Dr. Eleazar 2nd from left leads the inauguration of the facilityA Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) Center was launched during the opening of the First Cagayan Valley Makan Festival on 16 May 2018 at the Department of Agriculture-Cagayan Valley Research Center (DA-CVRC) in Ilagan, Isabela.

The PGR Center, funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), through its Institutional Development Grant, is a first-of-a-kind genebank facility in Luzon that houses a variety of collections of major and high value crops for future source of genetic materials for crop improvement undertakings.

According to Dr. Nicomes Eleazar, BAR director, who attended the inauguration, the facility is a result of a collaborative effort with the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) of the Korea’s Rural Development Administration. “We sent researchers from regions, 2, 4A, and 5 for trainings on plant genetic resources. In support to that, we funded the establishment of a PGR Center to ensure the sustainability of such undertakings,” the bureau chief explained. Dir. Eleazar reiterated the need for judicious use of resources mentioning that, funding research initiatives must go hand-in-hand with supporting state-of-the-art research facilities. “We just don’t support research initiatives that matter, we also need to support the necessary research facilities to bring the deliverables,” he said.

Facade of the PGR Center

He furthered that the PGR Center serves as a “mini IRRI genebank facility” but focuses not only on rice. Included in the genebank are the 2,000 collections of native corn varieties out of the Corn Germplasm Utilization through Advance Research and Development (CGUARD), an initiative which was also being funded by BAR. Initiated in 2015, the CGUARD program aims to collect, conserve, and develop native corn germplasm for agronomic response to different environment and physiological stresses including pests and diseases, soil acidity and salinity, soil fertility, drought, and water logging.

The PGR Center is located inside CVRC, which was declared by the Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 2 as an agri-ecotourism farm destination in 2016 making it Ilagan’s third tourist spots along with the Ilagan Sanctuary and the Japanese War Tunnel. CVRC is the first accredited agro-ecotourism farm in the region due to its promotion of organic farming, presence of pasalubong center, and other amenities, including the PGR center where tourists can fully appreciate the farming as a thriving sector.### (Rita T. dela Cruz)

2018-05-08 BAR intensifies support to Phl native animalsThe Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), in partnership with the Bureau of Animal Industry- National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center (BAI-NSPRDC) intensifies its research and development (R&D) to develop technologies that will address conservation, characterization, and commercialization of potential strains of native animals, through product development and promotion.

BAR has been supporting the development of production and management technologies and product development of native animals including pig, chicken, and cattle As one of the key agencies that coordinate and provide support to native animals R&D in the country, BAR has supported 25 projects since 2008.

These projects were implemented by the BAI-Animal Products and Development Center and NSPRDC; DA-Regional Field Offices IVA, and V; state universities and colleges including University of the Philippines Los Baños, University of Rizal System, Southern Luzon State University-Judge Guillermo Eleazar, and; municipal local government unit of Tagkawayan, Quezon; and civic organizations in the country.

The technologies generated specifically covers: 1) production and management (includes housing and feeding management); 2) breed conservation and utilization; 3) processing into different food products; 4) value chain analysis; and 5) information system.

To intensify policies and initiatives for sustainable conservation, production, and marketing of native animals, the Department of Agriculture institutionalized the Philippine Native Animal Development (PNAD) program in 2010.

Under this program, one successful BAR-funded project is the “Agricultural Systems Approach to Commercialization of Native Swine in Quezon” implemented by University of the Philippines Los Baños Foundation, Inc. (UPLBFI). The project promotes the use of Gabing San Fernando (Xanthosoma sagittifolium), Trichanthera, common herbal plants, including kangkong, kamote as feed for native pigs. Through the “Dos Por Cinco”, a native swine module, a farmer can generate an additional Php 33,500 in two years from selling piglets.

The use of Sakwa as feed to native pigs lessened the expenses of inputs. Farmers can have an estimated income of Php 50,000 in a year from the selling of piglets for lechon.

Members of the Rural Improvement Club of Bondoc Peninsula in Quezon, the farmer cooperators, found the project very helpful and relevant in their existing farming system. They are planting herbs (use for treating common swine diseases) and forages under their coconut plantations. Farmer cooperators were able to increase their income and improve their lives and convinced other farmers in the area to be part of the project. In fact, the number of farmer partners increased from 12 to 44 in the span to two years.

Another UPLB project under this project is the commercialization of Bohol native chicken production in the community level and re-educating primary students and parents in the patrimonial and economic value of science-based native chicken production.

On native cattle, one project is on “Commercialization of Philippine Native Cattle for Optimum Production of Siquijor Beef” that led to the partnership with the Catulayan Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CCMPC) that now serves as farmer-cooperators of the project. The project aims to: 1) quantitatively describe the socio-demographic profile of native cattle raisers; 2) develop native beef grading standard; 3) develop native beef cuts; and 4) develop native beef products and by-products. The Provincial Veterinary Office of Siquijor has conducted partial survey on the supply and demand of beef in the province. Based on the findings on a weekly basis, the province needs 567 kilograms of beef. This figure may be attributed to the demand of the foreigners visiting the province. The project will be developing beef floss and other possible products from the native cattle of Siquijor. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)

            Occidental Mindoro thrives on two major crops: rice and corn. In MIMAROPA region, Occidental Mindoro supplies most of the region’s yellow corn, with 76,934 metric tons in 2014 (PSA, 2016). However, 80 percent of smallhold corn farmers suffer from low income due to the decreasing production with only five tons per hectare.

