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)