Press Release
April 11, 2016

Villar: Environment R&D to benefit agriculture

Sen. Cynthia Villar said research and development in environment protection will also benefit the agriculture sector since it is also the sector that incurs the greatest damage and losses during environmental disasters.

During the National Multi-Stakeholder's Consultation Workshop on the Review and Updating of the Research, Development and Extension Agenda Program (RDEAP) for Agriculture and Fisheries held in Luxent Hotel, Timog Ave. Quezon City recently, Villar urged the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research and Agriculture (SEARCA) to put in place a climate resilient RDEAP for 2016 to 2022.

"The Philippines, an archipelagic country, is most vulnerable to the climate change. With the extent of environmental degradation prevailing in our lands and seas, again I believe, that R&D coupled with science and technology will continue to be our lifesaver. Any talk about food security and sustainability of our resources is of course closely linked with environment protection," Villar said.

Villar recalled that damage to agriculture caused by super typhoon Yolanda which hit the country in November 2013, reached over PhP90 billion. The losses are such because the typhoon struck between two planting seasons. It damaged about 600,000 hectares of agricultural lands, with an estimated 1.1 million metric tons of crops lost.

"Mindanao is still reeling from an extended period of drought. Maguindanao has even been placed under a state calamity with more than 20,000 farmers affected by the damaged rice and cornfields. The adverse impact of El Niño continues to hound the agriculture sector," she added.

Villar cited that research and development led to climate-resilient seeds and the carrageenan plant growth regulator o CPGR that increases rice yield by 65 per cent. Also, research in genomics increased coconut farmers' yield or harvest from only 46 coconuts per year per tree to 100 coconuts. "More than that, of course, the development and adoption of modern, appropriate, cost-effective and environmentally safe agricultural and fisheries machinery and equipment will enhance farm productivity and efficiency to achieve food security and increase farmers' and fisherfolks' income," she added.

Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, also said the the review of the implementation of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act or (AFMA) and the Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Law (AFMECH) should also be tackled in the consultation.

"Lack of technical expertise and mechanization are among the challenges that hinder the competitiveness of our farmers and fisherfolks," Villar pointed out.

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