UPLB, ICHARM and Tohoku University field visit to Candaba, Pampanga

Pampanga RiverPampanga River servicing irrigation of rice fields in Brgy. San Agustin, Candaba, Pampanga.

International Center for Water Hazard (ICHARM), Tohoku University, Kyoto University and University of the Philippines Los Baños conducted a field visit in Candaba, Pampanga last March 11, 2018 Pampanga to gather initial data on the extent of water-related disasters and community disaster risk-reduction plan. ICHARM Director Toshio Koike, Tohoku University Agriculture Crop Modeling Professor Koki Honma and UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water Chair Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez met with barangay officials and several farmers of Brgy. San Agustin and Pangclara to discuss farming practices and disaster occurrence in their locality.

During the months of August to December, flooding occurs in Brgy. San Agustin, according to Brgy. councilor Cristopher Culala. Most of the flood volume came from Nueva Ecija and Aurora and drains to Candaba. On the other hand, during strong typhoons, water overflow from Pampanga River causing head-deep flooding in the area. During threats of flood occurrence, the barangay DRRM plans to deploy mobile patrols to warn residents. Each house also has a small fishing boat which serves as their transportation during flood events in their barangay.  

A similar situation is experienced in Brgy. Pangclara wherein water in Candaba swamp reaches 6 feet and knee-deep in the surrounding rice field during rainy season which lasts for the whole duration of the season according to Brgy. Captain Enrique Calma.

Prof. Honma profiled farming practices of the two barangays. Both barangays relies on two livelihoods, which are season dependent. San Agustin cultivates rice during dry season (November to June) and shifts to aquaculture during wet season (July to October). Brgy. Pangclara encounters a similar situation wherein farm lands cultivated for rice and watermelon production are utilized as duck breeding grounds during rainy season as an alternative livelihood. Sabog tuyo, a farming technique wherein seed broadcasting is done during the onset of rainy season succeeded by fallowing, is an emerging adaptation mechanism from intensified dry season practiced by the farmers.

ICHARMResearchers from ICHARM, Tohoku University and UPLB with Pangclara Brgy. Capt. Enrique Calma.

The field visit served as a jump-off point for the possible collaborative research on development of a hybrid water-related disaster risk assessment technology that will support policy makers in promoting sustainable local economic development amidst the threats and impacts of climate change in the country. (Catherine B. Gigantone)

Cold storage facility and biodigesters launched in La Trinidad, Benguet

Cold storage BenguetDr. Lawrence L. Ilag, Deputy Chief of Party of USAID-STRIDE and Ms. Jeanira G. Okubo, representative of Benguet Governor Hon. Cresencio C. Pacalso during the ribbon cutting of USAID-STRIDE RTI cold storage facility together with Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Project Leader; and collaborators from UPLB, Cleverheat, Benguet State University and representatives from GlobalPower Corporation and Dacworks United Inc.

The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), in collaboration with CleverHeat Clean Technology Solutions, Inc. and Benguet State University, conducted the “Project launching of cost-effective cold storage facility and capacity building of farmers and stakeholders” last 27 February 2018 at the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC), La Trinidad, Benguet. Eighty-three (83) vegetable farmers and guests attended the launching.

BAPTC Managing Director Juancho Cruz, Sr. led the opening prayer and Dr. Silvestre Aben, BSU Vice President for Business Affairs, represented President Dr. Feliciano G. Calora, Jr., in welcoming the farmers, guests and stakeholders.

Dr. Lawrence L. Ilag, Deputy Chief of Party of USAID-STRIDE delivered a keynote address and emphasized that the USAID-STRIDE program stimulates inclusive economic growth by boosting science and technology research.

Mr. King Karl Seroje from Cleverheat Clean Technology Solutions, Inc., Engr. Joseph A. Veloria of Dacworks United Inc., and Mr. Jose Lagdameo of GlobalPower Corporation conducted seminar on the design, operations and benefits of cold storage facility. It was emphasized that the facility can be utilized to store high value crops and agricultural produce to decrease their post-harvest losses and increase productivity of farmers.

Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Associate Professor and Project leader from School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM)-UPLB, told the farmers and stakeholders that the study aimed to develop a cost-effective cold storage facility by deploying a refrigeration system that uses heat to directly operate the system, where it will be powered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) with low electricity consumption.

Dr. Ilag and Ms. Jeanira G. Okubo led the ribbon cutting and opening of cold storage facility. Dr. Sanchez gladly announced that the facility is free to use until March 31, 2018.

The farmers in Benguet as well as the municipality have increasing problems on crop waste disposal. To address the problem, the fabricated biodigesters will be used for better waste management of agricultural wastes and the methane gas produced from biodigesters will be used as an alternative source of fuel at the small farm or household level.

Cold storage lettuce Lettuce stored in the USAID-STRIDE RTI cold storage facility.

Mr. Celso F. Espaldon of the USAID-STRIDE project of SESAM-UPLB conducted seminar on the usage, operations and benefits of biodigesters. Consequently, biodigesters were distributed to selected farmer group organizations for their usage.

