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BAR intensifies support to yellow onion, soon to export in Japan

yellow onion 2The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), under the leadership of Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar supports the funding of a research initiative on yellow onion (Allium cepa) in the country. The project will be implemented by the National Onion Growers Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. (NOGROCOMA). Given this opportunity, the Philippines is already set to re-open its export opportunities for the ‘Yellow Granex’ in Japan. Yellow onions are white inside with yellow-brown layers of papery skin in the outside.

In 2011, BAR supported the project titled, “Enhancing the Productivity of Yellow Onion (Allium cepa L.) Towards Commercialization for the Export Market,” under one of its banner programs, the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP)The project aims to enhance the production efficiency in onion through appropriate production technologies to come up with higher yield and quality produce for the export market.

“Through the NTCP, we ensure that mature technologies are effectively transferred for adoption and utilization by our farmers and fisherfolk. We are pleased to support this initiative by NOGROCOMA to enhance productivity and to establish market for onions locally and abroad, thereby increasing the profit of our onion growers,” said Dir. Eleazar.

Since 2009, BAR and NOGROCOMA have forged ties to uplift and better the lives of the onion growers in the country. “In the last 23 years, NOGROCOMA was fortunate enough to get funding assistance from BAR particularly in developing and testing new production technologies that are cost-efficient in terms of the usage of inputs without compromising the yield,” revealed Ms. Dulce I. Gozon, chair of the Board and CEO of NOGROCOMA.

Under the project, 60 farmers have been selected as farmer cooperators in two project sites, namely: Bongabon, Nueva Vizcaya and Bayambang, Pangasinan.  According to Ms. Fe Amor Ilagan of NOGROCOMA, as cooperators, farmers will be provided with all the production inputs as well as technical assistance and other logistics. The land area for planting and the labor will be provided by the cooperators.  The farmers will be closely monitored from planting to harvesting during the project implementation. Likewise, capability building activities including trainings will be conducted to capacitate the farmers on the latest onion technologies.

Recently, Ms. Gozon, together with Ms. Digna L. Sandoval, assistant head of BAR-Technology Commercialization Division (TCD), Ms. Ilagan and Dr. Turoku Haga, Japanese expert, visited Osaka, Japan to explore the possibility of re-opening the export-market for ‘Yellow Granex’. The visit bore fruit as the Philippines will be initially shipping ‘Yellow Granex’ in March for trial. This s also due to the 30 years of good networking relationship between NOGROCOMA and Hannan Seika Co. Ltd and the trust earned over the years.

The technologies generated by the BAR-NOGROCOMA project complements to the preferred size by Japan market which is 7-10 centimeters in diameter that is being produced by local farmers in the two project sites.

NOGROCOMA already presented the positive result of the business meeting during the National Onion Action Team (NOAT) meeting which was attended by representatives from the government agencies, private sector, and onion growers. The news generated interest and commitment among various stakeholders in the onion industry.

To date, NOGROCOMA is preparing the necessary requirements for export. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino and Digna L. Sandoval)




BAR looks into the potentials of batuan and sampalok

batuanThere is more to batuan (Garcinia binucao) and sampalok (Tamarindus indica) than just souring agents to our favorite dishes. With the instruction from Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) led by Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar is now looking into the possible interventions to tap the potentials of these plants specifically developing new product lines. As initial activity, BAR convened experts and focal persons on indigenous crops for a consultation meeting.

Technology Commercialization Division Head Anthony B. Obligado officially opened the meeting. Joining him were Institutional Development Division Head Digna L. Sandoval and Technical Adviser Virginia Agcopra. In attendance were researchers and experts from selected state universities and colleges (SUCs), Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs), and DA attached agencies.

A yellowish fruit when mature, batuan or binukaw is a rounded fruit about four centimeter or more in diameter. It has a firm outer covering and contains acidic pulp with several seeds. Batuan is widely distributed throughout Luzon and Visayan Islands. The people in the Visayan region preferred using batuan more than the native tamarind in souring their local dishes. It was also noted that is used for the same purpose In the Bicol region, particularly in Masbate.

Existing products that are commercially available are candies and pickles including bottled batuan purees from ECJ Farms located in Negros Occidental. Currently, DA Biotech has subjected batuan to DNA barcoding as part of resource identification, conservation and protection. It was also included in the book “Imported and Underutilized Edible Fruits of the Philippines” authored by Dr. Roberto E. Coronel. The book is funded by the BAR through its Scienfic Publication Grant (SPG)Meanwhile, tamarind or sampalok is commonly used as a souring agent as well.  Products from tamarind are already commercially available and are produced by the private sector. Its fruits are also processed into candies with the addition of sugar syrup which is a common regional delicacy. BAR has funded projects on tamarind including tamarind wine and and as ornament in the form of a ‘bonsai’.Dr. Coronel, being greatly inclined with the collection of indigenous fruits, presented his undertakings on the commodities. From his presentation, various cultural management approaches may be used for easy harvesting.

