Wednesday, October 25, 2017

PH Scientists Awarded by Japanese Scientific Forum

Philippine Nuclear Research Institute

A team of Filipino scientists that developed the Plant Food Supplement (PFS) via the using radiation technology was awarded the  2017 Excellent Research Team of the Year Award by the Japan-based Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA).

The team from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) garnered the award. 

The potential of the project in spurring the development of Philippine agriculture towards national food security was recognized by the Japanese government. Also, the project can help mitigate the effects of El NiƱo and climate change that ravage farmlands in the countryside.

The research team is led by Career Scientist Dr. Lucille Abad who heads DOST-PNRI’s Chemistry Research Section. With just 3.2 liters per hectare of water mixed with the right proportion of the PFS, the formulation was proven effective in increasing the yield of rice, mung bean, and other crops by over 20 percent. 

With the application of the PFS in field tests, it was determined that PFS enhanced resistance against tungro bacilliform virus and bacterial leaf blight. Further, fields sprayed with PFS had higher survival rate after a violent storm compared with nearby fields that were not treated with PFS. 

Launched in November 2015,  DOST started the widespread testing of PFS in Luzon, Panay Island, Zamboanga, and Davao. The experiments showed proof the advantages and benefits of PFS.

PFS is developed from carrageenan, a common industrial ingredient made from seaweeds. Subjecting to radiation the polymers of carrageenan it formed natural bioactive agents that can improve the health and increase the growth and yield of various crops.

Carrageenan has already been used as organic fertilizer in rice crops before but this is the first time that radiation exposure was utilized in enhancing its potentials. The carrageenan used for the PFS was irradiated at PNRI’s  Electron Beam Irradiation Facility in Diliman, Quezon City, the first and only facility of its kind in the country dedicated to semi-commercial services.

Eventually, several tons of PFS from PNRI was deployed for field test purposes and these were applied to thousands of hectares of rice fields in selected provinces of Regions 2 and 3, specifically in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Ilagan, Isabela and in Pulilan, Bulacan.

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