environment

Phl launches Nat’l Food Policy, capping World Food Day celeb

October 20, 2020

The Philippine government formalized its commitment to end hunger and malnutrition as it launched the National Food Policy (NFP), during the closing program of the week-long 2020 World Food Day (WFD) celebration on October 16, 2020. “We strongly endorse and commit to action the newly-launched National Food Policy under the authorship and leadership of Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said during the event, held at the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management in Quezon City. For his part, Nograles — chair of the Inter-agency Task Force on Zero Hunger that crafted the NFP of President Duterte’s administration — said hunger is a multi-dimensional problem caused by a combination of inter-related factors, and thus collective action of everyone is crucial in addressing it effectively. “To ensure not only a whole-of-government approach, but also a whole-of-nation approach in eradicating hunger, the NFP provides an outline of the national priorities based on a comprehensive understanding of hunger and related issues,” he said. Secretary Dar, who serves as vice-chair of the Zero Hunger Task Force, said the 2020 World Food Day celebration is made more relevant as it highlighted the need to attain food security with a greater sense of urgency, as the Philippines and other countries worldwide contend with the global COVID-19 pandemic. “With this year’s theme, ‘Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together,’ the Department of Agriculture (DA) assures our countrymen that we will sustain our efforts to ensure food adequacy for the present and future generations of Filipinos,” the agri chief said. As the country’s food security depends on the agriculture sector, Secretary Dar said the DA will continue developing more strategies aimed at increasing food productivity in cost-efficient and sustainable ways. He said the DA strives to make revolutionary changes to the sector, elevating it to “Agriculture 4.0” — that is a smarter and more efficient industry that employs big data and new technologies benefiting the entire food value chain, especially producers and consumers. During the early weeks of the pandemic, Secretary Dar said the DA and its partners worked hard and implemented various initiatives that helped avoid any food shortages, thus there were no queues at food distribution centers unlike in previous economic crises. The DA programs include “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” marketing, urban agriculture, and other initiatives under the ‘Plant, Plant, Plant’ umbrella program. All of these are expected to be part of the new normal to help ensure food security, Secretary Dar said. As part of the WFD celebration, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) also launched on October 16 its Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) Roadmap that complements the NFP, said CabSec Nograles. The NFP has outlined six key result areas, namely: 1) review and rationalize existing policies, rules, and regulations related to zero hunger; 2) ensure available and affordable food; 3) secure nutrition adequacy; 4) secure food accessibility and safety; 5) ensure sustainable food systems, food resiliency, and stability; and 6) ensure information, education, awareness, and people participation. “We hope everyone is inspired by this indispensable goal of food security and takes steps forward in fighting these injustices, amid the pandemic – where consuming a balanced, nutritious diet every day is our only weapon against the Covid-19 virus,” Secretary Dar concluded, as he thanked President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for his leadership and commitment to the Filipino people. (GB, DA-AFID)  

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Sustainable consumption, circular economy should be part of better normal

