Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mushroom cultivation flourishing in Bicol

Mariano Raceles, a farmer in Bicol, always had a fascination with mushrooms. Back in 2013, he was motivated to give his outdoor mushroom plantation an upgrade. 

Fast forward to 2016, the joint efforts of Raceles and the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office in Bicol through Pedro Oliver, regional focal person for mushroom, have led to the establishment of a community-based organization of mushroom growers – the Bicol Entrepreneurs’ Association for Mushroom or BEAM. 

With beneficiaries in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Albay, “Bicol’s Community-Based Mushroom Project” aims to provide local farmers with an additional source of income and livelihood. 

The DA, in partnership with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), accomplished this by spearheading the production of pure culture and quality spawn bags which, Oliver said, are “key components to the sustainability of mushroom production.”

 “The project is made up of two components: on-station and community-based enterprise development,” Oliver said.

 It was during the on-station stage that the DA developed the technology to make pure culture, spawn bags, and fruit bags. It also included the production of information, education, and communication materials through the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Section; value-adding of mushroom by-products conducted by the DA-RFO 5 Food Laboratory; as well as the training of the project’s beneficiaries.

The community-based enterprise development, on the other hand, focused on getting interested farmers to understand the business potential of mushroom production and helping them reach a wider market in the province.

“The mushroom is an organism under the group of fungi. Here in Bicol, we focused on propagating edible mushrooms.  The mushroom species that growers in Bicol prefer are oyster mushrooms, while others have also been showing interest in propagating Ganoderma species which is the kind commonly used for pharmaceutical purposes,” he added.

During trainings, beneficiaries are taught the basic tools and steps needed to start mushroom production. Mushrooms are grown out of fruiting bags. These bags must be filled with substrates (growth media) that are usually made up of one kilo of recycled agricultural waste such as saw dust or rice straw, or a combination of both mixed with agricultural lime. 

After the bags had been prepared and sealed, they undergo thorough pasteurization in steel drums heated overnight in order to eliminate any contaminants. The fruiting bags are unsealed so that growers can place the mushroom spawn onto the substrate. The fruiting bags are once again sealed and stored together in a fruiting house. 

In two to four months, each fruiting bag will have already produced 30 percent of the weight of the mushroom fruit bags. 

For Raceles, his fruiting houses made out of indigenous materials are home to over 5,000 fruiting bags which can produce approximately 150 kilos of mushrooms within the entire production cycle. 

Harvested oyster mushrooms were then developed into delicious by-products. The DA has already concocted various mushroom dishes that include mushroom ice cream, mushroom soup with chili, pickled mushroom, ketchup, dried mushroom, prunes, and mushroom sisig.

 After the production cycle, the substrates that remain in the fruiting bags can be used in vermicomposting. Farmers can then sell the vermicompost for P10 a kilo.

What started as just a handful of mushroom growers has now grown into the BEAM organization. Ever since its establishment last year, both Oliver and Raceles have taken on active roles in the organization, and today BEAM is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

BEAM’s goal is to be able to produce 100-200 kilos of mushroom daily for interested buyers. Currently, a kilo of harvested oyster mushrooms is sold at P150 to P195.
The project has trained 2,093 clients on mushroom production. Participants to these trainings come from different walks of life: farmers, military, students, religious groups, as well as indigenous people. 

The research also got special recognition in the 2015 and 2016 in-house R&D reviews of the DA. Aside from gaining recognition in trade fairs, Bicol mushroom production has also been featured by two national TV networks. 


Two women scientists cited for novel plant research

Nonato (left) and De Leon

Two women scientists have received awards from international science research communities for their novel research on endemic plants. 

In a recent press briefing, Maribel Nonato and Rizalina de Leon were presented by the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology (PhilAAST), headed by Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, as recipients of this year’s Gregorio Y. Zara Awards for Basic and Applied Research.  

PhilAAST aims to promote scientific and technological research that contributes to knowledge stock and national development.

Nonato was conferred the Gregorio Y. Zara Award for Basic Research for her pioneering work on Phytochemistry and biological activities of Philippine genus Pandanus (family Pandanaceae), better known as pandan. 

De Leon was given the same award for Applied Research for her bioethanol production using local varieties of fungi as alternative sources of ethanol additives replacing food-based crops such as corn.  

Currently vice-rector for research and innovation at the University of Santo Tomas, Nonato has spent years doing groundbreaking research on pandan.  

