Monday, July 9, 2012

First National Confab of Philippine Agriculturists Association

The First National Convention of the Philippine Association of Agriculturists headed by Dr. Gil Magsino of UP Los Banos will be held on July 19-20, 2012 at the Splash Mountain Resort in Los Banos, Laguna. The keynote speaker will be Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala.

Theme of the convention is "PAA: Moving Towards Professionalizing Philippine Agriculture." At the plenary sessions, Dr. Rodolfo Ela will discuss the performance of Philippine agriculture graduates in licensure examinations. Dr. Nora B. Inciong, on the other hand, will discuss Continuing Professional Education: A Key Role for Professionalizing Philippine Agriculture.

Jun Catan and Sonny Domingo will present a proposal on crafting the Magna Carta of Philippine Agriculturists.

There will be technical presentations focused on Food Security. Dr. Gabriel Romero of Monsanto Philippines will talk on the "Status of GMO and Hebbicide Resistance: Industry Perspective." Dr. Artemio Salazar of UPLB Crop Science Cluster will discuss "Corn for Health and Food Security." 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

They Enjoyed Red-Fleshed Dragon Fruit


EDNA FELIPE with a slice of red-fleshed
Dragon Fruit at Teresa Orchard & Nursery.
Whole and sliced red-fleshed Dragon Fruit 
Members of the Philippine Horticultural Society headed by May Caballero-Dumlao enjoyed partaking of the red-fleshed Dragon Fruit at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal last June 23.

Production of the Dragon Fruit is one advocacy of the Cactus and Succulent Society of the Philippines headed by Dorie S. Bernabe. It will be one of the crops that will take center stage during the planned Quezon City Country Fair to be sponsored by CSSP sometime in November this year (2012).

Dragon Fruit is increasingly becoming popular in the Philippines. The fruit is nice to eat and is also claimed to have medicinal properties.The red-fleshed variety is sweeter than the white-fleshed variety.  Planting materials of the red-fleshed variety are available at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery (0917-841-5477).

Binangonan Fruit Lovers

Members of the Tojos clan of Binangonan, Rizal, are lovers of exotic fruits.They recently visited the Teresa Orchard & Nursery to buy various grafted planting materials. Here, they
are shown with fruiting durian of the Kob variety. From left: Jaime Tojos, VenusTojos, Romy Tojos and Diwa Tojos.

ZBS Invited to Food Security Forum in Singapore

ZAC B. SARIAN has been invited to participate in the Asean Media Forum on "Food Security Index & DuPont Commitment to Food Security" on July 26-27 in Singapore.

The Forum calls for action, unlocking of potential collaboration and generating insights from various stakeholders to address the pressing issue of feeding over 590 million population of ASEAN. The aim is to find local solutions, local acceptance and collaboration to improve food security for each of the ASEAN countries.

The Index was developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), and commissioned by DuPont. It measures the drivers of Food Security through categories of affordability, availability and quality and safety across 106 countries.

There will be discussions and deliberations with panelists from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and DuPont business leaders.

The invitation was extended to us by DuPont's Azham Zahid, Public Affairs Manager, Malaysia Philippines.

Friday, July 6, 2012

He Would Rather Plant Guava Than Mango

We remember an agriculturist we interviewed many years ago. He used to grow fruit trees in Cebu but he has now relocated abroad. He had a point when he said that he would rather plant guavas than mango. Why?

For one, he said, guavas start bearing fruits in just eight months after planting. In addition, if the trees are adequately fertilized and irrigated, they bear fruit for 10 to 11 months within the year. Thus the farmer derives income from them virtually throughout the year whereas in mango, harvest is only once a year. Besides, mangoes usually become productive commercially seven or eight years after planting.

Guavas can be kept low-growing by constant pruning so harvesting is easier than in mango. Wrapping the fruits to protect them from fruitfly is also much easier.

Because our friend's farm in Cebu was stony and had very thin topsoil, he did not apply chemical fertilizers. What he did was to dig a hole one meter deep and one meter wide for planting his seedlings. He filled this with a mixture of topsoil and chicken manure.

Talisay Leaves: Anti-fungal, Anti-bacterial

Ray Ong, a scientist who graduated from UP Los Banos,  and Leslie Kennedy whose family is in the aquarium fish business, were excited to see many fallen leaves of the Talisay tree botanically known as Terminalia catappa when they visited Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, on June 23, 2012. They gathered dried fallen leaves for their own use.
The two joined the members of the Philippine Horticultural Society who visited Teresa Orchard & Nursery and the St. Martha Farm, both in Teresa, Rizal. St. Martha specializes in Pangasius production, both fingerlings and full-grown fish.
Ray Ong explained that the Talisay leaves contain tannin that is both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. In the United States, he said, the dried leaves are sold at about 50 US cents per leaf. And they are imported from countries other than the Philippines. Some buyers put a few leaves in their aquarium to prevent fungal and bacterial growth. Ray  Ong added that the reddish leaves that fall to the ground during summer are particularly desired.
How about that? Can Talisay leaves become a money maker for the Philippines, too?

