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Mushroom continues to ‘sprout’ in Central Luzon

01Mushroom initiatives in the Central Luzon region started way back in 2004. However, with very limited resources, the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 3-Central Luzon Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CLIARC) was not then able to fully carry out studies that will further explore the benefits of mushroom growing.

“It was in 2007 when we were able to take off once again, this time with funding support from the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR). Since then, we have embarked on researches and studies on the development of low-cost technologies such as tissue culture and the propagation of edible mushrooms for the establishment of mushroom livelihood projects at the community level,” said Dr. Emily A. Soriano, senior science research specialist and mushroom expert at the DA-RFO 3-CLIARC.

According to Dr. Soriano, their R&D activities aim to provide additional sources of income to farmers and the community especially those in the rural areas and those who do not own land. “Though Central Luzon is known as a rice farming area, people here are not landholders. Thus, on the part of the DA, we want to give them a source of continuous income. Apart from that, we also want to help conserve the environment by turning agricultural wastes into useful materials and even make profits from them. Agricultural by-products such as rice hulls, rice straw, and saw dust can be used as substrates in mushroom propagation,” Dr. Soriano explained.

As for the health benefits, Dr. Soriano said that mushroom contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, specifically, the Vitamin B complex, iron, calcium, and potassium. “From an analysis conducted by a food chemist at the Philippine Rice Research Institute, mushroom was shown to have as much as triple the calcium content of those from other calcium sources. Also, we found out that potassium in mushroom is twice what one can obtain from bananas,” she elaborated.

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When it comes to economic benefits, Dr. Soriano acknowledges the potential of mushroom for livelihood. “At the community level, only low capital requirement is needed because readily-available resources in the community can be used. And based on our studies, we found that mushroom can give 236 percent to as much as 800 percent return-on-investment,” she added. Dr. Soriano shared how a community-based mushroom cooperative in Brgy. Anao in Tarlac sustained its mushroom operation from 2009 until the present. “Members of the Anao Mushroom Producers’ Cooperative have come to earn an average daily income of Php300-700,” she said.

Upon seeing that mushroom production is indeed feasible at the community level, the DA’s National Rice Program supported the implementation of the “Community-based Mushroom Production (CBMP)” project on a national level in 2013. “Under the project, we were able to train DA personnel from each of the regions to serve as mushroom focal persons and handle mushroom-related undertakings in their respective regions. These include enterprise development activities and research undertakings on mushroom production and processing, among many others,” said Dr. Soriano.

Alongside the CBMP project implementation was the establishment of the Mushroom Technology and Development Center (MTDC) at CLIARC which was funded by BAR through its Institutional Development Grant facility. The Center paved the way for more quality researches regarding the production and processing up to the marketing of mushroom. It has catered to groups and individuals who wish to be trained on mushroom production and processing. The Center also houses a gene bank of 10-14 species of tropical and temperate mushroom species.

BAR has also provided support for mushroom product development-related undertakings through the National Technology Commercialization Program that have led to the development of mushroom-based products such as patties, sisig, bola-bola, tocino, ice cream, pasta, sauces, and many others.

“As of now, here in Central Luzon, we are scaling up mushroom production to exploit the potentials of venturing into larger scale operation. We are now focusing our studies on market linkaging. For instance, we were able to assist a private entity in Nueva Ecija that is now producing around 150 fruiting bags per cycle (three-month operation). Our initial initiative here at DA was to call a stakeholders meeting among producers, consumers, consolidators, traders, processors, and support institutions. Through this, we can see the demand of the market and identify the gaps and constraints along the value chain,” Dr. Soriano said.

 

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El Don Añeperbos farm experience

 

In the stakeholder’s meeting organized by the DA-RFO 3 through Dr. Soriano, brothers Don and Elmer Dumale were among the attendees of mushroom growers from Sto. Tomas, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija. Before Don became involved in mushroom growing, he was once a government employee working at the National Museum in Manila. At that time, he had to leave his family behind in Nueva Ecija. “I thought that I must find a way to look for an option where I can be with my family while earning an income. This is where mushroom growing came into the picture. We saw its income-generating potentials which we can do within the comfort of our home”, shared Don. “The DA, through Dr. Soriano, was able to link us with markets. Her team gave us technical support when it comes to addressing diseases and giving advice on how we can further improve our production,” Don added.

