17 Jun 2013

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has reported a disturbing trend in the local farming scene. The average age of Filipino farmers is now a high 57 years. This simply means that younger people are veering away from the industry. “The reason for this is the widespread notion that there is no money in agriculture —particularly with the declining productivity of farmland,” explained Joseph Calata, president of Calata Corp., the biggest distributor or agrichemicals, feeds and fertilizers in the Philippines. The disturbing decline in activity and interest in agriculture is largely due to outmoded farming practices.

He warned: “There are traditional methods that negatively impact the long-term fertility of the soil. “For instance, excessively tilled soil results in loss of valuable moisture and nutrients.”Calata agreed with DA findings and further said that until the decline in new farmers is arrested, the Philippines may be facing a food shortage in the near future brought about by idle, unproductive fields.This concern drove him to form a business partnership with Siembra Directa Corp., a company that imports state-of-the-art agricultural machines from Argentina.

Calata wants to introduce proven technology in tandem with effective farming practices such as “zero tillage farming.” Already an accepted norm in more advanced agricultural economies such as Argentina, Brazil, and the United States, so-called “direct farming” promotes water and nutrient retention in the soil, while decreasing the detrimental effects of erosion. “We believe that the key to reversing the exodus of people from agriculture lies in vastly improving productivity,” said Nico Bolzico of Siembra Directa Corp. “Existing technology and machinery must be put to work in Philippine fields so that farmers can realize the full potential of their harvest,” he said. He continued that Siembra Directa is committing to making equipment such as mechanical corn planters, fumigators and harvesters available to more farmers and farmers’ cooperatives, as well as the training necessary to operate the machinery.

In a demonstration at Echague, Isabela, two mechanical planters and two spray fumigators were put to work in a cornfield, while a Siembra Directa engineer explained the process in detail. “Mechanization in concert with zero tillage farming promises immediate benefits in corn crops,” said Nico, and insisted that the usual standard harvest of three to six tons per hectare can be markedly increased by 20 percent in the short term and by two percent each successive year. The mechanical planter (which can be readily hooked up to any tractor), not only ensures uniform seed planting, but accurate and consistent spacing between plants while apportioning fertilizer. It’s a complete solution that removes the guesswork from manual, often backbreaking labor. This also frees up a lot of people from seasonal work in the field —giving them the opportunity to explore more stable and regular employment.

Two people handle as many as 1,000 hectares with a Siembra Directa machine, added Joseph Calata. The harvesting machine, on the other hand, quickly processes the rows of corn. Not only does it harvest the cobs, but removes the grains for immediate use or packaging. The discarded cobs and husks are deposited on the ground as natural fertilizer for the next crop cycle.

16 Jun 2013

Listed firm Calata Corp. has set up the country’s first fully-mechanized corn farm over a 300-hectare land in Echague, Isabela in a P300 million partnership with Argentinian Siembra Directa Corp. (SDC).

The farm seeks to transfer direct planting technology that has been observed in Argentina over the last 25 years. Argentina is world’s third largest corn producer, just next to the United States and Brazil.

Argentina’s national average yield for corn is nine to 10 metric tons (MT) per hectare. The Echague farm expects a yield of just at least 20 percent higher than usual yield in the area of three MT per hectare. It puts under trial the technology that also uses the corn borer-resistant Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn. Given a successful trial period, Calata will replicate the 100 percent mechanized model all over the Philippines. “We will first expand it on 1,000 to 2,000 square meters. Then we can do it in other areas,” said Calata President Joseph Calata in a farm launch.

The farm has brought in equipment from Argentina as customized for the Philippine condition. It employs a mechanical planter that can plant seeds and apply fertilizer at the same time. The planter has a capacity of 20 hectares per day. It ensures planting seeds for maximum land use. It uses a fumigator that stretches over 22 meters, spraying herbicide or pesticide. Direct planting contributes to land’s sustainability and environmentally-sound farming, according to SDC President Nico Bolzico. Tilling only happens once, and farrowing is no longer employed after this, enabling soil regeneration. “It is a zero tillage farming system. With tillage, soil nutrients are lost. You waste on water as you till (water evaporates),” said Calata. Harvesting will also be revolutionary. “When we start harvesting, the harvester will put back the corn stalks and cobs into the soil which will become organic fertilizer in the soil,” said Calata.

The other advantages of direct planting are reduction in soil erosion, use of virgin lands, higher and more stable yield, and higher use efficiency and storage of water. The product of the farm’s mechanized harvester will be corn in the form of kernels, rather than just cobs.