Prior to her research, there was little known information about pandan. Locally, 20 out of 450 species of this monocot plant grow abundantly in the country. Ordinarily, pandan leaves are used in preparing sweet delicacies and beverages due to their sweet aromatic scent.  

Pandan leaf is most commonly used when cooking rice.  

In contrast, the closest the pandan has been considered as a herbal medicine was when the plant was included in pito-pito, a popular traditional concoction of seven endemic plants in the country used to relieve common illnesses. 

Nonato started her research in 1991. “Look for subjects that have little information so you can contribute to the development of new knowledge,” she said.

She had initial talks with world-renowned botanist Benjamin Stone who was then working with the National Museum on an inventory of Philippine medicinal plants.  
Research stalled with Stone’s death, but Nonato continued her work. 

Her research led to the discovery of new secondary metabolites with biological activities, the basis for the plant’s medicinal attributes. With this breakthrough discovery, neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand undertook similar research on their respective Pandanus species. 

Moreover, biological studies on pandan have found it a potential source of anti-microbials, anti-viral, diuretics, anti-tuberculars, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. 

Consequently, Nonato’s research on the new alkaloids earned her the 2006 National Research Council of the Philippines Achievement Award in Chemical Sciences. Her various works on pandan have led her students to give her the moniker “Pandan Queen.”   

On the other hand, De Leon’s research focused on bioethanol production. 

Deviating from the usual bioethanol feedstock using corn and other similar food-based materials, De Leon worked on local fungal species that can degrade complex polymers called lignin to produce ethanol as fuel additives. 

According to her, corn and other food-base raw materials should not be used in the production of alternative fuel as this threatens food security in the country.

Her team identified Fusarium moniliforme, one of the most prevalent fungi, as a promising source of ethanol through a consolidated bioprocessing approach that extracts the ethanol from its solid form. 

The bioprocess provides the fermentation resulting in the production of a substance with higher ethanol concentration at a shorter processing time.  

Other scientists cited were Enrico Paringit, recipient of the David M. Consunji Award for Engineering; Antonio Dans, for Dr. Paulo C. Campos Award for Health Research; and Antonio Laureana as this year’s Leads Agri awardee.  

PhilAAST confers the awards annually on men and women of science who have contributed new knowledge for the advancement of science and technology in the country. Awardees receive P50,000 cash and a plaque of recognition. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Going Nuts with Peanuts

Boron is one of the seven micronutrients required for normal growth and development of plants. It promotes proper cell division, cell elongation, cell wall strength, flowering, pollination, seed set, and sugar translocation. 

Based on recent studies, the combined application of Boron (Solubor Borax and Fertibor) significantly increased peanut yield, contributing yield increment of 627-693 kg/ha for BPI Pn 9 variety, 709-1,097 kg/ha for NSICPn 15 (Asha) variety, and 1,641-1,907 kg/ha for NSIC Pn 14 (Namnama 2) variety.

This yield increment can be translated to an increase in income ranging from P5,000/ha to P33,000/ha depending on the prevailing farm gate price of the peanut at harvest. Economic analysis however, showed that it is economical to use Solubor Borax in single application at the rate of 500 g/ha giving a marginal benefit cost ratio (MBCR) of 5.89%, 9.17%, and 7.74% for BPI Pn 9, NSIC Pn 14, and NSIC Pn 15 variety, respectively. Boron application also reduced the number of unfilled pods by 15–44%.


• Increases crop yield

• Improves root nodule development for more nitrogen fixation and protein


• Produces and retain more flowers and pegs

• Enhances calcium utilization

• Translocates more sugars and protein from leaves to nuts

• Prevents“hollow heart”(internal nut damage with discolored and damaged


Target Beneficiaries

• Peanut growers

• Low-income farmers in corn, rice, coconut and fruit crops-based farming

systems/ communities

• Low-income farmers in sandy soils and lahar-laden areas

• Agri-entrepreneurs (seed growers and food processors)


• Cagayan and Isabela

• Tarlac and Pampanga

Partner Institutions

• DA – RFO 02/ Cagayan Valley Research Center

• DA – RFO 03/ Central Luzon Integrated Agricultural Research Center

• Pampanga State Agricultural University

• Tarlac College of Agriculture

Source: Readings from DOT-PCAARRD

Monday, October 24, 2016

How to remove chemical residue in vegetables

Would you believe that by soaking your vegetables in a solution of two teaspoons of vinegar in a liter of water you can remove up to 80 percent of the pesticide residues?

