This page features a compilation and selection of Filipino seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in the Republic of the Philippines (Republika ng Pilipinas).
The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.
This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.
New Plant Breeding Techniques Policy Resolution: Feb 10: At a webinar held by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP), new breeding techniques (NBTs) were shared with scientists, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders.
During the webinar DOST Secretary and NCBP Chair Fortunato T. de la Peña, underscored the importance of Plant Breeding Innovations (PBIs) as key to improving the country’s agricultural sector through science and technology.
Also speaking at the event were Dr. Donald MacKenzie, Executive Director, Institute for International Crop Improvement (IICI) at Danforth Plant Science Center and Dr. Szabolcs Ruthner, Regulatory Affairs Manager of the International Seed Federation (ISF), who both highlighted the benefits of genome editing in agriculture.
Next to speak was Dr. Martin Lema, formerly Chair of the National Biosafety Commission, and Adjunct Professor, Quilmes National University in Argentina, who discussed regulatory systems in South America, and Dr. John McMurdy, Director for Emerging Markets and Development Partnerships, CropLife International (CLI), who spoke about the comparative policies on PBI/NBTs around the world.
Another topic of interest was the presentation on “Products being developed in the Philippines through the use of PBIs/NBTs delivered by Dr. Gabriel Romero, Executive Director of the Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA). He gave examples of studies/projects on gene editing conducted by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Institute of Plant Breeding in UPLB (UPLB-IPB) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
Common themes among the speakers included the need for science and evidence-based regulatory frameworks, and that innovation in agricultural biotechnology and productivity should not compromise biosafety and biodiversity. See original story here.
PSIA in Manila edible garden launch: The Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA), together with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry and National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) have developed an edible landscape at the Rizal Park, the biggest and most popular national park in the country.
Underscoring the importance of enabling Filipinos, especially Metro Manila residents, to produce their own food during this pandemic period, Agriculture Secretary William Dar presided THE over opening of the Urban Garden at the Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, in Manila on March 12, 2021.
The DA-BPI, PSIA, and NPDC recognize the importance of promoting urban agriculture as a strategy to alleviate poverty, address the stability of food supply, foster social integration among communities, and protect the environment through eco-friendly and other alternative and innovative gardening methods.
Representing the PSIA were reps from Allied Botanical Corporation and Pilipinas Kaneko Seeds, which showcased various crops, including solanaceous, legumes, cucurbits, grasses and salad greens, while another member, Harbest Agribusiness Corp., constructed the drip-irrigation system in the garden.
In his message, Sec. Dar expressed his appreciation to the PSIA, NPDC and institutions that collaborate with the government in its efforts to bring Filipinos safe, nutritious and accessible food.
Webinar discusses changes to organic law, climate change and GM seeds: The Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA) on February 18 organized the “Organic Law and Climate Change Webinar”. Held via Google Meet the full name of the webinar was “Policies on Organic Agriculture and Climate Change- Nationally Determined Contributions: Opportunities for the Private Sector” and featured as a speaker, Dr. Saturnina Halos, the president of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines. The seminar follows the Philippines on 23 December 2020 amending Republic Act 11511, or Amendments to Organic Agriculture (OA) Act of 2010. One of the changes is the deletion of anti-GM/biotech language in the new law. The main takeaways from the webinar are as follows:
1. Accreditation of organic products is made simpler by the Revised Organic Agriculture Law through the Participatory Guarantee System.
2. GM seeds may still be excluded from organic farms based on the Philippine National Standards of 2016. However, GM seeds will continue to be popular among farmers due to their realized benefits through the years.
3. Agriculture is both a cause and a victim of Climate Change. Carbon footprint of agriculture may be reduced by developing pest resistant and fast-growing climate resilient crops through plant breeding and biotechnology.
4. The Department of Agriculture has established the typhoon calendar throughout the country to help farmers avoid typhoons by adjusting planting schedules of rice so palay harvest will fall within months of no typhoon.
The webinar was organized by the Technology Development Committee chaired by PSIA Vice President Julius Barcelona of Harbest. It was attended by more than 25 participants including non-PSIA members. For more information about PSIA, see this page as well as their website here.
