agriculture

Jammed

Does public infrastructure represent the best use of private investment?

It seems that our corporate titans have nothing better to do with their excess cash than to pour it into the growing public utilities and infrastructure sector. Whether it is San Miguel the beverage giant which went heavily into power or the Metro Pacific group a major player in telecoms which operates the NLEX-SCTEX road networks, there does not seem to be anything which competes for their attention than this sector.

About one-and-a-half trillion pesos is sitting in Special Drawing Accounts with the BSP deposited by banks which are unable or unwilling to lend them out. With a country as underdeveloped as ours, one would think that such excess savings could be put to better use. Why for instance isn’t San Miguel investing to develop coco juice exports which it has the capital and expertise to do?

Since our lost decade in the 1980s when a banking crisis followed by a political upheaval reduced our economy to tatters, manufacturing has never really recovered from the heights it once achieved by the end of the 70s and early 80s (see chart). Meanwhile, our ASEAN neighbors Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand overtook us in moving their economies towards industry. Our gross capital formation as a percentage of GDP is the weakest in the region as a result.

Vietnam, a relative latecomer in the game has seen its manufacturing sector grow by leaps and bounds, while Singapore cannot be held up as an example for us to follow since it is a city-state with a tiny population and workforce. It can afford to de-industrialize its economy, while we can’t. While some would argue the high value services sector is nothing to sneeze at, it still cannot be relied on to provide the kind of jobs that match the skills held by our bulging population. The answer lies with manufacturing.

The Philippine Development Plan identifies infrastructure as the “binding constraint” to speedier growth. The reason it claims Philippine goods remain uncompetitive is our inability to bring them to market efficiently. Apart from that there is the implicit “tax” that comes by way of corruption which increases the cost of doing business and the unfair competition from smuggled or pirated goods that discourages domestic manufactures, the result of weak rule of law.

With its low tax collection rate and chronic fiscal deficits, partly to do with an aggressive liberalization policy pursued since the 1990s, the government was more than willing to let the private sector fill the breach in public infrastructure.

Since private business seems so gung-ho about providing public goods, it seems the identification of infrastructural bottlenecks was the correct diagnosis of the problem of underdevelopment. One wonders, however, if these firms are moving into such projects because there is no attractive alternative in other sectors, or is it because of higher returns now currently on offer from public-private partnerships?

Also, if indeed there are “bottlenecks” causing the cost of doing business and cost of living to skyrocket, then one would expect the public would be willing to absorb the fees charged by private operators under existing PPP arrangements. That is not what has been observed though (think MRT and LRT). One would then have to conclude that either the private operators have negotiated prices above the market-clearing level or that the demand for such infrastructure was not sufficient to begin with.

Investing in public goods by their very nature would often produce a private return lower than the commercial rate of return. That is why it is often financed in capital scarce countries through “concessionary loans” from foreign governments and multilateral institutions. If private operators borrow at prevailing market rates, then they cannot possibly make a profit unless the government provides a subsidy to pay for the spread between the “risk free” government borrowing rate and the commercial lending rate.

Turnaround

The sudden flash of insight Sec Mar Roxas used to interject into the president’s faltering public-private partnerships roll-out was that it would be better for the government to borrow at the risk-free rate and contract out the construction phase of some projects in effect passing on the cheap cost of capital to contractors. It could then auction off the operations and maintenance contract separately minimizing the need to subsidize fees charged to customers.

The question then is can government afford to borrow more in order to finance its infrastructure roll-out? It could if it chooses take-up the BSP’s offer to borrow against the country’s excess international reserves that accumulate each year. The state would effectively be borrowing against itself. Given the total cost for the original projects of about one hundred billion pesos, the surplus of reserves flowing into the country each year of four to five billion dollars is enough to cover these projects twice over.

If the public sector is then able to deal with the cost of providing infrastructure, how can it stimulate complementary investments needed in the private sector? If the lack of domestic capital and skilled labor are not responsible for the observed underinvestment, neither are low rates of return (low taxes and labor market flexibility are found in special economic zones), then what else could it be?

There are a number of candidates. Government failures which include corruption or weak property rights and rule of law are one option. A second possible candidate is market failure due to inabilities to coordinate investments in complementary upstream and downstream sectors or to internalize the benefits of innovation and experimentation.

