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BAR to highlight agricultural R&D initiatives in AgriLink 2016

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For over a decade now, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been a constant partner in the annual conduct of AgriLink/ FoodLink/AquaLink. This will be done anew in the 23rd staging of AgriLink on 6-8 October 2016 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

The interesting feature of this year’s AgriLink is the continuation of its local focus with the theme, “Negros Island: A Model of Agribusiness Resiliency.” Many of the communities in Negros Island have been hotbeds for agribusiness, long before others even became aware of this school of thought. The Negros Island communities are particularly receptive of innovations introduced by agricultural research and development (R&D) and the island plays host to several agricultural research institutions, both public and private.

One instance of adoption of new technology, where BAR and its partners played a big role, is the utilization of sweet sorghum as a bioethanol feedstock by the San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. (SCBI) in San Carlos City for the production of fuel-grade ethanol with the sweet sorghum crop sourced from first-time growers in Sagay City. It is under such settings that BAR has been providing funding and other support for locally-implemented R&D projects under its two banner programs.

As the DA’s lead arm for agricultural research coordination and as one of the sponsors of AgriLink, BAR will participate in the activity with an exhibit and conduct of seminars. The exhibit will showcase R&D projects that are focused on technology ready for commercialization and on products resulting from such technologies. Most of these were developed under the BAR banner program, National Technology Commercialization Program, which is geared towards the development of micro enterprises and agribusiness ventures with BAR providing technical as well as financial assistance. Its other source of locally-developed technology is the banner program, Community-Based Participatory Action Research, which is a location-specific research cum extension that makes use of the participatory approach involving farming communities in designing research activities to ensure specificity and success of research-generated technologies under local conditions.

With both programs promoting agribusiness development at the regional level, BAR continues to support crop, livestock, and fisheries projects conducted by its local research partners with whom the bureau is in constant coordination with. These partners include the Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers, Regional Fisheries Research and Development Centers, Regional Field Offices, DA bureaus and attached agencies, local government units, state universities and colleges, and private sector institutions.

BAR will also be holding seminars on the first day with topics on homemade remedies from herbs and spices, indigenous crops in the Philippines, and mushroom production. ### (Victoriano B. Guiam, DA-BAR)

Gov’t eyes sustainable development of native animals; BAR lends R&D support

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Prior to the creation of the Philippine Native Animals Development (PNAD) Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) was already at work coordinating with the DA’s Livestock and Poultry Program in supporting and funding various R&D projects on native animals.

Eventually, the PNAD was created through DA Administrative Order No.15 in 2010. With various livestock agencies of the government and selected State Universities and Colleges as program partners, the program seeks to promote the conservation and utilization of domesticated native animals for food. BAR is a member of PNAD and is the lead coordinator for research and development (R&D).

To date, the bureau has coordinated and funded a total of 21 livestock and poultry related projects, all geared toward the generation of technologies on livestock production, management and post-production, closely collaborating with the various project proponents and farmers’ organizations.

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The projects cover a range of efforts from strategy to refinement of techniques. These include sourcing of baseline data for native pigs, formulation of proper feeding rations for native animals, information on the existing native pig gene pool, breeding management and production, coming out with selected strains of native pigs, upgrading of organic and free-range native chickens, and development of processing technologies for meat and skins from selected native strains.

There is an existing niche market for native animal meat and other products and indications point to growth. Thus, there is need for efforts meant to strengthen the sector and, more importantly, empower the farmers to be locally-and internationally-competitive and enable them to lead in the niche’s progress. Government is at the forefront and its support is essential for native animal production to be sustainable for the farmers. BAR supports the DA in ensuring that the country’s native animals are, not only promoted, but conserved as well with the effective employment of its R&D arsenal. . ### (Patrick R. A. Lesaca, DA-BAR)

BAR R&D Tech Center displays products, disseminates technology info and research outputs

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Launched on 7 August 2009, the R&D Technology Commercialization Center of the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) serves as a place where one can see more than a hundred products, generated technologies, and research outputs produced through BAR’s banner programs: National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP) and Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR).

