Philippines Seed Industry News

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.


Q3 News

Better yields of white and yellow maize in Guimaras: August 30: Corn production in the island province of Guimaras  during the first quarter of 2021 increased by 32.3% year on year. Data from the quarterly Corn Production Survey (CPS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed that a total of 131 metric tons (MT) was harvested in the first three months of 2021. This is compared to the 99 MT harvested in Q1 2020. The increase was credited to higher yields of both the white and yellow varieties of corn, which included 67 MT of the former, and 64 MT of the latter. Original story here

Ag growth target revised as palay production on track for doubling: Aug 11:  Target growth of the agricultural sector has been revised by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to be 2%, half a percentage point lower than the previously set target. Quoted during the virtual forum of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP), Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the adjustment was made due to affects from Covid-19 and African swine fever (ASF). According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Philippine agriculture contracted in the second quarter of 2021 by a tenth of a percentage point., signalling recovery.  Dar expressed his hope that the rice crop would double this year. Palay production during the first half of the year reached a record 8.8 million metric tons (MT), 4.9 % higher than the same period in 2020. The crops sub-sector represented 56% of total agriculture output for the second quarter (Q2) of the year, with palay and corn growing by 1.2% and 6.3%,, respectively. Original news here

Philippines Covid-19 restrictions: 25 July: Concerns over a reversal of the previous downward trend in daily Covid-19 cases, and to contain the spread of the Delta variant, have led to an escalation of quarantine levels across the country from 23rd to 31st July. The National Capital Region (NCR), or Metropolitan Manila Area, has been placed under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with 'heightened restrictions'. The same also applies to the four provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro. As part of the restrictions, workplaces and public spaces may remain open while mass gatherings, entertainment venues, bars, amusement parks, gyms and indoor contact sports are prohibited. Indoor restaurants can operate at 20% capacity and outdoor restaurants at 50% capacity. Children between 5 to 17 years old are prohibited from public areas except for playgrounds and public parks. Additionally, a longer curfew from 10 pm to 4 am, instead of 12 am to 4 pm, will be enforced in Metro Manila from 25th to 31st July. Iloilo City, Iloilo Province as well as Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog have been placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most restrictive level of quarantine. Residents are required to stay home except for emergencies or to obtain essential supplies. Exemptions are made for workers in essential industries. Many areas remain under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second-highest level of quarantine. These include Batac City, areas of Ilocos Norte, Bataan, Butuan City, Davao Occidental, and Davao de Sur, where tourism and entertainment venues are prohibited, and non-essential businesses can operate at 50% capacity. To reduce the economic impact of the restrictions, which have already caused widespread disruption to the economy in lost incomes and a rise in unemployment, the Philipines government is utilising a strategy of granular lockdowns, with varying severity depending on the situation in each area. The government is also promoting the use of more outdoor spaces for business activities, including temporary outdoor markets and outdoor dining areas, and also the creation of urban green spaces and outdoor recreational areas.

Rice, corn and other cash crops suffer typhoon wrath: July 24: Based on data from July 24 from the Department of Agriculture (DA), Typhoon Fabian has caused no less than ₱12.38 million in damages, impacting the livelihoods of some 885 farmers in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Western Visayas. Damage assessments confirmed  losses for 893 hectares of rice crop, including in Bataan and Zambales. Corn crops and swine were ost in Quezon Province, while loss of  so called high value crops (HVC) were reported in Cavite, Laguna and Bataan. To assist farmers, a total of 104,471 bags of rice seeds, 11,390 bags of corn seeds, and 1,949 kilograms of assorted vegetables were being prepared for distribution. News here. It is understood that the typhoon had affected farmers and residents from July 22-24, across the Ilocos Region,  Abra,  Benguet,  Zambales,  Bataan,  Occidental Mindoro and the  northern portion of Palawan (including Calamian Islands), before moving on towards Japan and China.

Golden Rice gets biosafety approval for commercial propagation: July 23: The Philippines became the first country in the world where biosafety approval has been given for the commercial production of “Golden Rice”, a genetically-engineered cultivar of rice biofortified with beta-carotene. The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) issued a biosafety permit on July 21, stipulating that the transgenic Golden Rice event or GR2E, has “undergone satisfactory biosafety assessment pursuant to Department of Science and Technology, DA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, and Department of Interior and Local Government Joint Department Circular No.1, Series of 2016”. DA-PhilRice executive director  Dr. John C. de Leon said in a news release that “apart from meeting the rigorous standards of biosafety regulation, Golden Rice development follows the standard process of rice breeding, which usually takes 10-12 years before a variety reaches the consumers.”