The first has been identified by the National Competitiveness Council and the government as an area of concern. The decline of the Philippines ranking in the latest Ease of Doing Business survey by the World Bank reflects the country’s inability to address government failure. On the other hand, if these are the causes for underinvestment, why is it that manufacturing has suffered a decline relative to services in terms of investment and output? Shouldn’t they all be suffering the same fate?

This leads me to identify the problem of market failures as well. The systematic break that occurred in the mid-80s when the country turned away from industry policy and underwent an aggressive reduction of tariffs unilaterally ahead of WTO commitments left our manufacturing sectors at a disadvantage vis-à-vis our ASEAN neighbors. This is perhaps the reason services have oustripped manufacturing since it represents non-tradables which can only be provided domestically. Think retail, housing, commercial property and yes, utilities. Mining is a similar story. How then could the government begin to stimulate activity within the tradable industries? The following five measures would represent the most important steps.

  1. Partially rollback tariffs to within acceptable levels still within WTO commitments targeting in particular greenfields. Sustainable technology is one example of greenfields. To partly offset the modest rise of inflation that would come with this, tax cuts and (conditional cash) transfers should be directed to low income families.
  2. Finalize the list of investment priorities to signal the areas that government wants growth to occur in. Government must consult with business groups in compiling this list, but it must also exert some independence and take the lead in some areas and not simply take a market follower approach.
  3. Rationalize fiscal incentives and gradually fine-tune the selectivity of sectors for promotion. This has already been initiated by the BOI, but follow through and institutional capacity building needs to occur, which leads to the next item.
  4. Strengthen the economic bureaucracy to solve investment coordination problems across related sectors. Improve the ability of state agencies like the BOI, PEZA, DTI and other government agencies to undertake a consultative and promotional role.
  5. Create a research and innovation fund jointly run by public and private enterprise to encourage commercialization of ideas. Given the excess foreign reserves cited earlier, the state can also afford to undertake this strategy in partnership with academe and the business community.

Compared to the strong-arm tactics being employed by Argentina and Brazil which like us bought into the liberal free trade argument in the 1990s and have like us seen their manufacturing sectors stagnate (see chart), these measures would be considered rather tame.

From 1949 to 1959, the Philippines used heavy handed trade and industry policies similar to what LatAm countries pursued from the 1930s to the 1980s. This led to the fastest growth ever sustained in our history (and theirs). Unfortunately, it did not last long enough for investments to expand beyond light industries as Paul D Hutchcroft notes. The direpute to which import-substitution subsequently fell was the result of the Filipino First policy instituted in 1958 towards the end of the decade of growth, an over-reach of the “elite” nationalists. The poor administration and outright corruption that the policy bred stymied it and led to the liberal policies of the 1960s supported by the landed agricultural exporters.

Pres Marcos tried to weaken the landed aristocracy and revive our nascent industry sector in the 1970s, but the lack of checks to the predatory nature of his regime led to its collapse. The Philippines has been following the liberalization paradigm ever since. The stagnancy of our manufacturing and overall weak economic performance is hard to explain given the structural reforms undertaken from the late-80s. The Philippines since the early 2000s has become a net saving country due to overseas remittances and is rapidly accumulating foreign reserves (it has more than enough to pay off all our external debts). With some tweaking, we can unlock this capital and put it to better use.

So far from encouraging private investors to get into public utilities, the government should actually follow Sec Roxas’s advice to break-up build, operate and transfer contracts to lower their cost to the public. Finally, the government must look to revive investments in the industry sector (which includes high value agricultural and services too) through pragmatic policies. It must create as much policy space within existing WTO arrangements to maximize the benefits of industrialization. Without this its vision for a rapid, sustained and inclusive pace of development might simply come to naught.

Effective and pro-poor budgeting

Former Undersecretary Ernesto Ordonez shows the way to ensure that growth in the agriculture budget means better prospects for farmers.

Effective and pro-poor budgeting

By Ernesto M. Ordonez

(First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 19th, 2011)

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala should be congratulated for seeing through the 54-percent increase in the Department of Agriculture’s 2012 budget, which the executive branch proposed to Congress. This was a welcome turnaround from last year’s proposal of a 12-percent decrease.

However, we must ensure that the budgeting of this money is done wisely.

