Data Logger for Community Microhydro: the latest test was a success!

The latest test conducted by volunteers from Imperial College London – Engineers Without Borders was a success. The latest prototype of the Data Logger allows SIBAT to monitor the real time performance of the MHP parameters – voltage, frequency, and current — with on-line data update every two minutes. The data that will be collected through the data logger will help SIBAT and the local operator immediately analyze the potential problem of a Microhydro power system, and will do away with the long travel time to inspect the performance of a Microhydro.

The Data Logger is being tested in the 20-year old Gacab Microhydro in Malibcong, Abra province.  SIBAT hopes that the final version of the data logger will be completed next year, for all the areas with MHP to benefit.

Another successful test conducted, together with SIBAT’s CREATech personnel, was on the Microhydro-powered milling machine for households and clusters, intended to be used in the uplands of Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).  Said equipment processes a number of crops – rice, corn, coffee, other beans, and rootcrops for flour making.  SIBAT also hopes that the final version of the milling machine will be completed next year so, all the remote areas will benefit from it.

SIBAT had produced the efficient sugarcane press this year, also powered by the Microhydro.

The latest batch of students spent a one month working intensively on these prototypes.  The two prototypes would not be possible without these amazing students, namely Michael McCartney (Mechanical Engineering), Chong Geng Lin (Mechanical Engineering), Marin Teleu (Chemical Engineering) and Thomas Hartley (Electronics Engineering & Computer Science) who served their time and talent for the rural communities of the country.

India-Trained Solar Mamas are Back and Ready to Serve Poor Villages

They left the country in September 2014 first time away from their villages and a bit uncertain about life in India. They are now back, beaming with pride as they are fondly called solar Mamas, after six months of training at Barefoot College in Tilonia, in the state of Jaipur in India.   The three  village women were:  Zenaida Benitez  from   Hilotongan,  one among the Yolanda-battered islands of Bantayan, Northern Cebu;   Mildred Barona from the upland Itneg village of Lacub in Abra;  and Arcelyn Dalingay from the village of Gawaan, in Kalinga province.  They were chosen based on maturity and status in the community that project their unwavering commitment to serve.  The training was sponsored by Barefoot College with assistance from the Indian Government through its Indian Technical Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Program.

SIBAT facilitated the selection and pre-training activities with the aim that the three could help SIBAT to electrify off-grid communities, and train other women and men on solar home lighting systems.   They were among 7 Filipino women (the others were 4 Aeta women from Tarlac and Zambales) who were selected and accepted into the program last year.

A one-year plan under SIBAT’s Renewable Energy Program has been drawn up to implement solar home lighting projects utilizing the skills of the solar Mamas.

Barefoot College representatives came to   the Philippines last April and validated baseline surveys of the communities in aid of developing proposals to secure funding for the solar home systems they will assemble.   With fund availability, rural homes in off-grid areas of the Philippines could soon bid goodbye to wick lamps and enjoy the bright illumination of solar-powered home systems skillfully assembled by the solar Mamas.

Organic Farmers and Consumers Pursue Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)

Small farmers and advocates in the province of Tarlac, are pursuing PGS or the Participatory Guarantee System, as alternative to the provision under section 17 of RA10068 otherwise known as Organic Agriculture Law, that says produce checked by Third Party Certification (TPC)  are  only the ones  allowed to be labeled as organically produced .  The label shall contain the name, logo or seal of organic certifying body and the accreditation number issued by the Bureau of Agriculture Fisheries Product standards ( BAFPS).

Farmers frowned at the exorbitant cost of Third party certification with a tag price ranging from P30-40 thousand pesos per crop valid for only one year.  This amount is way beyond the purse of small farmers who have perennial problems accessing for even a small capital for production. Only rich farmers or corporations can afford Third Party certification.  The provision has become a deterrent and disincentive for small chemical farmers comprising a large percentage of the farming populace to switch to organic farming.

The PGS which is now widely adhered to and accepted by international organic movements such as the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) and recognized even by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a pro-small farmer alternative to Third party certification.   PGS is built on trust and integrity of the primary stakeholders, i.e., farmers and consumers   who conduct the certification process themselves,   through adherence to certification standards, guidelines, regulations and processes similarly observed by Third party certification.

SIBAT pushes for the PGS certification approach in the province and acts as the Secretariat of PGS Tarlac.  It has given PGS trainings since 2014 and has come up with   the operations manual and standards for vegetable production, certification process flow, roles and responsibilities of inspectors and quality control officers.  To date, SIBAT has organized the formal structure of the PGS organization and is presently preparing to process applications in June 2015. By end of this year, PGS Tarlac will start producing farmers with organic certification in the province.

Paraiso Organic Tiangge Opens in Tarlac City

Consumers  and health buffs came in droves  to the first Friday opening of the Organic Food Tiangge, participated by 12 organic producers in Tarlac last March 20.    Urged by the demands of organic producers and farmers in the province for an outlet of their produce, the Department of Agriculture in Region 3 allotted a space in front of its building in Paraiso, Capas, Tarlac for an Organic Tiangge that opens to the public every Friday.   The DA subsidizes seller-producers by providing booths and promotional assistance.

There are 12 initial  sellers in the  tiangge  each carrying a wide  array of products  ranging from fresh organic vegetables, processed organic food items like peanut butter, chips, herbal products , eggs  and even  delicious organic lechon.

The selling group was led by SIBAT’s Mangarita Organic Farm (MOF), the Capas Organic Farmers Producers Cooperative (COFPC) and the Association of Tarlac Organic Producers (ATOP).   The group aims for the Organic Tiangge to become a mainstay in Tarlac and attract more consumers to buy from the produce of organic farmers.