It Pays to Visit Town Markets

WHEN you travel to the provinces, make sure to visit the public markets. That's where you will see what farm products are produced in the locality. You will also see the ongoing price of the commodities. You might be able to discover some fruits and vegetables that you have been looking for  all along. Or maybe root crops you have never seen before. You might be able to acquire planting materials that you can multiply for money.

In a number of ways it pays to visit public markets in the provinces.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Coco Water Export Fast Growing

PCA Acministrator Euclides Forbes

More and more byproducts of the coconut are becoming commercialized, thanks to government and private initiatives. We are, of course, familiar with the many old byproducts like broom, vinegar,  coco coir, coco peat, virgin coconut oil and lately coco sugar and coco water from mature nuts (not buko).
Two big companies, Peter Paul and Franklin Baker in Quezon province are the two big exporters of coco water packed under secret technologies, which could include vacuum filtration, according to a scientist source.
The demand for processed coconut water has been increasing in leaps and bounds. According to Administrator Euclides Forbes of the Philippine Coconut Authority, the export of coconut water in January to April 2012 has been recorded at 5,993,888 liters valued at US$6,602,051. That’s a big increase from the figures in January to April 2011. During that period, total coconut water export was only 2,173,294 liters worth $2,406,351.
Among the big importers of coco water are the United States which imported 4,820,275 liters in January to April 2012, worth $5,300.639. In the same period last year, the US bought 1,652,711 liters worth $1,447,213.
Coco water from the Philippines is now exported to 29 countries. The Netherlands is emerging as a big market for this commodity. In January to April 2012, the Netherlands bought 225,189 liters worth  $243,876. In the same period last year,  it only bought 48,000 liters worth  $43,200.
Other growing markets are Australia, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand and many others. Administrator Forbes expects that the figure will skyrocket in the next few years because of the many health benefits that drinkers derive from coconut water.

COCONUT REPLANTING – Meanwhile, we learned from the PCA administrator that they are funding a very unique scheme of planting and replanting coconut plantations.

For instance, did you know that if you can produce coconut seedlings in your own farm and plant the same, the PCA will pay you for the planting materials you yourself produced and planted in your own farm. The plants are yours. Only, the PCA monitors the progress of your project.

For the year 2012, they are targeting the production of 13 million seednuts for distribution to target areas where coconut growing is highly suitable. There are more than 60 provinces in the country that could grow coconuts.This should provide an opportunity for those who know how to germinate coconuts in large scale. The PCA will buy every seedling that you can produce at about P27 each.

FREE FERTILIZERS – The PCA also has its program of giving free fertilizers for coconut, particularly salt which has been proven to increase coconut yields by several percent.About two kilos of salt are applied to a fruiting coconut tree.

To help coconut farmers who are often stereotyped as the poorest farmers in the country, they are being taught to integrate the raising of farm animals under their coconut trees.

These could include free-range chickens, goats and sheep, cattle and others.

Fruits and vegetables are another project they are motivating the farmers to grow. These could include cacao, rambutan, durian, lanzones and many others.


ELIZABETH VALERIO showing her bottled 
pickle during the Philfoodex trade show.
ELIZABETH VALERIO, the enterprising lady who specializes in vegetable and fruit pickles, will be showcasing her products in two trade fairs this July and August 2012 at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City. Ms. Valerio is the proprietor of Delishas Atchara who was helped by the DTI and DOST in developing and improving the quality of her products, including packaging and label design.

The first will be the trade fair sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) from July 12 to 15. The second trade fair will be on August 9 to 12 under the auspices of the Bureau of Agricultural Research headed by Director Nicomedes Eleazar.

Her pickles are considered very special. These include ampalaya, cucumber, mango, carrots, singkamas, papaya and others. The latest news is that she has been asked by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to make seaweed pickles.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ina Valdez Goes For Duku Lanzones

This is a close up of a bunch of Duku fruits
taken on July 1, 2012 at the Teresa Orchard
and Nursery. These are fruits of the same
tree where Ina Valdes posed with the still
greenish fruits last June 23, 2012. That's when
members of the Philippine Horticultural
Society had a farm tour or Teresa Orchard
and Nursery.

The ripe Duku fruits at the Teresa Orchard
and Nursery in Teresa, Rizal taken on
July 1, 2012, about 9 days after the photo
of Ina Valdes was taken with the still
greenish bunches of fruit. (photo below)
INA VALDES poses with the ripening fruits of
Duku lanzones at the Teresa Orchard and
Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. Photo was taken June
23, 2012. She is a member of the Horticultural
Society who had a field trip to Teresa last June 23.
Take a look at the same fruits photographed
 9 days later (upper photos). They are already ripe! 

