Sunday, January 29, 2017

Boosting Carabao Milk Production

The milkman of my youth that delivers milk by the bottles is now extinct. But I still remember memories of the local “milk maid”. The “tindera” who sells carabao milk in recycled “Ginebra” bottles. While the Magnolia or Selecta milkmen have white milk contained in their bottles, the bottles of carabao milk contains a greyish colored milk in them. The Philippines currently imports 99% of its dairy milk requirements. 

Of this 1% that is currently sourced, cows account for 64% and carabaos provide only 34%. 

At “The Role of Assisted Reproduction in Dairy Industry Development” at the S&T Agri-Biotech forum, Eufrocina. Atabay of the DA’s Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) asked  “But where will we get this if we are only one percent sufficient?” asked Eufrocina. Atabay of the DA’s Philippine Carabao Center (PCC). 

“What aggravates this situation is that there is a low number of dairy herd population both in buffalo and cattle.  Another problem is that the animals are being left unproductive for a long time and this will result to low reproduction efficiency and economic loss,” disclosed Atabay who specializes in reproductive biotechnology.

With the continued increase of the Philippine population, the insufficiency of this critical nutrient requirement must be met by a sustainable development program.

Artificial Insemination (AI) is thus one of the venues that can address said challenges. This will enable improve the dairy herd’s quality. PCC aims to conduct a nationwide training program for AI technicians  

AI is used to breed animals with higher productivity for both milk and meat by harnessing select animals’ excellent genetic materials.

Along with monitoring the success of the AI, there is also in vitro fertilization that uses AI as well. Inducing more egg-cell production of the carabaos will enable these to be preserved for future use.

Two months after the AI, the team checks the presence of fetus inside the carabao. It also uses pregnancy test on the animal to determine if the breeding is successful “so we can detect non-pregnancy at the soonest time possible,” Atabay said.

 “As we employ these technologies, we are ensuring the sustainability of the production of our local dairy animals so we can avoid the importation of live animals for a sustainable and globally competitive dairy industry,” Atabay announced.

Such scientific and technological interventions will boost milk supply. It is recognized that carabao milk is more nutritious than cow's milk. 

Such nutrition is badly needed by a burgeoning population and this will benefit the children most of all.

How to maintain Pest-free Herbs

Unlike today, home-made remedies for all sorts of aches and pains were sourced from the backyard. If one has an ankle sprain or running a fever, herbs were applied by one’s mother or the local “arbolaryo” who would then either boil it or pound it into a poultice and apply it on the affected area. Mang Kepweng was the village “arbolaryo” and would teach those who cared to listen on what plants and herbs to use in such cases. It only dawned that these plants contained natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory or anti-biotic properties. 

Of course, one has to sing Bahay Kubo to learn the herbs and vegetables that would either spice up our food or themselves provide nutrient-rich nourishment every day of the week. The song narrates a plethora of plants, spices and vegetables that can be cooked or prepared in almost endless variations so that no meal has to be replicated in a week or even 2 weeks.

Aside from medicinal and nutrition uses, these plants and herbs also serve as “air fresheners” and even pest control resources for farmers. Soap, body scrubs, ointments and tea are also sourced from these plants. 

One enemy of all these plants and herbs are insect pests and diseases. In order to  help farmers in controlling the infestation on such useful herbs, the University of Southern Mindanao conducted studies on how to address the problems caused by pests and diseases on these herbs and plants.

The study concluded that planting herbs that are appropriately distanced from each other, applying organic fertilizer, and frequent weeding are cultural practices that are critical to controlling the spread of pests and diseases. 

In controlling leaf blight, stem blight, fruit rot and other plant and herb diseases, organic pest controls were developed that uses organic materials such as chicken dung. Proper spacing of the plants together with application of organic fertilizers and frequent weeding also greatly benefitted the plants.

It was also discovered that the cleaning of the ground where the plants are being grown also has an effect on the health of the crops. Thus, clearing dead leaves from the ground decreases the chance of fungi growing and infecting the plants.

Identification of infected plants and removing them away from non-infected plants and succeeding planting of seedlings will break the cycle of these pests and diseases recurring.

This will increase production and yield. The biomass of the plants will also be increased. Most important of all, this will avoid the use of inorganic chemical pesticides that will cause more harm than good to the plants and its quality. 

The use of inorganic pesticides also pollutes the underground water table when it seeps into the ground and end up in waterways and estuaries.  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Native Zamboanga chicken offers good livelihood source

The native chickens in Zamboanga peninsula (Zampen) is emerging as the Philippines’ best performing native chicken, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) said.