DA strengthens laboratory network for plant, animal disease capacity: January 2021:
The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) is strengthening its laboratory network system to boost its capacity to detect and manage various infectious animal and plant diseases. Among the plant diseases in their radar is panama disease in banana, and fall armyworm (FAW) in corn and onion. At the center of its strategy will be adopting an integrated 'OneDA' laboratory master plan that incorporates international bio-risk management standards and best practices on biosafety and biosecurity measures, regulations, and certifications. Read full story here.
Rice hybridization in Central Luzon: January 2021:
The Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Office 3 in Pampanga will intensify the implementation of its rice hybridization program in Central Luzon this year. DA regional officials , together with representatives of different seed companies, held a meeting to discuss how best to successfully implement rice hybridization in the region. The focus will be on delivery and distribution of hybrid seeds to the local farmers, while seed companies were encouraged to conduct field demonstrations to showcase different rice varieties. Seed companies represented include Longping Tropical Rice Development Inc., SL Agritech Corporation, SeedWorks Philippines Inc., ALJAY Agro-Industrial Solutions Incorporated, Bayer Crop Science, Bioseed Research Philippines, Inc., Corteva Agriscience, and Syngenta. More details here.
EU could surpass the Philippines in rice exports:
The European Union could out-import the Philippines’ as the top rice importer in the world. According to the USDA’s latest Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report, “the Philippines is forecast to fall to the number two spot in 2021 as the largest global rice importer after the European Union” Read more coverage on this topic here, as well as here.
Tree planting around Pantanangan Dam and Cagayan River: DECEMBER 2020:
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) aims to complete the planting of trees around the Pantabangan Dam by April 2021, reports local media. Under the Watershed Management Program, 220 hectares of land will be planted with various types of trees, continuing planting efforts that began in March of this year (2020). The program is funded by ₱16.46 million ($340,000). More details here. In other tree-planting news in November, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was pushing to dredge the Cagayan River and plant 200 million tree seedlings in low-lying agricultural areas in Cagayan. News here.
Typhoon aide includes seeds, fertilizer: NOVEMBER 2020:
About PHP 2 billion (US$41 million) worth of aide -- including in the form of rice, seeds and fertilizer -- had been prepared by the government to distribute in Cagayan Valley as part of relief efforts following the devastation of typhoons. More details in Tagalog here.
Digital tech to help deliver rice seeds in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija: SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2020:
The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has signed an agreement with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to enhance delivery and distribution of rice seeds to farmers using digital technology. The “Binhi E-Padala”, which is a joint initiative with PhilRice, PayMaya Philippines Inc. and the Nueva Ecija Seed Growers Multipurpose Cooperative (NESGMC), is expected to benefit 5,000 farmers in the provinces of Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. The project will utilize smartphone messages and codes for redemption of inbred seeds. It will be piloted first in the locales of Aliaga, Bongabon, Cabanatuan City, Cuyapo, General Natividad, Guimba, Licab, Llanera, Lupao, Nampicuan, Quezon, Rizal, San Jose City, Science City of Muñoz, Sto. Domingo, Talavera, Talugtug in Nueva Ecija, as well as in the locales of Gerona, Paniqui, Pura, Ramos, Tarlac City and Victoria in Tarlac. More details here and in this earlier story here.
Crops output grows by 5% in Q2, 2020
The Philippines crop production output increased by 5% in the first six months of the year compared to the previous year, while paddy production grew by 7%. According to a Reuters lead, citing the Philippines Statistics Authority as reported here, total agricultural output grew only by 0.5% due to contractions in livestock by 8.5% and poultry production by 4.7%
Chia Tai introduces Home Garden to the Philippines market
Leading Thailand agriculture company, Chia Tai is expanding its business in the Philippines, having announced its plans to introduce its ‘Home Garden by Chia Tai’. The Chia Tai Home Garden kits include seeds for cucumber, tomato, watermelon and chili. Click here for more details, which will also be published in the upcoming edition of Asian Seed magazine.