Years of productive research have blessed the center with a continuing supply of new products to display. Presently, the products on display include wines from mango, bignay, duhat, pineapple, tamarind, oregano, ubi, sweet potato, sweet sorghum, cashew, zuriel, guyabano, blueberry, citrus, yacon, ybanag, rambutan, abiu, lipote, banaba, arius, adlay, tamarind, batuan, macopa, cacao, and santol; oregano (wine, juice, jam, vinegar, and soap); sweet sorghum (vinegar, wine, noodles, cookies, coffee, flour, jaggery, and syrup); seaweeds (marmalade, jam, chips, pickles, candies, noodles, torones, and dips); canned tuna and bangus; woven products (basket, native flower vase, and pandan bag from abaca and pineapple); cosmetic products like soaps, creams, and oils from sweet tamarind, lotus, okra and saluyot, VCO, turmeric, avocado, ginger, acapulco, papaya and sweet sorghum (hand sanitizer, and spray); soybean (3-in-1 and brewed coffee, veggie noodles, spreads); tea (chickpea, yacon, banana, miracle leaf, turmeric, oregano, native ginger, sweet basil, and sambong); coffee (sweet sorghum, pigeon pea, cacao, mungbean, marang, and soybean); coco sap sugar and nipa palm sugar; mango (dried mangoes, marmalade, pickles, huani mango, and vinaigrette); sapinit (juice, wine, and jam); makapuno (biscotti and string); citrus (cider, conserve jam, wine, and soap); capiz (lampshade and other products); adlay (crunch, nutri-meal, beauty soap, and breakfast cereal); batuan (sinigang powder, concentrate, candy, and powder); arrowroot powder and cookies; bee (honey, soap, propolis, and dishwashing liquid); malunggay powder and polvoron; cacao (chocolate kisses, tablea tops, and soap); chevon, and cereal preparations like gourmix.

Located at the lobby of the BAR Building, it has been a functioning hub for visitors looking to acquire further knowledge on innovative products including the latest information and technologies generated from agriculture and fisheries R&D. As such, the facility also serves as a one-stop-shop for information, technology guides, and other IEC materials. This greatly helps in disseminating new and reliable information regarding better ways of doing agriculture. Visitors, mainly farmers, researchers, government employees, private and public individuals, and students have visited the center for packages of technology (POT) for different priority commodities, feasibility studies and reports such as market studies and financial viability studies for different commodities or to inquire about crops in demand such as rice, rubber, soybean, cacao, and coffee and also for contact details of researchers who have conducted particular studies, among others. From January to August 2016, the R&D Tech Center served a total of 1, 200 visitors and received more than 1, 800 phone inquiries from different clienteles.

A masterlist of products on display, producers, technology generators, partner institutions and other relevant information has been put together at the TechComm Showroom to facilitate linkages among those interested in venturing into agribusiness. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino, DA-BAR)

BAR concludes 12th NTF; innovative R&D products highlighted

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), concluded the 12th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition on 14 August 2016 at SM Mega Trade Hall 2, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City. With the theme, “Pagsulong ng mga Teknolohiya sa Pamayanan tungo sa Maunlad na Pagsasaka at Pangingisda”, the four-day event highlighted important research-generated technologies supported and funded under the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP), one of BAR's banner programs. NTCP serves as a vital tool for the development of enterprises and the improvement of agriculture- and fisheries-related industries

One of the highlights of the NTF was the awarding of this year’s “Most Innovative Product”. The award is given to recognize newly-developed technologies generated from the bureau’s supported research and development (R&D) projects and initiatives. This is also part of the promotional activities of BAR, through NTCP, in launching new products to the public to attract a wider and more diverse market.

This year’s winners were: (1st place) Cream Cheese by the University of the Philippines Los Baños; (2nd place) Arrowroot Products by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 4A; and (3rd place) Nipa Salad Dressing by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 5.

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Cream cheese from goat’s milk is an innovative product developed by the University of the Philippines Los Banos’ Dairy Training and Research Institute. The product can last for about three weeks when refrigerated. Goat’s milk is perfect for the health-conscious consumer as it is low in fat.

Arrowroot is the base ingredient for this award winning product that was developed by the DA-Southern Tagalog Integrated Agricultural Research Center in Region 4A. Used as an alternative for corn starch and baking soda, arrowroot powder can serve as the ingredient for foot powder as it also effective in absorbing moisture in the feet which normally causes the activity of odor-inducing bacteria.

Nipa syrup-based salad dressing was developed by the Regional Field Office in Bicol as part of promoting and expanding the underutilized Nipa sap. Just recently, agencies and agriculture-based organizations across the country have been exploring the potential of the Nipa palm and developing them into an array of products including sugar and beverage drink. The Philippines holds the record of being the country with the third largest area of nipa palm plantations in Asia.

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Special citation for non-food product was also awarded to DA-RFO I for their micro nutrient seaweed balls; and special citation for innovative technology to DA-BFAR 5 for their seaweed tissue culture.

Entries were evaluated based on: 1) creativity and uniqueness; 2) relevance to food security; 3) health and wellness; 4) good product attributes; 5) packaging and labeling; and 5) market potential and competitiveness.

The NTF is an annual event of BAR, which happens every August and aims to identify, disseminate, and promote mature technologies in the fields of agriculture and fisheries. It also hopes establish and strengthen linkages and networks with private sector, non-government organizations, local government units, and other government agencies in terms of product marketing.

