SESAM, PCAARRD and partners conduct knowledge-sharing on impact assessment of coral reef rehabilitation projects in the Philippines

Knowledge sharing workshop1The participants (representatives from DOST-PCAARRD, Batangas State University, University of San Carlos, Mindanao State University, and a number of graduate students from SESAM) during the Knowledge-Sharing Workshop last May 11-12, 2017.

A collaborative session of multidisciplinary teams was organized by the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) last May 11-12, 2017 at W.D. Dar Hall, DOST-PCAARRD, Los Baños, Laguna. The workshop entitled “Knowledge-Sharing Workshop on Methods and Outcomes of the Coral Transplantation Technology Using Asexually Reproduced Corals in the Philippines” was participated by representatives of the Department of Science and Technology– Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), Batangas State University, University of San Carlos, Mindanao State University, and graduate students of SESAM.

The country’s marine resources especially coral reef ecosystems are continuously being degraded due to anthropogenic activities coupled with natural factors. To address the issue, DOST-PCAARRD funded the Filipinnovation on Coral Rehabilitation Program in the Philippines in 2012-2013 that was tasked to develop a coral transplantation technology that can be used to rehabilitate degraded reef habitats. The technology made use of coral of opportunities (COPs) reared in Coral Nursery Units (CNUs) for transplantation in degraded reef areas which were done using various innovative approaches with the goal of increasing coral cover and biodiversity. Prior to scaling up this technology, an assessment is crucial to identify its strengths and weaknesses, thus, the conduct of the impact assessment project.

The Knowledge-Sharing workshop intends to bring together the individuals involved in the Filipinnovation program and the impact assessment Team to discuss the prospects and the directives for the impact evaluation. Specifically, it aimed to share and present updates on the impacts of the asexual reproduction technology that the Filipinnovation program implemented in selected sites in the Philippines last 2012 and at the same time, discussed the activities for the impact evaluation project that will be done for the program.

Dr. Decibel Eslava, the Dean of UPLB-SESAM, and Dr. Ernesto Brown, the Director of DOST-PCAARRD Socio-Economic Research Division, delivered messages to inspire the participants. Dr. Filipina B. Sotto, the program leader of the “Filipinnovation on Coral Reef Restoration Program”, presented the coral transplantation technology that they have implemented across 13 strategic restoration sites all over the country with the goal of restoring one hectare of degraded coral reef area in each of the pilot sites. She discussed the development process of the technology and the various modifications along the way in order to suit the capability of the coastal community and other stakeholders to carry out such projects. The Filipinnovation team from some of the pilot sites specifically Mabini Batangas, Panglao Bohol, Boracay Aklan, and Tawi-tawi shared the results, learnings, and innovation of their respective sites.  

On the other hand, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, the project leader of the “Impact Assessment of the Filipinnovation on Coral Rehabilitation Program in the Philippines” (PhilCORA Project) discussed the objectives of the impact evaluation. The impact assessment will quantify the biophysical, social and economic consequences of the coral transplantation technology developed by the Filipinnovation team. A brief focus group discussion, facilitated by Dr. Canesio Predo, was conducted to solicit attributes for the choice experiment method that the PhilCORA team will use for reef valuation. The results of this impact assessment project would lead to the development of a management and monitoring protocol that can be applied for evaluating coral rehabilitation projects in the country.

Knowledge sharing workshop2A focus group discussion with the participants to solicit attributes to be used for the reef valuation.

The workshop concluded with talks on information sharing and on-site assistance through close coordination between DOST-PCAARRD representatives, the Filipinnovation team, and the PhilCORA team to ensure a systematic and objective approach for impact assessment. (AG Balatayo, MC Corales)

Life of the Badjaos in Barangay Malitam, Batangas City

Brgy Malitam BatangasFishing is the main source of livelihood of the Badjaos in Brgy. Malitam, Batangas City.

In this side of the city, a community started with only two families two decades ago. Now, there are more than 200 hundred families in the Badjao community in Barangays Malitam and Wawa, Batangas City. Badjao is a muslim ethnic group and considered as the sea gypsies of the Philippines. Most of them came from Mindanao and the southern islands of the Philippines. 

The Badjao community is located on the mouth of Calumpang River towards Batangas Bay. Fishing is the main source of livelihood, however, some are already employed, particularly the newer generation of the Badjaos. With easier access to education, these newer generation of Badjaos are literate, unlike their parents. Due to inter-marriage with locals, some younger Badjaos already have different religions.