Their mushroom business is now a family business where Don is responsible for tissue culture up to planting in fruiting bags. From there, his brother Elmer takes over. “At the start, finding the market was really our biggest challenge. Our main market then was only through the public market. Dr. Soriano and her team helped us when it came to developing market linkages. Eventually, there came times when our supply could no longer meet the clients’ demand,” Elmer recounted.

When it comes to product development, it is Elmer’s wife, Wilma, who is into the processing of mushroom into a variety of products such as mushroom chicharon, burger patties, embutido, and atsara – recipes of which were mostly adopted from the BAR-supported mushroom product development initiatives.

But just like any other businesses, their mushroom farm also hit bumpy roads. “To those who want to venture into this business, there will be points when production will be low. But this should not discourage you. Seek guidance from the DA so you can improve your farming practices. Don’t stop and just continue with the endeavor. Start small, and then expand gradually. From our experience, we started with just 20 kilos of mushroom harvest per day, and now, we are harvesting around 150,000 fruiting bags per cycle which is around 150 kilos per day. When mushroom came into our lives, it proved to be a big blessing to us – helping provide for our family’s daily expenses,” Don said. (Anne Camille B. Brion)

 

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For more information, contact:
Dr. Emily A. Soriano
Senior Science Research Specialist
Mushroom Technology and Development Center
CLIARC Compound, McArthur Highway
Tarlac City, Tarlac
Tel. No. (045) 985-1256
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

CGUARD: Safekeeping native seeds, securing the future

CGUARD project in region 2Long before plant hybridization and other advanced breeding techniques were developed, early corn farmers have been practicing selective breeding. They examine the plants and save the seeds that possess the qualities that they like such as big kernels, tastier, and high-yielding. These seeds that they have collected and saved will be planted for the next cropping season.

With the world experiencing climate change, along with continuous increase in population and dwindling agricultural lands, farmers are compelled to produce more food. Thus, they rely on hybrid seeds which are more expensive and unsustainable.

“This calls for varieties that are tolerant to various environmental stresses and generally native varieties are just like that, they are stress tolerant,” explained Dr. Artemio Salazar of the Institute of Plant Breeding-University of the Philippines Los Baños (IPB-UPLB). “Through almost five centuries of corn production in our country, we have tremendous genetic variability in the field. In fact, the most reliable source of genetic resistance to the then most serious disease of corn in Asia could be traced to our native variety, Tiniguib,” he added.

According to Salazar, native varieties, having been planted for centuries by early farmers, have already undergone natural, selective breeding including the various environment stresses that could affect its yield. “Most of our native varieties are low yielders but there would always be production no matter what. Also, they were selected by farmers for quality traits for eating and for storability,” he said.

Given this, varieties that do not need chemical inputs and have acceptable taste quality are the specific types that must be considered in addressing food security, climate change, conserving biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture.

 

Conserving, utilizing native corn varieties

 

To conserve the country’s native corn varieties, which were saved and developed by farmers for thousands of years, the IPB-UPLB, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plants and Industry (DA-BPI) and DA-Regional Field Offices (RFOs), is implementing a long-term program called Corn Germplasm Utilization through Advance Research and Development (CGUARD). Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the program, which was initiated in 2015, 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 thrust of this program is really to focus on the utilization aspect which means breeding which will be used in developing the varieties that the farmers can use,” said BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.

Meanwhile, Dr. Salazar, CGUARD program leader, further that study showed that these native varieties have resistance to varying stresses naturally occurring in various corn farms.

The traits of the native varieties will be used to further develop good quality corn seeds for farmers. “By doing so, we are also protecting our novel local corn genetic resources, which is crucial in ensuring food security and safeguarding the future generations, that they too will still be able to see and taste this native varieties that, if not conserve will be gone on the face of the earth,” he said.

 

Accomplishments of the program

 

The collection of seeds is being done by the 16 participating DA-RFOs. “All the collections in the country will be done by the regions, they will coordinate with the farmers and the seeds collected will then be screened and characterized. This collection will be then be maintained and conserved as part of our genetic diversity,” Dr. Salazar explained.

As of February 2017, the DA-RFOs have a total collection of 2,116 native corn varieties. Half of the collection has been sent to the National Plant Genetic Resources (NPGRL) of UPLB for breeding while the other half has been characterized in their respective research stations.