Expanding important role of women in Philippines seed sector, seed technopark
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is advocating for a stronger, gender-inclusive seed system that recognizes the important role of women in Filipino agriculture. According to a press release, the “DA will continue to empower women farmers, being indispensable partners of their farmer-husbands, brothers, or sons … One of the foundations of food security is an effective seed system. Thus, women, farmers should always be part of the decision-making process throughout the food value chain, including the choice and use of quality crop seeds.” In related news, the DA in partnership with representatives from the private sector will establish a National Seed Technology Park (NSTP) at the New Clark Green City in Tarlac. Commenting on the development DA Agriculture Secretary William Dar said, “We aim to bring major seed industry stakeholders — including women farmers, entrepreneurs, and local government officials — to be part of the country’s first-ever seed technopark.” The DA has set aside an initial budget of PHP 200 million ($4.1 million) to establish the facility, “which is expected to help boost the country’s food security via sustained production of affordable, quality, pest-resistant, high-yield, and climate-resilient seeds.”
Rice Tarif funds from last year going to quality seed, increased productivity
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is putting to good use funds it had acquired from 2019 Rice Tariffication. According to a press release, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) recently reported that tariffs collected from imported rice in 2019 totaled PHP12.1 billion ($250 million). The bulk of the tariff funds will automatically be appropriated for the provision of farm machinery and equipment, certified inbred seeds, credit, and training and extension while the excess will fund crop diversification and expanded crop insurance programs, among other initiatives to make Filipino rice farmers more productive and competitive. These include crop diversification, crop insurance, agricultural land titling, and other programs as deemed appropriate by the DA. On rice seeds, to date, the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) reported delivering more than 2.3 million bags of high-quality seeds to 710,178 farmer-beneficiaries, in 983 municipalities and cities, in 55 provinces. “The agency also delivered 21,643 bags of seeds to 3,046 farmer-beneficiaries, tilling 1,772 hectares, in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). More details here. In related news, some rrice farmers are reportedly disappointed that the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) did not necessarily help the production of the main staple grow in the last months. More details here.
June and July 2020
The Philippines remains food-secure: Ag Secretary
The Philippines continues to be food-secure, according to figures and assurances given by Agriculture Secretary William Dar on July 30 here. The DA forecasts a year-end stock of rice good for 89 days, citing palay production during the second quarter of the year increasing by 6.85 % compared to the same period in 2019. This was due to the increase in harvest area by 4.5% percent to 960,000 hectares, while average palay harvest per hectare reached 4.31 metric tons compared to 4.21 MT last year. Regarding other major food commodities, outlook for the rest of the year is also favorable, with enough corn for 237 days; chicken for 182 days and vegetables for 20 days.
Seeds distributed by NGO could yield 7 million kilos of veggies
To address a looming hunger crisis, NGO International Care Ministries has distributed some 14 million meals to 2.5 million Filipinos, as well as 250,000 gardening kits and over 100 million seeds to communities in Visayas and Mindanao. According to this article by the Inquirer, it is expected that the gardens planted from the seeds will generate 7 million kgs of vegetables worth 400 million pesos
Seed Kits from WorldVeg arrive in Philippines
The World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) has confirmed delivery of seed kits to the Philippines, with support from with support from the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). The news was initially announced on WorldVeg’s facebook page here on June 4, Which confirmed that the necessary phytosanitary certificates had been issued by Taiwan's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine. The seed kits arrived in the Philippines by June 18, as confirmed by this post, noting that the Bureau of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture, Philippines arrived in Los Baños and would be distributed to families in Los Baños, Luzon,the following week. Each kit provides enough seed to plant a 10 m2 plot for each crop: amaranth, Malabar spinach, jute mallow, okra, mungbean, and kangkong, and includes a booklet with planting instructions in Tagalog and English.
