PH begins exporting okra to Japan as new normal starts

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 1, 2020   •   205

The Department of Agriculture (DA) led the initial shipment of two tons of okra or ladyfinger to Japan on Tuesday (September 29).

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said around 300 farmers were involved in the production of the export-grade okra products that were harvested from different farms in 14 barangays of Tarlac.

Jelfarm Fresh Produce Enterprise, one of the country’s leading okra exporters, will be shipping about five tons daily as the harvest season begins and it will increase to an average of 13–15 tons everyday during peak season.

 “It’s a win-win arrangement because the farmers planting these are getting higher levels of income compared to rice,” Dar said.

Jeffrey Fernandez of Jelfarm said they are looking for alternative livelihoods for farmers who are suffering from unstable palay prices throughout the year. Fernandez said okra farmers can harvest 500 kilograms up to one ton of okra per hectare for 75 days straight and earn a net income of P80,000 – P120,000.

“It’s a fast turnaround crop, high-yielding crop, and a good source of income for the farmers,” he said. AAC

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Japanese Embassy issues advisory on visa application for eligible Filipino travelers

Marje Pelayo   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Japanese Embassy in Manila has issued an advisory on the changes in the scope of acceptance of visa applications for eligible Filipino travelers to Japan.

This is according to the advisory issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The advisory emphasized the inclusion of eligible Filipino travelers under the “Phased Measures toward Resuming Cross-Border Travel”, a special quota on the entry into and departure from Japan, which covers technical intern trainees and specified skilled workers. 

“Applicants may directly visit the embassy for own visa application while students and technical intern trainees whose sending/accepting organization is same can apply through a representative with authorization letters from every applicant,” the POEA noted.

For short-term stay for business, required documents for visa application include:

  • Visa application form with attached photo
  • Passport
  • Certificate of Employment
  • Invitation letter
  • Letter of guarantee, and;
  • A written pledge. 

POEA advised applicants that the Embassy may request for additional requirements, if necessary, and it may deny visa acceptance for incomplete requirements. 

The Embassy reminded that accepting time for visa application starts at 8:40am to 11:00am, every Mondays to Fridays except on Embassy holidays, the POEA stressed.

“The embassy does not accept applications after the said accepting time,” it added.

Prior to visiting the Embassy, applicants are also advised to first contact its hotlines through the numbers 02-8834-7514 and 02-8834-7508 as the embassy is strictly implementing appointment schedule and social distancing measures as preventive measures against COVID-19.

Avigan clinical trials in PH may start next week – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   October 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The clinical trials on anti-flu drug Avigan in the country may finally begin next week, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the process for the clinical trial is currently being finalized, adding that the proponent of the research has been given go signal to recruit study participants.

Vergeire said a minor issue on the insurance documents just needed to be fixed before they could begin the trial.

“Merong minor comment ang legal service namin for this insurance document. Iyon na lang but we already gave the go signal to the proponents,” she said.

“Kapag nakapag-recruit na tayo, hopefuly by next week talagang officially starting na tayo,” she added.

The clinical trial, which aims to look into the possible benefits of the Japan-made drug to coronavirus disease patients, will last for nine months. Four hospitals will participate in the trial.

It was supposed to start in August but was delayed due to some issues in legal arrangements.

Avigan tablets were delivered in early August by the Japanese government for the use of 100 patients. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

DA urges LGUs, private sector anew to buy palay, corn directly from local farmers

Robie de Guzman   •   October 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday renewed its appeal to local government units (LGU) and the private sector to buy palay and corn directly from farmers to prop up prices as harvest season peaks.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said LGUs and the grains industry stakeholders will have to “step in” and purchase directly through negotiated contracts with the farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCA) since the National Food Authority’s (NFA) palay procurement is limited to buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies

“The LGU- and private sector-led palay and corn buying will complement efforts of the Department of Agriculture through the National Food Authority to buy as much as possible from rice farmers using its 2020 P10-billion procurement fund,” Dar said.

“This should be part of the ‘new normal,’ where LGUs are taking a more pro-active stance by directly buying farmers’ produce — be these rice, corn, vegetables, chicken, eggs, fish and other farm and fishery products — at reasonable prices, and then including them in their food packs for their constituents,” he added.

The Agriculture chief said the NFA has also been directed to “roll-over twice its procurement fund so it could buy P20 billion-worth of palay this year.”

Further, he said provincial governments can avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) of up to P2 billion at two percent interest to procure palay, and acquire farm machineries and postharvest facilities.

This harvest season, the DA said it wrote the governors of the top 12 rice-producing provinces to once again buy palay from their farmers.

The DA chief likewise called on the private sector, particularly those in the grains industry, to engage in long-term contract-growing and marketing agreement with farmers’ groups to buy rice for their employees and clientele as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Dar also asked the NFA to make available its warehouses for use by farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) and LGUs.

“We will accelerate the modernization of the NFA’s drying and milling facilities so they could provide much-needed services for the benefit of our rice farmers,” he added.

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