[PHOTO - Lycopersicon Hybrid 'Patio Picnic' Tomato Patio Picnic]

MANILA, NOVEMBER 21, 2011 (BULLETIN) Even ordinary farmers, like land reform beneficiaries, can earn big money if they plant the right varieties and they also learn how to grow their plants the right way.

Just like Nelly Macolor of Brgy. Sto. Nino in Capoocan, Leyte. She used to plant corn and camote in her 500-square meter farm and got only an income of P440 per cropping.

After attending a six-month intensive training course on growing high-value vegetables, she was able to make a net profit of P30,000 from the same area when she planted ampalaya, cucumber and sweet pepper.

Macolor attended the training offered under the auspices of the Department of Agrarian Reform which engaged the expertise of the technicians of East-West Seed Company to train the farmers in the production of high-value crops on a year-round basis. The training is under DAR’s Agrarian Reform Communities Development Project (ARCDP).

A total of 21 farmers (men and women) from five barangays in the Capoocan agrarian reform community, 14 of them agrarian reform beneficiaries, shared inspiring stories shortly after graduation from the field school.

Nelly Macolor, 57, an agrarian reform beneficiary, reported that she planted ampalaya, cucumber and sweet pepper in her 500-square meter demo farm and got a net income of P30,000 from the same area that previously produced an income of only P440 from corn and camote.

In the initial harvest alone, she harvested 194 kilos of ampalaya, 98 kilos of cucumber and 16 kilos of sweet pepper for a total sale of P10,850.

Aside from learning the necessary techniques of growing high-value crops, the trainees were also extended credit by the local government and East-West Seed as start-up capital.

DAR Regional Director Ellasem Castillo said that the good gesture of East-West Seed enabled the government unit to save funds for skills training and development of farmer-beneficiaries. The DAR tied up with the seed company through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme in establishing the farmers’ field school.

Aside from teaching the farmers how to grow their crops, the farmers’ field school also trains the farmers in developing, producing and marketing their produce.

Earlier, the high-value vegetable production project was pilot-tested in Calbiga ARC in Samar; Balangiga ARC in Eastern Samar, San Isidro and Capoocan ARCs in Leyte.

Marilyn Dacara, technology specialist of East-West, said that the farmers were also taught seed and seedling management, insect and disease identification and management, postharvest handling techniques, and basic record keeping.

The technicians also taught the farmers which crop is appropriate for a particular area as well as market preferences to make sure that all products will be sold, according to Dacara.

Many interested in Malunggay – The 3rd National Moringa Congress held last November 9 at the Land Bank Plaza in Manila, was attended by some 500 delegates from all over the country. Which only shows that there is a lot of interest in this long-taken-for-granted tree vegetable.

But to make the Malunggay Industry really become truly a potent industry, a lot of research and development work have to be undertaken. It is of course heartening to know that the Central Philippine University in Iloilo is undertaking research and development. For a start, they have been observing the performance of a number of accessions from Africa, Thailand, Taiwan, India and elsewhere.

A speaker from Israel also showed a video of high-density malunggay planting that included harvesting by machine.

Many of the attendees are eager to learn the proper way of propagating and planting this tree vegetable, based on the questions aired on the floor. There are a number of ways mentioned that included propagation by seed, by cuttings, by marcotting and others. Tissue-culture of malunggay has not been perfected yet.

Some concerns were raised. Because a lot of people are interested in planting malunggay, the concern is that when there will be a lot of production by small scale farmers, will they be able to sell all their harvest? Hence, investors in processing plants should be encouraged at the same time. Perhaps, the government can provide the policies that will encourage more people to go into processing of malunggay into various products.

The small processors will certainly need the support of the government, particularly the Department of Science and Technology in ensuring the high quality of the processed products. Only with high-quality malunggay products can the Philip-pines develop an industry that will be patronized by the whole world.

Malunggay for milk goats – Incidentally, Alaminos Goat Farm and the Bureau of Agricultural Research are collaborating in a research that will find out if a ration fortified with malunggay will result in higher production of milk in dairy goats. It is research studies like this that will validate claims such as the one that malunggay promotes higher milk production in humans. Now, they want to find out if that will also work in dairy goats.

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Big crowd at National Malunggay Congress – More than 500 malunggay stakeholders attended the 3rd National Moringa Congress held last Wednesday, November 9, at the Land Bank Plaza in Manila. Speakers discussed the potentials of this lowly and long-taken-for-granted tree vegetable. The attendees included delegates from various parts of the country, many of them eager to learn about the different aspects of propagating, growing and processing the various parts of the tree into a wide variety of products besides food. Other products that can be derived from this tree include medicines, dietary supplements, oil and biofuel from the seeds, cosmetics and other beauty products, biofertilizer and animal feed ingredients. Photo shows Director Leandro Gazmin of the Agricultural Marketing Assistance Service of the Department of Agriculture seated (front) with the hundreds of attendees.

Indian Gooseberry — This is one tropical tree from India that could be grown in the Philippines. It produces clusters of round fruits that are sweetish sour. In India, it is believed to have medicinal attributes. It is made into juice, candy, jam and other preparations. A few trees have been introduced in the Philippines and it remains to be seen if they will bear fruit well under local conditions.

Japan steps up shift overseas operations as yen stays highNovember 21, 2011, 2:19am MANILA BULLETIN

TOKYO (Reuters) — Japan's big manufacturers are speeding up their shift overseas, in a sign they see the strong yen as a long-term handicap rather than a temporary blip, as they struggle to compete with nimble Asian rivals.

A sluggish home market and energy shortages following the widespread nuclear power shutdown sparked by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing atomic crisis are also tipping the balance towards investment abroad.

Panasonic Corp. is planning its first solar factory outside Japan, sources said on Friday, while Suzuki Motor Corp. said it was seeking to double auto production at its joint venture in China by 2015.

Rival automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. also said on Thursday that exchange rates were forcing them to consider changes in their own production plans.

''I think we are reaching the limit for manufacturing in Japan,'' said Yuuki Sakurai, president of Fukoku Asset Management in Tokyo.

''In future, companies may be registered in Japan and have their head office here, but it could be that most people they employ are not Japanese and most of their production doesn't take place in Japan.''

The Japanese currency was trading at about 77 yen to the dollar on Friday, compared with levels around 90 yen two years ago.

The euro has tumbled to about 104 yen, compared with about 134 yen in November 2009, slashing the value of overseas revenues brought home to Japan by export-reliant firms.

Manufacturers say there is little prospect of increasing procurement in euros to offset the pain.

Panasonic, for example, has said the strong yen will cut its operating profit by 28 billion yen ($363 million) in the year to March 2013.

Panasonic's new solar plant in Malaysia is set to cost 40-50 billion yen, according to sources, with news of the investment coming just weeks after the firm revealed it was dropping a plan to convert a TV panel plant in Japan for solar panel production.

''We were considering increasing solar production capacity by converting our No. 3 panel plant,'' Panasonic President Fumio Ohtsubo told a news conference last month.

''But there was no reason for an aggressive expansion at this plant, given that the exchange rate situation is completely different from two years ago, and that we have grave concerns about power shortages,'' he added. ''All things considered, there is more merit to manufacturing overseas than in Japan.''

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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