With this permit, De Leon said that Golden Rice can now be planted for commercial production as per the terms and conditions specified by the DA- Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), which will also be subject to varietal registration protocol through the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC). This biosafety approval represents the first such of authorization for commercial propagation of a genetically engineered rice in South and Southeast Asia, and, according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)  -- who partnered with DA-PhilRice on the R&D of GR2E -- has already received food safety approvals from regulators in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States of America. It is also undergoing final regulatory review in Bangladesh.  IRRI and DA-PhilRice developed the GR2E to contain additional levels of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. According to IRRI, about one in five children from the poorest communities in the Philippines suffer from vitamin A deficiency, which affects an estimated 190 million children worldwide. “We are committed to ensuring the highest quality of seed for farmers and a safe and nutritious food supply for all Filipinos,” said Dr. John de Leon, Executive Director of DA-PhilRice. “A comprehensive quality assurance and stewardship program for Golden Rice will be set in place, covering the entire value chain from seed production, to post-harvest processing, to marketing.”

Bt Eggplant approved for direct use as food, feed or processing: July 23: The Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) has approved Bt eggplant for direct use as food, feed, or for processing (FFP). The approval follows a rigorous biosafety assessment process, which concluded it was as safe as conventional eggplant. The biosafety permit has been sent to the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). According to an announcement by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Bt eggplant contains a natural protein from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which makes it resistant to eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB). The Philippines joins Bangladesh as the only two countries that have certified the safety of Bt eggplant for FFP purposes. Read full details from ISAAA here. Dr. Lourdes D. Taylo, study leader of the UPLB’s Bt eggplant project clarified that  commercial propagation approval is still required to complete the biosafety regulatory process, and thus made available to the public. “Ex-ante impact assessments of Bt eggplant adoption revealed that the commercialization of Bt eggplant will increase marketable yield by 192 percent and reduce pesticide application per hectare by 48 percent. When it is approved for commercial release, both the seeds of Bt eggplant open-pollinated and hybrid varieties will be made available to Filipino farmers,” she was quoted as saying in an article by the Philippines news agency.

Iowa State reinforces ag biotech, seed systems in PHI: July 21: Iowa State University’s Seed Science Center (ISU-SSC) will roll out a training program this year to develop seed systems and spur agricultural biotechnology applications in the Philippines.
Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), the training program is aimed at enhancing the capacity of Filipino scientists, policymakers, senior technical officers, and middle-level managers of national seed and biotech authorities. Participants are expected to spearhead the incorporation of biotech and innovative breeding techniques into seed sector improvement initiatives, such as ensuring the availability of high-quality seeds to small-scale producers. The training program also will serve as a venue for the two countries to share ways by which plant and animal biotech can advance food security, and identify trade policies that ensure farmers’ access to biotech innovations and improved seeds.

    “Our training effort will provide more impetus for the Philippines to cement its status as a regional biotechnology leader, having been the first Asian country to allow the planting of a genetically engineered crop (Bt corn) in 2003. It is now moving forward on a regulatory framework for GE animals and other products of innovative biotechnologies,” said Manjit Misra, SSC Director. The Philippines demonstrated such regional leadership when it became the first in Asia to co-sponsor the International Statement on Agricultural Applications of Precision Biotechnology at the World Trade Organization in 2020. It is also the first country to approve the commercial production of genetically modified golden rice. This summer, the Philippines approved Bt eggplant for use as food, feed, and for processing. “We would like the country to maintain its momentum,” Misra added.

    Misra notes the urgent need for trained executives who will drive seed policy development and reforms in biotechnology research and development in Southeast Asia. “We also need scientists and researchers with a strong grasp of the role of biotechnology innovations in advancing seed production and trade. Prioritizing such a need recognizes that any effort to stave off food insecurity and malnutrition, two grand challenges of our time, begins with quality seeds,” Misra explained.  

    The Center will coordinate a pool of researchers and scientists at Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as well as external experts on the science and policy applied to plant and animal biotech innovations—from development to commercialization—and seed systems development. Efforts to formulate a curriculum for the training program began this Spring for the launching of the training’s online component in October 2021. The program’s in-person training aspect, to be conducted on the ISU campus in Ames, Iowa, is scheduled in 2022.  

    “Our trainees’ increased capacities to manage and conduct research and development initiatives, as well as drive and implement critical policy reforms, will consequently foster conditions that buttress food security in the Philippines and Southeast Asia,” said Lulu Rodriguez, SSC Global Programs Leader. “These include a vibrant seed sector able to produce quality seeds and make them available to small-scale farmers, biotech products to feed and nourish growing populations while sustaining the environment, and enhanced trade capacity.”

    “The SSC has an extensive history of global engagement and experience in this type of collaborative work,” Rodriguez said. “We have footprint in more than 80 countries over the past 20 years, helping to expand producers’ access to quality seed, facilitate seed trade, and promote the growth of national seed industries.”