With the initial findings on the superiority of the Zampen native chicken, the DOST-PCAARRD has launched a program to promote native chicken rising among farmworkers and small holder farmers to supplement their meager, if not seasonal earnings.

Synan Baguio, director of the DOST-PCAARRD Livestock Research Division, said they have already developed a batch of Zampen native chicken breed from which they would produce and distribute native chickens throughout  Zampen which covers Zamboanga City, and the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay.

The large-scale breeding of standard breed of the Zampen native chicken stock is being pursued with the Western Mindanao State University, and the Western Mindanao Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research and Development consortium.

Baguio said  Zampen native chicken raising can be pursued by farmworkers in the small and large rubber and fruit trees as well as coconut tree plantations spread out over  Zampen, boosting their meager and seasonal income as farmworkers.

“This is really for the local farmers and farmworkers. The development of the native animals is biased for the small rural farmers,” Baguio said.

With native chicken raising, there’s no need for fences since raisers can just let the chickens roam in the farm, he noted.

Baguio said the cost of raising native chickens is low since they have their natural behavior of foraging.  He said native chickens were also more disease-resilient.

The DOST-PCAARRD has conducted a comparative study on native chickens from Zampen, Panay island, Bicol region, Bohol province.

It also  developed a breed and free range production protocol for the four native chicken strains, also as part of the program to promote native chicken raising as an additional livelihood for farmers throughout the country.

“We got the genotype that is predominant in the area on the assumption that the reason why they’re so many is because they fit in the environment, they survive well in the environment,” Baguio told The Star.

Baguio said there was a need to develop a breed to provide a Zampen native chicken quality standard that will assure breeders and the end-consumers of the quality they are looking for in the native chicken meat.

“We feel that it’s the reason why no one is investing to use our native genetic resources in building enterprises.”There will always be  reluctance to put in capital because they cannot ensure the quality of product they will be coming up with,” Baguio said.

Baguio said native chicken meat also allows raisers and sellers to command premium price, especially those who organically raise the native chickens.

“Native chicken commands a higher price because of its superior quality over commercial broilers,” Baguio said.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Agriculture: Key to Philippine Development

Agriculture remains the key to Philippine economic development. It is recognized that 60% of poor Filipinos live in the rural areas where agriculture is the main industry and any efforts for economic inclusivity must prioritize agriculture.

The current administration giving cognizance to such has made agriculture as the center stage of its economic policy for this term. 

Food production will be given priority so as to keep inflation rates low. This can be achieved through development of infrastructure, availability of credit, and insurance coverage for farm produce according to Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran.  

“The journey has been tough and hard for us, simply because some of our activities actually were constrained by the fact that the budget for the (second) half of the year 2016 was designed by the previous administration,”  said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol .

“We’re not saying these programs laid out in the 2016 national budget are not relevant to the vision of the current leadership but this situation actually somehow tied our hands in really implementing drastic reforms in the agriculture department,” Piñol said.

The DA secretary unveiled the  Rice Productivity Enhancement, intended to help rice farmers affected by the El Niño to recover from its effects by giving them rice seeds and fertilizer. But that would entail an 18 billion pesos additional budget and the economic managers of the administration remain at loggerheads with the DA proposal.

To address weather related setbacks such as disasters, activities such as distributing inputs (seeds and planting material as well as fertilizer); dispersal of animals such as chickens, pigs and goats; endowment of boats and fishing gear as well as tractors, grains dryers and other farm technologies.

“But at the same time, we also started drafting long-term programs which we believe would serve as the foundation of the new agriculture and fisheries [policy] under the Duterte administration and beyond,” the DA secretary disclosed.

The DA also conducted surveys to re-validate all agricultural data and statistics together with a color coded agricultural map that will define production and land use to be utilized in the setting up of objectives and goals for the agricultural sector.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

‘Pest’ fish now brings benefits

Also called Gloria Tilapia because the fish also has moles on the face that resembles the former President Gloria Arroyo

Once considered a pest, Gloria tilapia, also known as molmol, can now give fisher folks cash benefits.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) here has developed a fish protein concentrate in powder form to fight malnutrition from molmol whose invasion is considered a big problem by brackish fishpond owners. 

Westly Rosario, head of BFAR-Dagupan, said this powdered molmol that is ready-to- eat, may be used in feeding programs for malnourished children like what he intends to do with his organization, the Lions Club.

The powder can be used for congee that may be eaten both by young and the elderly, Rosario said. 

Rosario said the dried powderized molmol could be used as toppings for arroz caldo and other food for protein content.  It can also be used to add taste. 

“We are doing it because molmol is bland,” he said. 

Rosario said the fish bones of molmol would be included in the processing as they have a good calcium level. 

The molmol easily enters ponds and multiplies fast, Rosario said. 

