Friday, March 2, 2012

Cellphones benefit farmers; youth proposed as info channels

Returning scholars of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) had identified farmers’ benefits from using cellphones and the prospect of tapping the youth in disseminating agriculture information through Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).

Hazel V. Antonio, who finished MSc in International Development Studies in Wageningen University and Research Centre in The Netherlands, and Jaime A. Manalo IV, an alumnus of Communication for Social Change program at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, noted cellphones as innovative tools in helping farmers increase productivity. Results of their study were presented in a seminar conducted at the Institute`s Central Experiment Station in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

In her study, Antonio found that cellphones brought farmers savings on transaction and knowledge search costs. The communication device also reduced production expenses and helped increase yield. Results also revealed that the use of cellphones in canvassing palay prices could result in higher selling price as the device helps farmers identify buyers with the most reasonable price. 

In a season, farmers who learned new rice technologies via PhilRice Farmers’ Text Center gained an additional income of P39,000. The farmer-respondents also reported that their selling price increased to as high as PhP14,000 by getting traders’ quotations without travelling.

Her respondents further said they saved as much as PhP8,403 from transportation cost. They used their mobile phones in supervising farm laborers and locating seed and fertilizer sources.

The interviewed farmers also said they gained PhP730 by inquiring through text, instead of going to sources of technical information such as in municipal agriculture offices.

Overall, 85 of the 100 farmer-respondents were able to benefit either in the form of savings, higher income through better selling price of palay, higher yield, or a combination of the three.

Moreover, results showed that using cellphones for agriculture-related activities save more time in farming, which resulted in generating more income from non-agricultural work such as fishing, carpentry, and tricycle driving.

Supporting the results of the study, Manalo said that in a country that envisions food self-sufficiency, the advantages of using cellphones must be extended to more farmers so they could also enjoy the benefits.

A part of Manalo’s research revealed that youth perceived farming as either a wealth multiplier, key to achieving their dreams for their family, or a way to help poor relatives.

“A very strong link between love of family and the desire to continue farming in the future was also established in this study.  A good number of farmers’ children remain to have favorable perceptions on farming and would like to be involved in it in different capacities, directly or indirectly. Some of them want to be farming investors,” he said.

With the results, he recommended that the youth be tapped as channels in extending information to their farmer-parents and relatives who have anxieties in using the device and other ICTs. The recommendation is further supported by the results of another study in 2010, which revealed that farmers want their children to search information for them.

To engage the youth in searching information through cellphones, he proposed that rice camps and information campaign on youth as information channels for farmers would be conducted.

He also suggested for the inclusion of an ICT4D (ICT for Development) in agriculture module in the Technology and Livelihood Education subject; incorporation of games and online quizzes on agriculture-related websites; and for the PhilRice Farmers’ Text Center to consider the “farming buddy” and “textmate” set-up.

DA-PhilRice is a government-owned and –controlled corporation that aims at developing high-yielding, cost-reducing, and environment-friendly technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

For more information, please visit or contact DA-PhilRice at Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija with telephone number (044) 456-0285 loc 511/512 or any PhilRice station near you. You may also visit their website at or text your questions to 0920-911-1398. 

Alternative farming to be pilot-tested in DAR communities

An alternative technology that could help reduce production cost and mitigate climate change will be pilot-tested in the agrarian reform communities in two towns in Nueva Ecija, an agreement signed on Feb 27 at the Central Experiment Station of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) stipulates.

In a Memorandum of Agreement signed by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and PhilRice, no-tillage technology, an alternative farming practice that excludes plowing or harrowing during land preparation will be promoted in Talavera and Science City of Muñoz.

Ruben B. Miranda, PhilRice project coordinator of No Tillage and PalayCheck System for Irrigated Rice Production, said no-tillage technology will be promoted through demonstration sites and trainings.

“Studies on no-tillage technology show that it helps minimize labor cost, which represents 62-70% of total input costs, and retains carbon in the soil. With this technology, less or no machine is used for land preparation and the soil is not heavily disturbed, resulting in less fuel use and less carbon emission,” he explained.