October 20, 2020

 Ecological solid waste management and recycling advocates echoed the importance of incorporating the concepts of circular economy and sustainable consumption and production in the country’s post-COVID-19 recovery plans during the 22nd episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Change Pathways,” with the topic “Transforming Waste into Wages.” The online conversation hosted by Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda featured advocates and entrepreneurs, including Mr. Joemar Lagarto, Councilor from Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City; Ms. Shine De Castro, co-founder of Old Manila Eco Market; Ms. Wilhelmina “Willie” Garcia, founder of Junk not!; and Ms. Katherine Mana-Galido, co-founder of Back to Basics Ecostore, who all shared their experiences in starting eco-friendly programs that now generate livelihoods in their communities. Councilor Lagarto shared Barangay Holy Spirit’s journey and legacy of a solid waste management program since 1997, three years before the enactment of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and how they established their gulayan sa barangay in 1998. With a model urban farm, training, and livelihood center that produces bags, home and office decorations, and storage baskets made from recyclable materials, Barangay Holy Spirit earned the Hall of Fame Awardee of the Seal of Housekeeping for Barangay Governance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). “Nung nagsara ang Payatas dahil nagkaroon tayo ng shortage kung saan itatapon ang basura nung bago pa gumuho ito, naisip na namin noon na bakit hindi natin pag-aralan at turuan ang mga tao na dalawa lang ang dapat sine-segregate – ‘yung nabubulok at ‘di nabubulok na basura. [Naisip namin na] siguro mababawasan din ‘yung maitatapon sa Payatas kung ire-recycle natin at pagkakakitaan ng mga tao ang ating mga patapon na mga bagay. Maganda pala na magkaroon tayo ng training sa mga tao, turuan sila para i-recycle ang isang bagay na walang bayad o libre. Ang lahat ng nagawa nila, pwede nilang ibenta at pagkakitaan," said Lagarto. Ms. De Castro showed how they conceptualized, organized, and established an eco-friendly market, which offers naturally-made, handmade, and upcycled products, including those from regions and indigenous communities. She also discussed the challenges and opportunities they are facing during the pandemic. “Ang aming pangarap ay magkaroon ang lahat ng siyudad ng ganitong klaseng weekend market dahil kaya naman pong gawin, and at the same time, i-extend sa komunidad ang pagtulong, hindi lang sa local MSMEs. I-involve rin po ang buong community pati ang mga residente,” said de Castro. Ms. Garcia, an environmentalist and interior designer by profession, shared her experiences in producing furniture and accessories made of trash, which she successfully exhibited in Europe. She also shared how she was inspired by the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Act and committed to influence young people to earn from waste. “Tinuturo ko sa community [kung papaano ang] proper waste management. All the plastic wastes that they collected, may tinuro akong technique sa kanila how to manually make it into rope. Nung nalaman nila ‘yun, nag-set-up kami ng Materials Recovery Facility to properly segregate all their household wastes. Eventually, hindi na rin nila nagamit, kasi household pa lang, nagse-segregate na sila, binebenta na nila ‘yung mga recyclable, tapos ‘yung residual wastes, ‘yung plastic, ‘yun naman ‘yung binibili ko sa kanila sa community, and we turn it into home furnishing. Then may program kami na you have to buy back the finished product out of your wastes,” said Garcia. Ms. Galido, a Climate Reality Leader and a human and environmental rights advocate, shared how she transformed climate campaigning into action with her back-to-basic (BTB) eco-store, stressing that a refilling system for stores should be part of the better normal. “Kami ay pare-parehong mga nababahala sa sobrang packaging kaya maliban sa pagdadala ng reusable bottles at pag-iwas sa straw, gusto namin na sa tahanan namin ay zero-waste at walang packaging. Doon po nagsimula na gusto namin ng pagbabago, back-to-basics ang aming tindahan, kami ay nagpapahalaga sa essentials, at kung anong mahalaga sa pamilya. Zero-waste journey ang gusto naming maibahagi, para mabago ang throwaway culture,” said Galido. Legarda encouraged households and LGUs to reduce waste by properly implementing segregation of waste at source, and encouraging individuals in their respective communities to recycle, upcycle, and plant their own food in support of the government’s thrust of building a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive society during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. "Isinulong natin ang Ecological Solid Waste Management Act dahil naniniwala ako na kaya ng ating mga barangay ang mag-segregate, recycle, at upcycle ng mga basura. Maraming sa ating mga LGUs ang hindi pa rin sinusunod ang batas, ngunit nakita naman natin ngayon na mas dumarami pa ang nagsasabuhay nito sa ating komunidad at maging sa sariling bahay. Naniniwala ako na kayang-kaya natin ang zero-waste lifestyle at circular economy bilang bahagi ng ating better normal,” Legarda concluded. As an online discussion to promote health, environmental consciousness, and climate-adaptive practices, Stories for a Better Normal aims to change the mindset of individuals, families, and communities by demonstrating ways in which a ‘better normal’ can be realized within our communities.             This online discussion is organized in partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines, and the Mother Earth Foundation. (CCC)

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Elevating volume, quality of local food production is top priority for DA