PSIA members partae in launch of National Seed Technology Park: July 9: 

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) on Friday, July 9, kicked off the development of the Philippines’ first National Seed Technology Park (NSTP) at New Clark City (NCC) in Capas, Tarlac.

Attending the launch on behalf of the Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA) were its President Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc, and Executive Director Dr, Gabriel Romero, in addition to representatives from East-West Seed, Corteva,  Known-You, Ramgo, Harbest, Pilipinas Kaneko, KSHC, and DA-PhilRice.

During the launch, the PSIA company reps donated and distributed seeds, seedlings, other farm inputs, and knowledge products .

The event, which also marked the launch of the DA-led Seeds for the Future campaign, was highlighted by the planting of about 500 indigenous and endemic trees onsite to ensure that the biodiversity and sustainability principles of NCC are met. 3. 

Agriculture Secretary William Dar led the activity including the unveiling of the project billboard and the ceremonial distribution of seeds to Central Luzon farmers, who stand to benefit from the NTSP. Dar was joined at the launch by BCDA Senior Vice President Arrey Perez and Agriculture Undersecretary Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero.

“When I took over as the Secretary of Agriculture, we had to thoroughly examine how the Philippines can transform agriculture from a sleeping giant to something that will be considered as a big contributor to the economy. That’s when the vision for NSTP was born. BCDA is one important partner that is making us realize this agriculture industrialization.” said Dar. 

Click here for full story


Q2 News

DA to continue to support crop pest, disease management R&D: May 17: During the Philippines Los Baños’ National Crop Protection Center (UPLB-NCPC) 45th founding anniversary on May 17, Agriculture Secretary William Dar emphasized the importance of crop pests and diseases management, and commitment of the Department of Agriculture to continue to support research for development efforts to effectively control and manage transboundary crop pests and diseases that adversely impact Philippine agriculture. Original story here

Pres Duterte cuts tariff quota: May 16: Facing an uncertain domestic supply, mounting inflation, and rising global rice prices, President Duterte issued an executive order cutting the tariff of imported rice to maintain food security in the SE Asian country. The move by Duterte saw Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff rates reduced from 40% to 35% for in-quota purchases and 50% out-quota volume for 12 months. The Philippines is one of the world's biggest importers of rice and was expected to import 1.7 million tonnes in total this year, with 90% coming from Vietnam. Domestic rice output is targeted at 20.5 million tonnes in 2021, a projected increase from 19.3 million tonnes in 2020. The country is prone to tropical storms with more than 20 typhoons hitting the island nation each year, devastating crops such as rice and corn. Original story here

May 14: SURIGAO CITY, Surigao del Norte, May 14 (PIA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) - Caraga has established a number of farming villages in Barangay Jubgan as model communities under the Adaptation and Mitigation Initiatives in Agriculture (AMIA) scheme, in hopes of inspiring other communities. Technological and institutional innovations are being introduced in the model villages, where various inputs, including vegetable and rice seeds, fertilizers and animal feed have also been distributed. See original news here

Realizing the full potential of Cagayan Valley: May 11: Various crops have been pitched as potential valuable sources of income for Cagayan Valley farmers and traders looking to tap into East Asian markets; so was the focus of discussions hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC), in which the merits of Bananas, pineapples, mung beans, purple yam and citrus were considered by some 250 participants via Zoom and Facebook Live. Covered here, and here

Agricultural output up despite livestock drop thanks to increased crop production: May 10:  Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on May 10 shows that agricultural output decreased by 3.3% in Q1 of 2021, compared to a 1.7% decrease in Q1 2020. The lower production was largely due to the impact of African Swine Fever (ASF), which has badly affected poultry and livestock in the nation. Livestock production, which accounts for 14.2% of the total agricultural output, contracted by 23.2%, with hogs decreasing by 25.8%, cattle by 10.2% and poultry by 7.4%. The PSA report showed that agricultural production decreased in all sub-sectors except crops and fisheries, which helped to increase the value of the nation's agricultural output by 8.2% YOY. Crop production grew by 3.3% and made up 58.8% of total agricultural output. Fisheries, which makes up 13.7% of agricultural output, recorded a growth of 0.6%. The Depart of Agriculture is targeting a production growth of 2.5% in 2021.  Original story here and here 

Syngenta drone chemicals approved for drone-powered pest control, surveillance: May 6: Syngenta’s Alika 247 ZC and Match 050 EC crop protection products have been given conditional registration green light from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority. The Alika 247 ZC is an insecticide formula for paddy pests and Match 050 EC targets the fall armyworm. Both products have been developed for application by drone. Syngenta drones can also be used for crop monitoring, area mapping  and image capture of crops to “determine the plants’ status and health, which may not be readily apparent on the ground.” See news here.

