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Interest in soybean increases; DA’s program on soybean intensified

 DSC0273The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), in partnership with the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) held the conduct of the “National Review and Planning Workshop on Soybean R&D Projects” on 27-29 June 2017 in Los Baños, Laguna.

The activity is part of a continuing effort to promote the production, processing, utilization, and marketing of soybean in the country towards building a competitive industry. In attendance were BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar, Technology Commercialization Division Head Anthony B. Obligado, Chairperson of the Soybean Technical Working Group (TWG) Rosemary Aquino, Vice-Chairperson of the Soybean TWG Elmer Enicola, regional soybean focal persons, and project implementers from the state universities and colleges, and people's organizations.

Since its institutionalization in 2011, the concerted efforts of other R&D agencies have intensified the implementation of the DA’s Soybean Program. This paved way for valuable results as manifested in the increase in yield and production areas. Soybean has been given importance not only for its nutritional and health benefits but more so, for the creation of employment opportunities and economic profit to farmers resulting to a growing number of farmer-beneficiaries and adopters.

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In his message, BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar encouraged project implementers to further intensify expansion of soybean production areas using the identified quality planting materials. He also instructed the group to ensure that the generated technologies/products should have private partners to fully commercialize and to ensure the sustainability of the developed products.

Furthermore, Dr. Eleazar reminded the proponents to improve on the packaging and labelling to make the products competitive in the mainstream market, likewise, to consider IP registration for the protection of their developed products.

Ms. Rosemary Aquino presented the accomplishments of the program in the past six years since the program was launched. “When we started the program, there was unfamiliarity, a lot of people weren’t aware of the importance of soybean, but through the program, it has been gradually reduced resulting to an increased awareness on the utilization of soybean as food more than the traditional knowledge of soybean as feed ingredients. People become aware of the potential of soybean and the market demand for soybean. These can be credited to the interventions that were introduced by the program on product development and processing,” Aquino explained

She also stressed the increase in number of project implementers mentioning that from five implementing regions, it grew to 17 regions, 4 SUCs, and 3 attached bureaus. She acknowledged that the accomplishments were because of the dedication and commitment imparted by various partner institutions

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The renewed interest in soybeans resulted to numerous groups coming from the government agencies, academe, private sector, stakeholders in the food and feed business aspects of soybean, and even individuals demonstrated overwhelming response and commitment to the development of the soybean industry.

Based on the presentations of the project implementers across the regions, farming communities and peoples’ organizations were noted to have clearly benefitted from the technologies introduced by the program.

There was an increase in production areas among farmer cooperators in Region 2, CARAGA, and other regions. The shift of farmers and entrepreneurs from using GM or imported seeds to the locally-grown seeds, specifically using the identified quality seeds that were produced through the research, was also highlynoted during the workshop. There are now developed products available in supermarkets, pasalubong centers, and even private individuals that are bringing the products abroad. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)

Over 800 OFWs attend seminar on mushroom production in Hongkong

Mushroom productionOver 800 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), most of them working for more than 10 years in Hongkong, attended a two-day seminar on mushroom production on 24-25 June 2017 at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Hongkong. The seminar was organized by POLO, Consulate General of the Philippines, and Overseas Workers Welfare Authority (OWWA), in partnership with the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

Atty. Jalilo dela Torre, Labor Attaché to Hongkong, mentioned that, they organized the seminar to help the OFWs find alternative sources of income from agriculture that can easily go into business after their employment. They specifically identified mushroom production as one of the agri-ventures because it does not require big space of agricultural land, it will need simple technology and small capital that will generate additional income for aging OFWs and their families. The seminar also was in line with President Duterte’s vision of encouraging OFWs to return and be reunited with their families and participate in the development process of nation building.

Mushroom seminar in HK

Dr. Emily A. Soriano of the DA-Regional Field Office (RFO) 3 and a Gawad Saka awardee for Outstanding Agricultural Researcher in 2014, served as the resource person for the five sessions on mushroom production. Her talk emphasized on the economic benefits and business opportunities in mushroom production and likewise, presented the various products and by-products developed from mushroom.

In her presentation, she expressed her appreciation and gratitude to DA, through the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), by providing the financial support, not only for the research and development (R&D) of mushroom, but also in establishing the Mushroom Technology and Development Center (MTDC), which since its establishment in 2014, continues to cater to the public when it comes to mushroom-related needs. MTDC has been serving its purpose to cater to the development of the technology in mushroom culturing, provide technical and laboratory services to facilitate enterprise development, and showcase mushroom-based technologies from production to processing. They also provide a full training on mushroom production for free.

After each presentation, participants were active in raising questions on different issues including sources of contamination for spawn, provision of actual seminar in their respective regions, required inputs and sources of inputs, initial capital requirements, and market opportunities. Participants were likewise excited in giving their insights and sharing their personal experiences as OFWs in Hongkong.