            One prevailing issue causing such concern, as shown in the results of the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) conducted, was that farmers do not follow the proper amount of fertilizers applied in the field. Project leader and proponent, Ms. Elenita Marasigan of the DA-MIMAROPA research division, said that most farmers do not have enough capital to supply proper fertilization for yellow corn production.

            “Farmers need to understand the effect of best management practices when it comes to corn production. This is why we introduced, through the Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) the Site Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM) technology that could help corn farmers in Sablayan particularly, to increase their production and income,” Marasigan said.

            SSNM is an approach that promotes the timely application of fertilizers at optimal rates to fill the deficit between the nutrient needs of a high-yielding crop and the nutrient supply from naturally occurring indigenous resources that includes soil, crop residues, manures, and irrigation water (IPNI, 2010).

            With the success of the SSNM technology in maize production across the country, Marasigan and her project team did not hesitate to introduce it to the farmers of Sablayan. During the inception meeting, Marasigan said that the farmers were enthusiastic to adopt the technology through CPAR.

            To determine the proper fertilizer requirement for both soil and crop, a soil sampling was conducted prior to planting of corn. The farmers were also trained on proper planting rates and distance to achieve ideal results. A rate of one seed per hill with a distance of 70 centimeters (cms) between furrows and 20 cms between hills were carried out.

            Using the published ‘Quick Guide for Yellow Corn’ (resulting from a collaborative project of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and the Bureau of Agricultural Research), the CPAR farmer-cooperators made use of the fertilizer application based on the SSNM rates.

            Bio-N was applied at the rate of 6 packs per hectare, coated to corn seeds before planting. Ten bags of organic fertilizers were plowed prior to furrowing, and inorganic fertilizers were also applied following the SSNM rates indicated in the Quick Guide.

            Basal application was done with 30% Nitrogen (N), 100% Phosphorus (P), and 100% Potassium (K). The succeeding applications were done according to the determined SSNM rates. Based on the results of the SSNM trials in the project sites in Sablayan, a fertilizer requirement of 140-40-40 entails 9 bags of inorganic fertilizers, 10 bags of organic fertilizers, and 6 packs of Bio-N.

            As of project visit, positive results were already evident by the look of the corn crops in all of the farmers’ fields. Mr. Elmer Evangelista, one of the farmer-cooperators, proudly showed his crops which are set to be harvested in June. “Mas dumami ang kaalaman ko sa CPAR, gumanda rin ang tanim ko,” he shared.

            Marasigan, confident with the results of the SSNM intervention so far, said that if the farmers will continue to adhere to the SSNM approach, they will surely benefit from an increased produce, thus, income. ###

___________________  

Contact details:

Elenita L. Marasigan

Senior Science Research Specialist / Project Leader

DA-MIMAROPA

Naujan, Oriental Mindoro

Tel. No.: +63917-539-1259

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Cassava is one of the most versatile agricultural crops. It has been characterized as a subsistence crop, and one of the most widely cultivated root crops in the tropics because of its long growth season production. The crop, mainly used for food, can also be used as raw material for industrial uses. According to the Philippine Statistical Authority, in 2016 cassava production reached 

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2.71 million metric tons (mmt) and cultivated to roughly 223,000 hectares.

One of the major concerns, that beset the cassava industry, is low productivity and lack of farm machineries. In view of the increasing demand for cassava and its economic contribution in the crops sub-sector, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has crafted the national cassava development plan that will address low productivity; make use of high-yielding varieties; adopt recommended crop production technologies; address inadequate credit, financing, limited mechanization, and postharvest equipment, among others.

Among the identified strategies to boost cassava production was the provision of a mechanized cassava harvesting equipment. The lack of mechanized equipment has been one of the clamors among cassava growers, particularly the food and industrial processors. It has been observed that the insufficiency of equipment in harvesting operations entails tedious and longer working hours that could result to additional labor cost for farm owners, thus affecting farm-gate prices. Further, farm productivity could also be affected. From the viewpoint of harvesting, a farmer can harvest around 500 kilograms a day and around 20 persons are needed to harvest a hectare.

In view of increasing unavailability of farm labor especially during harvest season, farmers are expressing the need for a mechanized harvester.

To aid in the cassava development plan, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), in collaboration with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), to fabricate a cassava digger to help farmers on the rigors of harvesting, and lessen production cost. The project, “Enhancing Agricultural Mechanization Technologies for Crop Production and Post-Harvest Processing of Cassava” is funded under the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) of South Korea, of which, the Philippines is a member-country.

