potentials of adlay for health and wellness, and more importantly, as an alternative food staple commodity that can help in contributing to the country’s bid of achieving food security.

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Focal persons across the regions presented their respective project proposals which included plans of adlay-related R&D activities for 2017-2018. Among those presented were: intensifying seed production in expansion areas, verification trials of adlay varieties intercropped under different crop-based farming systems (coconut, rubber, legumes, cashew, etc.), further improvement of developed packages of technologies and value-added products, refinement of developed postharvest equipment and facilities, strengthening promotional activities, conduct of market research, establishment of adlay processing centers in major producing areas, and exploring the possibility of rehabilitation in mine-abandoned areas through the introduction of adlay intercropped with other crops.

Coming from the same family where wheat, rice, and corn belong to, adlay is a tall grain-bearing tropical plant which was found to be adapting well in some regions, particularly in high elevation areas such as the hillsides of Nueva Vizcaya, in Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao, and in some other parts of the country. It has also been found out that adlay is accepted as an alternative staple food by Indigenous Peoples (IPs) such as the Subanen tribe in Zamboanga del Sur. Chemical composition analysis conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute in 2012 revealed higher protein content in cooked adlay grits (3.7 g) as compared to well-milled, boiled rice (2.1 g).

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Under the Adlay R&D Program which pushes for the development, utilization, and promotion of adlay as an alternative crop to our food staples, various product development efforts have been undertaken to further promote its utilization. These include Pinoy Gourmix developed by DA-RFO 2, breakfast cereals and wine by DA-RFO 10, champorado by DA-RFO 4A, crackers by DA-RFO 12, and coffee by DA-RFO 5 and 9, among many others.

As of February 2017, BAR has supported 51 adlay-related projects being implemented by DA-RFOs, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, and selected state universities and colleges. ### (Anne Camille B. Brion, DA-BAR)

BAR-PhilMech supported agri-entrepreneur receives TOFARM Award

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Gadmer “Mer” Layson was one of the successful soybean agri-entrepreneurs supported by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) who received “The Outstanding Farmers of The Philippines (TOFARM) 2016 Special Citation Award” under the agri-entrepreneur category. The awarding ceremony was held at Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Makati City on 15 November 2016.

Launched by the Junior Chamber International Philippines (JCIP) and Universal Harvester, Inc., TOFARM is a search and award program anchored on promoting farming in the youth sector of all classes. It gives recognition to the resiliency, ingenuity, and the strength of hardworking Filipino farmers.

A former reporter of Pilipino Star Ngayon of the Star Group of Publication, Mer is now the hardworking owner of KKK Enterprises named after his three children: Kyla, Kyle, and Kevin. A soybean producer and processor for four years now, Mer first heard about the National Soybean Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) through a radio announcement regarding a three-day seminar on soybean production and processing.

The DA, through the High Value Crops Development Program and BAR, with all the partner agencies, have intensified the implementation of the Soybean Program in the Philippines which aimed to further promote the production, processing, utilization, and marketing of soybean in the country towards building a competitive soybean industry.

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Under the project, “Pilot Testing of Integrated Soybean Production-Processing Technologies towards Accelerating the Development of the Local Soybean Industry in the Philippines,” being implemented by PhilMech through the coordination of BAR, various machineries that aid in improving soybean postharvest and processing systems were identified. One of the beneficiaries of the project was the Golden Beans and Grains Producers Cooperative which Mer is a member of. The coop received seeds for planting and Mer was among those who obtained viable seeds from his harvest being used for processing.

These interventions allowed the group to process and produce more; not only responding to the growing demand for soymilk but also enabling Mer to help others become soybean product retailers. As KKK Enterprises grew, Mer was able to produce soybean coffee, and very recently, soya ice candy.

Mer was able to employ eight people in his processing area and three farmers in his production site. Aside from this, his initiatives to disseminate the advantages of producing and processing soybean inspired more than thirty retailers.