Fishpond owners hate molmol because they eat milkfish fry and compete with fish feeds and space with bangus, he said. 

Since late last year, the “molmol” has been giving headaches to Pangasinan fishpond owners. 

Gloria Tilapia became a problem about five years ago in Bataan. It was originally named Arroyo tilapia, then Gloria tilapia and here in Pangasinan, it’s called molmol, Rosario said. 

Gloria Tilapia was named as such by some fish growers for some characteristics identical with former president and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who has moles on her face. The molmol is also small and grows about 10 centimeters only. 

Meanwhile, BFAR released 5,000 fingerlings of apahap (seabass) in selected rivers to solve fishermen’s woes on the invasion of Gloria tilapia or molmol. 

He said they are into mass production of seabass fingerlings at the BFAR center here. “We’re the only BFAR center across the country doing this. We encourage seabass culture which is high value and also as part of addressing the problem on molmol,” he said. 

Seabass is the natural predator of molmol tilapia. 

Rosario said the move to release seabass into the river is a “biological control.”

He said getting rid of molmol entails three methods: poison them, use of mechanical equipment to get them and the other through biological control by finding other organism that can eat molmol.

New hybrid varieties tighten abaca industry

Abaca, known internationally for its world-class fiber, “Manila hemp,” continues to be one of the priority agricultural commodities of the Department of Agriculture (DA) with the country supplying more than 87.4 percent of the total abaca fiber market and earning more than $111.33 million in global abaca trade annually.

However, problems such as low farm productivity, low supply of high-quality fibers, and the presence of diseases continue to threaten the industry.

Abaca bunchy top virus (ABTV) is the biggest constraint to abaca production with it lowering the quality of harvested fibers while hindering the growth of infected abaca, resulting in no harvest at all.

First observed in 1915, ABTV wiped out more than 12,000 hectares of abaca plantations in the provinces of Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions and eventually reached Visayas and Mindanao provinces such as Eastern Visayas, Davao, and Agusan del Sur.

With the increasing global demand for abaca pulp and fiber, the need to come up with solutions to manage the disease has been of urgent concern.

The DA, in partnership with experts from all over the country, has embarked on various productivity-enhancing measures to ensure the increase in supply of abaca, one of which is abaca varietal improvement.

Developing new and improved abaca varieties started in the country in early 1950’s through the initiative of University of the Philippines College of Agriculture (now University of the Philippines Los Baños) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). Realizing how the industry has depended on the old abaca varieties, which were found to be very susceptible to diseases that have caused the massive decline in the sector, developing new ones with desirable traits such as high fiber yield and resistance to viral diseases has offered a profound solution.

Focused on developing a resistant variety, the team identified Pacol, a wild variety of banana, as a source of resistance genes for ABTV. Though hybridization between Pacol and abaca had started, the project was terminated in 1960’s.

In 1981, UPLB-Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) started another abaca breeding program which found out that Pacol and abaca hybrids, though resistant to bunchy top virus, has poor fiber quality. To recover the good fiber qualities of abaca, a series of backcrossing (BC1) was conducted.

In 2006, another round of breeding work took place and a second backcross population (BC2) was developed that had improved fiber qualities as compared to the F1 and BC1 hybrids which only offered resistance to the dreaded ABTV.

In order to hasten the abaca breeding works, the government has implemented aimed at making the development of abaca varieties much faster since breeding will be more directed with the use of DNA markers linked to the trait of interest.

Marker-Assisted selection (MAS) removes the bias when morphologically selecting superior abaca varieties as it objectively selects abaca lines that are genetically superior and resistant to viral diseases.

The project, which is also being implemented by the Institute of Plant Breeding, College of Agriculture of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, seeks to respond to both the threat of abaca bunchy top virus and the industry’s demand for high fiber quality and yield by developing abaca varieties with high yield potential, excellent fiber quality traits, and virus resistance through the use of molecular marker-assisted breeding techniques.
Molecular marker techniques, which are biotechnology tools, utilize genetic marker systems in order to increase the efficiency of the screening/selection process.

To do this, scientists look for a genetic marker, a specific sequence of DNA which is tightly linked to the trait of interest.

With the markers located near the target/desired DNA sequence of the gene, they tend to be inherited from the parent to the offspring, otherwise known as genetic linkage. This linkage helps scientists identify specific genes that plants will inherit from one generation to another.

The project, led by Antonio Lalusin, utilized developed molecular markers associated with the important fiber characteristics that are vital to the industry and built-in resistance to bunchy top virus found in abaca germplasm collected all over the country.
With the genetic diversity of abaca in three islands of the country found to be highly diverse, results of the markers were deemed useful in providing the information needed to improve cultivated abaca germplasm, and the conduct of in situ conservation, molecular-based breeding, and development of superior abaca cultivars.