Around 95 exhibitors joined in this year’s NTF showcasing various products, services, and commerciable technologies on the following categories: high-value crops, natural products/ natural ingredients for health and wellness, organic agriculture, and climate change. ### (DA-BAR)

Harvesting success from seaweeds

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With seaweeds’ wide range of uses from food and fertilizer to cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, seaweed farming has rapidly grown into an industry that offers sustainable income and employment to fishers. The Philippines, one of the world’s biggest producers of the semi-processed seaweed product called Carageenan, cites seaweeds as its top aquaculture commodity, followed by milkfish and tilapia.

Seaweed farming has been generating livelihood for many coastal communities in the country since the 1970s. With seaweed farming not entirely limited to men, the industry has also opened livelihood opportunities for women, with some becoming economically active for only the first time.

Women Winning at Seaweeds

This has been the case for the members of the women’s organizations tapped by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Region 5 in the implementation of the project, “Product Development/Improvement and Commercialization of Seaweeds in Bicol Region.”

Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) under the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP), the project tapped existing organizations such as the Tabaco Faith International Church (TFIC) Ladies Association, Tobaco, Albay and Rural Improvement Club of Layog, Barcelona, Sorsogon,

Through the seminars and trainings that the team of BFAR 5 Research Manager Aida Andayog conducted, the members of these organizations were taught how to formulate, produce, develop, package and market food products processed from seaweeds.

“We also conducted trainings and held seminars to educate farmers and the organizations’ members on the principles of good manufacturing practices (GMP) and sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOP),” says Andayog. GMP and SSOP are prerequisites of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points Program (HACCP), an internationally recognized guarantee of the quality of food products.

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Aside from these, Andayog takes pride in the tests that the group successfully conducted to really ensure the quality of their seaweed products. “Our products underwent sensory evaluation to assess the products’ appearance, odor, flavor and textures, and, more importantly, their nutritional value through nutritional evaluation. We also conducted microbiological analysis of our products, such as seaweed juice, pickled seaweeds and nata de seaweeds, as well as nutritional analysis of various seaweed-finished food products,” Andayog adds.

According to Nimfa B. Moreno, a seaweed processor and member of the TFIC Ladies Association, not only has the project provided the seaweed processors with additional knowledge on the processing of seaweed for food, thus increasing their income opportunities, but has also taught the people in the communities to use their time well by taking part in seaweed-related ventures. She says the biggest benefit of the project was that it made the people realize that they can help themselves through entrepreneurship, and this helps make sure that the purpose of the project will continue even after the project is concluded.

Seaweed-based products expand into enterprises

Aside from the commercialization of seaweeds and processed seaweed products in Bicol, the project also aimed to establish village-level seaweed production and processing enterprises, providing greater chances for Bicolano fisherfolk and seaweed processors to engage in agribusiness. Thus, to further pursue this goal, the project, “Commercialization of Seaweed Products and Other Fishery Value-Added products in Bicol Region,” was implemented by BFAR-Region 5.

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The demand for seaweed-based products can be easily met by the six Bicol provinces now actively engaged in seaweed farming: Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, and Masbate, with Sorsogon being the top producer due to its vast coastal waters. To encourage even more fisherfolk and coastal communities to engage in seaweed farming and product development, various techno-demo and training activities were conducted by the projects.

The uniqueness, taste, and nutritional value of Bicol-made seaweed products, which Andayog noted as their competitive advantage, play a significant role in commercializing and marketing them. According to her, “Seaweeds are nutritious. They can help build and sustain the broad nutritional requirements and balance of vitamins, minerals and vital nutrients on which optimum health and vitality depend.”

In 2012, the TFIC Ladies group produced about two tons of pancit fortified with seaweeds which were marketed and sold in Manila and Cebu, even reaching as far as South Korea. Developed and packaged seaweed products were also displayed and marketed by the organization in various trade fairs and exhibits for product promotion and market-matching.

Seaweed pancit and nata de seaweed have both given the project beneficiaries return-on-investment (ROI) of 65 percent on the average, with annual net income hitting Php93,600 and Php15,360, respectively. Seaweed pickles yielded a net income of Php34,512 with a 70 percent ROI.

Other food products derived from seaweed also posted high ROIs: seaweed marmalade (89 percent), candied dried seaweed (86 percent), seaweed chips (79 percent), seaweed cracknels (67 percent), seaweed chocolate (85 percent), seaweed tart (71 percent), seaweed morcon (94 percent), seaweed longanisa (66 percent), fish lumpia with seaweeds (76 percent) and yema with seaweeds (55 percent).

Seaweed products continue to provide extra income, not only to the women of the TFIC, but also to other organizations that BFAR Region 5 has trained. And, as these and other products to be developed improve in taste and quality, it will not be long before these become national and international hits, and good sources of health and wellness, income, and pride for the Bicolanos. ### (Mara Shyn M. Valdeabella)