On March 20-24, a total of 63 participants from eleven countries, which are Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, joined the 11th Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange (FX) Program. The group included farmers and farmer leaders, regulators, government officers, academicians, media personnel and industry partners.
Dir. Wilfredo Roldan, Executive Director of the Philippine Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, together with Atty. Francis Badilla, Deputy Executive Director for Fertilizer, graced the event and delivered a short message for the participants during the biotech seminar. Attendees learned about plant biotechnology and its benefits, the importance of science-based and functional biosafety regulatory framework, and the different agricultural and biotech status and experiences of each country. Besides the seminar briefings, the participants also visited different facilities at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and learned more about the Iron and Zinc fortified rice and the Golden Rice. They also learned more about seed quality assurance and packaging at the Monsanto Philippines Inc Refuge-in-Bag (RIB) Plant.
They were able to engage with actual GM corn farmers by visiting GM commercial farms organized by Syngenta. Mrs. Julie Medina, farmer leader of Barangay San Bartolome, Concepcion, Tarlac, and two young farmers, Gerry Basilio and Floyd Torla, shared how GM corn greatly improved their livelihood.
The program received good feedback from the participants, stating that they learned a lot and will continue to share, exchange and promote the knowledge and information gained from the event. The FX Program was jointly organized by CropLife Asia (CLA), CropLife Philippines (CLP) and its members, and the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines (BCP).