The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) through its APO Liaison Office conducted the 9th APO Grantees Forum held in Quest Hotel and Conference Center in Cebu City last March 20, 2013. The forum was organized in partnership with the Provincial Office of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The forum theme “Green Productivity and Innovation Approaches for Green Growth” is in line with promoting knowledge sharing among APO grantees, productivity practitioners, experts, advocates and other stakeholders, and the advocacy on Green Productivity and Innovation towards a Green Economy.
Invited speakers/APO alumni who shared their learnings and knowledge on the various sub-topics included: Engr. Guillermo F. Saret, Jr., Chief Innovation Officer of Pascual Laboratories and also the President of Leonie Agri Corporation; Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, PhD, President of Visayas State University (VSU); and Ms. Dawn Rhoda M. Jamandre, President of Jamandre Industries, Inc. and the Panay Organic Producers Association (POPA).
Controlled Environment Agriculture Systems and Green Technologies
During his presentation, Dr. Joe Bacusmo shared the trends in greenhouse technology in Asia, and the highlights of his visit to several greenhouses in South Korea during the APO study mission he attended.
Dr. Bacusmo enumerated the numerous advantages of applying controlled environment agriculture enjoyed by farmers in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, among of which is that you can grow more plants to a limited area, reduce chemical strain by 90%- reduce not reuse, and reduce post harvest losses.
The real challenge, Dr. Bacusmo said, is how to adapt and implement the system in the country. First, the market must be willing to pay premium price for organically produced plants in the less urban areas. The initial investment for this type of greenhouse is costly (a million pesos for a small greenhouse). The capability of farmers must also be developed. On the side of research, the government needs to designate experts/professors to specialize in greenhouse establishment and management. The government also needs to fund training of engineers from universities on greenhouse design and the fabrication of greenhouse components.
To cap his presentation, Dr. Bacusmo noted how far behind the Philippines is compared to its neighbor countries when it comes to greenhouse technology. “There’s really a lot of catching up to do if we want to shift to controlled environment agriculture system”, he concluded.
Green Productivity and Innovation: Pascual Lab and LAC Farms Experience
The second speaker, Engr. Jun Saret, introduced Pascual Laboratories and its products which followed Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Engr. Saret shared that LAC Farms, which is a subsidiary of Pascual Lab, used to produce crops only. Now, it is a fully rehabilitated organic farm. LAC Farms empowered their farmers, and transformed them into partners, taught them how to manage their own businesses and setup their own farm (they call this as community of practice).
At LAC Farms, he said, they bio-diversified not only in medicinal plants but also in making soaps, detergents, as well as pest control. One of their secrets, Engr. Saret said, is that they have technical trainings, and they put Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and other related trainings that inculcates value formation, including weekly prayer assemblies for farmers to help strengthen their faith. Faith strengthened them and helped push for social innovation in the community.
In conclusion, Engr. Saret said that the Philippines is gifted, and is one of the most bio-diversified countries in the world. If only Filipinos can effectively utilize resources to bring out nature’s products, with the help of the government, small farmers will greatly benefit, and even produce high value crops.
Thailand Organic & Natural Farming Best Practices
For her part, Ms. Jamandre shared the Sufficiency Economy concept in Thailand and its applications. She explained how the Self-reliance or “New theory” is considered as a strategy to guide the Thai people to assist themselves so that they can have the means to live and eat. Ms. Jamandre shared the learnings from the APO Study Mission to Thailand on Organic and Natural Farming.
In the integration of learnings and open forum that followed the speakers presentation, the participants conveyed that going organic requires a lot of commitment. They appreciated what the speakers have shared and expressed strong interest to start applying the learnings. Questions were raised and directed to the resource speakers regarding the topics they discussed wherein Dr. Bacusmo, Engr. Saret and Ms. Jamandre willingly accommodated.
There were also exchanges of ideas on the next steps to be undertaken by the organizers and the participants. One is that DAP should implement more projects on Green Technologies in support of the Tourism Industry.
Second is that DAP and DTI should run similar events and forums in the Visayas in the near future. And third, that a panel of productivity experts/consultants be formed in Cebu that will help coordinate and facilitate these activities in the region.
During his closing remarks, DAP Vice President and APO Liaison Officer for the Philippines, Mr. Carlos A. Sayco Jr., extended his gratitude to the participants and hoped to jointly undertake collaborative projects with the participants and other key stakeholders in the public and private sectors.
There were 53 participants from various public & private sector organizations who attended and were impressed with the resource speakers. Many were even inspired to start their own organic farm and to share insights from the forum to co-workers and friends.