Miranda added that localized no-tillage practices will also be developed and a season-long training on PalayCheck, an integrated crop management system for rice, is included in the project.

To be implemented for one season starting this July, the project will cover three barangays in each of the two towns. BAR will fund the project while DAR and PhilRice will promote the technologies, determine the economic benefits, and document technology adoption. 

The Memorandum of Agreement was signed by Nicomedes P. Eleazar, BAR director;  Joell H. Lales, officer-in-charge of BAR’s Planning and Project Development Division;  Rosalina L. Bistoyong and Jerry E. Pacturan, DAR undersecretaries; Eufemio T. Rasco Jr., PhilRice executive director; and Eduardo Jimmy P. Quilang, PhilRice deputy executive director for development.

DA-PhilRice is a government-owned and –controlled corporation that aims at developing high-yielding, cost-reducing, and environment-friendly technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

For more information, please visit or contact DA-PhilRice at Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija with telephone number (044) 456-0285 loc 511/512 or any PhilRice station near you. You may also visit their website at or text your questions to 0920-911-1398. 

DOST-Phivolcs to install new strong motion sensors in Luzon, Mindanao

By Joy M. Lazcano, S&T Media Service

The Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-Phivolcs) will install new strong motion sensors to nearby provinces around Metro Manila and in Mindanao. The new gadgets will record high magnitude earthquakes to provide data for studies on the effects of earth movements on the soil quality, especially in the highly urbanized cities in Luzon.

Specifically, the 27 additional sensors measure and record large amplitude, high frequency seismic wave activities typical of local earthquakes with magnitude 3 and above.

The additional sensors will strengthen the earthquake monitoring capability of Phivolcs which is beefing up efforts in mitigating disaster risks especially in high vulnerability areas.

“Disaster mitigation is high on the agenda of DOST,” said Sec. Mario Montejo, “We  are embarking on a program that will ensure safer communities through S&T, and  the installation of strong motion sensors will play a part in it.”

According to DOST-Phivolcs, strong earth movements loosen up soil thus exposing affected areas to multiple hazards such as soil liquefaction, landslides, erosion and sinkholes.

Through the additional sensors, experts at Phivolcs will be able to determine the risks in affected areas and provide a timely recommendation in upgrading building codes to conform with the soil quality. Phivolcs will also be able to predict the patterns of strong shaking in future large earthquakes.

“Engineers will be guided on the limitations of their structural designs against the soil quality in a particular area.” said Phivolcs’ Melchor Lasala. Proper guidance will enable engineers to improve the structural designs of buildings and make these safer and sturdier.

Geohazards may not be presently apparent at the present but experts express that the risk is too great to be ignored.

“Our job is to provide vital information to local governments as well as private engineering firms and land developers on the possible hazards that may occur, and hopefully prevent it from happening,” explained Lasala.

Although the sensors measure “big event” ground movements, Lasala underlined that these instruments are not early warning systems. “These instruments are used more on recording and measuring the impact and magnitude of the earthquake in an area for further studies,” Lasala clarified.

He also added that Phivolcs will install 12 strong motion sensors in Davao City.  Just recently, the agency has installed a sensor in San Pablo City, a burgeoning city in the southern part of Laguna.

Heat Treatment: A greener option for pallet protection

In response to the call for a greener environment, the DOST’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) offers an eco-friendly technology for the wooden pallet industry. The Institute’s Furnace Type Heat Treatment Facility (FHTF) can provide the heat needed to kill insects and other pests infesting wood packaging materials (WPMs) such as wooden pallets.

WPMs are commonly used in transporting commodities around the globe as they are relatively cheaper than plastic and metal containers. However, WPMs made of unprocessed wood are vulnerable to pest attacks and can introduce and spread pests from one country to another.

In 2002, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) adopted the Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade or the ISPM 15, which requires all WPMs to undergo heat treatment or methyl bromide (MB) fumigation and consequently, be stamped with the IPPC seal.