Now earning about ₱50,000 a month from soybean processing, Mer aspires to be an inspiration to others—helping them earn more with the development of more soybean products. Through trainings and seminars, apart from the interviews he has done with a number of radio stations, Mer aims to reach out to everyone including farmers, housewives, and youth and encourage them to venture into soybean processing or retailing. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino and Mara Shyn M. Valdeabella, DA-BAR)

* Photos courtesy of JP Yap of Manila Bulletin

Groundbreaking Ceremony of SoMinAL

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The groundbreaking ceremony of the Southern Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Laboratory (SoMinAL), an institutional development project of the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 11, was held on 9 November 2016 in Manambulan, Tugbok District, Davao City.

Gracing the event was Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, along with other DA key officials. Among present were Undersecretary for Administration and Finance, Ms. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat; Undersecretary for Fisheries, Commodore Eduardo Gongona; Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Administration and Finance, Atty. Francisco Villano, Jr.; Assistant Secretary for Livestock, Mr. Enrico Garzon; and Executive Assistant, Mr. Bong Piñol.

Also attending the event to witness the ceremony were Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) Director, Dr. Nicomedes Eleazar with key officials and staff, Bureau of PIant Industry Director, Dr. Vivencio Mamaril; Philippine Carabao Center Director, Dr. Arnel del Barrio; and DA-RFO 11 OIC-Regional Executive Director, Mr. Ricardo Oñate.

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Supported by BAR through its Institutional Development Grant, the SoMinAL is envisioned to be a one-stop-shop composed of the following: crop protection center, soils laboratory, animal diseases diagnostic laboratory, and feed chemical analysis laboratory. These facilities aim to provide vital diagnostic services, analyses, and recommendation needs of the farmers and fishers in the region towards ensuring the productivity of the soil, crops, and livestock; increasing farmer’s income and product quality; and promoting consumer and environmental safety.

Sec. Piñol said that the SoMinAL represents the government’s dedication to the present and future farmers as it will address their long standing problems, particularly the lack of technical assistance regarding production and product concerns, which according to him limits their opportunities. ### (Cynthia Remedios V. de Guia)

DA-BAR holds 28th National Research Symposium; underscores role of R&D

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With the theme, Sustainable Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity through Research and Development towards Food Sufficiency and Competitive Enterprises, the National Research Symposium (NRS) was successfully conducted by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) on 26-27 October 2016. For this year, “BAR chose to focus on the role of research and development (R&D) in enabling the agri-fishery sector to become highly productive, globally competitive, climate resilient, and sustainable,” said BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.

Now on its 28th year, the NRS has consistently sought out high impact researches that can contribute to the achievement of the DA’s goals and objectives serving as a prestigious event where researchers and their work are given due recognition with citations and awards.

Highlighting the first day were presentations by the authors of the 24 research paper entries competing for the AFMA Best R&D Paper under the following categories: Applied Research in Agriculture, Technology Generation/Information Generation (TG/IG); Applied Research in Agriculture, Technology Adaptation/Technology Verification (TA/TV); Applied Research in Fisheries, TG/IG; Applied Research in Fisheries, TA/TV; Socio-economics; and Development in Agriculture. To qualify for presentation in the symposium proper, a research paper must have scored an average of 85 percent and above in the initial screening. Simultaneously conducted was the competition for Best Poster. This year, BAR received 134 research paper entries, a 21.8 percent increase as compared to last year’s entries which was only 110.

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The winners were announced during the Closing Program of the 28th NRS at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Convention Hall, Diliman, Quezon City on October 27, 2016.

In the “AFMA Best R&D Paper” category, five (5) papers brought home Gold Awards under various categories. These were:

  1. Applied Research TG/IG, Agriculture: “Inclusive and Sustainable Village-and Nypa-Based Bioethanol Industry Development” of Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU);
  2. Applied Research TA/TV – Agriculture: “Development and Performance Evaluation of a Village Level Coconut Water Processing System” of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).
  3. Socio-Economics: “Philippine Rice Competitiveness: Status, Prospects, and Directions” of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice);
  4. Development in Agriculture(two awardees): “Technology Commercialization on Slaughter Goats (Triple Cross) in Pangasinan” and “Pinoy GOURmix Technology Commercialization in Region 02” of DA – Regional Field Offices 1 and 2, respectively.

