Filipino cocoa farmer is among world’s best producers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 17, 2019   •   922

A Filipino cocoa farmer has made it among the world’s top 50 best cocoa producers. He will participate in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA) at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, France from October 30 to November 3, 2019.

Jose Saguban or Nong Jose is from Sitio Kialaw, Malabog, Paquibato District, Davao City. According to Nong Jose, good farming practice can produce high-quality cocoa beans.

“My cocoa trees are intercropped with fruit and forest trees as they create a cooler environment for my cocoa trees to thrive well and survive the heat especially during the dry season,” he added.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) region 11 said the recognition of Nong Jose by the international cocoa community is a big boost to the Philippine cocoa industry.

“He serves as a unifying force for government, policymakers, farmer leaders, private sector, and other cocoa industry stakeholders to leverage his international recognition in expanding cocoa production in the country,” according to the DA.—AAC

Zubiri calls on DA, other agencies to act faster in containing ASF spread

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday (Sept. 16) called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other concerned government agencies to move faster in containing the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in hog farms in the country.

Zubiri made the appeal after the DA confirmed that the ASF caused the deaths of swine in several areas in Bulacan and Rizal provinces.

READ: DA, BAI confirm ASF outbreak, call on public to help prevent spread of pig disease

“Ako po ay lubos na nababahala sa pagpasok ng African Swine Fever sa ating bansa bagamat hindi pa natutukoy kung anong strain ang tumama sa ating swine population,” the senator said in a statement.

(I am very much worried over the entry of the African Swine Fever in the country although we have yet to determine the kind of strain that hit our swine population.)

Zubiri also recalled issuing a warning to agency officials about the possible spread of the swine disease during a hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture and food on the ASF in March.

He also recommended during the said hearing the implementation of tighter monitoring and security measures in the country’s sea and airports to prevent the entry of ASF into the country.

“Noong Marso 20 ng taong ito ay pinamunuan natin ang Committee hearing ng Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food kung saan kung saan sinabi ko na — that the damage and economic losses caused by the recent water crisis in some parts of Metro Manila would be incomparable to the havoc and economic losses the ASF could bring into the whole country if ever this epidemic will reach our shores. So, we must not let our guard down, this is a very serious concern,” he said.

“Hiniling din natin na kung maaari ay mag-impose ng total ban sa importation ng pork mula sa ibang bansa. Subalit nakapasok pa rin sa bansa ang ASF. Gusto ko pong malaman ano po ang nangyari? Naging maluwag ba tayo sa pagbabantay?” he added.

“Ngayong andito na sa bansa ang ASF, nais natin na mas higpitan ng DA at iba pang ahensya ng pamahalaan at ng publiko ang pagbabantay at pag-contain nito upang di na kumalat pa sa ibang probinsya o lugar sa bansa. Kailangan nating paigtingin ang bio-security ng ating mga swine farms at wag na po sanang magdala ang ating mga kababayan ng mga pork products mula sa ASF affected countries.” Zubiri further said.

The Philippines’ swine industry is the sixth biggest in the world.

According to Zubiri, most of these hog raisers are backyard growers whose losses will be devastating if the government failed to contain the spread of ASF in the country.

“Let’s save our hog industry especially the backyard raisers,” he said.

DA Secretary William Dar earlier said that the pig virus has already been contained in Barangay Pritil and Guiguinto in Bulacan as well as in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo in Rizal.

He also stressed that the outbreak is not affecting the entire country, thus, he appeals to the public as well as the media not to ignite fear as unverified and unvalidated reports could create irreversible damage to the country’s hog industry which is also the source of livelihood for millions of Filipinos.

DA ‘floods’ markets with cheap rice imports

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2019

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has ‘flooded’ markets with over 3 million sacks of cheap imported rice across the country.

The agriculture department said the National Food Authority (NFA) will be selling 3.6 million sacks of rice which will be sold at P25 per kilo to retailers and P27 per kilo to consumers.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar expects commercial rice prices to go down by P35 to P37 due to the increase of NFA rice supply in the market.

“With more P27-peso rice na galing NFA, it will impact doon sa mga presyo na nasa merkado (With more P27 rice from the NFA, it will have an impact in the market prices),” he said.

However, during Dar’s inspection on Friday (September 13) at the Commonwealth market and San Andres market, he noticed there were not enough imported rice being sold.

Dar suspects there may be some hoarding of supply going on.

“Kung nagma-manage sila at hindi sapat iyong suplay sa merkado (If they are managing [the supply] but there are not enough supply in the market) then there is some sort of hoarding, he said.

The DA also has an anti-smuggling task force that will coordinate with the Bureau of Customs (BOC) top apprehend hoarders.

Around 2.4 million metric tons of rice were imported into the country since the passage of the rice tariffication law.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Gov’t to form a national task force on swine disease

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 10, 2019

The government will form a national task force to prevent the spread of swine diseases like the African Swine Fever (ASF), according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

According to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, the disease might have spread when backyard-raised hogs have been fed with swill infected by the disease.

However Dar assured the ASF in the country has not yet reached the epidemic point. They will also add more personnel at checkpoints in different areas in the country to monitor the transport of pork products.

Dar said most of the pork stocks are backyard-raised or came from small-time hog raisers.

Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) the population of hogs in the country is at 12.7 million heads as of July 2019 and around 8.02 million of them are backyard hogs.

“It’s not a restrictive policy if we have to ask another veterinarian coming from government to come and inspect your breeder stocks bago ita-transport ito, (before it can be transported),” according to Dar.

The Agriculture Department also advised hog raisers to avoid feeding swill to their pigs, limit the number of people entering their cages, and immediately report any sudden deaths.

According to the Bureau of Animal Industry there are still no vaccine for ASF so the issue should immediately be addressed.—AAC (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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