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Filipino land grab doubles to 2 million hectares

March 28, 2018 Leave a comment

“Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil [sic] instantly offered 100,000 hectares for planting even starting tomorrow, but can develop easily 2 million hectares in government lands for rice farming with irrigation.”

The problem is, the PNG government doesn’t have even 100,000 hectares of land, let alone 2 million hectares. So whose land are they going to use – and how many Filipino rice farmers are we going to allow into the country?

See also:

Filipino’s on their way to claim 1 million hectares

O’Neill and Allan stitch up another huge land grab

On Piñol’s idea to rise with rice in Papua New Guinea

Source: Michael Makabenta Alunan – Business Mirror

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol’s proposal to “export” Filipino private sector-led rice-farming systems to Papua New Guinea may have raised condescending eyebrows from economists and agriculture experts, but his novel strategy can perhaps open up vast potentials and unintended opportunities.

Thinking out of box? Piñol, a boxing aficionado early on in his career, even as a former journalist, long before he joined politics, was thinking out of the box when he proposed to bring high-end Filipino rice-farming systems to Papua New Guinea.

Only over a week ago, Piñol went to Papua New Guinea, a British Commonwealth Realm, and got its Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to commit to come over to meet with President Duterte sometime in May and possibly cement bilateral economic commitments, followed by a treaty that can institutionalize any mutually beneficial arrangements.

However, top-notch economists and agricultural planners led no less by former Socioeconomic Secretary Dr. Cielito Habito and former Agriculture Secretary William Dar have criticized Piñol, asking two valid questions: 1) Why focus on “rice self-sufficiency” when we cannot compete against Thailand’s and Vietnam’s production costs of rice at P5 to P6 per kilo against P10 to P12 per kilo in the Philippines? Many economists would therefore advise to give up the elusive goal of self-sufficiency, and settle instead for food security while focusing on higher incomes from other high-value cash crops and livelihood activities; and 2) Why go to Papua New Guinea when we have more problems locally?

Can’t do away with rice yet. Speaking on March 22 before the 2017 Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. and San Miguel Corp.’s BINHI Agricultural Journalism Awards, Piñol argued we cannot simply abandon rice self-sufficiency, unless Filipinos change their diets and reduce their rice consumption.

For the poor, who survive on a hand-to-mouth existence, 80 percent to 90 percent of their income is spent on food, the bulk on rice to fill their hungry stomachs and less on real food. A study by Professor Jeyakumar, a rice dietary expert and one-time fellow of the International Rice Research Institute, noted that obesity of Westerners like the Americans is caused by almost 40 percent in high-fat diets, compared to Asians, whose average diets are composed of 67 percent carbohydrates, mostly rice, and only 21 percent fats. For the dirt poor, rice may even share as much as 90 percent of their diet.

As our traditional sources of rice imports, Vietnam and Thailand are also vulnerable to climate change with Thailand devastated by a tsunami years back, Piñol claims we must continue aiming for rice self-sufficiency and developing alternative sources like Papua New Guinea.

It’s no “Guinea pig,” it’s real! Piñol argues the rice-farming potentials in Papua New Guinea are real and tremendous based on actual pilot results. This makes Piñol’s idea no longer a “guinea-pig experiment,” referring to how scientists use rodents or laboratory rats, popularly called “guinea pigs.”

Actual rice-farming experiments done in Papua New Guinea yielded 8.5 metric tons per hectare, even without fertilizers, even double our national average yield of 4MT per hectare, he revealed in conversations while seated at the BINHI awards.

The reasons for this are 1) Papua New Guinea is blessed with good rainfall with its remaining lush forests and watersheds as evidenced by its vast rivers as wide as a kilometer, and easily diverted to feed irrigation canals; and 2) Papua New Guinea’s farm soils are vastly virgin and rich, unlike Philippine rice lands that are already toxic from four to five decades of chemical fertilizer and pesticide usage.

All the land to offer. Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil instantly offered 100,000 hectares for planting even starting tomorrow, but can develop easily 2 million hectares in government lands for rice farming with irrigation.

“PNG has only 8 million people and over 46.28 million hectares of land, mostly forest and agricultural lands, compared to our 105 million and 30 million hectares, respectively,” Piñol said.

Rice farming will mutually benefit both countries. Rice farming will be done exclusively by the private sector, but can tap Filipino workers. Any excess produce can be exported cheap to the Philippines, and any excess exported worldwide. For Papua New Guinea, producing its own rice is novel, as it had long been sourcing rice from former surrogate colonizer, Australia, which allegedly imports cheap rice from Vietnam, then sells it to Papua New Guinea by as much as P100 per kilo.

Pursuing the Papua New Guinea option is logical for Piñol, as we have limited rice lands of 4.8 million hectares. In fact, only 3.9 million hectares are planted to rice, of which only 1.2 million hectares have irrigation, the remaining 2.7 million hectares are rain-fed areas producing only once a year at low yields.

New sites, new sights? As an island archipelago, we have fewer flat lands suitable to rice producing thrice a year, but more sloping mountain areas with mixed eco-systems, including adjacent marine and mangrove areas. Piñol added traditional rice sites like Luzon and Bicol are ravaged yearly by 21 typhoons a year.

We won’t abandon these areas, but we need to develop new sites like Palawan, Samar, Agusan, Zamboanga, Davao, Basilan and Soccsksargen and, of course, in Papua New Guinea.

Piñol declared earlier that even former warzones in Mindanao and portions of military reservations like Fort Magsaysay’s 46,000 hectares, can be converted to production areas. This will realize the biblical phrase of “converting swords to ploughshares,” which we can call transforming arms into farms.