Yes, that’s one of four easy ways you can remove pesticide residues recommended by Dr. Susan May F. Calumpang of UP Los Baños. She and members of her team have found that out in a research project funded by PCAARRD, an agency of the Department of Science and Technology. The study was aimed at establishing mitigating measures to minimize pesticide residues in intact and fresh-cut vegetables and sprouts.

The research team now suggests four very easy and simple ways of removing pesticide residues in vegetables. Here they are:

1. Mix two teaspoons of vinegar into 4 cups of water and use this for soaking your vegetables for two minutes. This can reduce insecticide residues by up to 80 percent.
2. Mix 10 drops of liquid detergent into one liter of water and use this to wash your vegetables. Afterwards, rinse the vegetables in running tap water. This can reduce insecticide residues by 67 to 88 percent.
3. Boil vegetables. Insecticides are destroyed and broken down when they react to heat and water.
4. Broiling or grilling vegetables is another way of reducing pesticide residues. Eggplant is one vegetable that is usually broiled or grilled.

VEGGIES FOR SALAD – The research team recommends that fresh vegetables used in salads should be washed thoroughly using the above procedures if they have not been exposed to heat.

By the way, Dr. Calumpang, who is assistant to the UPLB vice chancellor for research and extension, specializes in chemical ecology which is the study of chemicals that affect insect behavior. Her studies, in collaboration with other researchers, have already resulted in pest control techniques that can be used to protect crops without the use of chemical pesticides.

One example: The placement of leafy stalks of “Tagbak” (about one meter long) in rice fields can reduce green leaf hopper infestation which is the vector of the very destructive tungro virus to rice. Tagbak is a wild member of the ginger family found in many places in the country.

WESMAARRDEC banners sardine’s R&D

A bountiful catch of sardines waiting to be disposed at the shoreline (Photo by Dr. Asuncion B. de Guzman)

Joining this year’s Davao Agriculture Trade Expo (DATE), the Western Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESMAARRDEC) banners one of its most notable exploits for the sardine industry.

WESMAARRDEC’s effort and that of its member agencies provide support to the goal of improving the supply chain of sardines in selected regions of the country.

The joint effort primarily addresses the decline in sardine’s production, coupled with overfishing which may jeopardize the industry’s numerous beneficiaries not only in the Zamboanga Peninsula but also in the whole country.

The industry’s beneficiaries include canning factories, bottled sardine manufactures, fish processors, tin can manufacturers, commercial fishing operators, and dried fish processors.

Responding to this concern, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) implemented the sardines closed season through a joint administrative circular. It prohibited the catching of sardines in the conservation area (East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait, and Sibuguey Bay) for three months from December 1 to March 1 for three years (2011-2014). 

The sardines closed season is a project component of the Sulu-Celebes Sea Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SCS-SFMP) of the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources/National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (DA-BFAR/NFRDI) and funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). To provide science-based information to validate the policy on closed season for sardines, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) funded a program on the development of tools for managing the sardine fisheries. 

The three-month closed season for sardines resulted to the increase in the production of sardines in the study area. It recorded a 30% increase in sardine production in 2012. There was also an increase in the relative number of spawners, disappearance of small sardines, and appearance of bigger ones in the landed catch.   

With the gains of the closed season, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, a WESMAARRDEC-member agency, extended its implementation for another three years beginning 2014 subject to continuous research and peer review by experts to determine the best management strategy that would ensure the sustainability and conservation of sardines.

In 2011, PCAARRD, with the support of the UP Marine Science Institute (MSI) and in cooperation with UP Visayas (UPV) and Mindanao State University-Naawan (MSU-Naawan) implemented a program for the development of robust tools for the sardine industry using satellite and landed catch data under its Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP).

DOST-PCAARRD funded five projects under this initiative. The first project ventured on capturing the dynamic linkages between small pelagic and primary production through satellite images and models for better resource management in the Bohol Sea and the Zamboanga Peninsula. 

The other projects worked on sustaining the sardine fishery industry through a better understanding of the time and space dynamics affecting sardine in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Bohol Sea System, early life stage mortality and recruitment, assessment of the sardine fisheries in Tawi-Tawi waters and molecular technology-based assessment of the sustainability of sardine fisheries.      

The program is expected to reduce the depletion of the stock and the decline of sardine production in the country inasmuch as it will provide science-based inputs to policy on conservation and management of the sardine fisheries.