Isabella inbred rice seed training: May 3: The Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI)  in Isabela Province is carrying out an intensive 12-training course for selected farm school facilitators and lecturers between April 26 and May 7. The training will focus on the PalayCheck System for transplanted irrigated lowland rice farming as well as farm mechanization. The course is part of the government's Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund - Rice Extension Service Program (RCEF-RESP). Course attendees will carry out agro-ecosystem analysis, seedbed preparation, minus-one element techniques, farm machines operation, and seed quality testing. Training will also be provided on social technologies such as extension delivery, communication and presentation skills, and training management. Original story here 

High yielding public rice hybrid: May 3: Running from September 2019 to March 2020 in the Province of Tarlac, the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Seed Program has been declared a success by the Tarlac provincial government. The program has helped provide better access to certified seeds and increase yields for rice farmers in the province from 5.2 tons per hectare in 2019 to 5.48 tons per hectare in 2020. A total of 196,290 bags of certified inbred seeds were distributed over three seasons. Tarlac was also a testbed for the Binhi e-Padala initiative for digitally tracking seed distribution. Original story here 

High yielding public rice hybrid: May 2: Despite initial reluctance by farmers in Buenavista, Quezon Province, in adopting M20 hybrid rice, the variety has is now producing excellent results. Provided by the DA-Regional Field Office in 2018, the hybrid variety is producing yields as high as 8.3 tons per hectare compared to yields of 2.5-3 tons per hectare typically achieved in the area. M20 rice is gaining popularity among local farmers for producing a good yield, resistance to pests, diseases, and droughts, as well as having good grain quality. Farmers also prefer M20 rice due to its lower price compared to other hybrid rice varieties. However, since the seeds are imported from Mindanao, Buenavista Municipality has begun producing its own seeds of the hybrid rice variety. M2O rice is promoted by the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute as part of its Hybrid Rice Program. Original story here 

Senator renews call for backyard gardens: April 29: Sen. Cynthia Villar renewed has once again appealed for locals to grow food in their backyards, community gardens and/or vacant land plots, which she has advocated as “a more sustainable and cost-effective way of providing daily supply of food or substance to community members”. The senator, who presided over the 2018 Asian Seed Congress in Manila, has advocated for the distribution vegetable seeds and organic fertilizers. See news here. The news follows a report on April 26, highlighting how the Senator gave praise to the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which has helped rice farmers compete with the increased entry of cheaper rice imports related to the the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL). See more details here

PSIA President, past APSA president knighted by Dutch government: April 26: The Philippine Seed Industry Association’s, Dr. Marry Ann Sayoc, has been knighted by the Dutch government in the Order of Orange-Nassa.   Her Excellency Saskia de Lang,  the ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in The Philippines bestowed the honor in recognition of Dr. Sayoc’s work in agriculture and dedication to promoting Dutch-Filipino relations, and for her efforts in transforming Philippine agriculture and boosting farmers' productivity. Thanks to her tireless efforts, the Philippines and the Netherlands have "developed strong ties in the agri-food sector in the areas of trade, investments, agricultural technology, and knowledge transfer." "It has pleased His Majesty King Willem Alexander to award a Knighthood on a leading personality of the Dutch Filipino community," a press release read. Dr. Mary Ann is a past president and currently active committee member of APSA.  More details here

DA lauds ABC, other companies for the Gulayan sa Syudad project success: April 14: The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary, William Dar has commended Allied Botanical Corporation and other company members of the Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA) for their efforts to showcase technology and promote urban agriculture. A new project,  Gulayan sa Syudad (Garden in the City) was launched on 12 March at the Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, with a ribbon ceremony presided over by Secretary Dar. The project, which is implemented under a tripartite agreement between the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), PSIA, and National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), emphasizes the role of urban agriculture in alleviating poverty and addressing food supply insufficiency and promoting environment-friendly and innovative methods in farming. As the project also aims to underscore the significance of urban gardening amid a global pandemic, Dar said that the effort to produce food is as important as the fight against Covid-19. See article on PSIA website here.


 

Q1 News

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.

2020 News

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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.

 

August 2020

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.

 

May 2020

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.

 

April 2020

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”

 

March 2020

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: 

  1. Allow all farming and fishing activities to continue;
  2. Exempt all healthy farmers and farm workers, fishers, and agri-business personnel;
  3. Allow agricultural supply stores /outlets and veterinary clinics to operate
  4. Reiterate unhampered movement of all supplies used for agriculture, including food packaging and manufacturing materials
  5. Reactivation of the Local Price Coordination Council (LPCC) to strengthen the price monitoring and enforcement (MC77)
  6. Upscaling KADIWA ni Ani at Kita in support for food availability, accessibility and price stability; and
  7. Support the DA program - Ahon Lahhat, Pagkain, Sapat (ALPAS kontra COVID-19

‘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

 

FEBRUARY 2020

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.