Using molecular markers associated with good fiber quality and resistance, the project found three out of all collected accessions from Baguio, Palawan, and Aurora as having potentially good characters, and may be promising parents for future abaca breeding programs.

From these selected promising accessions with resistance and good agronomic characteristics, cross pollination was conducted.

Selected accessions were used as parentals and were crossed with selected Backcross two hybrid and other traditional varieties.

From the conducted hybridization works, 63 hybrids out of the 84 offsprings survived and 35 hybrids were screened using gene-specific markers targeting resistance and presence of BBTV.

From this number, only three were found to be BBTV positive and five hybrids were found to show promising tensile strength with resistance to ABTV and BBTV.

The project now looks forward to further tests and succeeding evaluations of the hybrids through manual inoculation with viruliferous aphids, which are known to transmit BBTV and ABTV to test for stability in disease resistance. They will also undergo tests on agronomic characters and fiber characteristics to confirm good fiber quality.

The government sees these new hybrids contributing to the industry and providing stable earnings to the thousands of Filipinos dependent on abaca farming and to the processing industry.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Philsurin, UP-DOST develop disease-resilient sugar varieties

The Philippine Sugar Research Institute (Philsurin) and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) are developing promising “superior”varieties of sugar that are expected to boost productivity of the country’s sugarcane farming sector.

Philsurin’s Liwayway Engle said the availability of DNA sequencing at the PGC located inside the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus in Quezon City has allowed them to identify superior varieties of sugarcane and develop a new hybrid variety.
Like any other crop, sugarcane deteriorates, becomes prone to disease and its yield decreases as it remains in the field.

The process of sugarcane breeding and marker assisted selection of promising varieties is a long and tedious process that takes eight to nine years, and also requires huge breeding populations of 100,000 to 400,000 genotypes.

MAS is a process in which scientists search for biomarkers associated with a particular trait. When a marker is found to be consistently associated with a specific trait, it may be used by scientists for screening.

Biomarkers help speed up the development of new sugarcane varieties. 

As early as 2012, Engle and her Philsurin team of researchers which include a pathologist, agronomist, and breeders, have already ranked the different promising sugarcane varieties based on field trials in Victorias City and La Carlota in Negros Occidental, and in Bukidnon.

They hope to eventually produce five high-yielding varieties while eliminating their susceptibility to two major diseases affecting sugarcane: downy mildew and smut.

The objective is to reduce the time it takes to develop a new variety by two to three years, thus shortening the process from eight to nine years to five to six years.

In identifying the markers for these diseases, they collect samples of sugarcane aged three to six months.

These samples undergo amplification or multiplication into several duplicates. The material is then subjected to electrophoresis, a technique that separates the components of a mixture of charged molecules in an electric field.

Through electrophoresis, different band patterns consisting of different DNA segments may be seen. Band patterns are also called DNA fingerprints.

Data are analyzed to compute for genetic distance to determine how similar or different the two sugarcane parents are. 

This information is useful to the scientists in deciding whether to cross pollinate or hybridize the two parents.  They do analysis or association test for the trait they are considering for the marker then they score the band patterns for each variety.

These band patterns or DNA fingerprints are also used in variety integrity tests to check the authenticity of the sugarcane variety, after which a certification is issued. This will ensure farmers are planting the right variety in their fields.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New crab hatchery to rise in Alaminos

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) is set to establish a P5-million mud crab hatchery here early next year. 

Virna Salac, national coordinator of DOST- PCARRD, told reporters the hatchery would be the first of its kind in Northern Luzon that would be run by a local government unit. 

She said while there were other mud crab hatcheries, these were operated by the private sector. 

According to Salac, the hatchery in Alaminos City will service mud crab grow out producers in the private sector. Construction is expected to start in February next year in a 500 square-meter lot owned by the city government. 

Once operational, it can produce 480,000 crablets per year, said Rolando Cerezo, director for special projects and project leader of mud crab hatchery in the Pangasinan State University (PSU). 

The PSU will train technicians from the local government unit. Once the hatchery is operational, the LGU will take over the project under the supervision of the PSU. 

Cerezo said they would use king crab as breeders. With this project,  Salac expects a year-round supply of crablets. 

She said catching from the wild would be minimized. “We are not dispersing, and we keep on getting from the wild so that would be depleted,” she said. 

Salac said they have developed mud crab feeds that are affordable but with high protein content for higher profit by the producers.


Copyright © 2015 Agriculture Philippines ™ is a registered trademark.

Designed by Templateism . Hosted on Blogger Platform.