Landed Couple Used To Be Landless

Fernando and Josephine Fuentes used to be very poor and
landless after they got married in 1994. By dint of hard work, they
now own at least 24 hectares of land and they are also planting
Bioseed Healer 101 corn on 40 hectares mortgaged to them. They
are from Brgy. Malapag, Carmen, North Cotabato.
Fernando Fuentes, corn farmer of Brgy. Malapag, Carmen, North
Cotabato shows to Sherwin Magbanua of Bioseed, the bumper
crop of Healer 101 corn that he harvested from the first 4 hectares
that he planted in March 2012 and harvested in June.

AILEEN LIBRETA of Bioseed Research Company
is shown here with piles of corn-on-the-cob harvested
by Fernando Fuentes from his farm in Brgy. Malapag,

 Carmen, North Cotabato. She is an agriculturist
 who is specialzing in plant breeding.
Among  the enterprising corn farmers we met recently during our visit to North Cotabato are Fernando Fuentes and his wife Josephine from Brgy. Malapag in the town of Carmen.
The Fuentes couple were landless when they got married in 1994 but now they have at least 24 hectares of corn land of their own and many more that have been mortgaged to them. They are planting the latest hybrid corn varieties such as those distributed by Bioseed Research Company based in General Santos City. And that is why they get high yields and a good price, too, for their corn harvests.
How they were able to accumulate such a relatively big landholding is an inspiring story of industry coupled with some business sense.
Fernando remembers that when he and Josephine were just newly married, he used to sell cut-up vegetables from house to house just so they could have an income. Fernando would buy fresh vegetables from the market, slice them and pack together different vegetables that could be used in one cooking.
Then they decided to do their own corn farming just like what many of their neighbors were doing. But how did they grow corn when they did not have land of their own?
It happened that their godfather during their wedding had some land. They rented one hectare from him at P2,000 per year which they planted to hybrid corn first distributed by the Department of Agriculture. Fernando was quick to explain that in those early years, when you rented a piece of land, you only pay the rent after you have harvested your crop, unlike today.
They were quite lucky because they had good harvest from their hybrid corn. From the one hectare they rented, they were able to gross P18,000 from their first crop. And because they themselves worked on the farm, they only had cash expenses of about P6,000. They had a net profit of P12,000, and that’s what they used to get hold of more farms which were initially mortgaged to them. Eventually, they would be able to buy the land mortgaged to them with the proceeds from their corn harvests.
These days, when there is good weather, corn farmers like the Fuentes couple could make a net profit of more than P40,000 per hectare. And because they know how to handle their finances, they have been able to increase their land holdings and, of course, their incomes from farming.
There are developments that have helped the corn farmers like the Fuentes couple. One is the introduction of herbicides. With herbicide, the farmer can wipe out the weeds so they can dibble their seeds without plowing the field. Even the rolling and sloping fields could be planted to corn the zero-tillage way.
Another is the coming of the hybrid corn seeds. With the hybrids that are genetically engineered, the yield is not only high but the farmers also save on cost of spraying against corn borer. The Bioseed Healer 101, for instance, is not attacked by corn borers which are about the most destructive pest of corn in the Philippines.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Native Trees For Baras From FedEx

FedEx family members who planted native
trees in the Baras Communal Forest.
FedEx recently donated 1,000 seedlings of native tree species, which were planted in the Baras Communal Forest by FedEx family members. The donation supports Haribon Foundation's Rainforest Organizations and Advocates (ROAD) to 2020 program, a movement to restore one million hectares of Philippine rainforests using native tree species by year 2020. 

  Photo below shows Rhicke Jennings, FedEx Express managing director for the Philippines and Indonesia, planting a native tree species in the Communal Forest of Baras, Rizal province.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Grafted Malaysian Hybrid Durian Now Available

A limited number of grafted Malaysian hybrid durian are now available at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. The nursery is along the national road, 30 meters before the Teresa-Morong boundary. Teresa is the next town to Antipolo City.

This is a variety with superior taste. The fruit is small but is very fleshy. Take a look at the photos in the posting below.

Those interested in the grafted seedlings may call or text Rose at 0915-434-4216.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Malaysian Hybrid Durian in Teresa

That's Wendy Regalado with the opened fruit of the
Malaysian hybrid durian. Wendy is a past president
of the Philippine Horticultural Society.
Members of the Philippine Horticultural Society pose with
fruiting Malaysian hybrid durian at the Teresa Orchard and
Nursery in Teresa, Rizal on June 23, 2012. From left to

right: Dr. Romeo Gutierrez, Ely Quiambao, Edna Felipe
and Remedios Rodis-Santelices.
An opened fruit of the Malaysian hybrid durian. Note the chrome
yellow flesh which is mealy,  fine-textured and sweet.

On June 23, a Saturday, more than 20 members of the Philippine Horticultural Society headed by May Caballero-Dumlao toured the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, where they observed the growing of exotic fruit trees.

One of the fruits that attracted their attention is the Malaysian hybrid durian that was introduced some ten years ago by Gloria Balderrama, a Singaporean who married a Filipino engineer. The hybrid durian produces small fruits that weigh an average of 1.5 to 2 kilos each. It is, however, very fleshy and the flesh is fine-textured, mealy and sweet. The rind is thin but the cavities are big.