Last August 17, the first Congressional hearing on the budget was conducted. We recommend that a Return on Investment (ROI) approach be used to optimize the final budget configuration.

A simple way to explain ROI is to measure the benefit return derived from a given cost (investment). When we apply this ROI approach, we will also consider return based not only on economic but also social equity considerations. However, it is always desirable to compute the financial viability of government intervention.

Below are two areas where the ROI approach may be applied, requiring a realignment in the DA’s budget.

For irrigation, the current proposal is to increase the budget from P11.7 billion to P26.8 billion. AF 2025 Rice Cluster coordinator Emil Javier believes the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) does not have the absorptive capacity to get the proper returns from these large investments. There have been many reports of possible inefficiency and even corruption in the past. There is also no comprehensive evaluation report of recent irrigation budget use. Therefore, Javier recommends P20 billion instead. To get the best ROI for this amount, we recommend two steps.

The first is to decide on what kind of irrigation should get priority. Whether one spends the money on rehabilitation of an existing but non-performing irrigation system or installing a brand-new one, the benefit of added harvest for the year is the same.

We know of irrigation rehabilitation projects costing P60,000 a hectare, while a new irrigation system may cost more than P1.3 million per hectare. It is clear that each irrigation system should be subjected to an ROI evaluation.

The second step is to help ensure that the promised returns are delivered. These investments should not be lost to incompetent supervision or corruption.

Rolando Dy, AF 2025 Commercial Crops coordinator, recommends that the Philippine Coconut Authority budget should be increased from P693 million to P2 billion. The additional amount should go to fertilization and intercropping.

Fertilization costs only P3,500 per hectare a year. After eight years, the P24,000 fertilization investment will give a cumulative return of P200,000—more than 14 times the investment.

As for intercropping, Cocoa Foundation’s Josephine Ramos said intercropping cacao would yield an annual average return of more than 90 percent in the first eight years, and more than 200 percent ROI for each succeeding year.

According to AF 2025 Fisheries coordinator Arsenio Tanchuling, similar high ROIs can be found in the additional P1 billion budget increase which he recommends for the fisheries sector.

AF 2025 Fruits and Vegetables coordinator Roberto Amores said the same for the P1 billion increase which he suggested, on top of the current P1.1 billion for this important sector.

Given the threat of climate change, Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) president Jovito Bernabe recommends a doubling of PCIC’s proposed budget to P400 million, which will cover only 10 percent of its target population.

In all these interventions, financial long-run sustainability with adequate ROIs should be required.

More examples are trading centers (bagsakan), which have a proposed P911 million budget, and farm-to-market roads, which have a budget of P5 billion.

The locations and financial structuring of these projects should yield the required ROIs. Thus, they will not become dole-outs and projects of unscrupulous politicians.

The 54-percent DA budget increase can turn from good to bad news if the funds are improperly spent.

We recommend that social and economic ROIs be calculated for each proposed government intervention. This way, the ROI approach can help ensure an effective and pro-poor DA budget for 2012.

(The author is chairman of Agriwatch, former secretary for presidential flagship programs and projects, and former undersecretary for Agriculture, and Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail [email protected] or telefax [02] 8522112.)

Securing our future through Agriculture

Image courtesy of COCAFM

The average age of Filipino farmers, according to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, is 57. Meanwhile, the average age of the Department of Agriculture‘s (DA) employees is mid 50’s.  Aren’t  the figures alarming?

To solve this hounding problem in the Philippine agricultural sector, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala announced during the third Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation and Food Security on Wednesday, July 13, that the Aquino government is providing scholarship grants to Filipinos especially the children of farmers to encourage them to take-up courses in agriculture.

“Ang malaking kikitain ang nag-aakit sa mga magsasaka para payagan ang anak niya na kumuha ng agricultural classes. Meron po tayong scholarship funds,” said Alcala.

In addition, the DA Secretary affirms that government programs in agriculture are now in place to help farmers and empower them with proper farming practices and the provision of funding support to increase their productivity in their respective communities.

“Kung iyon pong magulang (farmers) nabigyan natin ng pagkakataon na kumita

Image courtesy of COCAFM

na hindi naman po sila nag-aral ng kumpleto nung una pero dahil sa tamang tulong ngayon na technical, may access sa funds, with that marketing help (from the government), kumikita na po sila ng mas mahigit sa isang ordinaryong empleyadong sumusweldo sa banko,” Alcala stressed.

