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CPAR farmers’ field days showcase corn production technologies in Region 2

3Farmers, researchers, project implementers, national and local government units, and other stakeholders gathered for the farmers’ field days in the provinces of Quirino and Cagayan, Cagayan Valley. The two-day event carried the theme, “Negosyo sa Sakahan at Pangisdaan, Laban sa Kahirapan” that aimed to share farming knowledge and experience, highlight on-farm demonstrations and technologies, while building strong farming communities through Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR).

Two projects titled “Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) on Sustainable Corn Production in Sloping Areas (SCOPSA) in Corn-based Hilly Areas in Maddela, Qurino” and “Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) on Corn-based Integrated Farming System in the Riverflood Plain in Alcala, Cagayan” carried out their farmers’ field day activities in each of the project sites.

With corn as Region 2’s primary commodity, the CPAR projects target to address common agro-climatic conditions in the province in relation to corn production. The region, with its hilly and river-flood prone areas, deals with adverse circumstances affecting farm productivity. The interventions identified by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 2 through CPAR include suitable land use management approaches, water conservation practices, and soil health preservation measures. In both projects, the farmer-cooperators showed positive returns from production to income.

Elvira Verzola, one of the farmer cooperators from Alcala, Cagayan, presented the results of her involvement in the CPAR project from input cost, labor cost to income generated. She provided actual results which summed up to a 47.97 percent return of investment (ROI) from 23.42 percent prior to CPAR intervention.

But more than the earnings, the CPAR farmer-cooperators learned the value of protecting the natural resources available to them. Through the SCOPSA program of DA, they were able to integrate through participatory research certain practices on conservation that, according to DA-RFO 2 Research Manager Lovelyn Gaspar, are beneficial to the corn areas in the region. “The CPAR projects we conducted in these areas served as our means in contributing to a climate resilient agriculture, where the farmers were taught to take good advantage of the available resources, without compromising them,” she said.

Ms. Salvacion Ritual, chief of the Program Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED) of BAR, attended the field days. In her message, she emphasized the formula of success of CPAR saying that “CPAR has consistently proven that getting the community involved in program design and implementation helps ensure that strategies are appropriate, acceptable and effective in the community.” During the farmers’ open forum, she addressed issues encountered during project implementation while emphasizing the BAR’s continuous support in the undertaking of CPAR in the region. She also thanked the participants from the LGUs in their active involvement in the project. ### (Daryl Lou A. Battad)

BPI, BAR project to develop organic seed production system

R0034102Organic farming plays a crucial role in helping farmers and producers meet consumers’ demand for organic food products. Organic agriculture advocates view the farming system as an alternative method of reducing the effects of chemical-based fertilizers in the food production processes. It also provides a healthier alternative farming by not using excessive chemical farm inputs.

Central to organic farming is producing the seeds. Production of organic seeds on a much larger proportion must respond to the demands of the organic farming industry.

To address this, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), funded a project “Development of Organic Seed Production System of Lowland Vegetables and Field Legumes at BPI-LBNCRDC and Strengthening Partnership in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Bicol Region” that aimed to establish a national organic seed production area and broaden the science-based knowledge on organic seed production technologies.

Implemented by the Bureau of Plant Industry–Los Baños National Crop Research, Development, and Production Support Center (BPI-LBNCRDC), the project is led by its center chief, Dr. Herminigilda A. Gabertan.

Specifically, the project looks into: 1) increasing the production of certified organic seeds of NSIC varieties and promising lines of field legumes and selected vegetables; 2) maintaining organic certification from Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) for the organic seed production system of the Center; 3) strengthening partnership with identified organic stakeholders in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Bicol Regions; and 4) disseminating organic seed production technology to farmers and interested individuals in said regions.

The organic seed production area for tomato, eggplant, squash, ampalaya, bottle gourd, sponge gourd, mustard, okra, pole sitao, and cowpea consists of a three-hectare land inside BPI-LBNCRDC. The harvested organic seeds were conserved for future use and a significant amount of seeds was distributed to farmer groups in partner areas and to other interested individuals.