While Piñol is confident of hitting 100-percent rice self-sufficiency by 2020, he says the growing population will overtake our capacity to produce. Thus, the need to develop new sites, and the urgency to keep our sights on new ideas, new technologies and even achieve unintended opportunities, which, ironically, are the very intended targets of our economists and experts. As we gain from new sites, old sites may slowly shift to non-rice, but more profitable commodities and other agro-processing ventures.

Filipino’s on their way to claim 1 million hectares

March 7, 2018 3 comments

PNG’s Agriculture Minister Benny Allan and Philippine’s Agriculture Secretary, Pinol

Media in the Philippines is reporting – see below – their Agriculture Secretary is in Port Moresby this week to sign a deal with the PNG government allowing Filipino farmers to plant rice on 1 million hectares of land. Is nobody concerned about this huge land grab and the influx of foreign workers?

Papua New Guinea rice-planting deal expected this week

Source: Business World

THE Philippines will sign this week an agricultural agreement allowing Filipino companies to expand their rice planting operations in Papua New Guinea.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he will be flying to Papua New Guinea on Wednesday to finalize the deal, which will also include further cooperation in the tuna fishing industry.

“Our interest in Papua New Guinea also includes tuna fishing. We have five canneries owned by Filipinos in Papua New Guinea and we have long been dealing with them,” he told reporters Monday.

He said rice planting in Papua New Guinea helps address the issue of limited area for rice planting in the Philippines, as well as demand from the growing population.

The government-to-government agreement involves projected output of 8 million metric tons on an area of about 1 million hectares within five years. Some of the output will be sold to meet Papua New Guinea domestic demand while the remainder will be purchased by the National Food Authority.

The deal also involves a 100-hectare model farm for use by Filipino companies such as SL Agritech Corp., a producer of hybrid rice seed.

“We are encouraging private companies to invest there so that instead of importing from Thailand or Vietnam, our Filipino companies can invest there instead,” Mr. Piñol said.

O’Neill and Allan stitch up another huge land grab

February 22, 2018 6 comments

Philippine’s President Duterte and his Agriculture Secretary want to plant 1 million hectares of rice in Papua New Guinea by 2023

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Agriculture Minister Benny Allan have promised the Philippines government at least one million hectares of land in Papua New Guinea for Filipino farmers to grow rice, according to media reports.

The 1 million hectares [10,000 square kilometres] will be leased to Filipino companies and thousands of Filipino farmers and agriculture graduates are expected to head to PNG, according to the country’s Agriculture Secretary, Emmanuel F. Piñol.  

The Philippines government says the 1 million hectares of rice is just its initial five-year target. That means by 2023, over 2% of the total area of PNG could be in Filipino hands.

Information on the rice growing deal first started to emerge after a meeting between Prime Minister O’Neill and President Duterte, at the APEC summit in Vietnam in November last year .

More details of the deal were agreed between Agriculture Minister Benny Allan and Piñol in Manilla earlier this month. 

Agriculture Minister Benny Allan and Agriculture Secretary,Emmanuel Pinol

The deal is expected to be finalised in Port Moresby early next month with a delegation led by the Philippines Agriculture Secretary set to travel on March 7.

Initially a team of 22 Filipino farmers will come to PNG to start the development of a 100-hectare demonstration farm within the Seventh Day Adventist College compound outside Port Moresby.  The Philippines government hopes that President Duterte will visit the demonstration farm when he attends the APEC Summit in November.

The whole land grab has been developed on the back of APEC and is a perpetuation of the false narrative that PNG’s customary land is idle and must be ‘freed up’ for foreigners to bring development.

The truth is, customary land already supports an economy worth as much as K40 billion a year, far bigger than the resource extraction industries the government obsesses over. Customary land also provides jobs for 3 million farmers and supports a rural population of 7 million. Customary land is set to  become even more important in the future, with PNG’s population set to grow to over 13 million by 2050.  

Meanwhile, opposition to the rice deal is beginning to emerge in the Philippines . Local farmers there say the plan is “an insult” to them and Filipino farmers were fully capable of producing all their countries rice needs locally. They say the plan is “very anti-farmer as well as against the poor”, sentiments that will resonate equally in Papua New Guinea.

Korean arrested for exchanging K50,000 of demonetized currency

October 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Still many questions unanswered about how demonetized Kina came to leave PNG and is now in Korean hands in the Philippines…

Source: Rey Galupo \ The Philippine Star 

The Korean tried to exchange 50,000 kina, the demonetized Papua New Guinea currency, into pesos when he was arrested.

A Korean man was arrested and charged with estafa after he exchanged P160,000 worth of a demonetized currency in Binondo, Manila on Wednesday. 

Kim Jae Song went to the moneychanger stall of businessman Johnny Hao, 71, at the basement of 999 Mall at around 11 a.m. and had his 10,000 kina (Papua New Guinea currency) changed into pesos, which is equivalent to P160,120.87.

Kim introduced himself as Rey Lee during the transaction and hurriedly left.

However, Hao’s nephew, Bryon Pedelos, later learned that the Papua New Guinea currency that the suspect swapped was no longer accepted as legal tender after he tried to sell it to other moneychangers.

They learned that the currency had been demonetized in 2013.

Two hours later, Kim went back to Hao’s shop and was trying to exchange his 50,000 kina to pesos.

The shop’s security guards apprehended the suspect and turned him over to the police.

During investigation, Kim failed to explain where he kept the money he initially swapped, according to Chief Inspector Joey de Ocampo, Manila Police District general assignment and investigation chief.

He refused to answer questions, forcing the police to coordinate with the Korean embassy, which said Kim is considered an undesirable alien and had been staying in the country without proper papers.

De Ocampo said they are also asking the Bureau of Immigration to help determine when Kim entered the country.