According to Gavino Oxillo, Barangay Councilor of Brgy. Malitam, education and livelihood are very important for the stability of the Badjao community. "Before, the community here enjoys a bountiful harvest of marine resources, but now its dwindling", Councilor Oxillo said. The Badjaos are now mostly harvesting small shellfish, small fishes and few crabs in nearby mangroves, Councillor Oxillo said. The Calumpang River mouth has widend due the onslaught of Typhoon Nina in December 2016. Some houses of the Badjaos were destroyed and they were forced to move further inland. 

Brgy Malitam Batangas ShellfishThe dwindling shellfish catch is a big concern for the Badjaos.

The community is also beset with social problems, due to lack of jobs. "Petty crimes, family disputes, waste management and even teenage pregnancies are some of the issues that the barangay government is concerned" according to Barangay Councilor Raffy Gonda. However, he said the Badjaos are generally peaceful. "They cooperate very well, especially during calamities, they voluntarily evacuate especially during typhoons, because they know they are the first one to be affected if the sea waves become bigger", said Coun. Gonda.

Mr. Odilon Conti of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) of Batangas City said the Badjaos are already considered "Batangueños", despite being migrants from southern Philippines. "Mayor Beverly Dimacuha regularly visits the community and she is aware of their needs", Mr. Conti added. He also said Mayor Dimacuha prioritizes the education of the Badjao children.

The City ENRO has funded the documentation of the Batangas City State of Environment (SOE), in which SESAM, led by Mr. Thaddeus Lawas, University Research Associate II, is currently producing a documentary video which includes the plight of the Badjaos in Batangas City.

Brgy Malitam Batangas Kids Access to education is important for the Badjao children, who are happilly playing along the shores of Calumpang River.

The Badjaos are known to sail hundreds of kilometers to look for a better life. However, opportunities are not always plenty. These people only desire daily food for their families, a safe community and a long-term place to stay thus avoiding constant relocation. Education will always be the equalizer, not just for their safety but also for the survival of their culture.

Celebrating three years of research work to re-energize the Philippines’ agriculture sector

 Poster Press

April 28, 9AM, NCAS Auditorium – This day is about agriculture advancing and going proactive, digital, mobile, and near real-time. It is about celebrating the many opportunities to re-energize our agriculture sector.

In November 2013, the University of the Philippines Los Baños, together with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology, launched the three-year research program Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines (Project SARAI).

This 2017, Project SARAI will celebrate its research outputs ranging from a farm-specific integrated crop management advisory protocol to mobile pest identification applications:

                      1. Planting dates

Suggests dates to farmers when it is best to plant based on historical weather data.

 

2. MAIZE Nutrient Expert

An application that asks for farm-specific information, and provides farm-specific fertilizer rates and other management protocols. It also provides a comparison between the profit from doing the current farmer’s practice, and the suggested new practices.

 

3. Cost-efficient soil moisture sensors

Soil moisture sensors provide farmers and agricultural technicians with the soil moisture content that can be indicative of the need to water the planted areas to reduce crop stress. These SARAI-fabricated cost-efficient soil moisture sensors are available at only P2,500 to P3,000, as compared with commercially available sensors that cost around P20,000 to P30,000.

 

4. Pest risk maps for rice and corn

In response to El Niño and La Niña forecasts, the project produced region-specific pest risk maps for rice and corn. These maps serve as early warning protocols for projected affected farm areas.

 

5.SARAI Knowledge portal (www.sarai.ph)

The online portal integrates all the outputs, and makes it available online for the different interested users. The portal also makes the maps and other applications very interactive, so that the user can choose to manipulate the visuals of the maps depending on their needs.

 

6 .Crop suitability maps for rice, corn, coconut, banana, coffee, and cacao

These maps provide general data on the suitability index of the six different crops. These suitability index can be used for planning purposes, and other ground-verification activities.

 

7. SARAI-Enhanced Agricultural Monitoring System (SEAMS)

SEAMS uses free satellite images from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Union (EU) to actively monitor crop production areas. Its outputs include regular crop production areas, typhoon damage assessment in terms of crops lost and flooded areas.

 

8. Daily weather SMS

Project SARAI installed 22 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) nationwide, and developed a system to monitor the weather data, and send a daily SMS to subscribers every 6 in the morning.