“Heat treatment using the FPRDI-designed FHTF is an ecologically safe way to get IPPC marks for WPMs,” said Ms. Wency H. Carmelo, Senior Research Specialist at FPRDI. “MB fumigation is hazardous to the environment. MB is 60 times more damaging to the ozone layer than chlorine and is blamed for 5-10% of worldwide ozone depletion, thereby increasing the risk of exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays. MB also makes wood non-recyclable. Exposure to high concentration of MB has resulted in a number of human deaths,” Carmelo stressed.
 Meanwhile, Carmelo said that heat treatment using FHTF does nothing destructive to the environment.
“Heat treatment requires that the pallet blocks’ wood core be treated at 56°C for at least 30 minutes. Our study revealed that the average heat treatment time is 5 hours which will only cost Php 6.68 per pallet when using a 10,000-board foot-capacity FHTF. That is 46% cheaper than MB fumigation.”

The surge in demand for local pallets began with the onset of global industrialization in the late 1990s. In 2009, Region IV-A alone accounted for at least 30 pallet makers that produced 2,000 pallets a day. “With FTLD’s heat treatment, we not only help make our environment greener, we also offer to our clients a safer and cheaper way to get IPCC stamps to sustain the growth of their businesses,” Carmelo concluded. ### (Apple Jean C. Martin and Rizalina K. Araral, 17 February 2012)

Bulakenyos hail bar topnotcher

MALOLOS CITY— Bulakenyos hailed Raoul Angelo Atadero, the son of Meycauayan City councilor, for topping the 2011 bar examinations.

As this developed, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Bulacan chapter is preparing to honor him.

“It’s no ordinary achievement. It’s really inspiring,” said Lawyer Ted Villanueva, the present of the IBP-Bulacan.

However, he said that while Atadero topped the bar, his parents must be also be recognized.

“I tip my hats off to his parents for helping and encouraging him,” Villanueva said referring to Meycauayan City Councilor Raoul Atadero and his wife.

The Ataderos came from Brgy. Saluysoy in Meycauayan City and has been operating a string of pawnshops in different parts of the country.

As president of IBP-Bulacan, Villanueva added that they hope that Atadero will join their chapter.

“We are preparing to give him recognition, along with other Bulakenyo bar passers,” he said.

Lawyer Jose Dela Rama Jr., the former IBP-Bulacan president said Atadero will be included in the roster of Bulakenyo bar top notchers.

Dela Rama said that IBP Bulacan has established a wall of fame in recognition to bar examinees who made it to the top 10.

For his part, Lawyer Teddy De Belen, the head of the Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Office (BENRO) said Atadero’s feat is another testament that Bulakenyos are ready to excel if given a chance.

“Bulakenyos are really cut above the rest.  We are proud of them,” he said noting that almost every year, a Bulakenyo always land in the top 10 of the annual bar examinations.

The same was echoed by Malolos City Mayor Christian Natividad, who passed the bar about four years ago.

“Bulakenyos continuously position its youth as a potent source of bright men motivated by opportunities in their proximity to schools,” Natividad said.

This year, Atadero is joined in the top 10 by Eireene Xinia Acosta of San Jose Del Monte City who placed 7th

Woman gave birth to triplets on February 29

MALOLOS CITY—February 29 is a rare day, but it was made more unusual with the birth of a triplet at the Bulacan Medical Center (BMC) on the same day.

Dr. Protacio Badjao, BMC director said the triplets were born to Analyn Santos 27, from Brgy. Kabayunan in the mountain town of Donya Remedios Trinidad in eastern Bulacan.

Analyn was rushed by her husband Philiip, 27, to BMC on Wednesday morning. Philip, is a farmer.

The triplets were born via caesarian operation.

Records showed that the first baby was at 12:38PM on Wednesday, followed by the second at 12:39PM and the third at 12:40PM.

The triplets were named Simon, Sakira and Shiennie

While the birth of the triplets brought joy to the Santoses, the parents also expressed concern over the future of their triplets.

Philip said that they might have a hard time raising the triplets,along with their oldest child.

He said that his savings were almost depleted by his wife’s operation.

He also said they now need more medicine as his wife was diagnosed with Hepatitis B.

Doctors said that the mother might infect her babies with hepatitis B.