With the continuous rise in unemployment rate in the country, Sec. Procy said that it is more wise and practical to send children in agricultural schools which are more affordable than allowing them to take-up expensive courses that won’t land them a job.

Sec. Proceso Alcala said that the Department of Agriculture is working hard to achieve and implement effectively government programs to meet President Aquino’s order to advocate and support the productivity of farmers in the countryside or rural areas where help is most needed.

On the other hand, the DA secretary also emphasized the need of Filipino farmers to undergo training in pest management, organic farming and other services to sustainable management of crops, livestocks and grains.

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, who has been closely working with Sec. Alcala, said in one of his press releases that there are lots of opportunities in farming and what’s needed is actually a synergy of the whole chain–from the producers to the traders.

Image courtesy of COCAFM

The Senator also wishes to change how farmers are generally perceived and turn them as “farmpreneurs.” (coined from the word farmer and entrepreneur)

“We will build their capacity to earn more by providing them the means to sell their products directly to market via our fellow AF2025 convenors. We also have in AF2025 the built-in network to ensure the sustainability of the project,” said the Senator.

Sen. Pangilinan along with the Department of Agriculture and the private sector convened the Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025), gathering for the first time representatives of farmers, traders, suppliers and media to craft a long-term plan in addressing the country’s various agriculture and fisheries issues.

“This is an out-of-the box way of approaching decades-old problem of unemployment, poverty, and food self-sufficiency. And this is exactly the proverbial shot in the arm needed to boost further what the DA under the Aquino administration has accomplished. It is about time our agriculture and fisheries sector get the recognition and status that they deserve,” conveyed Pangilinan.

Why chemical farming should be called “non-organic” instead of “inorganic”

by Roberto Verzola

In farming, the use of agrochemicals which are harmful to human health, soil life, and the environment is often carelessly called inorganic farming.

Inorganic farming is a confusing term that the agrochemical industry uses to obfuscate issues against chemical farming. The more accurate term to describe chemical farming is non-organic farming.

In chemistry, organic simply means “contains carbon”. The study of chemistry is generally divided into two fields: organic chemistry, which studies substances that contain carbon, and inorganic chemistry, which studies substances that do not contain carbon.

The agrochemical industry clings to this distinction between organic and inorganic chemistry. Thus, they can say with a straight face that their agrochemicals, regardless of toxicity, are also “organic” as long as these contain carbon, and concede the term “inorganic” only to those agrochemicals without carbon.

The term “organic” in farming has a very different meaning from “organic” in chemistry. As defined by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), it is:

“a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.”

As the generally-accepted definition of organic farming in most parts of the world, this IFOAM definition is backed up by a long list of specific methods and practices which organic farmers and producers must observe, and which are subject to third-party inspection to ensure the quality of organic products.

Thus, when organic farming advocates debate with the agrochemical industry and their representatives in the academe and the government about “organic”, they are talking of completely different concepts, and it is easy for the media and the public to get confused.

The simplest way to clarify the real issue is to use two different terms when describing the opposite of organic. In chemistry, the opposite term is inorganic, for compounds that do not contain carbon. In farming, the opposite term is non-organic, for production systems that do not sustain the health of soils, ecosystems and people and are instead harmful to them.

It is to the interest of the agrochemical industry to confuse the issue and prevent the spread of organic farming. Thus, its representatives in the academe and the government can be expected to keep using the term inorganic only for chemical compounds that do not contain carbon, and to describe their carbon-containing agrochemicals as “organic”, which may be true in the chemistry sense but is completely untrue in the farming sense.

So the next time you encounter agrochemical defenders in a debate, make sure you use the term “non-organic” to describe chemical-based farming systems, and to leave the term “inorganic” for chemistry and the agrochemical industry. (March 26, 2011)

# # #

Chemical farming: inorganic or non-organic?” is republished from Ecology, Technology, and Social Change: Notes on Green Theory and practice.”

The Daily Roundup: 20 January 2011

Asian FDI gains noted by UN; investors bypassing Philippines?” by Jessica Anne D. Hermosa

SEVERAL Southeast Asian economies enjoyed as much as a five-fold increase in foreign direct investments (FDI) last year while the Philippines was recording a decline, United Nations data released on Monday showed.