Consistent with its commitment of providing “science based know-how and tools that enable the agriculture sector to raise productivity to world class standards,” DOST-PCAARRD is also currently supporting sardine supply chain and impact assessment of the closed season for sardine fisheries.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tarlac cooperative turns misfortune into blessings through S&T and hard work

Farmers harvest “kinerots” variety of sweetpotato in Sapang, Moncada (Photo by ACD, PCAARRD)

The town of Ablang-Sapang, Moncada, Tarlac City has been an agricultural community, growing crops such as sweetpotato, corn, rice, turnips, and vegetables. However, in 1991, Mt. Pinatubo erupted, affecting the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales. Farmers were devastated to find their crops buried in lahar.

Engr. Cesar L. Tabago, chief executive officer of Sapang Primary Multipurpose Cooperative (PMPC) said that this was unfortunate as the residents of Moncada, Tarlac rely on planting sweetpotato and other crops for their livelihood.

Three years after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, the lahar that buried their crops became a blessing to Tarlac’s farmers. According to the Tarlac College of Agriculture (TCA) Director for Research and Development Dr. Lilibeth Laranang, lahar mixed with the soil in the field made it sandy, the type of soil suitable for growing sweetpotato. The farm soil in Tarlac, according to Tabago, gave way to making the province as the largest commercial producer of sweetpotato in the country, with 5,600 hectares of field planted with the crop.

Tabago said that Sapang PMPC earns its revenues from fresh sweetpotato and dried sweetpotato chips. During harvesting, fresh sweetpotato gives them earnings of P325,000 from 250 sacks or 25 metric tons of sweetpotato in their more than 2,000-hectare farm.

Meanwhile, reject sweetpotatoes, which used to be left in the field to rot, are now turned into dried sweetpotato chips that can be processed as animal feed. Combined with its earnings from fresh sweetpotato, Sapang PMPC had its first purchase order for the year amounting to P30,200,000.

Sapang PMPC plants sweetpotato from August to March and harvests from November until June or July. Sweetpotato varieties Kinerots, Inubi, Super Taiwan, and Super Bureau are the four varieties that are planted in its 2,000-hectare farm.

In 2000, the Sapang PMPC was established primarily to manage the excess sweetpotato produce. Before the establishment of the cooperative, there was no alternative market big enough to absorb the excess sweetpotato, resulting to spoilage.

“Our forefathers who were also sweetpotato farmers, did not have information or linkages to make their farm productive. Today, with the help of TCA and with the Sapang PMPC, we can say, ‘may pera sa kamote,’” said Tabago.

TCA has been supporting the cooperative since its establishment by providing clean planting materials. This initiative was done through a project funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD): Promoting commercialization of sweetpotato clean planting materials (SP-CPM): support to the food and feed industry in Central Luzon.

Aside from clean planting materials, Tabago said soil preparation is key to having a bountiful harvest.

“We make sure that the soil is powdery by harrowing using a tractor 10 to 14 times. This increases our sweetpotato productivity,” he said.

Tabago highlighted the success story of Sapang PMPC during the sweetpotato field day/harvest festival of the Farms and Industry Encounters through the Science and Technology Agenda (FIESTA) organized by TCA in Sapang, Moncada, Tarlac.

FIESTA is DOST-PCAARRD’s technology diffusion strategy, which uses events to enhance agri-aqua technology transfer and commercialization.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nutrient formulations for potato seed production using aeroponics being developed by IPB-UPLB

The Aeroponics setup at IPB-UPLB (Photo by the Crops Research Division, DOST-PCAARRD)

Nutrient formulations for the aeroponics system are being developed by the Institute of Plant Breeding of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (IPB-UPLB). The formulations are being used to produce cheaper and clean potato planting materials through aeroponics.

Once tested for its effectiveness, the nutrient formulations will help in producing potato seeds using aeroponics, a soilless method of producing potato seeds wherein plant roots are enclosed in a dark compartment. Aeroponics requires smaller space and potentially lower input costs like labor, nutrients, water, and chemical pesticides while producing more seeds relative to conventional seed production.

Aside from the nutrient formulations, systemic pesticides and root hormones were used to improve the capability of the system.

The nutrient formulations were outputs of the project, Potato seed production through aeroponics, which is being implemented by UPLB and the Department of Agriculture Region 10 – Northern Mindanao Agricultural Crops and Livestock Research Complex (DA 10-NMACLRC) and funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).