Four (4) silver and seven (7) bronze awardees of the AFMA Best R&D Papers were also named.

For the “AFMA Best R&D Poster”, PhilMech won this year’s Gold and Bronze Awards for their posters on “Design, Testing, and Evaluation of Compact Rice Mill with Impeller Huller,” and “Development and Performance Evaluation of a Village Level Coconut Water Processing System,” respectively. The National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) bagged the Silver Award with their poster, “The Only Freshwater Sardinella (Sardinella tawilis) in the World: Its Spawning Patterns and Larval Distribution.”

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Gracing the Closing Ceremony were Ariel T. Cayanan, DA Undersecretary for Operations and National Project Director of the DA-Philippine Rural Development Project representing Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol and Dr. Victor C. Atienza, representing DA Assistant Secretary for Livestock Dr. Enrico P. Garzon, Jr.

In the keynote message of Secretary Piñol, read by USec. Cayanan, he emphasized the pressing need to invest more in scientific research to improve productivity and ensure global food security and that the way to address agricultural challenges such as climate change, diminishing natural resources, rapid population growth, and yield losses is the insistence for greater technology innovation. He had words of encouragement for researchers from the DA regional offices (DA-RFOs) as well as from the State Universities and Colleges where he said, “Do what will make food available and affordable, and develop the tools for farming and fishing that will make a mark in the lives of the ordinary farmer and fisher.”

Two publications funded under the Scientific Public Grant of the Bureau of Agricultural Research were launched during the program. The first book was “Adlay Recipes” which aims to promote various recipes on the new staple, adlay, that was produced by DA-RFO 4A. The second was, “A Decade of Success: A Compendium of Agriculture and Fisheries R&D Projects Supported by the Bureau of Agricultural Research from 2005 to 2014” which is a compilation of various BAR-funded projects implemented by the DA-RFOs, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and state universities and colleges through these years. The seven finalists for the Gawad Saka Outstanding Agricultural Researcher (OAR) and Outstanding Agricultural Scientist (OAS) were likewise recognized.

The 28th NRS was spearheaded by the Institutional Development Division of the Bureau headed by Ms. Digna L. Sandoval. ### (DA-BAR)

Sweet delight from Nipa Palm

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Nipa Palm (Nypa fruticans), a species of palm that grows along the coastlines and estuarine habitats, is commonly used in the Philippines as roofing material for bahay kubo or is processed as vinegar (sukang paombong) or wine (laksoy). A group of enterprising farmers in Surigao del Sur are now engaged in producing another product - natural sweetener from Nipa Palm.

Nipa palm sugar, with lower glycemic index, looks almost like coco sap sugar, being granulated from the sap of the Nipa Palm. Given its promising potential amid the increasing demand for organic products, the Foundation for Rural Enterprise and Ecology Development of Mindanao (FREEDOM), Inc. is implementing a project that aims to provide livelihood opportunities to coastal communities and increase the income of tappers and wine processors in Barangay Agsam in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur.

The growing consumer preference towards natural sweeteners is manifested by the increasing market share of different natural sweeteners such as coco sugar, Stevia, and nipa palm sugar. There is a large demand for natural sweeteners in the foreign market including United States and Europe.

Considering the strategic position of the Philippines, being the country with the third largest area of Nipa palm plantations in southeast Asia, a team led by Mr. Antonio S. Peralta of FREEDOM, Inc. set out to take greater strides in expanding the selection of locally made, world-class, nipa palm-based products. Peralta and his team drafted a research proposal that was eventually funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research which is entitled, “Adoption and Utilization of Nipa Palm Sugar Processing Technology in Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur.” Partnering with DA-BAR and FREEDOM would be the Sitio Ipil Wine Makers Association (SIWA) and the Municipality of Lanuza wherein the latter will have the full marketing contract to purchase the Nipa Palm sugar produced by SIWA members for resale to interested buyers.

