Bohol receives Php209M worth of machines under RCEF

On June 4, 2021,  68 qualified farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) received Php209M worth of various farm machinery under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Mechanization Program during the turn-over ceremony held at the New Capitol, Tagbilaran, Bohol.

Around 9,000 Boholano farmers will benefit from these machinery grants and expected to boost the mechanization of the island province.

The turn-over ceremony was graced by the DA Secretary Dr. William D. Dar, Senator Cynthia A.Villar (via video message), former DA Secretary and incumbent Governor of Bohol, Hon. Arthur C. Yap, Vice Governor Rene L. Relampagos, Director Salvador D. Diputado and PHilMech Director Dr. Baldwin G. Jallorina. Different municipal mayors were also present.

In his speech, Dr. Jallorina honored the bravery and resilience of the Boholano farmers and emphasized the benefit of the Rice Tariffication Law through the provision of machinery grants to FCAs.

“This RCEF Mechanization Program and its farm machines are free and made possible through the passing of the RA 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law authored by our dear Senator Cynthia A. Villar. Let us thank our dear senator for all her efforts for the Filipino farmers,” Jallorina said.

Dr. Jallorina also shared his hopes that these machines will help curb postharvest losses, lessen the production cost and increase the profit of the farmers. He challenged the farmers to take care of the machines and share to all farmers so they can also encourage the next generation to farming.

“𝘕𝘢𝘸𝘢 𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘢𝘯 𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘺𝘰 𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘵𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘶𝘸𝘢𝘨 𝘪𝘱𝘢𝘨𝘥𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘵 𝘴𝘢 𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘨𝘢 𝘬𝘢𝘱𝘸𝘢 𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘴𝘢𝘴𝘢𝘬𝘢 𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘨𝘢 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘳𝘺𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘵𝘰 𝘶𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘬𝘢𝘥𝘢 𝘵𝘢𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘢𝘣𝘢𝘺-𝘴𝘢𝘣𝘢𝘺 𝘢𝘵 𝘶𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘰 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘨𝘢 𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘬 𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘶𝘴𝘶𝘯𝘰𝘥 𝘯𝘢 𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘴𝘺𝘰𝘯 𝘴𝘢 𝘢𝘨𝘳𝘪𝘬𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘢,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr. William D. Dar, in his speech, assures the Boholano farmers that all the government support planned to be distributed this year will reach the farmers to further unleash the potentials of the agriculture sector in the province.

“𝘔𝘢𝘨𝘢��𝘥𝘢 𝘢𝘵 𝘮𝘢𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘨𝘢 𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘨𝘢 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘯𝘨 𝘉𝘰𝘩𝘰𝘭 𝘶𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘢-𝘶𝘯𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘱𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘨𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘭 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳. 𝘒𝘢𝘺𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘢𝘯 𝘯𝘢𝘸𝘢 𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘨𝘢 𝘪𝘱𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘨𝘢𝘺 𝘯𝘢 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘳𝘺𝘢 𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘺𝘰𝘯. 𝘐𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘺 𝘮𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘨𝘥𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘯 𝘱𝘢 𝘣𝘢𝘨𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘢𝘱𝘰𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘢𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘶𝘩𝘪𝘯 𝘬𝘰 𝘯𝘢 𝘭𝘢𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘺𝘶𝘥𝘢 𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘨𝘢 𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘴𝘢𝘴𝘢𝘬𝘢 𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘢𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘺 𝘪𝘯𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘨𝘢𝘱,”Dar said.

A total of 483 units of various machines were distributed to the province under the RCEF Mechanization Program 2019 and 2020 funds. # # # (DA-PHilMech)

BAFS and BFAR-UP MSI conduct field data gathering for seaweeds

The Philippines is the world’s third largest producer of seaweed, following China and Indonesia (FAO, 2018). Seaweed is the top commodity produced by the aquaculture fisheries sub-sector with a total production of 1.49 million metric tons (64 (Philippine Fisheries Profile, 2019). Among the major seaweed-producing regions are Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), MiMaRoPa, and Zamboanga Peninsula (Philippine Fisheries Profile, 2019).

Seaweeds have 893 identified species and are marketed in raw (fresh or dried seaweeds) and processed forms (carrageenan). USA, China, Spain, Russia, and Belgium are the top importing countries of seaweed from the Philippines (Pedrosa, 2017).

