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October-December 2017 Issue (Vol. 19 No. 4)

Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, CESO IV

Ever since the passage of Organic Agriculture (OA) Act in 2010 (Republic Act 10068), various programs, projects, and initiatives on organic farming have been implemented, cutting across all sectors of agriculture.

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), as the mandated national focal agency for the research and development (R&D) of OA, has been supporting and funding various projects and initiatives that are geared towards coming up with viable technologies that can be used by the industry.

In 2011, BAR, in consultation with various stakeholders, crafted the “Organic Agriculture Research Development and Extension (OA RDE) Agenda 2012-2016” that became the basis for implementing organic agriculture RDE projects. Consequently, a refined version of the agenda, “OA RDE Agenda 2017-2022” was drafted, this time, putting more emphasis on the validation of available technologies, and tools and practices on organic agriculture.

Five years (2012-2017) since BAR started funding OA projects, the program is able to fund 85 completed projects and 82 on-going projects. Completed projects are able to generate technologies from its applied researches; production and postproduction technologies for commercialization; and establishment of R&D facilities.

Nine projects on organic agriculture R&D are featured in this issue of the BAR R&D Digest. These projects were able to specifically generate technologies that can be used by the farmers and the organic farming sector as a whole.

One of them tackles on the use of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) to control pest infestation in organicallyproduced salad vegetables. EPNs are microscopic, threadlike worms that invade the host insects through natural openings killing it within 24-48 hours. They rapidly feed on the vegetable insect pests disintegrating their tissues making them an excellent potential biocontrol agent.

Still on pest management strategies, a project was implemented specifically for the organic production of strawberry and citrus in the Cordillera. The strategies and interventions developed address infestation of different pests which occurs mostly during the dry months, a critical period of flowering and fruit development for both crops.

Organic produce has shorter shelf life as opposed to its conventionally-produced counterpart. This negatively affects its marketability which could mean loss of income for farmers and traders of organic produce. To address this, an initiative was implemented to develop technologies for maintaining the quality and ensuring safety of organicallygrown fruits and vegetables during harvesting, postharvest handling, storage and marketing.

Central to organic farming is producing the organic seeds. Production of organic seeds on a much larger proportion must respond to the demands of the organic farming industry. It was on this ground that a project was conducted to contribute to the sustainable supply of organic plant materials. It targets the establishment of a national organic seed production program by setting up organic seed production areas while broadening sciencebased knowledge on organic seed production technologies.

A study that looks into the chemical contaminants and microbial pathogens of organically-grown versus conventionally-grown crops was also featured in this issue. The study lies on the claim that organically-grown produce are more or less chemically and microbiologically safer than the conventionally-grown produce, as there hasn’t been any study conducted to prove or refute this.

Meanwhile, two studies on organic chicken and native pig were discussed in this issue. The study on organic chicken looked into developing natural sources of methionine, and other essential amino acids for native chicken organic supplemental feeds. Methionine is a sulfurcontaining amino acid (AA) that is essential for maintaining the viability of poultry to remain productive and is vital for different functions in the body. Meanwhile, the second study looks into a “one health approach” in rearing native pigs. It aimed to study and identify the bacteria and parasites that exist in native pigs, including the factors in the production system and rearing practices that lead to their abundance and prevalence.

This issue also focuses on the OA R&D Centers funded by the bureau in pilot sites around the country. These Centers are established to promote relevant and significant technologies and interventions on organic farming and equip the regions with the hope of reaching out to more farming communities in promoting this sustainable practice. ###

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