The project is targeting a yield of 40 mini tubers/plant, which is five times higher than that of the conventional method, which only produces eight mini tubers/plant. The current productivity in UPLB is 15 mini tubers/plant; 19 mini tubers/plant in Benguet State University (BSU); and 27 mini tubers/plant in the DA 10-NMACLRC.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Bacterial crown rot-tolerant papaya being developed in ACIAR-PCAARRD project

Dr. Pablito M. Magdalita (left) discusses the potential bacterial crown rot (BCR)-tolerant lines inside a screen house of IPB-UPLB (Photo by the Crops Research Division)
Papaya plants tolerant to bacterial crown rot (BCR) are being developed in a project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).

During a visit at the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), researchers of the project examined the potential BCR-tolerant lines grown inside the screen house. New stems, termed as regrowth, appeared in some of the infected plants two to three months after complete collapse of the crown of the test plants that were treated with the BCR pathogen.

According to Dr. Pablito M. Magdalita of UPLB, the occurrence of regrowth as a form of tolerance to bacterial crown rot is a promising technology in identifying papaya selections tolerant to BCR.

The project, Integrated disease management strategies for the productive, profitable and sustainable production of high quality papaya fruit in the southern Philippines and Australia, is being implemented by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and Del Monte Philippines.

BCR causes the leaves of the papaya plant to turn yellow and eventually die. It causes discoloration and water-soaking of the stem and crown of the plant. The disease has affected many parts of Southern Philippines.

Dr. Nanditha Pathania, collaborating scientist from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Queensland, discussed the process in generating the potential BCR-tolerant lines.

A joint project review was also conducted between IPB-UPLB researchers and DOST-PCAARRD staff. During the review, Dr. Magdalita explained that the 58 new papaya accessions screened for BCR resistance in Tranca, Bay, Laguna have remained uninfected since December 2014.

Dr. Magdalita discussed the different activities relative to the development of papaya genotypes that are resistant or tolerant to BCR: purification and advancement of BCR tolerant lines; hybridization of BCR with PRSV tolerant lines; selection of new BCR tolerant lines; and natural screening for BCR resistance, acquisition of seeds, and preparation of seedlings for third batch of screening.

Dr. Pathania recommended to look at the relationship between time of field planting and BCR incidence. She also suggested to test for lignified tissues at different parts of the plant to identify the part most vulnerable to bacteria, especially with factors that influence bacterial growth such as cold weather, rainfall, and wind that could damage the tissues.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Drawing the Young to Farming

Drawing the Young to Farming
By: Cielito F. Habito

WE MAY have a relatively young work force, but the average age of farmers in the Philippines is 57. All over the world, farmers are similarly aging. In Japan, the average farmer is much older at 67, while for Kenya it is 60, the United States 58, and China 55.

In Barangay Carangcang in the town of Magarao, Camarines Sur, a farmer recently lamented how his children no longer help in the farm: “Tinatamad na dahil nakapag-aral” and “Pag inutusan mo, hawak cell phone” (“He has become lazy because he got educated,” and “If you ask him to do anything, he can’t put down his cell phone”). Japan now resorts to robotic farming even as it tries to educate its youth on agriculture. Other countries import labor. That the youth are increasingly drawn away from farming is something we should all worry about.

Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva of the Food and Agriculture Organization, in his address to its general assembly last May, asserted: “Farmers are responsible for providing the food we all eat… [and] as custodians of the environment, they help preserve and sustain our natural resource.” Farmers are valuable, as they play multiple vital roles in society. But those in the next generation are increasingly unwilling to assume these roles, given how farming has become generally unattractive as an occupation. Societies all over the world have traditionally considered farming a lowly job that involves hard labor, and associated mainly with the poor. In the Philippines, it has become a thankless job that commonly pushes workers to even worse states of poverty.

With generally rising incomes and modernizing lifestyles, young people shun their fathers’ farm plots in favor of work cubicles in the cities where they see pay to be not only better but also more certain. Over the past decades, enrollment in our agriculture colleges and schools has dwindled nationwide. In Los Baños, where the University of the Philippines’ second largest campus used to have agriculture as its primary course offering, a point came when many in the College of Agriculture faculty had no courses to teach and had to focus entirely on research.