Seeds, livestock committed to sultants, military in fight against insurgency
The Department of Agriculture in Northern Mindanao has delivered seeds, ag and farm inputs as part of poverty-reduction and the “fight against local insurgency”. In one article published on July 9, the DA in Northern Mindanao presented farm inputs assistance to the conflict-affected areas of Sitios Tumbaga, Tagbakan, Katablaran and Saluringan, all of barangay Canangaan in Cabanglasan town in Bukidnon province.The assistance included 100 bags of hybrid corn seeds worth P500,000 which could be planted on 50 hectares of land. In another news item published July 14, “agri interventions” and commitments worth PHP1.9 million (US$38,600) were delivered. The efforts were following up on resident Rodrigo Roa Duterte's Executive Order No. 70 (EO), “instituting the whole-of-nation approach to end local communist armed conflict.”. Among the intervention and commitments include the distribution of hybrid corn seeds; lowland and inbred rice seeds; garden tools; and organic fertilizer worth P425,700 as well as commitment to Sultan Amoran amounting to P573,000 worth of livestock animals, poultry and duck, upland rice seeds, cacao, coffee and fruit tree seedlings. Commitment was also given to the 403rd Infantry “Peacemaker” Brigade, amounting to P649,840 worth of livestock animal,, inorganic fertilizer, cracked corn and open pollinated variety corn seeds. News here.
Rice Resilience through seed, fertilizer aid
Efforts by the Department of Agriculture (DA) look to boost rice production in Western Visayas by 10 percent from ilast year. Under the Rice Resiliency Project (RRP) and under the umbrella of the “Plant Plant Plant” campaign, the DA has allocated PHP1.06 billion ($21.5 million) in assistance for rice farmers in Western Visayas under the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act. Three sub-projects of the RRP were implemented in the region, including the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), the Expanded Inbred Rice Production, and the Expanded Hybrid Rice Production in Suitable Areas, which are planned to benefit 210,000 local rice farmers. According to the news, the regional office of the department procured hybrid and inbred varieties suitable for the wet season and approved by the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) while the central office handled the procurement of fertilizers. More figures and details here and here on the Philippines News Agency, as well as here on the DA’s website.
Food processing facility to turn food waste into value
Establishment of a new food processing facility in the La Trinidad municipality of Benguet province will offer a viable alternative to farmers dumping crops they could not sell at market. The facility, which was approved by the Dept of Agriculture, will cost PHP20 million ($399,433) according to the Food Navigator article on July 9, and will complement an existing Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center nearby where vegetables are traded and sold.
Syngenta launches TIWALA app to help Filipino farmers overcome hurdles
As reported by the Manila Bulletin here, Syngenta launched the TIWALA mobile application on June 5, 2020. The app serves as a digital platform that integrates product information, e-commerce functions, client rewards program, and an agronomy program, providing farmers quick and easy access to information. Specifically, the TIWALA app integrates has four core features.e-commerce function; a loyalty rewards system; Pest Map and the Syngenta Crop Program.
Quezon City distributes free veg seeds for ‘Joy of Urban Farming’ program
The Quezon city government in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture (DA) will distribute vegetable seeds to residents as part of a 'Joy of Urban Farming program’ . The free seeds will be included in about 6,000 starter kits, which include a variety of vegetables such as eggplant, okra, tomato, pechay, mustard, ampaya and spinach, in addition to organic fertilizer, potting bags, and a starter manual with growing guidelines, reports Phil Star. In related news, the Quezon City program is being embraced as an “urban agri revolution” by some 2,000 participating members of the Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG) Advisory Council, according to this news in Tagalog.
Veg, rice production bolstered in Maguindanao
The Governor of the province of Maguindanao is urging Local Government Units to encourage farmers to grow more vegetables. The news, reported by RMN Philippines, comes amidst “uncertainty as to whether normalcy will be restored due to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic.” Accordingly, vegetable seedlings have been prepared and distributed, while there is also a push to bolster rice production this coming season.
Drought-afflicted corn farmers in Isabela to get duck reinforcement
Some 40 farmers in Iligan City, of Isabela province will be given ducks to raise as part of crisis mitigation efforts led by the Dept of Agriculture. According to an article by Journal Online Philippines, the farmers’ crop had been greatly affected by a drought, and not to mention, ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The article goes on to note that despite the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), which has restricted movement and thus restrained economic activities in Luzon, the Cagayan Valley -- which includes several provinces in northeast Luzon -- is still 384% sufficient in rice and 86% sufficient in white corn.
