The Philippine Science Journalists Association Inc. (PSciJourn) held the 2016 General Asssembly and National Congress on its 15th year on July 23, 2016 at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in Visayas Avenue, Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City.

Angelo B. Palmores, President of PSciJourn and formely AGHAM Party-list Representative welcomed guests and members of PSciJourn at the occasion. He stressed on the significance of science journalists in the dissemination of science and technology happenings locally and internationally.

The achievements/accomplishments in science and technology activities of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in particular and others in general should be known to the public to be aware of the developments beneficial to their business of different kinds and everyday lives.

He is also very hopeful that President Rodrigo Duterte will be supportive to Agriculture through Manny Piñol his appointed Secretary of the Department of Agriculture replacing Presceso Alcala.

Dr. William D. Dar, President of Inang Lupa Movement, Inc. and former Secretary of Agriculture and a long-time head of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropic (ICRISAT) in India delivered his technical presentation on “Soil and Agricultural Productivity: The Role of Smallholder Farmers.” These smallholder farmers are the producers of our staple crops that is rice, corn and coconut and other crops, fruits and vegetables.

Our country as an agricultural one has implemented mono-cropping in their farms, rice or corn or coconut and had always dreamt of rice sufficiency, since then.

There is a need for multi-cropping and value added activities to crops termed as agri-business for a better income from farming. Young people may develop interest in farming with the incorporation of agri-business in their produce, where they can be enterprising aside from merely transacting the raw products harvested.

Dr. Dar also discussed the problem of irrigation in the farm to sustain its water needs, most specially in the rain fed areas. He talked about the catchment water gathering, where water can be gathered from rains and stocked in different ways for use as circumstances call for.

He has given as example in ICRISAT in India, where rain waters are catch in different manners to have them stored for future use.

He said that we cannot be at par with the price of rice in Thailand and Vietnam alone, in Thailand of 10 pesos per kilo and 7 pesos in Vietnam and here in our country of less than 20 pesos per kilo.

Cost of production in the country is high albeit technology and said that study should also include the cost of production because when input in technology is high, the end result in production will also be high.

There is also the need for soil rejuvenation in our country, due to the long used of excessive chemical fertilizers and pesticides which bring down the quality of our farm soils.

Farm soils are to be tested or analyzed to know its composition, what nutrients are absent or present to be corrected and to know as well what crops are indeed good to plant. It does not necessarily mean that it has to be organic farming, because it cannot feed the world.

Inorganic or chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not bad for the soil so with its production when properly or proportionately applied. But of course, will be bad if applied excessively.

When I asked this question, “Can I call crops produced from rice land that used chemical fertilizers and pesticides “organically produces or organic?”

He said that crops produced immediately from an area or farm that uses chemical or inorganic fertilizers and pesticides are not organically produced or are not organic, unless the area is planted two years after, when the chemical residues are no longer traceable.

Dr. Sonia Salvacion, who represented Dr. Silverio Q. Tejada, Director, BSWM talked about problems in irrigation and land conversion. She said that irrigated rice lands are not subject to land conversion.

Dr. Edwin C. Villar, Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development of DOST-PCAARRD (Philippine Agriculture, Aquatic Research and Resource Development) discussed the forth coming DOST-NSTW (National Science and Technology Week) and Syensaya to be held on July 25-29, 2016.

He explained the Council’s different Industry Strategic S&T Programs (ISP) applied to aquatic resources, plants and animals and forest products. However, are still facing low national annual productivity due to lack of information and know how as to the methods to be used which will be viewed at Syensaya on July 27, during the DOST-NSTW on July 25-29, 2016 at PCAARRD Los Baños, Laguna.(PSciJourn MegaManila).(Click picture below to enlarge)