“NPGRL is also our partner in this program. It houses all the germplasm collections of the country for long term storage. NPGRL also coordinates with the DA-RFOs and advices them on how to properly conduct the seed collection and conservation process,” reported Dr. Salazar.

Among the significant findings of the program included the identification of an early maturing variety, CGURD Cn N48 or “Abra Glutinous” which is harvestable as green corn in 55 days. Meanwhile, CGUARD Cn N34 or “San Jose White” and CGUARD Cn N10 or “Calimpus” were varieties identified to be high in lysine, an essential amino acid for human health.

Three native varieties that were identified to have high downy mildew resistance were CGUARD Cn N 15 or “Tiniguib D”; CGUARD Cn N33 or “Manggahan White”; CGUARD Cn N 17 or “Bulldog” while two were found to have potential resistance to Asian Corn Borer: CGUARD Cn N 42 or “Lawaan Bukidnon” and CGUARD Cn N36 or “Valencia Orange”.

 

Future activities

 

Director Eleazar emphasized that CGUARD is a long-term program that aims for a long-term impact, specifically the generations to come. “CGUARD is one of the priority programs of Secretary Piñol in line with the Food Security Program of DA. Corn is the second most important staple crop in the Philippines. As a staple crop, (white) corn substitutes for rice especially in the South and during rice scarcity. So this also supports the rice program of the government,” he said.

As this is a continuing program of DA, all RFOs will continue the collection and characterization of native corn varieties and develop their CGUARD posters by featuring the best native corn variety. Meanwhile, IPB-UPLB will continue the population improvement work for selected entries.

“What we are doing with this CGUARD Program is that we make the industry self-sufficient and food secured, that what we are eating is nutritious and healthy. At the same time, we want to provide our farmers with good livelihood. We are not only working for ourselves but for the future of the generations even after us,” concluded Dr. Salazar. ###(Rita T. dela Cruz)

BSU root crops center mass propagates outstanding processing potato varieties for commercialization

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The Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center (NPRCRTC) based at the Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet, the country’s lead research agency on potato, is now distributing National Seed Industry Council (NSIC)-approved processing varieties. Support is being provided by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), under the Department of Agriculture’s High-Value Crops Development Program, through the Bureau’s National Technology Commercialization Program.

The project titled, “Commercialization and Promotion of Processing Potato Varieties Through Rapid Multiplication Technique in Potato Growing Areas,” aims to mass produce, commercialize, and promote NSIC-approved NPRCRTC-developed processing potato varieties of good quality.

Considered a high-value crop and major agricultural produce in the Cordilleras, annual demand for potato in the country is about 745,000 metric tons. With the increasing number of fast-food chains in the country, meeting the country’s requirement for processing varieties is a great challenge for our potato stakeholders.

Quality clean planting materials, in the form of rooted cuttings or tuber seed pieces, are sourced from mother plants propagated through tissue culture. Of great importance to agriculture is that potatoes harvested from tissue culture-derived planting materials can be double or even triple the yield of those produced with the use of traditional planting materials and varieties. According to Dr. Ines C. Gonzales, project leader, the use of these planting materials will, in the long run, work to reduce the country’s importation of processing potatoes.

Among the available potato varieties, the NSIC-approved varieties, Igorota and Bengueta patatas, are considered as the best by Cordillera farmers because these are well-adapted to their localities, are high yielding, resistant to late blight, and have favorable eating qualities.

Dr. Gonzales shared that from a single potato stem cutting or G0 tuber seed piece can be produced more or less 6 to 18 tubers in 100-120 days after planting (the G0 seed potato, also called potato minitubers, is the first generation coming from potato microplants).

The 60 farmer beneficiaries of the project were first trained on how to manage potato clean planting materials before they were given stem cuttings as their initial source of planting materials. These farmer recipients are potato growers in the municipalities of Atok, Madaymen, Buguias, and Mankayan in Benguet; and in Bauko and Besao in Mountain Province.