PSIA advocates for unhindered seed movements, avoiding food shortages
The Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA) in April has advocated for cooperation from Local Government Units (LGUs) to ensure the unhindered transport of agriculture commodities in response to reports of difficulties in transporting agricultural goods domestically. Specifically, agriculture supplies, cargo and personnel had reportedly been blocked by some Local Government Units (LGU) at checkpoints in Ilocos Norte and parts of the Davao region, reported by Business World. As also covered by Business Inquirer, Business World and the Malaya Business Insight, PSIA president Mary Ann Sayoc has warned of food shortages should the movement of seeds and farm inputs and personnel continue to be hindered, noting that some of the association’s member-companies had also reported difficulties in transporting agriculture commodities and in moving necessary farm manpower domestically, despite the government declaring that food, seeds and farm inputs were exempted from movement restrictions. “To ensure that food production will continue, all seed production, processing and distribution activities should be exempted from any ban,” she said. Also covering the story, the Manila Standard quoted Agriculture Secretary, William Dar in a statement saying that the “unhampered movement of food supplies should be one priority in this war against COVID-19, else, all our efforts will be in vain if we have nothing to feed our people.” Mary Ann was also interviewed by ANC/24 on this topic here.
In related news, the PSIA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Agriculture and four cities in Metro Manila for the implementation and promotion of urban agriculture programs in which PSIA will set up community vegetable gardens and conduct hands-on training for residents.
Farmers in Luzon struggling from lockdown
Al Jazeera video news reports on some of the dire challenges farmers and other residents are facing in Luzon, particularly in the landlocked province of Neava Ecija, which include the closure of warehouses, reduced access to markets, rotting produce and mounting debts. Video report here
Bulacan farmers find buyers of produce on Facebook marketplace
Rappler reports on the trend of farmers reaching customers via online channels amidst covid-19 movement restrictions. According to report, a farmers group based in Bulacan had sold nearly 4 tons of vegetables to online customers, who were mostly based in Quezon City. The online farmers market was launched on Facebook on March 21. The farmers bring their crops to pick up points in Quezon City once a week; seasonal vegetables and fruits on sale include eggplant, string beans, bittergourd, sweet potato, cassava, banana heart, snow cabbage, and saba or sweet plantain among others. More details and link to market page here.
Palay, maize production trend estimates in Q1
Output of palay, or unhusked rice, and maize is expected to have declined in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same period last year, according to preliminary estimates from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). In a report published to their website (download here) palay production in Q1 is expected to have fallen to 4.25 million tonnes, from 4.42 million tonnes in Q1, 2019; and maize to 2.4 million tonnes from 2.43 million tonnes in Q1, last year. Planting for the two staple crops at the time of the report had only been realized on about 65% of farmers’ intensions.
Banana exports expected to plunge by 40%
Exports of bananas from the Philippines -- the largest exporter in Asia, and second largest exporter in the world behind only Equador -- are anticipated to drop by 40% this year down to 2.5 million tonnes, from 4 million tonnes last year. Citing projections from the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, an article from Bloomberg notes the drop is due to “lockdowns and social distancing measures” which “curb output and transport”
Farmers, agri-food workers exempt from quarantine in Manila, Luzon
To ensure the continued flow of food and essential farm goods during the"enhanced community quarantine,"lockdown declared for Manila and all of Luzon since mid March, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for COVID-19 on Mar 24 released Resolution 15. The resolution, which mandates stringent measures to fight COVID-19 pandemic, effectively approves seven recommendations from the Department of Agriculture, subject to implementation of a “skeletal workforce and social distancing measures”. The approved recommendations are:
‘Food Lanes’ to facilitate movement during quarantine
To facilitate the flow of agri-goods to major demand centers throughout a Manila and Luzon -- currently under lockdown through to April -- the DA has initiated a “Food Lane” service, which accredits truck owners transporting perishable agri-fishery products throughout quarantined areas, where checkpoints have been set up throughout. The accreditation process involves an application, now possible to be done online, orientation, inspection of documents and vehicle, and paying fee. Click here for more documents, manuals on the service .