The said project is funded under the National Organic Agriculture Program and coordinated by the bureau, through its National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP). The project seeks to improve the Nipa Palm sugar product of the community, contribute to mangrove rehabilitation and protection, and strengthen local people’s organizations. Components of the project include organizing innovative sap processing technology training, product packaging and labeling, and market linking.

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Before FREEDOM’s research project, the farmers in Barangay Agsam, Lanuza had depended on Nipa wine making, and rice and corn farming as their sources of income. With the help of the BAR-funded project, their income opportunities significantly increased. SIWA, the chosen project beneficiary, in partnership with FREEDOM, Inc., is now managing the common service processing facility and is responsible for producing high quality Nipa Palm sugar. The facility that produces the sugar on a weekly basis, houses a mechanical dryer that can process 40 kilograms of sugar per batch.

Members of SIWA were trained in, not only on the proper methods of tapping nipa sap and processing nipa palm sugar, but also the basics of organizational and financial management. SIWA was also equipped with the machinery and equipment needed to properly harvest and process the tree sap for sugar production. According to Fritz Escudero of FREEDOM, prior to the project, farmers were not particular with the sanitation required in making sugar out of nipa sap, but thanks to the training and field trips to accredited processing facilities, the SIWA members were made aware of these concerns which ultimately expedited their efforts to develop the quality of the Nipa Palm Sugar taste.

To date, the Nipa Palm products were able to penetrate the Eco Stores, a national chain of stores operating in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro. “Local coffee shops have also shown interest in using Nipa Palm sugar for different varieties of specialty coffee that they sell,” Mr. Peralta added.

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Presently, nipa palm sugar is packed in 150-gram stand up pouches. These are sold at PhP 150.00 per pouch. The product was favorably received during the Davao Agri Trade Expo (DATE) held at SMX Global in Lanang, Davao City, one of the major agri trade fairs in the country drawing both local and foreign buyers. Also, the Nipa Palm sugar was awarded as the “Best New Product” in the 11th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition held by BAR in August 2015 at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City. “The award served as fuel to SIWA members to cooperate more for the project,” Mr. Peralta shared.

SIWA members highly appreciate the series of training activities as well as capacity building seminars facilitated by FREEDOM, Inc. to further improve their skills on Nipa Palm sugar processing and farm production management. Terrencio Orillaneda, a member of SIWA, commented that the training has helped them develop their production of Nipa Palm sugar into a viable micro enterprise. Other members have also come to recognize the value of the training provided to them as it has helped them manage their association in a professional manner.

“We have established a ‘Farmer Climate Field School’ to support the good agricultural practices that we are introducing in the project. Production standards and proper training for farmers which were introduced under the project will improve the quality of Nipa Palm sugar,” Mr. Peralta said.

According to John Largo, Officer-in-charge of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, not only has the project helped in increasing the farmer’s source of income but it has also elevated their awareness of climate change. Ever since becoming beneficiaries of FREEDOM’s project, members of SIWA have become more involved in the LGU’s activities aimed at protecting the environment such as tree planting projects and awareness campaigns during town festivals. This level of enthusiasm is significant for Largo’s municipality since the town is in close proximity to large-scale mining sites.

Today, FREEDOM and SIWA are in the next phase of the project which involves expanding nipa plantation areas and Nipa Palm sugar and wine processing facilities across Surigao del Sur while simultaneously securing the needed accreditations for both the Azucar de Lanuza enterprise and its processing facilities. Both Lanuza and FREEDOM look forward to day that Nipa Palm Sugar would soon penetrate, not only the larger local market, but also be exported internationally. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino and Ephraim John J. Gestupa)

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For more information, please contact:
Mr. Antonio Peralta
Executive Director, FREEDOM, Inc. 
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