Aside from the durian, they were able to see the Indian black pepper growing on mahogany trees, the ever-bearing Red Criollo cacao from Brazil, fruiting Duku and Longkong lanzones, dragon fruit, pummelos from Vietnam and Thailand, balimbing, imported makopa, sweet guyabano (soursop), mangosteen, Mama Sita banana and many others.

Many farming enthusiasts from different parts of the country have been visiting the orchard and nursery and they have been sourcing their planting materials from Teresa. The Teresa Orchard & Nursery propagates only the best varieties of exotic fruit trees. Two varieties that are always sold out are the Super avocado which produces fruits that weigh as much as a kilo, and the seedless guava.

Teresa Orchard & Nursery is located along the national road, about 30 meters before the Teresa-Morong boundary. Teresa is the town next to Antipolo City. The nursery is about 36.6 kilometers from the Manila City Hall. For more information, call or text 0917-841-5477.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Belmont Agricorp will showcase its latest equipment and technologies in the 2012 edition of Agrilink which will be held at the World Trade Center at the corner of Puyat Avenue and Macapagal Blvd, Pasay City, on October 4 to 6.
Some of the equipment include incubators, feeders and waterers, brooders, ventilation equipment, bagged and  bulk grain storage, ship and barge unloaders, commercial dryers and feed-milling technologies.

Says Tony Magno, Belmont's vice president for marketing: "For over 35 years, our technologies have been utilized by big and small farmers. Likewise, we represent leading companies and equipment lines from around the world. We have  been helping our stakeholder partners in the country address the overall performance of their farms by improving their production chain, bio-security and sustainability. As a result, they have consistently produced high-quality products, achieved better output, sustained more stable revenue and become more competitive in the market."

DENNIS PANES: Remarkable Young Corn Farmer

Bioseed Healer 101, a biotech variety, is the favorite of Dennis Panes
DENNIS PANES is a remarkable young corn farmer we met during our visit to Sitio Rancho, Brgy. Wadya in the town of Banisilan, North Cotabato. From age 14, he used to work as laborer for a lady corn farmer, doing plowing, planting and other chores in growing corn. For many years he was a laborer, earning about P800 per month.

His good fortune came when the government awarded him five hectares of public land in 1994 when he was 21 years old. Because he used to grow corn as a laborer, he knew the fine points of corn production. He planted hybrid seeds and got at least five tons per cropping, two times a year.

What is remarkable about him is that after each cropping he sets aside a portion of his income either for buying an additional hectare or for taking over land that is mortgaged to him. At first, he just acquired one hectare after harvest at a time. Then when he had a bigger area to cultivate and more yield, he bought an additional two hectares, then three hectares, and so on. There was a time, he said, when the crop was very good and had a bumper harvest. He was able to buy 10 hectares in one swing.

Many of the lands he bought in the earlier years cost only  P50,000 to P60,000 per hectare. Later, however, land became more expensive. Some of the farmlands mortgaged to him lately cost him P100,000 or more.

How many hectares does he own today, 18 years after he was given the five hectares by the government? Because of the systematic acquisition of land that he followed, he now owns 80 hectares! Which he is planting with his favorite variety, Bioseed Healer 101, distributed by Bioseed Research Company based in General Santos City.

Aside from the 80 hectares that he owns, he is financing other farmers in planting Bioseed Healer 101 on 45 hectares. He says that unlike many other financiers, he just charges a minimal interest because he realizes the difficulties the small farmers are going through.

In the last cropping season, Dennis made a net profit of P1.3 million. His earnings are spent on things that matter in corn farming. For instance, he has invested on a 6-wheeler truck, a 10-wheeler truck and a Commando jeep which he uses in hauling his harvests from the farm to the market. 

What's really remarkable about him is how he systematically accumulated land for his corn production. His is a rags to riches story. Which means that if one is smart, one can take advantage of opportunities that are just around the corner.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


JAIN IRRIGATION SYSTEMS of Jalgaon, India, has won the prestigious "G20 Challenge on Inclusive Business Innovation" award. The company received the globally-acclaimed honor at a high profile event at the G20 Leaders Summit in Cabos, Mexico, on June 18.

The G20 Challenge recognizes businesses that have succeeded in developing innovative, scalable and commercially viable inclusive business models that address the particular needs of people living at the base of the pyramid.

JAIN is a pioneer in drip irrigation technology in India and is considered the No.2 drip irrigation company in the world. Drip irrigation is an effective means of increasing farm productivity and at the same time it is a means of conserving water resources.