Funds to boost agricultural resilience, productivity
The Department of Agriculture announced plans to secure P32 billion as a supplemental fund to expedite the implementation of food security measures. Under the working program title “Ahon Lahat, Pagkain Sapat Kontra sa COVID-19” or ALPAS COVID-19, the measures will be in addition to the department’s existing programs to support and enhance agr food self-sufficiency. The supplemental budget will be used to immediately mobilize support to farmers and other players in the food value chain. The program focuses on the cultivation of rice, corn, vegetables, fruits and fisheries, and covers the procurement and supplementation of key inputs, including seeds, fertilizers, machinery, and irrigation means. Click here for budget breakdown specifics.
Philippines DA assures enough food for 9 months
The Department of Agriculture) has assured those in quarantined areas that there will be enough food to go around for several months; the food will continue to be available at public markets and through outlets of the DA-initiated “KADIWA ni Ani at Kita” program, according to the DA. “We call on the general public to buy only their daily or weekly food requirements and refrain from overstocking or panic buying,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar. “We at the Department of Agriculture will ensure the sufficient and continuous supply of basic necessities and perishable commodities, and make these available in public markets, and Kadiwa stores for the benefit of all family households, particularly in depressed communities. For our basic staple, rice, the current inventory at various NFA warehouses nationwide is good for at least 80 days, and it will be further augmented by the incoming palay harvest this current dry season, providing additional stocks for another two to three months. Together with the rice stocks held by the private sector and households, we will have a 35-week rice supply, which means this is good for at least nine months. Other than rice, other basic food items include pork, chicken, eggs, other poultry products, fish, vegetables, fruits, sugar, cooking oil, and other coconut by-products.
Urban gardening to boost domestic food supply
The Agriculture Secretary William Dar has instructed the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to improve collaboration with local government units (LGU) for promoting urban agriculture, “especially in schools, barangays, government offices and even corporate buildings with rooftops… so that when there is tightening of food supply from the provinces, there will be enough in urban areas as well,” reports the Business Inquirer.
PSIA Hosts Study Tour to Chinese Taipei
The Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA) recently hosted a Study Tour to Chinese Taipei (Taiwan, China) for its member companies. The study tour aimed to familiarize the participants with the island’s agriculture industry and learn best practices, since Chinese Taipei and the Philippines share similar agro-ecological conditions.
Chinese Taipei’s seed and agriculture industries are among the most advanced in the world. The tour is in line with PSIA’s goal to build the capacity of its members and establish linkages with seed industry associations in our neighboring countries, said Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc, President of PSIA and East-West Seed’s Group Lead for Public Affairs.
The study tour, which ran from November 10 to 15, 2019, included visits to government and private seed research stations, and meetings with seed and farmer associations in three cities: Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Taipei. PSIA hosted 30 delegates from 13 member companies during the tour.
“We hope our delegates will learn technologies and best practices that can be adopted in the Philippines. This is also a good opportunity to strengthen the camaraderie and cooperation among our members,” added Dr. Sayoc.
Among the sites visited by the delegates are the Fengshan Tropical Experiment Station, Known-You Seed Headquarters and Research Farm, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, and the Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station, where the delegates learned about various seed technologies and innovations.
One of the possible areas of cooperation identified with Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station is the training program on seed technology for PSIA members.
The delegates also learned about partnerships in the seed industry in their meetings with the Taiwan Seed Industry Association and Taichung Young Farmers’ Association.
The delegation also had the chance to enjoy the Sea of Flowers Festival in Xinshe, Taichung, where they saw several hectares of land filled with over 250,000 varieties of plants such as cosmos, marigold, petunia, and zinnia. The annual festival is the fruit of the collaboration among the Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station of Council of Agriculture, Taichung City Government, and local farmers’ cooperatives.
During the tour, the delegates also learned about the local rich culture by trying out different variations of Taiwanese cuisine and by visiting popular tourist sites such as Taipei 101, Jiufen Old Street, and night markets in Liuhe and Keelung.