October 14, 2020

   “We need to take care of our local commodity industry. Local production is the priority, and importation is a policy of last resort.” This was one of the key messages delivered by Agriculture Secretary William Dar during the opening program of the week-long World Food Day Celebration on October 12, 2020. According to the agri chief, the country’s current food adequacy level is at 80 percent overall. For rice, in particular, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is targeting to increase by seven percent the present rice adequacy level from 86 to 93 percent as part of the food systems policy shifts especially in the new normal. “Sustainability is key to producing enough. Although presently we know that in the Philippines, we can only afford to produce enough of the food we need. The rest have to be brought from other shores,” he said. Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority data for the 2016–2019 period, the country’s local food production did not keep up with the growing population. Thus, the need to import additional food to close the gap. “Hindi pa sapat ’yong ating production. But given the program on rice tariffication, the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, and other programs that we are now putting in place, we will go to that level sometime in the future when almost all of the food requirements of the country can be locally produced,” Dar said. The Secretary also directed the DA’s National Rice Program and the Philippine Rice Research Institute to update their plans considering the changing consumer preferences and requirements. In a recent meeting with DA, local traders and millers shared that the rice from other countries is of better quality and taste compared to those offered in the local markets. “This is a development that the DA must consider. What is needed by the country now is not just higher levels of productivity but quality rice as well,” the secretary said. The following food systems policy shifts, which is based on the New Food Security Framework, aims to sustainably feed a growing population in the new normal: 1) increasing food sufficiency levels; 2) focusing on production-to-consumption value chain; 3) harmonizing the food systems with related sectors; 4) addressing hunger and all forms of malnutrition; and 5) adopting context-specific policies. (GB/ DA-AFID)    

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DA-PCC celebrates WFD

October 14, 2020

The Department of Agriculture - Philippine Carabao Centet (DA-PCC) participated in the opening ceremony of the World Food Day (WFD) with the theme “Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together” on October 12. DA-PCC Deputy Executive Director Dr. Caro Salces substantiated the theme in his opening remarks by giving his own meaning of the acronym TEAM. “The TEAM stands for Transform, Envision, Align, and Make it happen. We need these to grow, nourish, and sustain the carabao industry together,” he said. Meanwhile, DA-PCC Officer-in-Charge Executive Director Dr. Claro Mingala related the mandate of the agency to the acronym FOOD, which means Factual, Objective, Organized, and Development-driven. “Let’s all be happy working together not only for the agency but also for the farming communities. We should all be one in pursuing DA-PCC’s mandate and objectives to better serve our farmer-clients,” he said. DA-PCC Division Chiefs Dr. Eric Palacpac, Dr. Eufrocina Atabay, Minda Diloy, and Aimee Fulgencio also gave updates on the activities and accomplishments of their respective divisions. WFD is a global day of action that focuses on food security, which is celebrated annually on October 16 worldwide. (MCI/DA-PCC)  

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PH kids learn about migratory birds, endemic duck in a new children’s book