One of them was Ms. Rose Perido, a farmer-OFW and a FAITH volunteer handling the training component in agriculture at POLO. She mentioned that she helped POLO by providing free lectures/seminar on agriculture during her free time. She came from a farming family in Cavite and got her learnings in agriculture through her own experience and assistance from other agencies of DA. She wanted to help other OFWs who will retire and want to venture in agricultural business. She believes that agriculture has a great potential in helping retired OFWs. According to her, the business plan presented by Dr. Soriano gave them the opportunities to think and plan for the future.

Another participant, Richard Joyce Alfonso, quipped, "No farmer, no future!” highlighting on the importance of the farmers in the development of the agriculture sector.

To supplement their information need, BAR, in cooperation with the Asian Food and Agricultural Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) handed out information materials including DVDs on mushrooms and production manuals to POLO and OFW participants, who in response, were thankful for the knowledge learned from the seminar.

This initiative is part of the effort of DA, through the leadership of Secretary Manny Piñol, to provide opportunities for Filipino overseas workers who are returning to the country and wanted to invest in agricultural ventures. It is part of Secretary Piñol’s vision that “soon, the OFWs will no longer just be ordinary overseas workers. They will become big time investors and marketing agents for the produce of the Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.” ### (Julia A. Lapitan)

Research to improve fruit size, fiber quality of Red Spanish pineapple underway

Red Spanish Pineapple 1The Red Spanish Pineapple is one of the four varieties of pineapple that are being grown in the Philippines, along with Smooth Cayenne or Hawaiian, Queen or Formosa, and Cabezona. But due to the fibrous, sweet and course taste of its fruit, the Red Spanish Pineapple is mainly grown for its fiber.

Compared to the other varieties, the Red Spanish fruit is relatively small weighing around 0.91-1.4 kg. Externally, it is orange-red while its fibrous flesh is pale yellow. The fruit turns hard when mature, and breaks off easily from its base during harvesting. This variety takes about 18 months to reach maturity and thrives well in open fields with sandy clay soil. The plant grows spiny leaves up to two meters in length which yield excellent fibers for handweaving.

Since the Red Spanish pineapple is mainly used for the production of the Piña cloth, the fruits, which are small, are mostly thrown away during the harvesting of the leaves.

Not wanting to see this champion crop go to waste, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol tasked the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) "to lead research initiatives on how to improve the size and the quality of the Spanish Red Pineapple fruits so that farmers will make additional income."

In response, BAR, as the lead agency for research in agriculture, immediately convened concerned stakeholders along with its pool of experts, particularly, representatives from the Aklan State University (ASU), DA-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 5, DA-RFO 6, and the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) to discuss and finalize the research and development (R&D) component studies to improve the size and quality of the Red Spanish pineapple.

According to BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar, as a result of that meeting, the group was able to come up with a concept note and an action plan showing specific R&D activities to be implemented by concerned agencies specifically on how to improve the fruit size without compromising the quality of its fiber. He added that initial discussion was also facilitated on the issues and concerns of the textile fiber production from the Red Spanish pineapple as this is the main use of the plant.

As discussed, the R&D components of the program will include: 1) profiling and market research of Red Spanish pineapple production (to be led by DA-RFO 6 and ASU); and 2) looking into the cultural management studies for production of large and sweet Spanish Red Pineapple, including cost-benefit analysis of producing/processing products (to be led by DA-RFO 5 and ASU).

This R&D initiative is Secretary Piñol’s proactive response to revive the once lucrative piña fiber Industry. “The piña fiber weaving was once upon a time a lucrative industry, especially in the province of Aklan where the Spanish Red variety of pineapple, known for its strong fiber, grows well. In recent years, however, the industry has suffered from very low supply of the fiber and the dwindling number of weavers who only earn as much as Php300 a day for the difficult work which strains the eyes,” said the Agriculture secretary. ### (Rita T. dela Cruz)

BAR readies for 13th agri and fisheries tech forum and exhibit

13thNTFRecognizing the importance of disseminating technologies generated from research and development (R&D) and providing new perspectives on technology commercialization, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) readies for the 13th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition (NTF). With the theme, “Bringing Products of R&D to the Filipino Farmers, Fisherfolk, and Agripreneurs through Technology Transfer and Commercialization,” the event will be held on 8-10 August 2017 at DA-BAR Grounds, Visayas Ave., Diliman, Quezon City.

BAR, a staff bureau of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and national coordinating agency for agriculture and fisheries R&D, annually conducts the NTF which serves as a venue to showcase projects and initiatives funded through the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP).

The three-day event expects to draw in visitors from various stakeholders including representatives from DA family, government agencies, research institutions, local government units, private sector, people’s organizations, as well as researchers and students from state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Invited exhibitors comprising of DA-Regional Field Offices (RFOs), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Offices (BFAR-ROs), SUCs, and other partner-institutions will showcase R&D breakthroughs including innovative products, services, and commerciable technologies.