Delegates came from the following member companies of PSIA: Pioneer/Corteva, Known-You, Harbest Agribusiness, Keystone, Haverson Enterprises, Allied Botanical Corporation, Institute of Plant Breeding - University of the Philippines Los Banos, Jadeco Trading, East-West Seed, AJI Trading, Pilipinas Kaneko, Ramgo International Corp, Seedworks Phil. Inc., SL Agritech, Monsanto Philippines, Greenworld, Right Agri.
More brief updates from PSIA
PSIA recently held a two-day strategic planning workshop to craft the strategy for the coming five years. Moreover, the revised Seed Act, which PSIA has been consulted on, has been submitted in the lower house for deliberation. Moreover, guidelines for regulation of gene-edited products are being reviewed by the National Council for Biotechnology, Department of Science and Technology.
DECEMBER 2019 & JANUARY 2020
Golden Rice gets green light for food, feed & processing
The Philippines has now joined a handful of countries in giving a green light for directly utilizing Golden Rice, a genetically-engineered variety of the staple grain which contains beta-carotene, a source of vitamin A. Following a biosafety assessment process that began in 2017 and culminated with successful field trials in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija and San Mateo, Isabela in September and October 2019, the Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry in December stated that golden rice “has been found to be as safe as conventional rice" . The resulting biosafety permit, addressed to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) essentially paves the way for golden rice to be directly used as food and feed, or for processing (FFP), and thus address a looming Vitamin A deficiency in the Southeast Asian country. Commercial propagation of golden rice is still pending final approval.
Seed Technology Park plans revealed at National Seed Summit
Addressing the inauguration of the 2019 National Seed Summit and Exhibits at the Agricultural Institute (ATI) in Diliman, Quezon City on December 2, 2019, the Philippines Agriculture Secretary William Dar revealed tentative plans for the Department of Agriculture (DA) to support the development of a National Seed Technology Park. The park, which is inspired by the Andhra Pradesh State Mega Seed Park in India, would be developed on a 50-hectare-plot of land at an undisclosed location, and would be developed in cooperation with the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), National Seed Industry Council (NSIC), and the Philippine Seed Industry Association, Inc. In his keynote address, Dr. Dar stressed that access to high-quality and certified seeds is essential to increasing agricultural productivity. This year’s summit was themed, “Binhing de Kalidad at Sagana, Para sa Mataas na Ani at Kita,” which roughly translates to “Quality seeds and abundance for bountiful harvest and returns (profit)” Attending the National Seed Summit was APSA Executive Director Dr. Kanokwan who presented on international phytosanitary and quality assurance trends, including the Global Systems Approach.
Millions in agriculture damage from Taal Volcano eruption
According to an initial damage assessment report by the Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) on January 14, the eruption of the Taal Volcano had caused no less than 577.59 million Pesos in agricultural damage (US$11.33 million). The volcano, located on Luzon island in the province of Batangas, which began spewing ash many miles into the air starting on January 12. However, the final damage assessment may very well turn out to be a lot higher, as the volcano was still erupting many days after the assessment was made. According to the DA report, crops initially damaged by falling ash spanned an area of some 2,772 hectares, while an estimated 1,967 animal heads were also affected. Affected commodities included rice, corn, coffee, cacao, banana, as well as high-value crops. In the wake of the natural disaster, officials had been providing relief for farmers and residents in various forms. The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), for example, had reportedly distributed 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings are ready for distribution for damaged coffee and cacao areas. Video reports show how horticulture crops were damaged by the ash.
Dept of Agriculture targets millennials for agri-business trade
The Manila Bulletin reports on three programs the Philippines government is implementing to entice young agri-entrepreneurs to get into or expand in the agri-business industry. These include grants of up to 500,000 pesos ($9,789) per start-up, as well as zero-interest loans of up to 500,000 pesos for start-ups, and even more for those already involved in micro and small entrepreneurship farming, According to DA Secretary William Dar, primary criteria includes good ideas, a business plan and passion.