The JAIN irrigation systems technology is now available in the Philippines. Harbest Agribusiness headed by Toto Barcelona is now distributing drip irrigation equipment throughout the country. Small vegetable farmers in the Cordillera are among the first to adopt the technology. They are so happy, they are expanding their use of the system. More and more small vegetable growers find drip irrigation to be a viable technology.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Edible Dragon Fruit Flower

Aside from the fruit, the flower of the Dragon Fruit is also edible. In fact, it is used in making salads. It can also be made into jam and other preparations.
The flowers open at night. Some of them, however, will remain open early in the morning.
The economic uses of the Dragon Fruit will be one of the advocacies of the Cactus and Succulent Society of the Philippines headed by Dorie S. Bernabe. The CSSP is planning to stage a Quezon City Country Fair in November at the Quezon Memorial Circle and surely Dragon Fruit will be on the center stage of the event.
On Sunday, July 1, the details of the planned Country Fair will be threshed out in a meeting of CSSP officials and heads of participating groups.
The Country Fair will showcase a wide array of agricultural and agribusiness products and services. These will include orchids and ornamentals, fruits and vegetables, small livestock and poultry, processed agricultural products, input suppliers, fisheries, health and wellness products, planting materials of exotic fruits and many others.


JENNY REMOQUILLO with fruits of Diana
If you want to read the detailed guide in planting the Diana watermelon, better get a copy of the July issue of Agriculture Magazine published by the Bulletin and edited by yours truly, which is off the press by June 27.
The cover features two fruits of the new watermelon held by Jennifer Remoquillo, national coordinator of the High Value Crops Development program of the Department of Agriculture.
Diana watermelon is a hybrid variety developed by Known-You Seed of Taiwan which is distributed in the Philippines by Harbest Agribusiness owned by Toto Barcelona.
The beauty about Diana watermelon is that it is one of the varieties that can be grown even during the rainy season as long as you follow the protocol of growing featured in the July issue of Agriculture Magazine.
Diana is a solo-type watermelon, each fruit weighing about 2.5 kilos. The rind is bright yellow and the flesh is red, juicy and sweet. The plant is productive and can be harvested as early as 60 to 65 days after transplanting.
The planting guide includes the recommended techniques in seed germination, land preparation, transplanting, schedule of fertilizer application like application of organic and chemical fertilizers both as basal, and weekly drenching of different doses of chemical fertilizers.
The guide also tackles irrigation techniques, pruning and fruit setting, control and prevention of pests and diseases, and harvesting.
There are, of course, many other interesting and useful ideas that could be gleaned from the success stories featured in the magazine. These include the story of the Gabuyo couple, Fernando and Erlinda, of Brgy. Tondod, San Jose City in Nueva Ecija. They can usually produce 280 to 300 cavans per hectare in their 20-hectare rice farm because they are very receptive to modern technologies. They are following the rice growing protocol developed by Alfonso G. Puyat.
Dr. Pablito Pamplona also writes a detailed feature on “Promoting High Productivity and Profitability in Rubber Farming”. Rubber farming, he notes, can generate a lot of jobs in the countryside. Rubber can be considered a reforestation crop which can generate employment in land preparation, planting and cutting of trees, and of course labor needed in tapping the latex. One laborer is usually employed for tapping two hectares on a yearly basis.
There is also an extensive report from the Agricultural Research Service of the United States which is about “Alternatives to Antibiotics in Animal Health.”
There is also a story on Isabela’s pioneer commercial sheep raiser and then about Negros Occidental poising to become the country’s Lamb Capital, thanks to Gov. Alfredo Maranon who imported 6,000 Dorper and Damara sheep breeders from Australia early this year.
Agriculture Magazine is the most widely circulated magazine of its kind in the country. It is distributed nationwide through bookstores, convenient stores and through the distribution network of Manila Bulletin.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dragon Fruit & Giant Aloe Vera

The Giant Aloe vera and Dragon Fruit will be the Mega Stars in the planned Quezon City Country Fair under the initiative of the Cactus and Succulent Society headed by Dorie S. Bernabe.
The purpose is to make the public more aware about the potential contribution of these two plants in providing food security and good health for the people.
The two plants could be grown profitably by farmers and processed into high-value products by entrepreneurs.
See story below.

Quezon City Country Fair Planned

A Quezon City Country Fair is being seriously planned by a garden group that would like to present not just the ordinary garden show which may be losing its attendance due to monotonously predictable presentations.

The proponent of the QC Country Fair is the Cactus and Succulent Society headed by Dorie S. Bernabe. The idea is to draw a wider spectrum of attendees by presenting a wider array of products and services in one location.

One major purpose is also to create more awareness regarding the commercial potentials of some cacti and succulents. One of them is the dragon fruit which is a variety of cactus. The dragon fruit is increasingly becoming a commercial crop that is good for both the farmer and the consumers.

The fruit of the dragon fruit is not only delicious to eat but is also claimed to have medicinal attributes. Besides being eaten as fresh fruit, it is now being made into wine, juice, jam, yoghurt, candies and many others.

One succulent that will be highlighted is the Giant Aloe vera which produces big leaves that yield a lot of juice. The Aloe vera is not only used to make shampoo, soap and other wellness products. Aloe vera juice is claimed to have medicinal attributes, too.

