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Farmer profits from shifting to adlay farming

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Every progress requires risk. And only those who risk going far are able to know how far they can possibly go.

This saying works well for Conchita A. Banguiyao, 48, corn farmer from Maddela, Quirino, when she decided to go into adlay farming even with the limited knowledge on the crop. “I never heard of adlay before. All I know is that it is synonymous to rice in terms of taste and uses,” Banguiyao said.

She used to plant hybrid yellow corn but did not succeed and promised not to go through it again.

She wasn’t aware of adlay until a team of researchers, led my Ms. Rosie Aquino of the Cagayan Valley Research Center (CVRC), Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 2, visited the Mataga-ay Sustainable Resources Development and Conservation Association in Jose Ancheta, Maddela in June 2015. Conchita is an officer and a member of the Association.

“They were actually here for a technology demonstration on soybean but since most of us are into upland farming, they also introduced adlay. It was from them that I first heard of adlay,” Banguiyao recalled.

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During the technology demonstration, the group from CVRC brought an adlay milling machine to show how the adlay grains are processed into adlay grits. “They cooked the adlay grits for food tasting. It was then that I first tasted the rice-like adlay,” she said.

Impressed by what she saw and learned, Banguiyao expressed her enthusiasm and interest in planting adlay. She has zero knowledge in planting adlay but she got interested in the crop because there was a ready market for it. “My main reason is the fact that, there is a ready buyer for my harvest!” exclaimed Banguiyao.

Diosdado Estocapio, president of the Association, explained that CVRC buys all the adlay harvest from their members. “The association serves as an assembler of all the adlay harvest and CVRC buys them directly from the farmers for the processing of Gourmix,” he said. Estocapio also reported that the association has 62 members and more than 15 of them are now into adlay farming, convinced of its potential as a food crop.

Four months after Banguiyao heard of adlay, the group from CVRC came back and brought 15 kilos of adlay seeds for the farmers who expressed their interest in trying the crop. Banguiyao got seven kilos which she planted in October 2015 in her one-fourth hectare land. Two more farmers shared the remaining seeds, four kilo for each of them.

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According to the established cultural management, the best time to plant adlay is August-October and will be harvested after six months, around February-April.

Banguiyao harvested 170 kilos in April 2016 and sold it for Php 40 a kilo providing her an earning of P6,800. She kept some of the seeds for the next planting season.

She planted the remaining four kilos of seed in September 2016 and another three kilos in Nov 2016, which she got from her previous harvest. In March 2017, she harvested 270 kilos from her 0.5 hectare of land, sold it for Ph45 a kilo giving her an earning of Php12,150.

“What is good about planting adlay is that, it’s not a high-maintenance crop. No need for fertilizer. After you plant, you can just leave it. You will just see each other again six months after, during the harvest season,” said Banguiyao. She also mentioned that unlike corn or other crops, adlay is not easily attacked by harmful pests and diseases.

When asked how to further promote adlay Banguiyao said, “I think more farmers will plant adlay if we have the milling machine here in the area. Then, we can also promote it just like rice.” This was affirmed by the president of the Association saying, “I see that need as well. Since it is not possible that every farmer has his milling machine, at least if we have one in the Association, we can manage that and be an income generating project for us”.

Without the milling machine, the farmer does it manually through “bayo” (pounding) which has a low percentage recovery.

Banguiyao is spreading her wings, currently she now has a hectare of land planted to adlay. When asked about her previous reservation about planting adlay, she said, “it was a risk worth taking!” ### (Rita T. dela Cruz)

Nipa salad dressing now in supermarket

NIPA-1Likened to the popular Balsamic vinegar, but cheaper and affordable, Nipa palm salad dressing is now a common eye catcher at SM Naga, specifically in J-Emmanuel store.

Developed by the Department of Agriculture-Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (DA-BIARC), Nipa syrup-based salad dressing was developed as part of promoting and expanding the underutilized Nipa sap.

The Philippines holds the record in terms of Nipa palm plantations. It is the third in Asia reaching the sealine ecosystem of Camarines Sur.

Nipa palm is a neglected indigenous palm species, mostly used as roofing materials. But looking at the potential and opportunity that can be derived from Nipa palm, its sap was extracted developing product out of it.

“Nipa flower clusters are tapped before it blooms to yield a sweet, edible sap collected to produce the local alcoholic beverage called tuba, which, then stored in “tapayan” for several weeks, converts to vinegar popularly known as “sukang paombong”. When distilled, tuba becomes a more spirited local wine called lambanog,” explained Ms. Luz Marcelino, research manager of DA-BIARC.

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Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), under the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP), the project titled “Product Development and Promotion of Nipa By-Products in Bicol Region” aimed to promote the usage of Nipa to provide livelihood opportunities, increase and sustain productivity through additional knowledge, profitability, and income especially for the women in Canaman, Camarines Sur.

The Product Development Section of DA-BIARC headed by Ms. Arlene de Asis developed the technology. Compared to the well-known Balsamic vinegar, the Nipa salad dressing has no after taste and is considered to be generally healthy because it has no additives and preservatives since it is pure Nipa palm syrup.