The reluctance of young Filipinos to take up farming is easy enough to understand. Aside from the difficulty of the work, there is also the uncertainty in returns, especially due to weather. Farmers have always been the first and worst affected by the adverse effects of climate change. Whether rising temperatures, shifting seasons, El Niño droughts or La Niña floods, there is sure to be some negative impact on the farmers’ output, hence their earnings. Particularly vulnerable are rice farmers who are already at a disadvantage because of our country’s geography and position on the typhoon belt. The recent El Niño delayed the planting season by more than an entire cropping season. Used to the seasonality of their livelihood, the farmers of Carangcang said they got by with odd jobs like construction, beadwork, and cooking.
Experience in Africa offers hope and perhaps a few lessons. There, young professionals are reported to have left their city jobs and are making a difference in farms. Reasons vary. South African Dimakatsu Nono, 34, wanted to make meaningful change. Emmanuel Koranteng could not resist the draw of his father’s farm. Others are taking advantage of new technologies and the increasing unmet demand for food in the continent. Young people make their entry in the sector all over the agricultural value chain, but even those who have taken to tilling the land do it quite differently from their parents. Nono, for example, has introduced stricter bookkeeping, beginning by literally counting cows as her parents never really knew how many animals they had. AgriHub Nigeria CEO Aderonke Aderinoye gathered data on her farms and used that data not only to optimize her own yield, but also to give advice to other farmers on how to improve theirs. Harvard-trained Calestous Juma suggests a rebranding of farming as “agribusiness” or “agri-entrepreneurship” to focus not on the labor but on the technology, innovation, and business principles that are involved. Indeed, it was the agribusiness course that UP Los Baños pioneered, which drew many students even from affluent families during my own college years there.

There is appeal for the young in being able to apply modern tools and techniques, especially information technology, to an occupation that has traditionally bred poverty, and transform it into a lucrative one. The other new twist comes from the wealth-creating opportunities that have opened as farmers find their place in domestic and cross-border value chains. Closer regional integration via the Asean Economic Community has made it much easier for processed Philippine fruits to find their way into the erstwhile uncharted markets of Myanmar (Burma) and Cambodia, for example. In Muslim Mindanao, production of halal products presents much promise in view of Asean being a dominantly Islamic market, and rapidly growing Islamic markets worldwide. Organic farming is a lucrative niche market that the Carangcang farmers are beginning to cash in on. But they continue to be hampered by the same inadequacies in infrastructure and other support that farmers elsewhere in the country face as well.

Our agriculture challenge now is not simply about assisting farmers raise productivity. It’s more about providing the proper environment to attract new and young people to transform an erstwhile unattractive occupation into the exciting new field of agri-entrepreneurship, whose domain extends well beyond the farm itself.


Monday, October 3, 2016

ACIAR and DOST-PCAARRD address mango production’s pre- and postharvest diseases

Experimental mango trees at the orchard of USeP in Tagum City were prepared for the trial on the effect of endophytic fungi for the control of pre- and postharvest diseases such as anthracnose and stem end rot (Photo by Allan B. Siano)
The Philippine mango industry has been thriving both in the local and international markets, with production as high as 783,225 metric tons combined for mangoes, mangosteens, and guavas in 2012, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The Philippine ‘Carabao’ mango is also one of the best varieties in the world. However, pre- and postharvest diseases such as anthracnose and stem-end rot hinder mango production in the country.

To address this, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) funded the project, Research and development of integrated crop management for mango production in the southern Philippines and Australia.

During a field monitoring at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP), Tagum City, the Crops Research Division (CRD) of DOST-PCAARRD has identified experimental mango trees to test the effect of endophytic fungi for the control of pre- and postharvest diseases in mango.

Aside from the experimental trees, the Office of the Provincial Agriculture of Davao del Norte is implementing mango canopy and fertilizer management trials at the Davao del Norte Mango Research and Extension Center in Samal island.

“It is my first time to see our mango trees bear fruits after six years of managing this orchard,” said Mark Jumao-as, a farmer.

The CRD team, headed by its Director, Dr. Jocelyn E. Eusebio, also monitored the mango project site at the SPAMAST orchard in Buhangin, Malita, Davao del Sur. The experimental trees in the orchard are being prepared as a parallel trial on canopy and fertilizer management.

The project aims to address challenges on mango yield and quality through the adoption of an Integrated Crop Management. Project deliverables include a set of “best practices” that will be disseminated to farmers and capacity building among extension workers and scientific staff to help in crop management.

The project is being implemented by the University of Southern Mindanao (USM), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), USeP, Southern Philippines Agri-business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST), and the Office of the Provincial Agriculture of Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur.



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