The national elections in May and the ensuing government transition, said local observers, possibly caused the hesitation, which was also exacerbated by the country’s allegedly unattractive business climate.

FDI flows into Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore in 2010 were estimated to have surged by triple-digit rates from yearago levels as Southeast Asia was among the regions that led the global economic recovery, the UN Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in its Global Investment Trends Monitor.

Read more at Business World

Contraction for farm sector by Kathleen A. Martin

FARM OUTPUT contracted slightly in 2010, the Agricultural department yesterday said, as a yearend rebound failed to make up for three negative quarters.

“Full-year [production] was slightly negative,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Romeo S. Recide told reporters.

Read more at Business World

DA chief: Last year’s farm growth down 0.12%” by philstar.com

The country’s growth in 2010 contracted by 0.12 percent in 2010, as adverse weather destroyed standing crops.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said today that even the fourth quarter growth of 6.35 percent was not able to counter the effect of three consecutive contractions on full year agriculture output.

“If we were not hit by (supertyphoon Megi), we could have registered positive growth,” Alcala said at a briefing.

Read more at The Philippine Star

Priority measures to be trimmed to 12 by A.M.G. Roa

TWELVE BILLS at the most will be pushed by Malacañang as priorities when the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meets later this month, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III yesterday said.

A Palace workshop last week drafted a preliminary list of 32 measures that was tackled by the Cabinet on Tuesday. No decisions were reached that day, however, as Mr. Aquino called for further refinements.

Read more at Business World

RH one of Aquino’s 12 priority bills for Congress’ approval” by Christine O. Avendaño, TJ Burgonio

The reproductive health bill is one of 12 priority bills that President Benigno Aquino III will be presenting to Congress for approval this year.

Mr. Aquino Wednesday said that the reproductive health bill, which he prefers to call the “responsible parenthood” bill, was one of the measures that he discussed with the Cabinet at a seven-hour meeting on Tuesday to firm up the administration’s legislative agenda for presentation to congressional leaders at the end of the month.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Philippines gets $1.5-M World Bank grant for flood planning”  by Business World

THE WORLD BANK has approved a $1.5-million grant for a study that will result in a flood control master plan for Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, the multilateral lender said in a press release yesterday.

The amount will finance studies based on recommendations of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which studied the devastation caused by storms Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) and Pepeng (international name: Parma) late in 2009. Citing PDNA findings, the World Bank said the successive storms caused damage totaling $4.4 billion, equivalent to about 2.7% of the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP).

Read more at Business World

Rice: Overpriced? Overimported?” by Solita Collas-Monsod

There’s a word war going on between NFA Administrator Lito Banayo and former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap (who was also at one time NFA administrator). And the differences in opinion have to do with whether or not the Philippines “overimported” rice, particularly in the last couple of years, and with whether or not the imported rice was “overpriced.”

One would think that since these are empirically verifiable issues, there would be very little room for disagreement — but as they say, the devil is in the details, e.g., are the mandated reserves (30 days) a minimum, as asserted by Yap, or a maximum, as implied by Banayo? Or even, were there 70 days’ worth of reserves when the Aquino administration came in (Banayo) or were there 50 days worth of reserves when the Arroyo administration left (Yap)?

Read more at Business World

Aquino exposes rice scam” byNorman Bordadora

Just one person or group appeared to have earned a windfall when the outgoing Arroyo administration allowed the private sector to import 200,000 metric tons of rice last year, President Benigno Aquino III said on Wednesday.

The Philippines, the world’s biggest rice importer, bought from abroad a total of 2.47 million metric tons of the grain for its requirements in 2010, an election year. The state-owned National Food Authority (NFA) imported the bulk of the country’s staple.

Read more at The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Roxas retains LP presidency, cites incoming role by Noemi M. Gonzales

THE RULING Liberal Party (LP) yesterday reelected as president former senator Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas II, ensuring his political future as an incoming aide of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III who was elected chairman.

“I am grateful for the trust of my party mates. We will help the administration with the best that we can,” he said in a speech during the celebration of LP’s 65th founding anniversary at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan city.

Read more at Business World

PNoy names Akbayan president as political adviser”” by Lynda Jumilla

In an unusual move, President Aquino has named a non-party mate as presidential adviser for political affairs.