DA-BIARC has a close partnership with the Rural Improvement Club-Canaman Chapter wherein Mrs. Luz Severo-Despabiladeras serves as one of the members and farmer-cooperators of the project. Mrs. Despabiladeras shares her expertise developing the product and likewise, handles the promotion side of the product. She is the woman behind the successful debut of the products in the supermarkets in 2016.

Now, the group regularly supplies 30 bottles each of 1L, 500mL, and 375mL of Nipa salad dressing sold at J-Emmanuel store at SM Naga. The group started supplying 120-150 bottles of 1L, 500mL, and 375mL of Nipa salad dressing at SM Savemore (Bicol Region) in 2016 and processing the renewal of permit in 2017, which the project aimed to accomplish as soon as possible. Nipa salad dressing was also featured during International Food Exhibit (IFEX) 2013, which was held at SMX Convention Center, Metro Manila, Philippines on May 16-19, 2013.

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The project covers the refinement of the technology, purchase of the equipment and improvement of the production area to cope with the high demand of the product and to make it locally- and globally-competitive.

“There are now groups of farmers who regularly supply raw materials. So, in that case, it is not only producing a product out of Nipa but also promoting job generation because it was able to help farmers,” Ms. Marcelino said.

The Nipa salad dressing of DA-BIARC won third place in the Most Innovative Product Award during the 12th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum held in August 2016 at SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City. It also bagged the third place award during the Farmers and Fisher-Folks’ Congress held on September 22-23, 2016 at the Convention Center, Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)

 

 

 

 

Interest in soybean increases; DA’s program on soybean intensified

 DSC0273The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), in partnership with the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) held the conduct of the “National Review and Planning Workshop on Soybean R&D Projects” on 27-29 June 2017 in Los Baños, Laguna.

The activity is part of a continuing effort to promote the production, processing, utilization, and marketing of soybean in the country towards building a competitive industry. In attendance were BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar, Technology Commercialization Division Head Anthony B. Obligado, Chairperson of the Soybean Technical Working Group (TWG) Rosemary Aquino, Vice-Chairperson of the Soybean TWG Elmer Enicola, regional soybean focal persons, and project implementers from the state universities and colleges, and people's organizations.

Since its institutionalization in 2011, the concerted efforts of other R&D agencies have intensified the implementation of the DA’s Soybean Program. This paved way for valuable results as manifested in the increase in yield and production areas. Soybean has been given importance not only for its nutritional and health benefits but more so, for the creation of employment opportunities and economic profit to farmers resulting to a growing number of farmer-beneficiaries and adopters.

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In his message, BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar encouraged project implementers to further intensify expansion of soybean production areas using the identified quality planting materials. He also instructed the group to ensure that the generated technologies/products should have private partners to fully commercialize and to ensure the sustainability of the developed products.

Furthermore, Dr. Eleazar reminded the proponents to improve on the packaging and labelling to make the products competitive in the mainstream market, likewise, to consider IP registration for the protection of their developed products.

Ms. Rosemary Aquino presented the accomplishments of the program in the past six years since the program was launched. “When we started the program, there was unfamiliarity, a lot of people weren’t aware of the importance of soybean, but through the program, it has been gradually reduced resulting to an increased awareness on the utilization of soybean as food more than the traditional knowledge of soybean as feed ingredients. People become aware of the potential of soybean and the market demand for soybean. These can be credited to the interventions that were introduced by the program on product development and processing,” Aquino explained

She also stressed the increase in number of project implementers mentioning that from five implementing regions, it grew to 17 regions, 4 SUCs, and 3 attached bureaus. She acknowledged that the accomplishments were because of the dedication and commitment imparted by various partner institutions

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The renewed interest in soybeans resulted to numerous groups coming from the government agencies, academe, private sector, stakeholders in the food and feed business aspects of soybean, and even individuals demonstrated overwhelming response and commitment to the development of the soybean industry.

Based on the presentations of the project implementers across the regions, farming communities and peoples’ organizations were noted to have clearly benefitted from the technologies introduced by the program.

There was an increase in production areas among farmer cooperators in Region 2, CARAGA, and other regions. The shift of farmers and entrepreneurs from using GM or imported seeds to the locally-grown seeds, specifically using the identified quality seeds that were produced through the research, was also highlynoted during the workshop. There are now developed products available in supermarkets, pasalubong centers, and even private individuals that are bringing the products abroad. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)

Over 800 OFWs attend seminar on mushroom production in Hongkong

Mushroom productionOver 800 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), most of them working for more than 10 years in Hongkong, attended a two-day seminar on mushroom production on 24-25 June 2017 at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Hongkong. The seminar was organized by POLO, Consulate General of the Philippines, and Overseas Workers Welfare Authority (OWWA), in partnership with the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

Atty. Jalilo dela Torre, Labor Attaché to Hongkong, mentioned that, they organized the seminar to help the OFWs find alternative sources of income from agriculture that can easily go into business after their employment. They specifically identified mushroom production as one of the agri-ventures because it does not require big space of agricultural land, it will need simple technology and small capital that will generate additional income for aging OFWs and their families. The seminar also was in line with President Duterte’s vision of encouraging OFWs to return and be reunited with their families and participate in the development process of nation building.