The project produced 7,000 tissue-cultured mother plants with which mass propagation was done in a greenhouse to produce 30,000 stem cuttings. These were then distributed to the farmer-beneficiaries. Dr. Gonzales said that their facility can also produce 180,000 tuberlets from which G1 clean planting materials can be produced (the G1 potato is harvested from the G0 minituber as the next generation).

potato photo for web posting

Engaged in potato farming and one of the technology adopters, Ms. Dinah Cunning, shared that BSU provided them with 500 clean potato tuber planting materials that were planted in their farm. They were able to produce a total of 1,635 kilograms of G1 potato. These potatoes were then used as source of planting materials (G2) for other areas in Soquib, Besao. Ms. Cunning was also given technical assistance and trainings on potato production.

Mr. Robert Pakipac, another farmer adopter of Pactil, Bauko, Mt. Province shared that prior to the introduction of the technology, they could only harvest five tons from their one hectare farm lot. With the use of clean planting materials distributed by BSU, they can now harvest 10 tons or more. Both Ms. Cunning and Mr. Pakipac have committed to share the planting materials with their fellow potato growers.

Dam-ay Guinayen, municipal agriculturist of Besao, Mountain Province, has high hopes for the project, saying, “I am sure that this project would be sustainable and more farmers will become adopters thus increasing their income.” Mayor Johnson Bantog II also pitched in as he expressed his gratitude for considering Besao as one of the project’s research areas. “This is an important partnership to enhance the livelihood of farmers and to maximize the use of the technology so that our farmers will produce quantity and the right quality of the potato to compete in the national market,” he said.

As for their future plans, Dr. Gonzales shared that they are thinking of expanding the application of the technology in the Mindanao provinces with high potential given the suitable climatic conditions for potato growing, and extending trainings to benefit more technology adopters and stakeholders. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)

 

For more information, contact:
Dr. Ines Gonzales
Project leader
NPRCRTC-Benguet State University
La Trinidad, Benguet
Tel. No.: (074) 422-2439

 

Farmer profits from shifting to adlay farming

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Every progress requires risk. And only those who risk going far are able to know how far they can possibly go.

This saying works well for Conchita A. Banguiyao, 48, corn farmer from Maddela, Quirino, when she decided to go into adlay farming even with the limited knowledge on the crop. “I never heard of adlay before. All I know is that it is synonymous to rice in terms of taste and uses,” Banguiyao said.

She used to plant hybrid yellow corn but did not succeed and swore not to go through it again. “I will never go into corn farming again. I failed at it and that was when my debt piled up. When I was into corn farming, we just loan from the buyer then we used the money to buy the seeds. Nothing is left for us, there is no profit,” narrated Banguiyao.

She wasn’t aware of adlay until a team of researchers, led my Ms. Rosie Aquino of the Cagayan Valley Research Center (CVRC), Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 2, visited the Mataga-ay Sustainable Resources Development and Conservation Association in Jose Ancheta, Maddela in June 2015. Conchita is an officer and a member of the Association.

“They were actually here for a technology demonstration on soybean but since most of us are into upland farming, they also introduced adlay. It was from them that I first heard of adlay,” Banguiyao recalled.

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During the technology demonstration, the group from CVRC brought an adlay milling machine to show how the adlay grains are processed into adlay grits. “They cooked the adlay grits for food tasting. It was then that I first tasted the rice-like adlay,” she said.

Impressed by what she saw and learned, Banguiyao expressed her enthusiasm and interest in planting adlay. She has zero knowledge in planting adlay but she got interested in the crop because there was a ready market for it. “My main reason is the fact that, there is a ready buyer for my harvest!” exclaimed Banguiyao.

Diosdado Estocapio, president of the Association, explained that CVRC buys all the adlay harvest from their members. “The association serves as an assembler of all the adlay harvest and CVRC buys them directly from the farmers for the processing of Gourmix,” he said. Estocapio also reported that the association has 62 members and more than 15 of them are now into adlay farming, convinced of its potential as a food crop.

Four months after Banguiyao heard of adlay, the group from CVRC came back and brought 15 kilos of adlay seeds for the farmers who expressed their interest in trying the crop. Banguiyao got seven kilos which she planted in October 2015 in her one-fourth hectare land. Two more farmers shared the remaining seeds, four kilo for each of them.

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According to the established cultural management, the best time to plant adlay is August-October and will be harvested after six months, around February-April.

Banguiyao harvested 170 kilos in April 2016 and sold it for Php 40 a kilo providing her an earning of P6,800. She kept some of the seeds for the next planting season.