The President announced his appointment of Akbayan president Ronald Llamas at a gathering in Malacañang on Wednesday night to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Liberal Party (LP).

Akbayan is a coalition partner of the LP, and Llamas himself is a key adviser of President Aquino as well as LP president and former Senator Mar Roxas.

Read more at ABS-CBN News

Manay Gina beats GMA, Imelda in Lady Legislators race” by Eva Visperas

Pangasinan Rep. Georgina de Venecia was unanimously elected president of the 64-strong Association of Lady Legislators (ALL) on Monday.

De Venecia vowed to lead the initiatives of women legislators at the House of Representatives.

De Venecia served as president of the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc. (CSFI) since 1992 when her husband, then Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr., was House speaker.

Read more at The Philippine Star

Petrus for Erap, Porsche for P-Noy” by Rigoberto D. Tiglao

LUXURY CAR aficionados estimate that President Benigno Aquino III’s Porsche 911 Turbo cost P7.5 million, not P4.5 million as he claimed. Either way, it is certainly an atrociously expensive toy, which after all he can play with for only a few hours a month. Nevertheless, the President said that his Porsche will “make him smile in the face of the many problems he has to deal with.”

Before his next joy ride though, Mr. Aquino should first debunk claims that it was a gift, and therefore violated anti-graft laws, by releasing to the press the car’s deed of sale, its LTO registration, the deed of sale for the BMW which he claimed to have sold to fund the purchase of his new toy, and finally the documents for the loan that he said he took out for the car

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Gov't to promote foreign investments in agriculture sector

Gov’t to promote foreign investments in agriculture sector” by MELODY M. AGUIBA

The government may take a strong policy of aggressively promoting foreign investments even as it is set to hold in February a long-term visioning to make agriculture a top investment priority until year 2025.

The Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) are set to host on Feb. 10 and 11 a planning session called “Agriculture and Fisheries 2025: Shared Vision, Shared Journey.”

This aims to make the sector a vehicle toward economic growth.

“It’s a golden opportunity to discuss where we want to be in 15 years. We’ll be bringing 100 plus of key players in agriculture — 60 percent from the private sector, 30 from the government, and 10 percent from the academe,” said Sen. Francis N. Pangilinan in a press briefing.

Stressing that “no developed country has become a first world country without developing its agriculture sector,” Pangilinan said the government should try “new approaches” in order to solve the country’s food security problems.

Read more at the Manila Bulletin

Tulong Kabataan for flood and landslide victims

Tulong Kabataan for flood and landslide victims in Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Cagayan Valley” by Kabataan Party-List

Kabataan Party-List is once again calling out on all Filipino youth and students to support relief operations for the millions of our countrymen affected by the recent bouts of floods and landslides caused by continuous rains in many parts of the country. As many as 1.5 million Filipinos from more than 300,000 families have been reported to be severely affected in many provinces across the country.

There is an urgent appeal for more relief goods for hundreds of thousands of affected families as they reel and recover from the calamities. We are appealing on students in schools and communities, and on young professionals in offices to gather and donate relief goods and course them through their student councils and other organizations and/or to centralize them through our headquarters at 118-B Sct. Rallos St., Brgy. Sacred Heart, Quezon City (near Timog Avenue-GMA 7).

Read more at Kabataan Partylist

With research support from Con Yap

Senator Pangilinan sees food crisis as Farmers getting fewer

Pangilinan said the key to encouraging new blood in the agricultural sector was to improve support to farmers so that they could increase their income.

He favored the strengthening of the local government’s role in agricultural productivity because the local executives know the needs of their farmers.

“I am more partial to the idea of just letting the [Department of Agriculture] set the policy direction and then let the local governments implement [that policy],” Pangilinan said.

The local governments’ capacity building should be improved so that they can provide the right agricultural extension services to farmers, he said.

Economists and experts said the Philippine government’s weak extension service is one of the reasons for the low yield in the farm sector.

Read more from Kiko.ph

More funding for organic Farming

Are you ready to exercise your green thumb?

The Manila Bulletin wrote:

The recent approval of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act 10068, otherwise known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, will institutionalize funding for natural farming programs and projects.

Go Organic! Philippines convenor Roland Cabigas said the proposed IRR was signed and submitted by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala to the agriculture committees of the Senate headed by Senator Francis Pangilinan and the Lower House under Batangas 4th District Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza early this month.