by Em-Em Mandanas, Allied Botanical Corporation
Farmers, staff and officials from Department of Agriculture (DA) offices, key players in the seed and agrochemical industry, and other stakeholders gathered to celebrate a bountiful harvest festival that highlighted the significance of agri-business and government collaboration toward a more productive and food sufficient nation, on 10 March 2022, in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.
Vital to securing a country’s food and nutrition sufficiency is ensuring a sustainable and profitable local vegetable production that empowers the farmers and agri-industry stakeholders. Aligned with the Vegetable Productivity Enhancement Program, the Philippine Seed Industry Association, Inc. (PSIA) led the High-Value Vegetable Varieties and Advocacy Project, in cooperation with the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF).
PSIA President, Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc expressed her gratitude to DA-PCAF and Nueva Ecija Fruits and Vegetable Seeds Center (NEFVSC) for the successful project collaboration with the PSIA that will help increase the productivity and income of our farmers.
Dr. Glen Ilar, Training Executive of the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), congratulated the PSIA for spearheading the harvest festival that showcased various technologies and practices in vegetable production to the Filipino farmers. Furthermore, Dr. Ilar said that, even though PhilRice focuses on developing technologies for rice, the institution also has a rice-based farming system that integrates other crops such as vegetables. He also mentioned PhilRice’s partnership with East-West Seed Philippines for the PAG-AHON project dubbed as Sa Palay at Gulay, May Ani, Hanapbuhay, at Oportunidad, which provided training for the Lupao Vegetable Association on modern technology use in vegetable farming. The project also linked the association with different market channels, such as Dizon and Zagana Farms.
The festive activity was graced by officials and staff from various DA offices and attached bureaus and the PSIA. Esteemed guests were Mr. Glenn Panganiban, DA-Philippines Urban Agriculture and High Value Crops Director; Dr. Gabriel Romero, PSIA Executive Director; Mr. Noli Garcia, Crop Production Support Section Chief; Mr. Orlando Corpuz Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council (PAFC) Chairperson; Dr. Jerry Rigos, Science City of Muñoz City Agriculturist; Ms. Melinda Quinones, PCAF Partnership Development Division Chief; Engr. Francisco Hernandez, Region III AFC Chair; Mr. Bernie Valdez, Provincial Agriculturist; Dr. Mary Ann P. Sayoc, PSIA President; Dr. Glenn Ilar, DA-PhilRice Training Executive; and Ms. Analou Santos Morelos from DA- RFO3.
The 10,000 m2 field techno-demo inside the NEFVSC showcased various competitive high-value vegetable varieties of different crops (e.g., tomato, pepper, eggplant, calabaza, bitter gourd, cucumber, lettuce, bean, etc.) and plots that were managed with fertilizers and agrochemicals offered by PSIA member-companies.
More than 600 farmers from different municipalities of Nueva Ecija participated in the 2-day event filled with different activities such as field tour, cooking contest, technical symposium, and booth exhibitions. These activities aimed to demonstrate the features and benefits of vegetable varieties, increase the growers’ awareness about agricultural technologies, and showcase different ways to produce and consume vegetables.
Participating companies and institution include Allied Botanical Corporation, Corteva Agriscience, East-West Seed Philippines, Enviro Scope Synergy Inc., Enza Zaden, F.A. Greenseeds Corporation, Greenworld Agri-Farm Center, Harbest Agribusiness Corporation, Haverson Enterprises, KSHC Seed Trading, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Pilipinas Kaneko Seeds Corporation, Ramgo International Corporation, Seminis Philippines-Vegetables by Bayer, and Syngenta Philippines.
Companies styled their stations creatively with plenty of healthy vegetables for the booth exhibit competition. Pilipinas Kaneko Seeds Corporation won the best booth, followed by Haverson Enterprises and Ramgo International Corporation, as second and third place, respectively.
From farmlands to Bagsakan and Imbakan
The symposium which was attended by farmers and members of the Nueva Ecija Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council (PAFC) and Municipal Agricultural and Fishery Council (MAFC) provided the key stakeholders an opportunity to discuss topics about production, trading/marketing, and storage of their harvest. It also underlined the importance of strengthening the public-private partnership in agriculture sector to better serve the Filipino farmers with high quality seeds, inputs, and farm technology.
Challenges on local vegetable production and trade, as well as the existing policies and government support for the farmers, took the center stage during the dialogue.
Onion growers have raised their concern on the coverage and application procedures for crop insurance and cash assistance. PAFC and MAFC members said that they will further review the criteria and processes to better cater to all the stakeholders in the agriculture and fishery sector. Farmers further discussed some concerns about the quality of government-provided seeds, to which PAFC and MAFC advised the growers to report these cases to the authority for immediate action.
As the nation continuously copes with the impacts of the Covid -19 crisis, high farm inputs and fuel prices have begun to pressure the Filipino farmers since latter quarter of 2021 until now. This further cause the decrease of vegetable farmgate prices and farmer profits. Threats of onion importation also contributes to this challenge.
PAFC and MAFC assured that the government will continue to subsidize the prices of fertilizer insecticides to help ease the impact of increasing prices of oil and farm inputs and further maximize their profitability. The council also discussed the possibility of adding storage facility in the area which will be facilitated by the Municipal Agriculture Office through linking with the Philippine Rural Development Project.