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Project leader, Dr. Romualdo Martinez of PhilMech cited that AFACI project aimed to: 1) develop and establish appropriate cassava mechanization     technologies for crop production and postharvest processing that are suited to the requirements of cassava farmers (and other end-users) and their local   conditions; 2) assess technical feasibility and economic viability of established cassava mechanization technologies; 3) enhance farmers access to improve   cassava mechanization technologies; and 4) foster stronger network among AFACI-participating countries to facilitate exchange of technologies and best   practices.

The prototype fabrication of the cassava digger, which started in 2013, was part of the partnership between PhilMech and AFACI. According to Dr.   Martinez,  the technical and socio-economic studies were conducted in the provinces of Isabela, Pampanga, Leyte, Bukidnon and South Cotabato, while the   prototype was pre-tested in the provinces of Isabela and Quirino and passed the required specifications needed to operate.

 

Feedbacks gathered from farmers and other stakeholders showed that the use of the cassava digger reduced labor requirement up to 88 percent.   Obtained 100 percent and 81 percent in terms of harvesting time and losses, respectively. Furthermore, majority of the stakeholders expressed their interest to use   the digger.

The AFACI project played a key role in introducing mechanized harvesting of cassava in the Philippines. In collaboration with project counterpart from Thailand, a tractor drawn digging implement was localized, evaluated and further developed. The cassava digger was eventually promoted, adopted by farmers and commercially manufactured. The project demonstrated the importance of inter-country collaboration for rapid introduction and adoption of appropriate technologies. ### (Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca)

 

Spirulina harvested from the Alson Aquaculture Corporation Phil. Photos- Dr. DayritOne of the most important inputs in aquaculture is feed, and the most significant criteria of it are price, quality, quantity, availability, and efficient feeding system. The natural foods of fish are algae and plankton. However, under contained cultivation condition, the quality of the farmed fish depends mainly on the quality of the food that is being provided.

Today, defatted soybean meal is the most common, low-cost food for fish. However, soybean meal is not the natural diet of fish because it lacks in key compounds required for proper fish nutrition. Thus, the use of soybean meal presents a major limitation in providing healthy growth conditions in Philippine aquaculture. The challenge, therefore, is to provide the ideal natural foods for fish such as microalgae at a competitive price, high quality, and adequate quantity.

To address this, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), funded a project titled, “Development of Technology for Efficient Microalgae Production: Photobioreactor Design, Feed and High-value Metabolites” that aimed to provide superior fish food through the development of local microalgae. Under the leadership of phycologist and chemist professor, Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit of the Ateneo de Manila (ADMU), he developed a technology that is simple, reliable and efficient photobioreactor (PBR) design system to maximize the yield and optimized culture conditions for microalgae production of Spirulina.

The optimized Photobioreactor PBR systems developed by ADMU for the microalgae production of spirulina  Photos -LFontanil

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) or the blue-green photosynthetic microalgae, known as the highest natural protein source, contains about 55-70 percent essential protein profile with a complete set of key compounds such as amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty-acids (PUFA’s), carotenoids, and vitamins A, C, D, E, B12 or cobalamin that boost the required nutritional diet of fish. One of the characteristics of this quality feed is the presence of natural constituents that has high value of nutraceuticals. These compounds include omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, dietary minerals, and phycobiliproteins.

Due to its boundless nutrient contents, Dr. Dayrit highlighted the main benefits of feeding Spirulina for aquaculture purposes. Among the benefits include: 1) increase and give a more uniform growth rate for fish; 2) improve the digestion; as a result of more nutrition are extracted from the food and there are no indigestible components; 3.) boost the immune system and aid prevention of swollen abdomens due to blocked intestinal passages; and 4) enhance production of special enzymes that break down digested fats into energy rather than letting them build up in the fishes body.

Seeing its importance, Dr. Dayrit and his team fabricated an optimized PBR system and culture condition for the production of Spirulina. Unlike other PBR designs for algae growth, the features of developed enhance PBR are inexpensive, easy to clean, and re-use, subject in efficient illumination, and the materials are readily available so that the fabrication is easy and scalable.

Using the transparent polyethylene bag with cut-out plastic jug for its support are the inventive technology developed by the team as the PBR housing or the culturarium for algae. Part of their worked on photobioreactor systems is the involvement of prototypes designed to probe the effects of various parameters on microalgae growth in terms of the modification of culture media, light configuration and its culture process. As a result, the alpha PBR prototype showed a significant increase in growth rates in terms of cell count and cell size of Spirulina. The cost of power used for lighting system was low; the culture time was decreased and created as highest biomass yield improvement with approximately 70 percent increase in microalgae production.

The developed PBR system is now being undertaken by the Alsons Aquaculture Corporation, an industry partner based in Sarangani, Province, and one of the major aquaculture companies in the Philippines. The optimized PBR system and culture condition of Spirulina are transferred to Alsons where it will be scaled-up, further optimized and pilot tested to make the product market-ready. ### (Leoveliza C. Fontanil)

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