She planted the remaining four kilos of seed in September 2016 and another three kilos in Nov 2016, which she got from her previous harvest. In March 2017, she harvested 270 kilos from her 0.5 hectare of land, sold it for Ph45 a kilo giving her an earning of Php12,150.

“What is good about planting adlay is that, it’s not a high-maintenance crop. No need for fertilizer. After you plant, you can just leave it. You will just see each other again six months after, during the harvest season,” said Banguiyao. She also mentioned that unlike corn or other crops, adlay is not easily attacked by harmful pests and diseases.

When asked how to further promote adlay Banguiyao said, “I think more farmers will plant adlay if we have the milling machine here in the area. Then, we can also promote it just like rice.” This was affirmed by the president of the Association saying, “I see that need as well. Since it is not possible that every farmer has his milling machine, at least if we have one in the Association, we can manage that and be an income generating project for us”.

Without the milling machine, the farmer does it manually through “bayo” (pounding) which has a low percentage recovery.

Banguiyao is spreading her wings, currently she now has a hectare of land planted to adlay. When asked about her previous reservation about planting adlay, she said, “it was a risk worth taking!” ### (Rita T. dela Cruz)

Nipa salad dressing now in supermarket

NIPA-1Likened to the popular Balsamic vinegar, but cheaper and affordable, Nipa palm salad dressing is now a common eye catcher at SM Naga, specifically in J-Emmanuel store.

Developed by the Department of Agriculture-Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (DA-BIARC), Nipa syrup-based salad dressing was developed as part of promoting and expanding the underutilized Nipa sap.

The Philippines holds the record in terms of Nipa palm plantations. It is the third in Asia reaching the sealine ecosystem of Camarines Sur.

Nipa palm is a neglected indigenous palm species, mostly used as roofing materials. But looking at the potential and opportunity that can be derived from Nipa palm, its sap was extracted developing product out of it.

“Nipa flower clusters are tapped before it blooms to yield a sweet, edible sap collected to produce the local alcoholic beverage called tuba, which, then stored in “tapayan” for several weeks, converts to vinegar popularly known as “sukang paombong”. When distilled, tuba becomes a more spirited local wine called lambanog,” explained Ms. Luz Marcelino, research manager of DA-BIARC.

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Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), under the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP), the project titled “Product Development and Promotion of Nipa By-Products in Bicol Region” aimed to promote the usage of Nipa to provide livelihood opportunities, increase and sustain productivity through additional knowledge, profitability, and income especially for the women in Canaman, Camarines Sur.

The Product Development Section of DA-BIARC headed by Ms. Arlene de Asis developed the technology. Compared to the well-known Balsamic vinegar, the Nipa salad dressing has no after taste and is considered to be generally healthy because it has no additives and preservatives since it is pure Nipa palm syrup.

DA-BIARC has a close partnership with the Rural Improvement Club-Canaman Chapter wherein Mrs. Luz Severo-Despabiladeras serves as one of the members and farmer-cooperators of the project. Mrs. Despabiladeras shares her expertise developing the product and likewise, handles the promotion side of the product. She is the woman behind the successful debut of the products in the supermarkets in 2016.

Now, the group regularly supplies 30 bottles each of 1L, 500mL, and 375mL of Nipa salad dressing sold at J-Emmanuel store at SM Naga. The group started supplying 120-150 bottles of 1L, 500mL, and 375mL of Nipa salad dressing at SM Savemore (Bicol Region) in 2016 and processing the renewal of permit in 2017, which the project aimed to accomplish as soon as possible. Nipa salad dressing was also featured during International Food Exhibit (IFEX) 2013, which was held at SMX Convention Center, Metro Manila, Philippines on May 16-19, 2013.

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The project covers the refinement of the technology, purchase of the equipment and improvement of the production area to cope with the high demand of the product and to make it locally- and globally-competitive.

“There are now groups of farmers who regularly supply raw materials. So, in that case, it is not only producing a product out of Nipa but also promoting job generation because it was able to help farmers,” Ms. Marcelino said.

The Nipa salad dressing of DA-BIARC won third place in the Most Innovative Product Award during the 12th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum held in August 2016 at SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City. It also bagged the third place award during the Farmers and Fisher-Folks’ Congress held on September 22-23, 2016 at the Convention Center, Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)