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Agriculture

East‐West Seed tops global seed index

East‐West Seed breeds tropical vegetable crops that are adapted to local markets and growing conditions.East‐West Seed ranks #1 in the Access to Seeds Index in 2 out of 3 published indices. The index measures and compares the efforts of the world’s leading seed companies to enhance the productivity of smallholder farmers. The said index was published by the Access to Seeds Index Foundation, an independent organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Dutch government. It aims to improve farmers’ access to a wider array of modern, more productive seed varieties by bridging the gap between seed companies and the smallholder farmer. Improving smallholder farmers’ access to quality seeds is a crucial first step to achieve the goal of feeding the world sustainably. Bill Gates​, speaking at a recent …

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Urban agri expo starts at TriNoma

The second Urban Agriculture Expo starts today and will run through tomorrow (Sunday, Feb. 28) at the Activity Center of TriNoma Mall in Quezon City. The event is under the auspices of Agriculture Magazine of the Manila Bulletin. It is open free to the public. The expo is in line with the advocacy of the publication to encourage people in the  urban areas to engage in food production not only for their own good health but also as a possible source of additional income. There are many practical and doable techniques in urban farming and gardening that ought to be disseminated to urban residents so that they can produce part of their food requirements. And these are showcased and discussed in lectures at the expo. One strong advocate of urban farming is Sen. …

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Jackfruit is big business in Vietnam

One crop that we can grow in the Philippines but which we are not growing in commercial scale is the jackfruit. No wonder, our supermarkets as well as fast food chains in the Philippines are sourcing their requirements from Vietnam. We visited Vietnam last week and we found out the reason why our local businessmen are buying their supplies of frozen jackfruit pulp from that country. The reason is that they can buy all that they need from just one source. In the Philippines, they simply cannot buy jackfruit pulp in bulk from one supplier. So it is more convenient for them to import. Somewhere in the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, we visited the biggest processor of jackfruit. This is MIT International which claims to have about 70 percent of …

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How a polluted reservoir was rehabilitated

A stagnant and heavily polluted water reservoir that was not fit for growing fish has been rehabilitated and can now be used for growing freshwater fish and other purposes. This is the one-hectare reservoir at the Quirino State University  (QSU) compound in Diffun, Quirino province which has been so heavily polluted that people would not like to eat the fish that might have survived there. The canal that feeds the reservoir passes through heavily populated villages, that’s why. Today, the canal that feeds the reservoir still passes through the same villages but appropriate filtration systems have been installed, thanks to the collaborative efforts of QSU and the National Inland Fisheries Enhancement Program (INFEP) of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources headed by Director Asis Perez. To rehabilitate the polluted reservoir, a team …

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Veggies that Pinoys should learn to eat

During field days conducted  by the seed companies, we often see vegetables that are growing very well under local conditions but which no Filipino that we know of are really eating. Just like the red Swiss chard, for instance. Recently, we saw some beautifully growing red Swiss chards among the vegetables under field trial at the Allied Botanical experimental farm in Tayug, Pangasinan. When we asked the fellow who was next to us what it was, she did not know it. Until Rowena Bienes explained that it is Swiss chard that contains a lot of health-giving nutrients. We searched it in the Internet, and we were impressed by what we read. Swiss chard boasts of at least 13 polyphenol antioxidants. And it also contains syringica acid which is claimed to control sugar …

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Calamansi Rehabilitation in Mindoro

A project has been launched to revitalize the calamansi industry in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro where production has declined in past years. The project is a collaboration of the local government of Victoria, the Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology, and SEARCA or Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture based in Los Baños. Under a memorandum of agreement signed by SEARCA director Dr. Gil Saguiguit Jr., Victoria Mayor Alfredo G. Ortega Jr. and MinSCAT president Dr. Jesse T. Zamora, the project aims to rehabilitate Victoria’s calamansi industry to make it economically viable and at the same time environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. According to Dr. Saguiguit, Mindoro is a major producer of calamansi in the country, yet it has been experiencing huge declines in production due to lack …

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DA official says GM crops vital to food self-sufficiency, security

A Department of Agriculture (DA) official on Wednesday highlighted the vital role that genetically modified (GM) seeds play in the country's self-sufficiency and food security even as the agency intensifies its efforts to finish a new set of implementing rules and regulations and guidelines that would govern the country’s use and importation of biotechnology in local farms as early as next week. A new set of biotech guidelines is needed after the Supreme Court (SC), in its December 8, 2015 ruling, permanently stopped the government's field testing of Bt talong (eggplant) and declared DA Administrative Order No. 8 null and void. It was under AO No. 8, which was promulgated in 2002, that the commercial propagation of Bt corn was authorized. Pending the approval of the new guidelines, the SC temporarily stopped the …

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Know about sunflowers for gardens

There’s an emerging trend for sunflowers in the Philippines. As a money-making opportunity, sunflower varieties are targeted for home gardens. It is unlike in foreign countries where the crop is grown commercially in wide areas for the production of seeds for human consumption and for bird seed. Sunflower oil is also extracted from the seeds. The trend in the Philippines works fine. That’s because even the micro-entrepreneurs can participate in the business. And that is helping achieve what the politicians are mouthing as “inclusive economic growth.” Of course, corporate operators can also grow the garden sunflowers for the bigger markets. Four varieties are becoming the favorites of growers of garden sunflowers for three purposes. One is for landscaping not only in the home but also in resorts, commercial building premises, golf courses …

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Employees in China car dealer receive live pigs as bonus

With the new year around corner, many employees have received goods from their bosses for Chinese New Year. But have you ever heard that anyone got a live pig as the new year bonus? On the evening of Jan. 31, a truck loaded with 60 pigs left from a livestock farm in Quzhou to Lishui, eastern China’s Zhejiang province. These pigs are to be handed out to the employees of a car dealership as Spring Festival goods. Although this scarcely happened before, it does increase the New Year’s atmosphere. There are 50 employees in the company and every one of them can get a pig, weighing between 75 kg and 85 kg. The pigs cost the boss around 180,000 yuan. The boss surnamed Li was born in 1986. He said they can choose a …

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Flowers can be profitable to produce

After visiting the Hortikultura garden show at the Quezon Memorial Circle two days ago, and seeing the many sellers of horticultural products, we are convinced all the more that the flower and ornamental plant business is providing an honest livelihood to many small growers. Of course, there are also a few big corporate operators who are also making money from the industry. As they say, when people become more prosperous, they are more or less secure in their food requirements. So they can afford to buy some luxuries like flowers and ornamental plants. The big seed companies are now offering more and more varieties in their stocks of flowering plants. This means that they recognize the money-making potential from the supply of seeds and other propagation materials. Allied Botanical Corporation, for instance, is …

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