The event will open opportunities for agriprenuers and enterpreneurs alike to capitalize on various R&D technologies for the farmers and fisherfolk to showcase their own produce as well as for the private sector to adopt these technologies on a commercial scale.

There will also be technology presentations in the forms of seminars, business matching for possible partnerships, and other ventures for profitable agricultural enterprises. ###

Rimas ice cream reaches Hong Kong; prospects deemed bright

MEAquino 2Putting a twist on the conventional flavors of ice cream, the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 5 (DA-RFO 5), through the Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (BIARC), developed rimas-flavored ice cream as part of their research and development (R&D) activities. The team proudly shared that 20 kilos of rimas ice cream have been shipped to Hong Kong for acceptability trials and that they have started to look for possible distributors. This was made possible through Global Mana, a company that focuses on food, energy, and water, and which had once sponsored a breadfruit conference in Hawaii.

Rimas ice cream was first showcased and presented to the public in the 9th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition held at SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City in 2013. Organized by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the annual event showcases technologies and products developed by various R&D institutions in the country. The rimas ice cream which bagged an award is one of the innovative products featured in the said event because of its novelty, uniqueness, and market potentials.

With an interest in knowing more about rimas, Mr. Joshua Niel Echague of Global Mana came across one of BAR’s articles on rimas ice cream in the internet. Mr. Echague contacted DA-BIARC and the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division which, in turn, endorsed the concern to the project team who developed the product, led by Ms. Luz Marcelino, research manager of DA-BIARC.

Growing abundantly in the Bicol region, rimas or breadfruit is one of the highest-yielding food plants, with a single tree producing up to 200 fruits per season. Recognizing its potential, BIARC embarked on a project titled, “Rimas Biodiversity Research, Conservation, and Propagation in the Bicol Region,” which was funded by BAR. Aimed at determining the biodiversity of rimas in the region, the project also intends to increase the awareness of the Bicolanos on rimas as an affordable alternative source of essential nutrients.

“It is abundant in carbohydrates and, therefore, can be a main source of energy. The fiber present in rimas is found to help the digestive system of our body, assisting in the digestion of food and helping reduce cholesterol levels,” Ms. Marcelino shared.

With abundant harvests and with the conventional notion that rimas is just for snacks, much of the crop is just left to rot. Thus, value-adding activities were developed by the team.

The Regional Food Laboratory of DA-BIARC is continuously undertaking product development given the succulent endosperm present in the fruit. To date, 15 recipes have been developed from rimas. These include pastillas, cheese cupcakes, chips, caramel, ginataan, fries, kimchi, torones de rimas, cookies, pork dumplings, rice balls, custard cake, spring roll, and muffin, aside from the rimas ice cream. The ice cream, composed of 80 percent rimas meat, now comes in three variants: rimas with sweet potato, with cheese and chocolate, and with langka. Other crops abundant in the region like siling labuyo, taro, and pili nut are also added into the mixture.

Ten kilograms of rimas fruit are needed to produce one kg of ice cream that can be sold at Php 150. “If we will just meet the present demand, we could process as much as 50 kilos of rimas thrice a week,” Ms. Marcelino said. Such an effort would be parallel to the objective of helping farmers increase their income as the raw materials are sourced from farmers in Tigaon, Camarines Sur and in Sorsogon.

Rimas ice cream has gained high acceptance in terms of taste, aroma, texture, and appearance based on the product acceptability survey that was conducted. Rimas ice cream and its variants can also be offered to trendy cafes and restaurants given the increasing demand for innovative offerings.

“Rimas ice cream has a high potential because of its distinct flavor and the use of organically-grown ingredients,” Ms. Marcelino added.

The team acknowledges BAR’s support to the development of products that utilize locally-available crops. “With this undertaking supported by BAR, we were able to see the economic importance of rimas as a crop which could respond to the goals of the DA of making food available and affordable, and in increasing the income of farmers. Gender and Development perspectives could also be mainstreamed into rimas ice cream enterprises as we are also giving importance to the empowerment of women in their roles in farming and food processing,” Ms. Marcelino shared.

The local governments of the six provinces in the region assisted the project in identifying potential farmer-cooperators and rimas growing sites. There is also the support from Sorsogon Dairy Farm, which has become a source of raw materials, and the Yulaik Food Company that is facilitating the conduct of feedback surveys for product improvement.

Through plant propagation techniques of tissue culture and grafting, the project was able to grow 100 plants inside the laboratory, and 50 potted plants (using tissue-culture technique) and 150 grafted rimas.

To date, BAR has given support to five projects on rimas covering benchmarking studies and researches on pest management, propagation techniques, and nursery establishment implemented by several DA agencies and state universities and colleges.

“We hope that there would be a consolidated effort on rimas. Also, I encourage fellow researchers to continue finding ways on how to utilize the indigenous crops of their localities and collaborate with other research centers or networks for the sharing of information and expertise, and for future collaboration,” Ms. Marcelino concluded. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)