Since the project was implemented in 2013, significant outputs were obtained resulting to the expansion of organic area and distribution of organic seeds. The project proponents believed that one of their major contributions to the OA industry is the supply of organic planting materials.

BAR and BPI’s partnership led to the distribution of more than 1,112 kilograms of assorted organic seeds to farmers, producers, and other stakeholders as well as disseminated organic farming technologies in selected municipalities of CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Bicol regions.

Under the project, there were more than 2,000 farmers and technicians trained on organic seed and vegetable production. The trainings were conducted in Palawan, Albay, Sorsogon, and Oriental Mindoro, which led to the identification of possible collaborators of the project like the Organization for Industrial Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA), Lucban Quezon; Christian Life Community (CLC), San Fernando, Camarines Sur; Dr. Minerva Jovilla of the Sorsogon State College; Mr. Nestor A. Nava, Philippine International Agricultural Training Exchange Inc. (PIATE); and Mr. Rudy C. Carticiano, an organic farmer in Calapan Oriental Mindoro; among others.

Evaluated seed performance of the different varieties and results showed that cowpea yielded 1.05 tons per hectare; pole sitao-1.54 tons/ha; mungbean-0.88 ton/ha, and tomato-0.057 ton/ha.

Also, one of the noteworty accomplishments of the project was the granting of “Organic-in-Transition” Certification by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) to BPI- LBNCRDC for the seeds it produced in June 2013. ### (Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca)

Jute: A versatile, durable vegetable fiber

jute plantImagine a natural fiber that is 1-4 meters long, golden and silky. No wonder, the jute fiber is dubbed as the “golden fiber”. It comes from the skin (bast) of two jute plants, Corchorus capsularis and Corchorus olitorius both of which belong to the Tiliaceae family.

Jute is one of the strongest vegetable fibers and ranks second to cotton in terms of production. The top two jute producing countries in the world are India and Bangladesh. According to the 2017 World Atlas, India’s annual production is estimated at more 1.968 million tons while Bangladesh has an estimated at 1.349 million tons annual production.

In the Philippines, jute plant is called “saluyot” which is mostly abundant in Ilocos and Western Visayas. According to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), jute grows in all types of soil ranging from clay loam to sandy loam. It thrives best in tropical countries where climate is hot and moist. It is mostly a rainfed crop with little need for fertilizer or pesticides. Jute is an annual crop taking about four months (April-July or May-August) to grow.

Growing jute is environment-friendly. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that, cultivating jute in crop rotation enriches the fertility of the soil for the next crop. It also does not generate toxic gases when burnt.


Jute as sack cloth


jute seeds

As a versatile fiber, jute has many uses. It can be blended with other fibers and materials. And since it is biodegradable and recyclable, designed to break down after sometime, it is used as containers for planting young trees, as well as geotextiles for soil and erosion control.

One of the most economically-important uses of jute fiber even during the earlier period is as sack cloth, an effective packaging material for grain commodities. Its innate durability as a fiber makes it the best option for storing grains protecting them from sunlight and heat, and keeping its quality and germination capability intact. It can also be reuse multiple times proving beneficial for bulk postharvest handling of agricultural products.

In the Philippines, some of the major users of sack cloth are the coffee and cacao industry. Unfortunately, due to minimal production area for jute, the Philippines has to import this natural fiber to cope with the demand.

According to the International Jute Study Group, an intergovernmental organization established under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, for the last five years (20016-2010), the Philippines has been importing jute and other bast fibers at a steady increasing rate with trade value of US$648,488 in 2006 to US$918,368 in 2010.


Research on jute sack


Seeing the potential of this crop and possibly ease the country’s importation on jute fiber, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol instructed the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) to study the jute industry particularly, as a source of material in sack cloth to increase by-product utilization and development, as well as reduce importation cost.