It was agreed that samples of batuan growing from among the different sites (Masbate, Iloilo, and Laguna) will be sent to conduct physico-chemical analysis. Dr. Coronel suggested utilizing its leaves aside from subjecting the fruits in a pickling solution.

A proposal will be crafted focusing on the following researchable areas: 1) benchmarking, 2) propagation, 3) nursery establishment, 4) product development, and 5) market research.  Tamarind, on the hand, will focus on: 1) identification of commodity distribution, 2) product development, and 3) primary processing. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino, Wilbert Newton T. Pollisco, and Gian Carlo R. Espiritu)

Medium term RD&E agenda for Phl apiculture finalized

apiculture RDAfter a series of planning meetings, consultative workshops, presentations and evaluations spearheaded by various apiculture stakeholders, the Philippine Apiculture Status and Research and Development, and Extension (RD&E) Agenda 2012-2016 has been finalized and packaged for dissemination.

In 2011, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) and the DA-High Value Crop Development Program (HVCDP) crafted the Bee RD&E Roadmap with the active participation of beekeepers, academic institutions, government agencies, and private sector in a series of workshops and consultations. Conferences and workshops organized by BeeNet Philippines and BAR also provided a venue to present drafted roadmap. The output of this series of consultation-meetings and workshops is published into a medium term agenda for apiculture which will further strengthen the bee industry in the country. 

Authored by Dr. Cleofas R. Cervancia and Mr. Alejandro C. Fajardo, Jr. of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Bee Program, the Bee RD&E Agenda for 2012-2016 serves as roadmap for policy makers and stakeholders. It envisions to provide a profitable bee industry that supports agriculture, forestry and biopersity conservation and capable of supplying quality bees and bee products to local and foreign markets.

“The priority areas identified in the publication are in line with our economic and political agenda and are hoped to enhance agricultural productivity through pollination,” said BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.

By 2016, the industry targets to achieve a continuous supply of quality queen bees and bee stocks; increase production of quality bees and bee products; implement quarantine protocol for imported queen bees and bee products; and provide available channels for financing of industry and research needs, among others.

The publication also contains information on the promotion of commercialized technologies for native bees; and financial model and cost analysis for different bee species.

“The Bee Roadmap shall be implemented and monitored by the private sector in partnership with DA for regularly monitoring in the changes in the industry,” said Dr. Cervancia.

Currently, DA, DA-HVCDP, and BAR are supporting the implementation of 10 projects on apiculture/beekeeping. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino) 

Philippines to adopt India’s Bhoochetana program


Rainfed agriculture, farming practises that rely on rainfall for water, covers 80 percent of the overall physical agricultural area of the world. In the Philippines, three-fourths of the country’s 10 million hectares of agricultural lands rely on rainfed agriculture.

Realizing the crucial role of rainfed agriculture in the country, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) together with the Department of Agriculture-National Rice Program, DA-High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is looking into the implementation of a project that will pilot India’s Bhoochetana program in the Philippines.

The term ‘bhoochetana’ means ‘reviving the soils’. As the name implies, the Bhoochetana program of the Government of Karnataka and ICRISAT aims to help dryland farmers in Karnataka (second largest rainfed state in India) through science-led integrated approach. This involves improved management practices, capacity-building activities and good adaptation strategies to unlock the potentials of agriculture, to increase productivity, and to strengthen coping mechanisms against climatic disturbances.

To boost the average productivity of the 30 districts of Karnataka by 20 percent in four years, the Bhoochetana project was aimed to specifically identify and scale-up best-bet options (soil, crop and water management) including improved cultivars to enhance productivity by 20 percent of the selected crops in 30 districts, and train the Department of Agriculture (DoA) staff in stratified soil sampling at villages, analysis of macro- and micronutrients, and preparation of GIS-based soil maps. Also, the program hoped to build the capacities of stakeholders (farmers and consortium partners) in sustainable management of natural resources and enhance productivity in dryland areas.

Since its implementation in 2009, the Bhoochetana project has been successful in achieving its goals. Through the technical support and scientific approach brought about by this project, the 30 districts of Karnataka were able to attain a significant increase of an average of thirty percent in the crop productivity of their staple crops amidst different agroclimatic conditions.

Rainfed agriculture in the Philippines

In collaboration with the HVCDP and ICRISAT, BAR has launched the Philippine Rainfed Agriculture Research, Development and Extension Program (PhiRARDEP) in April 2011 with the goal of revitalizing and strengthening the existing rainfed farming systems and practices and accelerating the development of rainfed agriculture in the country.

The program has four major components, namely: 1) Rainfed Farming Systems Innovation; 2) Participatory Watershed Management, 3) Strategic Social Science and Policy Research, and 4) Capacity Building, Communication and Social Mobilization.