In 2018, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (DA-BAFS) started working on the amendment of two Philippine National Standards (PNS) related to seaweed to update the practices based on the current regulatory and market requirements and further address the quality and food safety issues confronting the industry. These are PNS/BAFPS 85:2012 or the PNS for Dried Raw Seaweed and PNS/BAFPS 208:2017 or the Code of Good Aquaculture Practices (GAqP) for Seaweeds.     

Related to this endeavor, another field data gathering was conducted in Calatagan, Batangas from May 31 to June 2, 2021 to obtain technical and commercial information that will support the provisions of the amended standards. The activity was participated by the BAFS managers along with the Technical Working Group (TWG) members from DA- Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI). The group visited two (2) seaweed farms with the assistance of DA-BFAR Calabarzon and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Calatagan.

The major commercial seaweeds cultured in Calatagan, Batangas are Kappaphycus striatus and Caulerpa racemosa, locally known as ‘sakol’ and ‘lato’, respectively. Batangas Seaweed Farmers Association (BASEFA) in Brgy. Dos, Calatagan, Batangas, usually cultures Kappahyscus species through raft and fixed bottom method and harvest within 45-60 days culture period. Harvested seaweed is dried for two (2) days through solar, floating and hanging methods until it reaches a moisture content of 36-38%.

In Sitio Burot, one of the seaweed farmers, Mr. Edgar Gubalani, provided information on farming of Caulerpa racemosa. According to him, C. racemosa is planted by burying a handful of cuttings into the mud, with planted spots marked by pieces of bamboo sticks. The seaweed may be partially harvested after two months (60 days), leaving a sizable amount of 20–25% of the crop to serve as seed stock for the next cropping.

Following the data gathering, a final stakeholder consultation will be conducted to validate the technical and commercial information from the data gathered and finalize the amendment of the PNS by the TWG. The amended PNS on the product standard and GAqP for seaweeds are expected to be approved by the DA Secretary before the end of 2021. # # # (By Froline Bernas / DA-BAFS, Standards Development Division)

Filipino fisherfolk continue fishing activities at WPS

The increased presence of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Philippine Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea have hyped up the confidence of Filipino fisherfolk to continue their fishing activities in the area.

Since January this year, more than a hundred commercial fishing vessels are out fishing at the West Philippine Sea, including 108 commercial fishing vessels coming from Bataan and Zambales, 20 from Pangasinan, 19 from Palawan, and 2 from Occidental Mindoro.

 “The West Philippine Sea is a rich source of fish for the Philippines, contributing significantly to the country’s food security. Our increased presence in the area, through the DA-BFAR’s floating assets, is the Department of Agriculture’s way of ensuring that our fisherfolk are able to enjoy access to our fishery and aquatic resources in the WPS, while ensuring at the same time that these activities are within sustainable and rational means,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

 The DA-BFAR is currently deploying five Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) vessels and one multi-mission offshore vessel at the Kalayaan Island Group, and one MCS vessel at the Bajo de Masinloc to provide assistance and protection to Filipino fisherfolk venturing in the areas.

Aside from regular patrol, the DA-BFAR is also continuously providing necessary interventions to provinces and coastal communities facing West Philippine Sea, under programs like fisheries development, fisheries regulation and law enforcement, and fisheries extension program.

More than Php73M of livelihood implements and technology projects have been turned over by BFAR Region I to fisherfolk and other fisheries stakeholders in Pangasinan. BFAR Region III, on the other hand, has been distributing fish aggregating device or “payaos” and fishing vessels to fisherfolk in the 14 local government units of Zambales since 2016. From 2017 to 2019, the BFAR IV-B has also employed fish workers in the Kalayaan Island Group to man the fishing grounds at the WPS and serve as data gatherer, with each fisherfolk receiving cash allowance and livelihood inputs such as fishing paraphernalia and fishing boats.

The BFAR IV-B has also turned over post-harvest facilities in Kalayaan, including a Community Fish Landing Center in 2020, and a cold storage facility which started construction last month. # # # (DA-BFAR)