Dr. Maria Victoria Espladon, Professor, SESAM-UPLB discussed the results of the survey conducted by the team with reference to farmers’ requirements for their vegetable produce. Mr. Frederick Edeco, BAPTC Contract Trading Department Managing Director and representative of BAPTC COO Dr. Violeta B. Salda, emphasized the importance of cold storage facility for the farmers and encourage them to use the facility since they are the ones who will benefit from using it. Engr. Leonard Dumalhin of BSU, representative of Dr. Rodolfo P. Estigoy, mentioned stories of the farmers relevant to the usage of new technologies.

Open forum was conducted relevant to the usage and operations of cold storage facility and biodigesters. Dr. Sanchez thanked everyone especially the farmers who attended the launching. She hoped that the farmers will use the cold storage facility and biodigesters efficiently.

With funding support from USAID-STRIDE and RTI International, the launching and capacity building were productive means in improving the farm-to-market linkages in Benguet that could lead to better product quality, higher market price, and reduction in wastage due to product spoilage. (Maria Lorena R. Cruz)

UPLB, ICHARM, Tohoku and Kyoto Universities meet for possible collaboration

Water group- Meeting with Japan officialUPLB, ICHARM, Kyoto University and Tohoku University Researchers (Photo by: Jessa O. Aquino).

In response to the agriculture and flood-related issues in the country, researchers from Tohoku and Kyoto Universities, Japan, hosted a meeting at Luxent Hotel, Quezon City on March 12, 2018 to benchmark the past and current researches of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), Tohoku and Kyoto Universities in the fields of agriculture, economics and flood risk assessment.

During the meeting, Director Toshio Koike of ICHARM discussed the previous initiatives of their organization in collaborating with the Philippine national government agencies on hydro-agricultural model for evaluating flood impact. This conceren was further elaborated by Prof. Honma of Tohoku University. The presentation of current researches from UPLB was spearheaded by Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Professor, School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), who is the chair of the newly formed UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water. She discussed the profile of the center and its future endeavor in attaining water security.

This was followed by the presentation of Dr. Felino P. Lansigan, chair of the UPLB Climate Risk Studies Center where he presented the current studies on flood risk assessment and management in selected locations in the Philippines. Furthermore, Ms. Heidi D. Mendoza, a University Researcher at SESAM, discussed the current initiatives of the program “Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines” (SARAI). Accordingly, Dr. Virgilio T. Villancio of the College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS), presented the flood impacts in agriculture particularly on his past involvement the rehabilitation of disaster affected agricultural communities in Barangay Boboin, Infanta, Quezon.

For his part, Dr. Yokomatsu of Kyoto University, discussed his several experiences in transdisciplinary collaborative works and presented his research interest which is the hydro-agricultural-economic model for evaluating flood impacts in the Philippines. Lastly, Director Koike commended the UPLB on having interdisciplinary researches and he also looks forward on having a possible collaboration with UPLB, National Government Agencies and Local Government Units in the field of agriculture, hydrology and economics in evaluating flood impacts. (Jessa O. Aquino)

Japanese Professor at SESAM to talk about geohazards

DSC 9015aDr. Kohki Yoshida, Professor from Shinshu University, said natural disasters in Japan are caused by its geological setting.

A geologist from Japan said that the geohazards they experienced in their country is not different the Philippines. Dr. Kohki Yoshida, Professor at the Department of Geology, Shishu University, Matsumoto, Japan visited the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) to talk about the Geology and Geohazards in the Japanese Islands on March 15, 2018.

Dr. Yoshida, a geologist, with expertise in sedimentary geology, sedimentology, geochemistry and paleopedology, has research interests in the Himalayas and Oman mountains, including its weathering and monsoon history; chemical weathering and landslides; and its Triassic mega-monsoon climate records.

Shinshu University, according to Dr. Yoshida, is located at Nagano Prefecture in Honshu Island, near the Japanese Alps, where he studied quaternary rocks. He said Japan has a complex geological history and suggest that the islands were formed in an arc setting in the marginal part of the continent from the Paleozoic period. The island arc setting, which is produced by subduction of oceanic plate and collision of two island arcs, bring active volcanism and big earthquakes to inland and offshore fault activities. He said that the sudden eruption of Mt. Ontake in 2014, and just recently, eruptions of Mt. Kusatsu-Shinare and Mt. Shinmoedake, shows that Japan has an active geology.

Based on his study, the Japanese Islands is a volcanic arc from the Mesozoic to the present. Towards Japan, the Philippine Plate moves 2.5 cm per year, while the Pacific Plate move 8.5 cm per year. “The probability of being hit by a big earthquake is high in the Pacific side of the Japanese Islands due to the movements… Tokyo, Nagoya and Matsumoto show 26 to 38% probability in the next 50 years”, Dr. Yoshida said.

“It is important to discuss with citizens across academic boundaries, we have carried out many activities to consider disaster prevention so far with various generations”, Dr. Yoshida stressed.