In response, BAR, as the lead agency for research in agriculture, has supported a project, “Assessment on the Utilization of Jute Sacks as Packaging Materials” which is currently being implemented by PhilFIDA. Led by Dr. Remedios V. Abgona, chief of PhilFIDA’s Fiber Utilization and Technology Division, the study aims to provide the government, as well as prospective investors, the necessary information on jute fiber production for policy formulation, decision-making, and needed interventions for jute production and its consideration as packaging material. Part of the expected output is to come up with maps of suitable sites for jute production and protocols and manual for jute plantation establishment, and jute sack manufacturing and processing that will help and boost the jute fiber industry in the country.

The study is just starting but PhilFIDA is positive on its eventual impact in the jute industry and the fiber sector as a whole. By determining and studying the jute industry as source of jute sacks, it would lead to necessary interventions from the government including job generation, increase income for farmers, increase by-product utilization and development, and most importantly, reduce importation cost of jute sacks.

Complementing the PhilFIDA study is another BAR-supported project, “Comparative Analysis of Jute Production and Marketing in Region 5 Relative to Other Major Jute Producing Areas” being implemented by DA-Regional Field Office 5-Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center. The study will look into the production and marketing aspects of the jute industry specifically in major jute producing areas of the country. ### (Rita T. dela Cruz)

Tool to detect emergent Newcastle Disease Virus developed

RT-LAMP photoResearchers from the College of Veterinary Science and Medicine (CVSM) of the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) have developed a technology that can provide an alternative method for detecting the Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV). The method is more affordable, simple yet sensitive and more robust for surveillance and control of NDV.

The technology was generated through the project, “Phylogenetic Characterization and Detection Using Dry Format RT-LAMP of Emergent Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV) in the Philippines,” funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) in a form of a research grant which CLSU won during the 27th National Research Symposium (NRS) under the applied research category.

According to Dr. Clarissa Yvonne Domingo, project leader, NDV is a serious, contagious and fatal viral disease that affects species of birds. Currently, it’s a major concern in poultry production killing thousands of chicken. The symptoms in chicken generally include gastrointestinal, respiratory and neurological signs and may vary from subclinical to sudden death with 100 percent mortality. Mortality is very high in unvaccinated poultry flocks however it can still infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry. Most of infected chickens die from NDV but can also spread the virus since the transmission is both directed contact with infectious body excretions and airborne. “The key to control and successfully eradicate the NDV disease is to detect it as early as possible and prevent it to spread,” said Dr. Domingo.

Due to the confirmed NDV outbreak last year, Dr. Domingo and her team formulated a dry format RT-LAMP or the reverse transcription-loop-mediated isothermal amplification which is an alternative nucleic acid amplification based (NAB) assay for detecting NDV. This test assay is rapid, simple, sensitive and very convenient to use by any adapting veterinary poultry practitioner or an animal diagnostician working in a laboratory with simple resources. It can be used for early NDV detection thus, is a powerful and promising tool for monitoring, surveillance and control of the disease. The genetic sequence of the field virus isolate during the outbreak is the basis for the LAMP primer design thus the assay is very specific. From the phylogenetic characterization of the field virus, the project found that it was distantly related from the La Sota vaccine virus used in the commercial vaccines. Hence, the genetic sequence of the field virus can be used for developing new vaccine for emergent virulent NDV strain in the Philippines.

RT-LAMP tool is composed of premixes or ready mixed substance that are dried and stabilized in a single tube using a cryprotectant to prolong the shelf life at ambient temperature. The assay has a one-step ribonucleic acid (RNA) extraction process therefore the test method is devoid of the usual traditional commercial kit for RNA extraction. The ground-breaking feature of the modified RT-LAMP is the simplicity of its protocol and the low cost of application. It follows a simple procedure by just adding the 11.5 microliter of nuclease-free water into the dry LAMP premix followed by 1 microliter of the RNA crude extract to reconstitute the dry mix.

Domingo explained that the dry format of the RT-LAMP removes the need for storing the tubes at freezing temperature thus, they can now be kept at room temperature. This feature also removes the fear of reagent degradation and assures that the diagnosis of newcastle disease in local poultry farms in endemic areas would be faster thus, making it more convenient. However, because of its very high sensitivity, the assay must be handled carefully free from contamination in order to get full efficiency of the dry RT-LAMP amplification.