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Dr. Emily A. Soriano of the DA-Regional Field Office (RFO) 3 and a Gawad Saka awardee for Outstanding Agricultural Researcher in 2014, served as the resource person for the five sessions on mushroom production. Her talk emphasized on the economic benefits and business opportunities in mushroom production and likewise, presented the various products and by-products developed from mushroom.

In her presentation, she expressed her appreciation and gratitude to DA, through the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), by providing the financial support, not only for the research and development (R&D) of mushroom, but also in establishing the Mushroom Technology and Development Center (MTDC), which since its establishment in 2014, continues to cater to the public when it comes to mushroom-related needs. MTDC has been serving its purpose to cater to the development of the technology in mushroom culturing, provide technical and laboratory services to facilitate enterprise development, and showcase mushroom-based technologies from production to processing. They also provide a full training on mushroom production for free.

After each presentation, participants were active in raising questions on different issues including sources of contamination for spawn, provision of actual seminar in their respective regions, required inputs and sources of inputs, initial capital requirements, and market opportunities. Participants were likewise excited in giving their insights and sharing their personal experiences as OFWs in Hongkong.

One of them was Ms. Rose Perido, a farmer-OFW and a FAITH volunteer handling the training component in agriculture at POLO. She mentioned that she helped POLO by providing free lectures/seminar on agriculture during her free time. She came from a farming family in Cavite and got her learnings in agriculture through her own experience and assistance from other agencies of DA. She wanted to help other OFWs who will retire and want to venture in agricultural business. She believes that agriculture has a great potential in helping retired OFWs. According to her, the business plan presented by Dr. Soriano gave them the opportunities to think and plan for the future.

Another participant, Richard Joyce Alfonso, quipped, "No farmer, no future!” highlighting on the importance of the farmers in the development of the agriculture sector.

To supplement their information need, BAR, in cooperation with the Asian Food and Agricultural Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) handed out information materials including DVDs on mushrooms and production manuals to POLO and OFW participants, who in response, were thankful for the knowledge learned from the seminar.

This initiative is part of the effort of DA, through the leadership of Secretary Manny Piñol, to provide opportunities for Filipino overseas workers who are returning to the country and wanted to invest in agricultural ventures. It is part of Secretary Piñol’s vision that “soon, the OFWs will no longer just be ordinary overseas workers. They will become big time investors and marketing agents for the produce of the Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.” ### (Julia A. Lapitan)

Research to improve fruit size, fiber quality of Red Spanish pineapple underway

Red Spanish Pineapple 1The Red Spanish Pineapple is one of the four varieties of pineapple that are being grown in the Philippines, along with Smooth Cayenne or Hawaiian, Queen or Formosa, and Cabezona. But due to the fibrous, sweet and course taste of its fruit, the Red Spanish Pineapple is mainly grown for its fiber.

Compared to the other varieties, the Red Spanish fruit is relatively small weighing around 0.91-1.4 kg. Externally, it is orange-red while its fibrous flesh is pale yellow. The fruit turns hard when mature, and breaks off easily from its base during harvesting. This variety takes about 18 months to reach maturity and thrives well in open fields with sandy clay soil. The plant grows spiny leaves up to two meters in length which yield excellent fibers for handweaving.

Since the Red Spanish pineapple is mainly used for the production of the Piña cloth, the fruits, which are small, are mostly thrown away during the harvesting of the leaves.

Not wanting to see this champion crop go to waste, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol tasked the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) "to lead research initiatives on how to improve the size and the quality of the Spanish Red Pineapple fruits so that farmers will make additional income."

In response, BAR, as the lead agency for research in agriculture, immediately convened concerned stakeholders along with its pool of experts, particularly, representatives from the Aklan State University (ASU), DA-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 5, DA-RFO 6, and the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) to discuss and finalize the research and development (R&D) component studies to improve the size and quality of the Red Spanish pineapple.

According to BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar, as a result of that meeting, the group was able to come up with a concept note and an action plan showing specific R&D activities to be implemented by concerned agencies specifically on how to improve the fruit size without compromising the quality of its fiber. He added that initial discussion was also facilitated on the issues and concerns of the textile fiber production from the Red Spanish pineapple as this is the main use of the plant.

As discussed, the R&D components of the program will include: 1) profiling and market research of Red Spanish pineapple production (to be led by DA-RFO 6 and ASU); and 2) looking into the cultural management studies for production of large and sweet Spanish Red Pineapple, including cost-benefit analysis of producing/processing products (to be led by DA-RFO 5 and ASU).

This R&D initiative is Secretary Piñol’s proactive response to revive the once lucrative piña fiber Industry. “The piña fiber weaving was once upon a time a lucrative industry, especially in the province of Aklan where the Spanish Red variety of pineapple, known for its strong fiber, grows well. In recent years, however, the industry has suffered from very low supply of the fiber and the dwindling number of weavers who only earn as much as Php300 a day for the difficult work which strains the eyes,” said the Agriculture secretary. ### (Rita T. dela Cruz)