October 14, 2020

  Learning about nature may be challenging under COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions, but the Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands (SCPW), in partnership with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) found fun ways to do it while cultivating the children’s sense of adventure. Through a combination of technology and old-school story-telling style, grade-schoolers were introduced to some of the migratory birds, their connection to human and environmental health, and the reason for their conservation, during the celebration of the World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) on 10 October. The SCPW and the ACB launched a children’s book on migratory birds titled, “Si Papan at ang mga Dayong Ibon” during the webinar “Click it, Sketch It: An Adventure with Migratory Birds”.   The book narrates the adventures of Papan, a Philippine duck in the Candaba marshlands, and the migratory birds Takyad, a Black-winged Stilt and Kalay, a Far Eastern Curlew. Takyad flew from Alaska, where the changing climate caused their late winter migration to the south. Meanwhile, Kalay faced a number of difficulties during their migration from Siberia to Australia, including being hunted by humans and facing pollution in their feeding areas and the declining number and quality of staging sites. In the story, the migratory birds and the endemic duck lamented their dwindling population despite the important roles they play in maintaining ecological balance. “The survival of migratory birds is intricately connected with ours,” said ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim, underlining to the WMBD theme, “Birds Connect Our World.” “Tangible benefits can be derived from their protection such as ensuring genetic diversity and gene flow and preventing spillovers of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19 by keeping viruses within their natural hosts, to name a few.” Drivers of biodiversity loss such as human encroachment, land-use conversion, and hunting and poaching continue to persist, contributing to the decline in numbers of these ecologically valuable birds, she said. Global data sources show that in the ASEAN region, 70 migratory species from a total of 510 have been listed as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, and near threatened. The ASEAN region, being one of the important flyway sites along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, is rich with wetlands, home to 60 per cent of tropical peatlands and 42 per cent of mangrove forests in the world. All these ecosystems serve as habitats for local birds, and migration sites for migratory species. Conserving these ecosystems is therefore connected to keeping these birds safe and their population thriving. According to the ACB, the ASEAN Member States remain hopeful and continue to look for creative and efficient ways to achieve the region’s biodiversity conservation targets. The number of  Ramsar sites––or wetlands of international importance, has grown with 25 new designated sites over the past decade. At present, the region has a total of 56 Ramsar sites, covering an estimated area of 2.6 million hectares. “These favourable circumstances offer an optimistic glimpse of the conservation of migratory birds and the protection of ecosystems,” Lim said. Other efforts are being done in the region, including facilitating cooperation and research through the ASEAN Flyway Network; protected areas and ecosystems conservation through the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs) Programme; and mainstreaming of biodiversity across diverse sectors and segments of society, including youth. Lim emphasised the importance of the youth’s participation in biodiversity conservation. One of the Centre’s programme, called the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Programme (AYBP), builds capacity and relationships for young leaders in biodiversity conservation through experiential learning. Under the AYBP, the ACB will likewise serve as an adviser to this year’s Flyway Youth Forum, the first-ever international youth event on migratory waterbirds and wetland conservation in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. “With this book, we hope to ignite the children’s appreciation for birds and biodiversity,” Lim said. “It is never too early to start developing the love for nature. It is from this appreciation that we can foster a deeper understanding of its value and vital connection to our lives.”    Based on a story developed by the SCPW Executive Director, Ms. Amy Lecciones, Darry Shel Estorba and Dana Rose Salonoy collaborated on writing and illustrating the storybook on migratory birds. “The SCPW hopes to continue collaborating with ACB in communicating the importance of wetlands and biodiversity through various media and catering to various audiences,” said Lecciones. “This children’s storybook is part of our efforts to come up with communication materials that will appeal to our young audience and have an even broader reach if it will be translated into other ASEAN languages.” The virtual launch of the publication featured a storytelling session among the young audiences from all over the country including a group from the New Faith Children’s Home Foundation, performances from the children, and a  colouring activity. A video on migratory birds produced by the East-Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership and localised by SCPW was also shown during the event. (ACB)  

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Senate expresses sympathy to family of Negros Occidental governor

October 14, 2020

The Senate today adopted a resolution expressing its profound sympathy and sincere condolences to the family of environmentalist and former Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. who passed away last Oct 1, 2020 due to cardiac complications. He was 84 years old. Majority Leader Migz Zubiri, who introduced Senate Resolution No. 544, said Marañon catapulted Negros Occidental as a food sufficient agricultural province through his Negros First! campaign and created many opportunities for his constituents. Marañon was an enthusiast of organic agriculture and encouraged farmers to grow their crops the natural way. During his term, as much as 15,000 hectares of land were turned into organic farms with around 12, 920 farmers working on it. “He championed the cause of the environment. In March 2019, Marañon declared Negros Occidental as coal-free as he prohibited the entry of coal-fired power plants in the province,” Zubiri said. He said Marañon also signed an Executive Order declaring that only clean and renewable sources of energy would be allowed in the province. As an environmentalist, Zubiri said Marañon established the 32,000 hectare Sagay Marine Reserve in the 1970s and made Negros Occidental a major ecotourism spot in the country. He said the marine reserve is composed of Carbine Reef, Macahulom and Panal Reef, as well as Molocaboc Daku and Diot islands and the Suyac islet. Tourist visit the area for its sand beaches, various fishes, seas turtles, migratory birds, coral formations and other marine wonders as well as the centuries-old mangrove trees. Born on December 21, 1935, Marañon was a farmer and an engineer. He began his career as a public servant by being a councilor of Sagay in 1964 and later served as vice mayor. He was eventually elected as mayor of the city in 1972 before he went on to become an assemblyman of the Batasan Pambansa. In 1988, Marañon was again elected mayor and in 1992 as vice governor of the province. He ran for a congressional seat in 1995, where he served for three consecutive terms. Marañon served as Negros Occidental governor from 2010 to 2019. “His passing is a great loss not only to his bereaved family and the Negrenses but to the entire Filipino nation as well,” Zubiri said. (Senate PRIB)

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