 

9. Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for monitoring

The UAV, or more commonly known as drones, are also used for agricultural monitoring purposes. The images can provide farm-specific crop status and the spread of pest infestations.

 

10. National Training Needs Assessment (TNA) of farmers

Project SARAI anchored its training and learning design on the TNA results, which showed that farmers still prefer face-to-face trainings. Results also showed that farmers prefer getting agricultural information from peers, and other mainstream media such as radio and television.

Project SARAI will also launch the National Program for Integrated Crop Monitoring and Forecasting System (ICMF). The ICMF, a UPLB-based program, is the proposed sustainability platform of Project SARAI, where all of its outputs and extension activities will be housed and continued.

Celebrate with us and be part of the growing community for a more proactive agriculture sector.

Advancing environmental management in the Philippines through Natural Capital Accounting

NCA Conf1

SESAM faculty, staff, and students during the 2-day NCA Conference

A contingent of faculty, staff and students from the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) actively participated in the first natural capital accounting (NCA) conference in the Philippines last 30-31 March 2017 in Marco Polo Hotel, Ortigas. With a theme “Accounting nature, capitalizing partnerships for the future,” the conference organized by the National Economic and Development (NEDA) in collaboration with the World Bank (WB) aimed to draw larger awareness on the importance of micro-macro-economic accounting in decision-making processes.

Countries’ economic performance has primarily been measured in terms of its gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP, however, only measures the value of finished product in a given time and it fails to take account broader forms of provided by the natural capital that have impact on long-term income and growth. Through the Global Partnership Program on Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES GPP), the NEDA and World Bank aims to operationalize sustainable development by integrating natural resources in development planning through national capital accounting as based on the United Nation’s System of Environmental-Economic Accounting of 2012 (UN-SEEA 2012), which measures the physical and monetary values of stocks and flows of natural assets and services. Natural capital accounts provide detailed statistics to determine the relationship of the environment and the economy and, hence, guide the formulation of management strategy that maximizes the contribution of natural resources to economic growth and to operationalize a sound decision-making process to achieve inclusive growth. World Bank-Philippines country director Mara Warwick elaborated during the conference that a country’s economic well-being should not be measured by economic output alone but also by the health and sustainability of its ecosystems.

The Philippines’ Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia also emphasized that NEDA is now developing indicators under the NCA approach for the proper valuation of the country’s natural resources. The Philippines joined the World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) in 2010. Outcomes of policy analyses and recommendations from WAVES, particularly related to Laguna Lake and Southern Palawan including mangroves and minerals, help the government in the formulation of appropriate strategies and programs. NEDA has been working with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to fully develop and make the NCA system operational.

Dr. Decibel Eslava, the Dean of SESAM, and Dr. Rico Ancog, assistant professor of SESAM who also served as a consultant in one of the components of Phil-WAVES, both served as session reactors. Several SESAM alumni and current graduate students gave oral and poster papers covering the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems using several economic valuation approaches in support to NCA. Indeed, with the past and on-going researches covering from resources and environmental assessments, impacts quantification of alternatives, to economic valuation, SESAM is in a very strategic position to provide analyses relevant to the natural capital accounting initiative of the country (J. Razo, M.C. Corales, E. Mandia).

SESAM joins EcoHealth learning visit in Thailand

Ecohealth1

From left: Mr. Roni De Castro; Dr. Rico Ancog; Dr. Eduardo Lapuz Jr.; Dr. Edwin C. Villar; Dr. Aurelie Binot; Dr. Flavie Goutard; Dr. Milagros Mananggit; Mrs. Corazon Ignacio; Dr. Augusto Baluyut Jr.

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) helped facilitate the learning visit of a Philippine delegation to Thailand last 27-31 March 2017. The team is composed of officials from DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), the Department of Agriculture Regional Office III, and the Provincial Veterinary Office of Pampanga, who are members of an ACIAR-PCAARRD project, “Improving the production and competitiveness of Australian and Philippine pig production through better health and disease control.”  The event was designed to learn first-hand best practices and knowledge on smallholder swine operations implemented using EcoHealth. As an interdisciplinary approach, EcoHealth considers the linkages between ecosystems, society and health of animals and humans, and presupposes that human survival depends on health and diverse ecosystems.