“Knowing the vast potential of the rainfed areas in contributing to food security, PhiRARDEP is seen to lay the foundation for establishing a solidified and unified national agenda for rainfed agriculture in which the RD&E sector and other concerned stakeholders will be able to significantly contribute by making innovations, generating and developing technologies, and formulating policies appropriate for the rainfed environment. To this end, the strategies, results, and impacts of the PhiRARDEP will be taken into consideration in drawing up the overall DA framework for the achievement of sustainable agricultural growth,” stressed Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, director of BAR.

From 2011 to 2012, BAR has funded 30 projects on rainfed agriculture. Jointly conducted with DA attached agencies, state universities and colleges (SUCs), and Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs), these projects aim to empower the Philippine rainfed communities and to enhance the country’s source of food, energy, and nutrition.

Bhoochetana: The Philippine version

The proposed project titled, “Soil Rejuvenation and Natural Resources Management Program: Piloting of the Bhoochetana Concept in the Philippines” of BAR, National Rice Program, HVCDP and ICRISAT is aimed to pilot and gradually out-scale the Bhoochetana concept in strategic rainfed areas in the country to contribute in increasing the average productivity of selected crops in the pilot regions by 10-20 percent in five years while improving/preserving the overall soil health condition.

Aligned with Karnataka’s Bhoochetana mission program, the project aims to: 1) determine the micro- and macro-nutrient status of the soils of the agricultural lands in the selected representative sites in Luzon (Quezon), Visayas (Samar), and Mindanao (Zamboanga); 2) identify best-bet options (soil, crop and water management) including improved cultivars to enhance the productivity of selected crops in the selected representative sites by 10-20 percent; and 3) build capacity of the stakeholders (farmers and consortium partners) in the sustainable management of natural resources and in enhancing productivity in rainfed areas.

Similar to the principle of Karnataka’s Bhoochetana program which includes the 4Cs (Consortium, Convergence, Capacity Building, and Collective Action), the implementation of the Bhoochetana concept here in the Philippines will constitute various significant institutions and agencies to come up with a well-rounded and systematic science-based approach. It is anticipated that the Bhoochetana project will commence in the Philippines this year. ### (Leila Denisse E. Padilla)

BAR-supported Coop in Bicol receives TOFARM award


The Labo Progressive Multi-purpose Cooperative (LPMPC), based in Labo, Camarines Norte, was recently awarded in the 2012 Outstanding Farmers of the Philippines (TOFARM 2012) for the Agriculture Cooperative category. LPMPC was joined by the other 27 awardees under various categories.

TOFARM, launched by the Junior Chamber International Philippines (JCIP) and Universal Harvester, Inc., 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.

Started as a Paluwaganin 1987, LPMPC, which was then, named Labo Market Vendors Multi-Purpose Service Cooperative Inc., started with a lending capital of Php 5,000.

With an initial 15 incorporators composed of market vendors and farmers who sell their produce during market days in the Labo Public Market, the cooperative has now members (regular and associate) under its three branches in the Municipality of Labo, Jose Panganiban, and Capalonga.

In 2002, the cooperative started venturing into agribusiness.

At present, the cooperative is focused on pineapple production and its by-product utilization including pineapple juice, dried pineapple, handwoven piña cloth, handmade paper, and decorticated pineapple fiber. Production of virgin coconut oil is also part of the cooperative’s agribusiness project. These resulted in generating employment and penetrating its products to the local and international markets.

LPMPC extends re-lending services by providing working capital loan for small medium enterprises (SMEs), agricultural loan for farmers and fisherfolk, salary loan and microfinance program for entrepreneurial poor.  It also offers scholarship for members and their families, health and educational loan, life and non- life insurance to members and their immediate families.

The cooperative receives financial and technical supports from local to national government and private partners including foreign nongovernment organization (NGO).

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), through its National Technology Commercialization Program, provided institutional, infrastructural, and technical support to the cooperative under the project titled, “Enhancing Competitiveness of the Queen Pineapple in the Bicol Region”.  This is being implemented by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit V-Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (DA-RFU V-BIARC). 

Establishing 33 hectares pineapple farms in grow-out farm and by-product utilization, the project involves fruit processing, fiber production, pineapple cloth and other novelties.

LPMPC has completed its accreditation both passing the requirements for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). It is now a certified fruit processing plant upon completing the requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the BAR-funded project, “Pineapple Production and By-Product Utilization”

Prior awards of LPMPC include: Hall of Famer Provincial Most Outstanding Cooperative, Gawad Saka Regional Winner and National Finalist for two years, Land Bank of the Philippines Gawad Pitak Regional Winner and National Finalist, National Nominee for LGU-Cooperative Partnership Award, and the 2009 Most Outstanding One-Town-One-Product Micro, Small, And Medium Enterprises (OTOP MSME) in the province and finalist in the National Outstanding OTOP MSME Award in 2010. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)