Dr. Yoshida pointed out that in terms of preparedness, Japanese people are very familiar with disasters that happens year-in and year-out. “Similar to the Philippines, we also have typhoons, heavy rains, frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and our people knows the history of natural disasters that happens in their respective vicinities”, he added.

He also took the opportunity to invite SESAM faculty, staff and students to attend the symposium “How to live with nature” in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan on March 2020. He said Shinshu University started a project for the improvement communication skills in science and technology.  It aims to create communities in which people from different cultural backgrounds and generations to discuss the way we should live with nature. Dr. Yoshida encouraged students to present researches in natural hazards on the upcoming symposium.

“We can’t talk about the Environment without Economics”- Northeastern University Professor

talakayan dr madhavi march 9 2018Dr. Madhavi Ventakesan, Professor of economics, discussed the importance of lifecycle evaluation during her lecture at SESAM last March 9, 2018.

An economics professor from the USA said that scientists and all stakeholders must not take economics for granted when it comes to environmental science and management. Dr. Madhavi Ventakesan, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Economics, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts highlighted this during her lecture entitled “A Lifecycle Evaluation of Conscious Consumption: Promoting Conscious Consumption” last March 09, 2018 at the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) Lecture Hall.

Dr. Ventakesan, who is concurrently the Associate Director of the Center for Economics Education, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, with post-graduate degrees from Harvard University, Vermont Law School and a post-doctoral degree from Washington University.

The purpose of her lecture is to analyze the individual consumption behaviors and to increase the understanding of the divergence between present consumption patterns.

Dr. Ventakesan emphasized that we live in a supply driven market and in a manufacture-demand economy. She said for example, there are so many gadgets in the market and due to the marketing strategies, we give in and the next day, we will buy one. But she reiterated that consumers must be aware of the adverse effects of what they buy and urged them to research first the things that they would like to purchase and should also look into the environmental footprint in relation to the production of these gadgets. “Values drive behavior, our consumption behavior is tied to our usage of resources”, she added.

“We cannot talk about environment without economics”, Dr. Ventakesan stressed. She said in every stages of the lifecycle process map-- from production, to use and disposal, we use energy and it generate wastes as well. “And of course during the production stage, we need raw materials”, she added. She mentioned that the process map must always be re-evaluated and updated.

The presentation was a Fullbright Sycip Distinguished Lecture organized by the SESAM and the UPLB Environmental Science Society (Envisoc). More than 100 students, faculty and staff attended the lecture.

Marine Conservation Discussed on “Talakayan”

2018 March 7 TalakayanDr. Mudjekeewis Santos (right) with Ms. Mariane Saniano (middle) and Dr. Victor Ticzon (left) discussed their projects for Philippine marine conservation.

The UPLB Environmental Science Society, in cooperation with the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) held the 41st Talakayan Series on Environment and Development (TSED) last March 7, 2018 at SESAM Grounds. With the theme “Philippine Progress on Marine Conservation: Where are we now?” the UPLB Environmental Science Society invited three resource speakers from different sectors to discuss the pressing issues hounding our seas.

The first speaker, Dr. Mudjekeewis D. Santos, Scientist II at the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (NFRDI-BFAR) spoke about the current state of Philippine fisheries. “Philippine Fisheries is one of the largest in the world, in terms of fish production” Dr. Santos said. He said that if the industry collapse, the world will also suffer because other countries depend also in our exports. Further, despite having the large commercial fishing vessels capable of fishing anywhere in the world, our ordinary fishermen are still considered as the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable sector due to climate change. He added “The catch is getting lower and small fishermen must go further to the sea in order to catch more”. Dr. Santos, a Presidential Lingkod Bayan Awardee and Editor of the Philippine Journal of Fisheries said that based on studies, the country is considered the center of marine biodiversity in the world. “There are many publications that can prove that” according to Dr. Santos.

The second resource speaker is Ms. Marianne P. Saniano, a marine scientist of Oceana Philippines. Ms. Saniano, a graduate of UPLB, stressed that bodies of water in the Philippines is severely affected by climate change. “Everything we do affects our seas since we are an archipelagic nation”. She also mentioned that Oceana continues to work with government agencies and the academe help the fishing industry. “We also advocate the protection of our waters, especially right now with the Philippine Rise issue and we will continue to monitor the congress and senate for the legislation on this matter”, she added.

The third speaker, Dr. Victor S. Ticzon, Associate Professor, Institute of Biological Science-College of Arts and Sciences, UPLB, discussed his projects related to coral reef sensing, monitoring of changes in the coral reefs and the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) sites. “Coral reefs are good indicators of the changes in our environment” said Dr. Ticzon. He stressed that coral bleaching, acidification and sea level rise as well threatens our reefs. “If sea level rise continues, coral reefs will drown because they need sunlight to live” he added.  He also pointed out the garbage, mostly plastics and diapers in our seas are also destroying the ecosystem in the coral reefs.

Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of SESAM thanked the speakers for spending time to educate students, faculty and staff of SESAM about marine conservation.  The “Talakayan” is a regular activity of the UPLB Environmental Science Society, which aims to inform about the latest trends in environmental science and to enhance a greater appreciation of the discipline.