In the planned QC Country Fair which is tentatively slated for middle of November this year, a lot of products from commercial farmers as well as hobbyists will be showcased. These will include fruits and vegetables, aquarium fishes, free-range chickens, small ruminants, ornamental plants and flowers, suppliers of inputs and services, organic and wellness products, processed foods from the regions and many more.

Educational lectures and seminars will be part of the country fair. Being mulled are cooking demonstrations, photography contest, on the spot painting and the like.

Philippine-Israeli Agri Training Project Extended

The Philippine-Israeli Center for Agricultural Training project has been extended for two more years. The memorandum of agreement extending the project was signed recently by Sec. Virgilio de los Reyes of the Department of Agrarian Reform and Israeli Ambassador Menashe Bar-On. Under the project, young Filipino farmers are sent to Israel to undergo hands-on training on modern farming technologies. When they return, they are expected to practice what they have learned and also share them with other Filipino farmers. Photo shows the two signatories showing the MOA they signed. Ambassador Menashe Bar-On is at left.

A Healing Farm in Negros

MRS HEDY ACAYAN (right) poses with the lettuce grown in a hanging sack filled with vermi-compost at the Rapha Valley Healing farm of Dr. Albert Jo (left) in Brgy Kumaluskos, Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros, Occidental. Dr. Jo's healing farm has become some sort of a mecca for both foreign and local visitors. Visitors partake of organically grown vegetables and flowers grown on the farm. For a fee, the visitors also listen to a half-day lecture on healthy lifestyle by Dr. Albert Jo who is a medical doctor.
Zac B. Sarian (left) visited last May 25, 2012, Dr. Albert Jo's Rapha ValleyHealing Farm in the mountains of Brgy. Kumaluskus, Don Salvador Benedicto town in Negros Occidental. Note Dr. Jo's lettuce being grown in bamboo poles way above the ground.
THIS is a rare banana variety from the collection of Dr. Albert Jo of Rapha Valley Healing Farm in Don Salvador Benedicto town in Negros Occidental. It produces silver-bluish fruits.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Native Batanes Fruit Studied For Wine, Etc.

One government agency that continues to support the development of products from indigenous plants that are hitherto unexploited is the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture.
We have written earlier about the wild raspberry that is abundant in the area of Mt. Banahaw in Quezon which is now being made into wine, jam and juice, thanks to the financial support of BAR.
This time, the research agency is providing funds for the upscaling of initial research efforts on an indigenous tree in Batanes that produces a lot of small berry-like fruits which are usually just left to rot under the trees.
The tree is locally called Arius in Batanes but is known botanically as Podocarpus costalis. Actually, this tree is usually used as a landscaping material in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the country. For some reason, however, it is only in Batanes where the tree produces a lot of small fruits that look like they are “double-bodied” because each fruit has a fleshy portion that is attached to the peduncle while a portion that protrudes at the other end is a round part that contains the seed. When ripe, the fleshy part of the fruit is swollen. It becomes bright red to purple or black while the seed-bearing portion remains green.

Children as well the adults may eat the sweet, somewhat sticky pulp but they don’t really eat much. Each person usually eats two or three fruits at a time. It is the birds that love to eat the fruits and it is believed that the proliferation of the tree in many parts of Batanes could be attributed to the birds. The seeds that go with their manure germinate and eventually get established. The Arius tree does not grow very big.Under Batanes conditions, it may be just one meter to five meters tall. That is advantageous because harvesting of the fruits would be easy. It grows well in elevations from sea level up to 30 meters above sea level.

The Arius tree bears some fruits that are harvested in summer, particularly in March or April. However, it is observed that the main crop which starts as flowers in April and May are harvestable from July to October.

The project leader in the Arius tree research undertaking is Roger Baltazar, the director for research and extension of the Batanes State College in Basco. Baltazar’s group has already conducted initial research and development regarding processing of the Arius fruit. They already have produced wine, pastillas, tart, jam, fruit preserves and tea.

With the new funding of about P1.6 million that BAR is about to release shortly (as of this writing, June 15), improvements could be further achieved. The products could be developed in such a way that they are of export quality. It is believed that since Batanes is one island that is isolated from the rest of Luzon and away from pollution, the products derived from the Arius tree could be considered organic. In which case, they could command a premium price.

In his proposal, Roger Baltazar stated that special focus will be the production of Arius wine. From the time of harvesting and transporting, special care will be observed so the fruits will not get crushed or bruised.

Baltazar said that in making wine, they will adopt the methods used by the local sugarcane producers in the province. The seed portion of the fruit will be separated and the fleshy portion crushed for easy extraction of the juice. The crushed pulp will be boiled to soften it and thus enhancing fermentation. Yeast and sugar will be mixed but the proportions will be studied to find out which will give the best results.

The fermented juice will undergo aging, racking (transferring from one container to another), filtering and fining before the wine is bottled. Bottling and design of packaging will also be given special attention so that the product will become something really special.
Fruiting Arius tree in Batanes, Podocarpus costalis.
Fruits of the Arius tree. Dark portion is the
fleshy part. The green contains the seed.