Engr. Esteban De Lorenzi, SDC machine expert, said planting in the mechanized system cuts cost by 40 percent. Usual Philippine planting cost for corn is P7,000 per hectare with the use of labor and carabao as tractor. The SDC planting system consists machinery use, diesel, and labor. Its cost is only P4,216.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Corn Coordinator (Region 2- Isabela, Cagayan Valley) Orlando J. Lorenzana said DA will look at how to adopt the Calata farm technology. “The government is acquiring tractors at P1.5 million each. This farm uses an even cheaper technology. We might as well look at it,” said Lorenzana. Lorenzana said expansion potential of a good technology is big in Isabela. The province contributes 25 percent to total national corn output. It has 246,000 hectares planted to corn, producing 1.86 million MT yearly or 900,000 MT per season. Bolzico said the Philippines may have the capacity to adopt to the technology that has made Argentina a top corn exporter. Its entire produce uses the genetically modified Bt corn. Its total production is more than 20 million metric tons (MT) per year of which more than 30 percent is exported.

Source: http://mb.com.ph/Business/Business_Main/17333/Calata%2c_Argentinian_partner_set_up_fully_mechanized_Isabela_corn_farm#.Ub8XNvnI3Cc

12 Jun 2013

Details Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 12 June 2013 19:24 Written by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo / Special to the BusinessMirror

SECHAGUE, Isabela—Listed agricultural products distributor Calata Corp. is projecting higher profit margins in 2013 with increased sales from its own brand of agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines.

In an interview with company President Joseph Calata, he said selling these products under their own brand will allow the firm to expand its product margins by “200 percent to 300 percent, from the present 15 percent.”

He declined to disclose the brand name pending proper disclosures with the Philippine Stock Exchange, and registration with the Intellectual Property Office

Calata explained that the patents on most of these chemicals and animal health products have already expired, allowing him to have these manufactured as a generic brand. “I’ll be selling these products at a cheaper price than the multinational companies,” he said, comparing these to the SM Bonus brand.

The firm is also looking to acquire an animal health company that will enable it to double its retail store outlets from the current 116 in Luzon.

“The Luzon market is still underserved; there is still a lot of room to grow and sell more of our products here,” he said. The firm posted a net income of P110 million in 2012 on the back of gross revenues amounting to P2.2 billion. “Definitely, our profits will be much higher this year,” Calata stressed, while declining to reveal the firm’s targets. Calata Corp. is a publicly listed company and is considered the biggest distributor of agrochemicals, feeds, and fertilizers in the country. Its share price closed at P3.50 on Tuesday.

Calata recently partnered with Siembra Directa Corp., a company that imports state-of-the-art agricultural machines from Argentina. He said he wants to introduce mechanized farming in the country to boost the productivity and incomes of farmers. He said the traditional farming practices used in the country have lowered soil fertility resulting in the “loss of valuable moisture and nutrients.” Using farm machines, Calata hopes to introduce “zero-tillage farming,” a proven technology that has raised the yields of farms in advanced agricultural economies like Argentina, Brazil and the United States. The partnership was launched here on Wednesday at Calata’s 300-hectare corn farm, which the company is leasing from some 60 farmers at P11,000 per hectare. It is touted as the first fully mechanized corn farm in the country.

Calata said he hopes to inspire the other corn farmers in Isabela to adopt the new technology. “The cooperatives can borrow from Land Bank (of the Philippines) to buy these tillers and harvesters and share among themselves.” One small mechanical planter is estimated to cost $16,000 (P688,000) which can plant 20 hectares a day. “We believe that the key to reversing the exodus of people from agriculture lies in vastly improving productivity,” said Nico Bolzico of Siembra Directa. “Existing technology and machinery must be put to work in Philippine fields so that farmers can realize the full potential of their harvest.” He added that Siembra Directa is committed to making equipment such as mechanical corn planters, fumigators and harvesters available to more farmers and farmers cooperatives, as well as the training necessary to operate the machinery.

In Photo: Calata Corp. President Joseph Calata (above, right) announces the firm’s partnership with agricultural machinery importer Siembra Directa Corp. represented by Nico Bolzico (above, left) to help bring mechanization to Filipino farmers, in a bid to boost agricultural productivity. (Top photo), Siembra demonstrates a mechanical planter from Argentina in the Calata corn farm in Echague, Isabela. Isabela is the country’s largest corn producer in the country. (Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo)

Source: http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri-commodities/14905-calata-sees-higher-profit-on-sales-of-generic-agrochemicals-vet-medicines