PH begins exporting okra to Japan as new normal starts

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 1, 2020   •   413

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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Hontiveros urges DA to focus on ramping up efforts vs ASF instead of price caps

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to focus its efforts on preventing the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) instead of imposing price ceilings.

“The government should instead channel its efforts to bring credibility to testing, reporting, and responding to local outbreaks, among others. Hindi na nakakatulong ang ipinataw nilang price control (imposing price control is not helping), so let’s look deeper than the surface,” the senator said.

Hontiveros noted that the DA is already boosting local hog supply by distributing mother pigs and feeds to ASF-cleared areas, however, hog raisers still fear subsequent waves of infection.

Instead of repopulation plans, Hontiveros said the DA should also teach hog raisers preventive measures to protect livestock from ASF. She added that the price cap is making it almost impossible for vendors to recover from the “twindemic” of COVID-19 and ASF.

“Nakararanas tayo ng ‘Twindemic’ —pandemya ng COVID-19 at epidemya ng ASF. Kambal din ang dagok sa ating magbababoy na nalubog pa dahil sa itinakdang price ceiling (We are experiencing a ‘Twindemic’—COVID-19 pandemic and the ASF epidemic. Our hog raisers are also experiencing twin challenges due to the price ceiling),” the senator said.

Hontiveros also proposed to revoke the imposed price ceiling to help affected producers and retailers recover from their losses.

“Dumadaing na ang ating producers at retailers. Ilang eksperto na ang tumutol sa pagpapatupad ng price ceiling. Bawiin na sana ito para makabawi naman sa lugi ang ating mga kababayan (Our producers and retailers are complaining. Several experts have already expressed opposition to implementation of a price ceiling. It should be revoked for the sake of our fellowmen),” she added. AAC 

DA to extend zero-interest loans to market vendors in Metro Manila

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday said it will extend zero-interest loans as operating capital to market vendors’ associations in Metro Manila public markets.

“This will enable them to buy pork carcasses directly from hog raisers and major agricultural commodities from farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs), and sell these at reasonable prices to consumers in Metro Manila,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

He added that the initiative seeks to institutionalize mutual partnership between retailers and FCAs and create a win-win situation benefiting producers, retailers and consumers alike. 

Dar appealed for the meat vendors’ cooperation to ease up tight pork supply and temper high pork prices in Metro Manila.

Under the market vendors’ financing program, market vendors’ associations (MVAs) may avail of up to P5 million as working capital at zero-interest and payable in three to five years. AAC

DA, NIA urged to prioritize recovery of typhoon-hit agri areas to address rising food costs

Robie de Guzman   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called on concerned government agencies to make “a big push” for the recovery of agriculture “food baskets” that were devastated by calamities last year to help address supply shortages and rising food costs in the country.

In a statement, Hontiveros pointed out that price control and monitoring measures are not enough to address spiking commodity prices.

“Hindi lang price control at monitoring ang mga paraan para maampat ang mabilis na pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin. Mas mabilis na bababa ang presyo ng gulay, prutas, karne at ibang pagkain kung agad matutulungan ng pamahalaan na mapuno ang mga “food baskets”. Kailangang maibalik sa normal ang kanilang productivity levels,” she said.

The senator said the government should particularly provide adequate shelter and food assistance to vital agricultural supply areas until the first harvests arrive in summer, particularly in areas like the Northern Luzon and the Bicol Region which were heavily affected by a spate of typhoons in 2020.

Citing data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Hontiveros noted that Cagayan Valley lost P2.1 billion worth of crops due to Typhoon Ulysses, along with P 5 billion damaged or destroyed infrastructure.

Likewise, the Bicol Region lost P629 million worth of crops and P2.3 billion in infrastructure, she added.

“Sinira ng mga bagyo ang mga pananim, mga alagang hayop at mismong kabahayan ng marami sa ating mga magsasaka at agricultural workers sa Northern Luzon at Bicol Region. Pinakamataas ang inflation levels sa mga lugar na iyan, ayon mismo sa Philippine Statistics Authority at marami ang walang kita at walang makain sa pangaraw-araw ngayon,” she said.

“Kailangan natin silang tulungan para sila ay muling agad makabalik sa pagtatanim, pagsasaka at pagaalaga ng mga hayop,” she added.

Hontiveros said that among the immediate actions which can be taken by the government, mostly the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Irrigation Authority (NIA), and local government units, is the repair of drainages and irrigation systems that were damaged during the floods, storms and mudflows.

The NIA, along with LGUs, should also immediately identify and develop ‘shovel-ready’ irrigation and farm repair projects which could be implemented at the soonest.

She suggested that workers for such projects be contracted via the ‘pakyaw’ system or the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) cash-for-work program which can enable the hiring of local residents, thus helping provide a livelihood to their communities.

Hontiveros likewise said that the NDRRMC can supplement the quick reaction funds (QRFs) of other agencies so greater funding may be devoted to the repair of irrigation systems, roads, and other agriculture infrastructure.

“Kailangan nating kumilos ng agaran at malakihan upang matulungan ang mga magsasaka na nagpapakain sa buong bansa. They are the key to ending this food crisis,” she said.

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