TOTO BARCELONA and his small multi-function tractor.
The Department of Agriculture is coming up with the 2nd Agricultural Machinery Road Show on July 4-7 at the World Trade Center at the corner of Puyat Avenue and Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City.

The DA is inviting participants to join the Expo which is targeting over 1,800 participants featuring a wide array of production and postharvest mchineries, equipment and services. It is open to all and  participation is free.

Interested exhibitors, product demonstrators, and seminar sponsors may contact the following until June 20, 2012. Engr. Aldin Badua (PhilMech) at (044) 456-0213 local 290/282/287; Ms. Shiela Castro or Ms. Louella Legaspi (DA-Rice) at (02) 925-2152; Ms. Lorna Calda or Ms. Cahterine Tumaque (DA-MID) at (02) 929-0140.

Photo above shows Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness with his multi-function tractor that is highly efficient for land preparation for planting high-value vegetables. It can rotavate, form the plots or beds, dig canals, make furrows, can serve as weeder, and for hilling-up.

Berba Fruit

Ripe fruits of the Berba tree at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery
BERBA is considered a minor fruit which is usually grown by hobbyists or collectors of unusual plants. It bears small round fruits that turn bright yellow when ripe. Inside are a few seeds which are coated with a white pulp that is sweetish-sour and very pleasing to the taste.

The tree is small with dark green shiny leaves. It can be grown in partial shade as well as in full sun. One three-foot tree at the Teresa Orchard and Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, has been languishing in the last few years for lack of attention (read no fertilizing).When it was sprayed with Mr. Alfonso G. Puyat's Power Grower Combo last week of February 2012, it produced new branches and then flowers and fruits. The ripe fruits in photo (photographed June 15) are the result of the spraying.

We are programming the propagation of this little known fruit tree by germinating the seeds. It is a slow grower but we have to be patient to wait for the seedlings to grow.

Friday, June 15, 2012

First National Agritourism Research Confab

Agritourism stakeholders are invited to attend the First National Agritourism Research Conference in the Philippines which will be held on June 27-29, 2012 at the SEARCA headquarters in Los Banos, Laguna.

The conference is under the auspices of SEARCA (Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture) and the Tourism Foundation, Inc. Those invited to attend include agritourism practitioners, regulators, interest groups and academics.

A total of 22 prospective participants, mostly from state colleges and universities, have submitted abstracts of their research reports for oral and poster presentation in the conference.

For more information, contact tel. +6349-536-2365 to 67 local 419.

Pangasius Processed For Added Value

Mrs. Cecile Canson and her technician, Rabbie Lloyd Tabulao,
 at St. Martha Farm in Teresa Rizal show a breeder Pangasius in their showroom.
Lady workers at the processing plant of St. Martha Farm process
Pangasius into different kinds of sausages and other products.
The St. Martha Farm, the Pangasius farm that is the pride of Teresa, Rizal, is not only producing a lot of fingerlings but it has also gone into processing to add value to the fish.

Pangasius is a freshwater fish that is imported from Vietnam in the form of fillet in huge volumes, adding to the dollar drain from the country. It is one fish species that could as well be grown in the country because it is a hardy and fast growing fish.

Mrs. Cecile Canson now manages the farm after her husband, the late Gen. Jewel Canson, passed away last December. The operation continues and, in fact, new innovations are under way. Mrs. Canson is looking forward to making it into an organic fish farm.

Mrs. Canson said that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), particularly Dr. Aida Palma of the Tanay Research Station, is conducting a research on organic Pangasius production at St. Martha. There is a pond now that is stocked with a thousand fingerlings that are grown the organic way.

Aside from the fact that St. Martha is supplying a lot of fingerlings to the fishpond owners in many parts of the country, Mrs. Canson is very proud of her processed Pangasius products.

Her Pangasius fillet, according to her is not bleached and also not glazed. Thus, when it is thawed coming from the freezer, the original one kilo remains one kilo. There is practically no shrinkage.

She is also very proud of her gourmet Pangasius sausages. These include the Hungarian sausage, Bratwurst sausage, Garlic Polish sausage, Vigan and Lucban longanisa and a few others.

There is practically no wastage in processing Pangasius into different products.The prime cuts are turned into fillet and sausages. The flesh from the head portion is made into empanaditas which are something very new. Then the fishbones and skeleton are ground into fish meal for mixing with the organic fish feed. The entrails are turned into organic fertilizer for her organic vegetables.

Mrs. Canson also takes pride in her collection of culinary herbs which are grown the organic way. These include tarragon, rosemary, rao ram, spiny coriander, mint, parsley, marjoram, thyme, dill and others.

By the way, members of the Philippine Horticultural Society will visit St. Martha Farm on Saturday, June 23. The same group will also visit Teresa Orchard & Nursery, also in Teresa. The PHS is headed by May Caballero-Dumlao.

Mrs. Cecile Canson can be reached at 0917--526-3659.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Biodiversity & Genomics Symposium: June 14

The University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City will hold a Biodiversity and Genomics Symposium on Thursday, June 14, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Auditorium of National Institute of Physics, National Science Complex, UP Diliman. This was announced by Ibsky Romero.

