After two years of having a virtual program, the 16th Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange Program was held face-to-face last October 10-14, 2022 in the Philippines.
A total of 51 participants from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam attended this year’s program.
On Oct 10, the participants were greeted by representatives from CropLife Asia, CropLife Philippines and the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines as they arrive and register for the Opening Program. The participants were officially welcomed by Mr. Jan Alfred Samson, President of the CropLife Philippines.
On the 2nd day, Oct 11, a seminar on biotechnology was held in the morning. Dr. Saturnina Halos, President of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines and Chair of the Department of Agriculture Technical Advisory Group on Modern Biotechnology and Other Innovations talked about Biotechnology and Biosafety via video call online; Asst Scientist Ma Lorelie Agbagala, Head Secretariat of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, Dept of Science and Technology (NCBP-DOST) discussed the Philippine Biosafety Regulations on Plants Derived from Modern Biotechnology, and Dr. Lilia Portales from the DA Post-Approval Monitoring Group (PAMG) presented the Insect Resistance Management for Biotech Corn.
For the field of communications, Ms. Jenny Panopio, Regulatory and Stewardship Manager of Corteva and Chair of the CL Philippines Seeds Team and Mr. Jerome Barradas, Project Coordinator of the Research and Thought Leadership Department at Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), shared their experiences and tips in communicating biotech in the Philippines.
On the other hand, Mr. David Cristobal, Chair of the Stewardship and Responsible Care Committee at CropLife Philippines, shared the Sustainable Corn Production in Sloping Areas (SCOPSA) Program of CropLife Philippines and the Importance of the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
On the 3rd day of the program, Dr. Roel Suralta, Director of the DA-Crop Biotechnology Center, together with the Golden Rice team, gave warm greetings as they welcome the participants to a tour at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
The participants visited the Gene Bank, the Genetic Resources, Rice Chemistry and Food Science Laboratories and the Rice Museum. The highlight of the tour is the visit to the Future Rice Farm, where the Golden Rice, a new type of rice that contains beta carotene (provitamin A, a plant pigment that the body converts into vitamin A as needed), is planted.
On the 4th day of the program, in the morning, the group visited the Syngenta GM corn demo farm where the participants were able to see actual GM corn planted and were able to interact with GM corn farmers and company technicians. The GM corn farmers shared the challenges they faced before and how their lives changed since they planted GM corn.
In the afternoon, the participants visited the Corteva Seed Processing Plant. Here, it was shown how the seeds are produced to ensure that high quality gm corn seeds are released and distributed to corn farmers.
During the closing program, Dr. Reynante Ordonio, Scientist at PhilRice, gave a presentation on Plant Breeding Innovations (PBI), which covered the applications, global trends and the Philippine Policy in PBI. The program concluded with the distribution of certificates.
Positive feedbacks were received and participants were very much appreciative of the knowledge they gained about biotechnology and how it can help in achieving food security, enhance food nutrition, contribute to conservation of environment, and help alleviate poverty in farmers, especially in developing countries.