Though relatively new, Eco-Health approach has been tested by a number of countries in Southeast Asia through various programs and initiatives. Noteworthy is the case of GREASE (http://www.grease-network.org), a regional network that listed SESAM-UPLB as an Associate Member since 2012. Organized by CIRAD, GREASE support research activities for a better management of emerging epidemic risks in Southeast Asia. It is an active network that responds to the challenge of emerging transboundary animal infections and zoonotic diseases by producing theoretical and operational approaches in the framework of the “One Health” approach. Specifically, members of the visiting team were able to differentiate the aspects and characteristics of EH and OH approaches thru the lectures delivered by Dr. Aurelie Binot and Dr. Flavie Goutard who were the coordinators for GREASE network.

The visit also included a tour at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Kasetsart University Bangkhen and Kamphaeng Saen Campuses and of Khon Kaen University with its state-of-the-art facilities. The team witnessed as well a small pig farm holder who practices integrated farming wherein fish, sugarcane and other crops are complementary grown aside from the backyard pigs. 

The visit in Khon Kaen, Thailand also included a discussion on the success of the Lawa Lake Model using the EcoHealth/OneHealth approach presented by Prof. Banchob Sripa of Khon Kaen University. This highlighted the liver-fluke disease problem that the residents around the Lawa Lake, Chi Kok Kor Village had acquired by eating raw fish, which was solved through the implementation of EcoHealth approach combined with elaborate information, education, and communication (IEC) solutions. 

With this EcoHealth learning visit, the Philippine team has established networks and contacts with specialists and practitioners of EcoHealth approach in Thailand for future knowledge exchange, collaboration and cooperation (Ryan Real and Glenn Oca).

Empowering Filipino Farmers Using the SARAI Training Toolkit for Rice and Corn

SARAI Participants

Participants interviewing a farmer scientist about his management practices for corn.

Based from the Training Needs Assessment (TNA) conducted by SARAI Project 4 (Capacity- and Knowledge-Building component) during the initial year of project implementation, it shows that the government, through trainings, ranks the most preferred lead in information dissemination by the farmers. With this, SARAI Project 4 developed a Training Toolkit for Rice and Corn with the help of SARAI experts. This toolkit serves as a guide for agricultural extension workers in capacitating the farmers with SARAI-generated knowledge and other essential information regarding agriculture.

Last March 9 to 10, 2017, SARAI Project 4 deployed the Training Toolkit for RICE in Occidental Mindoro. With the title “SARAI Training for RICE Toolkit”, the team introduced the toolkits and the different technologies and systems that were developed by SARAI for the past three years. This event was attended by the Assistant Provincial Agriculture Officer, Municipal Agricultural Officers (MAOs), and Agricultural Technicians (ATs) of Occidental Mindoro.

 

SARAI Participant

A Participant taking a photo of a disease of rice during the field work activity in Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro.

This training was followed by the “SARAI Training for CORN Toolkit” last March 23 to 24, 2017 in Camputhaw, Cebu City in partnership with the Cebu Technological University (CTU). Faculty and researchers of CTU, a representative from Provincial Agricultural Office and MAOs, and ATs from selected corn producing municipalities in Cebu, attended this event. The event started with the welcome remarks from the CTU President, Rosein Ancheta, Jr.

The purpose of the two activities is to train the MAOs and ATs with the use of the toolkits, which are helpful for the farmers. It also aimed to transfer the skills and knowledge on the use of new technologies that may increase the production of rice and corn farmers. The following SARAI developed technologies and systems were also presented through an exhibit:

  • Automatic Weather Station (AWS)
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) / Drone
  • SARAI Enhanced Agricultural Monitoring System (SEAMS)
  • SARAI Knowledge Portal

The UAV was also used to take aerial shots of rice and corn fields in Occidental Mindoro and Cebu on the second day of the training. Participants were very excited to use the technologies presented and in fact, they requested another training for the use of SEAMS. They also asked for an estimated amount of the AWS and UAV, as they want their respective LGUs to have these kinds of efficient and innovative technologies for early warning system and monitoring.

“Makakatulong ang SARAI para ma-enhance talaga yung crop productivity ng ating mga farmers kasi nasa SARAI na lahat ng kailangan namin and in the long run, it can help address the food security issue ng ating bansa,” said Ms. Sunshine Sagun, Municipal Agriculturist of Mamburao.

Project SARAI or the Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines is a project funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) with UPLB as the implementing agency. –RM Areglado