Philippine Wild Berry Studied

Women Rural Improvement Club members with
their harvest of wild berry
Close up of a couple of ripe berries and a green one.
A few years back, a wild berry growing abundantly in Mt. Banahaw and other towns in Quezon province caught the attention of the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) as a possible object of research. The wild plant is locally called Sapinit which might as well be called the Pinoy wild berry. Botanical name: Rubus rosifolius.

DA-BAR, headed by Dr. Nicomedes Eleazar, set aside a fund of over a million pesos for researchers from the Quezon Agricultural Experiment Station in Tiaong to study the culture and develop possible products out of the berries that become very attractive red when ripe.
The researchers, headed by Dr. Concepcion Amat, not only studied the best ways to propagate and cultivate the wild plant in a demo farm in Brgy. Kinabuhayan in Dolores, Quezon, but also how to process the fruits into useful food products.
They found out that the plants were easy to grow. The plants that were planted in March 2009 produced the first harvestable fruits the following December or just a matter of 9 to 10 months after planting.

They also reported that the fruits are suitable for consumption as fresh fruit or they can be processed into wine, juice and jam. The next step that the researchers took was to train the women members of a rural improvement club in Dolores to process the fruits so that the excess production that could not be sold for the fresh fruit market could be fully utilized.

The technicians of the experiment station have also been teaching the farm families to produce organic fertilizer which they could use in growing their Sapinit crops. That way the harvests could be considered as organically grown and would command a much higher price than if the plants were grown the conventional farming way, using a lot of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

The promising results of the experiment conducted by Dr. Amat and her colleagues could lead to a number of possibilities. The upland areas hitherto uncultivated for traditional crops could be used to grow Sapinit. In the place where the plant grows well and fruits well, the finished products could be the town’s OTOP or one-town-one-product.

Since the Sapinit has been growing as a wild plant in the uncultivated areas, it is highly suitable for production the organic way. Processed organic products could be sold initially in weekend markets where organic products are becoming popular.

The products could be exposed to the public during trade fairs just like the annual trade fair conducted by the DA-BAR in conjunction with its anniversary. This year, for instance, the agency will be conducting an agri-fair and techno-forum on commerciable technologies. This will be from August 9 to 12 at the SM Megamall Trade Halls 1 and 2 in Mandaluyong City.

By the way, aside from Dr. Amat, the researchers on the Sapinit project included Rolando Cuasay, Dennis Bihis, Lani Averion, Arnel Repaso and Anniewenda Reyes.

AGRI-KAPIHAN on June 16, 2012: Broiler Production

The weekly Agri-Kapihan Forum this Saturday, June 16, will have Mr. Rommel Parado as resource person on Broiler Production. This will be at the AANI Weekend Market at the St. Vincent Seminary on Tandang Sora, Quezon City.

The Agri-Kapihan is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. A project supported by the Department of Agriculture, it is open free to everybody who is interested in agriculture. Call 936-6556 or 0917-795-0916 for more information.


The AANI Farm Tour on July 1, 2012 will visit the biggest vermiculture project in the Philippines which produces about 5 tons of vermicompost every day in Alaminos, Laguna. This is the Mapecon company of Jun Catan. Aside from vermiculture, the participants will be able to observe the production of green charcoal and activated carbon.

The Farm Tour will also visit the native pig project at the Quezon Agricultural Experiment Station in Tiaong, Quezon. Aside from native pigs, native chickens and other livestock grown the organic way can be observed.

The fee is P1,500 per person. Those interested to join may contact landlines (02)9366556; 9353146; 4808990; 8241848 or 0917-795-0916. Seats inside the aircon bus will be assigned on a first-come-first-served basis, based on who pays first.

Monday, June 11, 2012

DA-BAR Techno Forum Set Aug. 9-12

ANTHONY OBLIGADO is showing the poster of the 8th Agriculture and Fisheries National Technology Commercialization Forum and Product Exhibition which will be held on August 9-12, 2012 at the SM Megamall Trade Halls 1 & 2 in Mandaluyong City.

Obligado is the head of the Technology Commercialization Division of the Bureau of Agricultural Research, an agency of the Department of Agriculture. DA-BAR is headed by Director Nicomedes Eleazar.

The event is held in conjunction with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Bureau of Agricultural Research. Aside from the presentation of commerciable technologies in agriculture and fisheries, the entrepreneurs who have been assisted by BAR will showcase their various products and services in exhibit booths.

The technology forum and product presentation aim to identify, disseminate and promote mature technologies in Agriculture and Fisheries, and to establish and strengthen linkages with the private sector, NGOs,local government units and other government agencies, especially in the aspect of marketing the producers' products.

Seminars and demonstrations on various timely topics will be open free to the public. The visitors will also have the chance to buy the products of assisted entrepreneurs that include high-value crops, natural products and ingredients for health and wellness, and organic farm produce.
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