To review the status of implementation of the Agriculture and Fisheries Biotechnology Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based on its 10-year (2000-2009) roadmap vis-à-vis the current administrative and policy climate and national government priorities, a review and planning workshop was held on 12-13 October 2010 in Lubao, Pampanga.
The activity aimed to update the program's current major components in response with the demands of the looming commercialization of locally-developed biotechnologies. Organized by the DA-Biotechnology Program Implementation Unit (Biotech PIU), the planning-workshop also hoped to fine tune the proposed biotechnology program of the DA for the next medium term (2011-2015), as well as to plan and prioritize projects and activities for implementation in 2011.
Being the research arm and funding agency of the DA for agriculture and fisheries RDE, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) was present during the two-day affair. Mr. Joell H. Lales, head of the Planning Unit of BAR, presented the 11 biotechnology R&D projects funded under its Grants-in-Aid (GIA). Seven of the biotech projects are being implemented by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) including biotechnological production of high-value products from wastes of mango industry and from coconut oil industry (phases 1&2), improvement of Philippine Mallard duck through applied animal biotechnology, somatic embryogenesis of banana, and somatic embryo germination and regeneration of banana and abaca. The other three biotech projects are being implemented by the DA-Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA), University of Southern Mindanao (USM), and Mindanao State University (MSU-IIT).
Dr. Candida B. Adalla, head of DA-Biotech PIU, presented the implementation status of the DA-Biotech Program including its accomplishment vis-à-vis the 10-year roadmap. Also presented were current initiatives of the sectors that are significant to the implementation of biotechnology programs including the RA 10068 or the "Organic Agriculture Act of 2010" and it implication to biotechnology. Dr. Adalla, based on an earlier pronouncement of Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, mentioned that the Secretary sees no conflict between organic and biotechnology and looks at the latter as an important tool in achieving food security particularly in improving crop varieties, fish strains, and livestock breeds. "
Part of the two-day activity was the revisiting and assessment of the major accomplishments of the DA-Biotech Program in terms of its support to four major areas: 1) policy formulation, 2) applied biotech research, 3) institutional capability enhancement, and 4) information education communication (IEC). Workshops were facilitated from which experts in the four areas were invited to constitute the technical working committees.
Some of the agreements during the plenary sessions were: 1) identification of priority commodities towards food security and global competitiveness, 2) identification of potential indigenous natural ingredients/products that can be further improved and developed through biotech applications, 3) effective consolidation of resources and facilities for efficiency and effectiveness in implementing and transferring results from biotech R&D, 4) sustainable management of agriculture and fisheries resources under an ecologically-sound managed system in view of addressing the negative effects of climate change, and 5) promotion and advocacy of biotech program as a complementing knowledge base to other scientific and technological endeavors of the national R&D system.