The technology aimed to benefit more veterinary practitioners, poultry raisers, and poultry health scientists. Through modifications already made by CLSU, dry format RT-LAMP is considered a novel platform for detecting NDV in the Philippines. ### (Leoveliza C. Fontanil)


Contact details:
Dr. Clarissa Yvonne Domingo
Project Leader
Central Luzon State University
Phone.: +63 44 456-0107
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


All-women group in Quezon sees potential of kamias

IMG 7982An all-women group dubbed as Kilos Unlad ng Mamayan ng Real (KUMARE), Inc. has seen the great potential of kamias (Averrhoa bilimbi Linn.) by turning this underutilized crop as additional source of income.

Based in Real, Quezon, KUMARE is now commercializing kamias commonly known as bilimbi, cucumber tree, or tree sorrel, which are growing abundantly in Quezon.

Kamias grows in clusters and the tree is often found in backyards. It is commonly eaten raw or dipped in rock salt or dried to be used as souring ingredient in cooking traditional Filipino dishes like paksiw or sinigang. They are also processed into pickled, dried candies, and juice.

Beyond its uses as food, kamias is also believed to have medicinal properties and is used as treatment on itches or skin eruptions, rheumatism, swelling, or mumps. Not to forget the common rural use in whitening fingernails, bleaching or removing stains in clothes or rust and tarnish from brass.

With more than 2, 000 active members in the municipalities of Real, Infanta, General Nakar, and Polilio, KUMARE members are active participants in various community projects and programs. Furthermore, they are willing to participate in livelihood and income-generating activities especially those on processing and product commercialization.

KUMARE stands based on the principle of “empowering women to live their lives as fully as possible”. This can be achieved by helping them improve their economic situations, achieving a higher education for their children, having adequate health education and assistance and caring for the environment.

Seeing the potential of kamias, the Department of Agriculture-Quezon Agricultural Research and Experiment Station (DA-QARES) packaged a proposal titled, “Commercializing Kamias (Averrhoa balimbi Linn) Production and Utilization for the Women Group KUMARE of Real, Quezon.” The project was funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research under its National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP).

IMG 7981

“Research progression on how to reduce the over utilization of primary crops by looking into the use of underutilized crops can be a good alternative and additional source of income. One promising crop, which is locally abundant and can offer lot of benefit, is kamias,” Dennis Bihis, project leader, explained.

He shared that trials on propagation by seeds and trials using asexual propagation are being conducted. Trials were done since kamias is relatively harder to propagate and seeds do not readily germinate. To date, 5,000 seedlings were produced where 2,500 seedlings were distributed to members of the beneficiary group and other interested clients for establishment of groves. “Based on initial results, 90 percent success rate in propagating kamias through seeds (soaked in water for 15 minutes at room temperature) has been noted,” Bihis said.

Members of the KUMARE group already attended training on kamias production, field management, and product development spearheaded by DA-QARES. Existing products developed from kamias include soap, prunes, and candy. Trials are currently being conducted to assess the oxalic acid content of the fruits to be used as bleach or anti-browning agent.

Kamias soap and sinigang powder are now available in local markets and KUMARE’s business outlet in Real, Quezon. Market linkage has been made for the two products and will be done also for other products once these have been analyzed and packaged.

The group is looking into tapping the bustling tourist industry of the province and arrangements are being made to supply products to beach resorts, hotels, and other establishments.

Venturing into the production of soap, candy, and prunes proved profitable with a return on investment of 161 percent with a payback period of one year and seven months. Sensitivity analysis was also conducted and production of the three products will still be viable given the 10 percent increase in gross cost or 10 percent decrease in gross profit scenarios.

Bihis added that beneficiaries will be given additional training on the package of technology of the crop and on value-adding technologies; and equipment for product development have been provided that they may continue implementing the project even after project completion and after funding support. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)