The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Bee Program conducted the Bee Day on 26 March 2019 at Brgy. Pikinit, Sultan Naga Dimaporo (SND), Lanao del Norte. The activity served as the culminating activity of the project, “Pollinator Conservation and Promotion of Stingless Bee Technologies in Lanao del Norte,” funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) under its National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP).

 

UPLB research team, led by Dr. Cleofas R. Cervancia, president of the Asian Apicultural Association Philippines, demonstrated how to properly identify colonies for division and how to split, and how to extract pollen, honey, and propolis from the colony. Participants were also taught how to transfer broods into a new box to start a new productive colony. After the demonstration, the participants were able to try the process for themselves with the assistance of the UPLB research team. A hands-on demonstration on honey packaging and soap making using propolis as one of the ingredients was also conducted.

 

 

 

  

 

Project beneficiaries from the three municipalities (Tubod, Kapatagan, and SND) participated in the activity. Also in attendance were Baluta K. Diron, SND municipal agriculturist, Francisco C. Bihod, Inclusive Growth Plan (IGP) consultant, and Evelyn H. Juanillo and Jillian E. Timple, apiculture focal persons from BAR.

According to Dr. Cervancia, the Lanao del Norte was held to celebrate the importance of pollinators such as stingless bees for the agriculture and the environment. It also serves as a venue to share with more people in the community the results of the two-year project in Lanao del Norte. The project aimed to teach the community on the conservation of pollinators: stingless bees. She further shared, “ito ay para rin sa livelihood opportunity kasi marami tayong produktong nakukuha gaya ng pulot, pollen at propolis. Ito ay pwedeng gawing hanapbuhay kaya additional income para sa kanila.”

 

NTCP, one of the banner programs of BAR along with the Community Participatory Action Research (CPAR), ensures the proper transfer of mature technologies for adoption and utilization by target farmers ans fishers. ### (Rena S. Hermoso)

 

Jackfruit is a champion crop of Eastern Visayas and with the introduction of “EVIARC Sweet” variety, Region 8 has been recognized as the ‘jackfruit capital of the country’. The variety was named after its developer, the Eastern Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (EVIARC) of the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 8.

 

The “EVIARC Sweet” is a National Seed Industry Council (NSIC)-registered variety in 2007. Its fruit is aromatic, ellipsoid in shape and contains moderate later. The color of its aril is golden yellow. The tree is about seven meters tall with spreading branches and produces on the average 35 fruits per fruiting season.

 

The development of the Eastern Visayas’ jackfruit industry has picked up as a result of the various Research and Development and Extension (RDE) initiatives and other support systems of the DA-RFO 8.

 

From 2010 to 2013, DA-EVIARC, in collaboration with VSU developed and introduced technology interventions on jackfruit production and product processing through the “Community-based Participatory Action Research on jackfruit Production and Processing in Barangays San Isidro and Malinao in Mahaplag, Leyte.” Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the project aimed to pilot a village-level production and processing scheme for jackfruit to support the commercialization of jackfruit in the region. BAR has since then intensified its support on jackfruit R&D initiatives.

 

BAR has funded projects that aimed to maximize the full potential of jackfruit. One of which was the BAR-VSU project that was aimed to produce chitin and chitosan from chitin-containing crustacean exoskeleton wastes, and to evaluate their potential together with raw materials for the control of Phytophthora palmivora—the cause of the decline syndrome that plagued the Eastern Visayas’ jackfruit industry in the late nineties. Chitin and chitosan which are reported to induce resistance against several diseases may have the potential to control jackfruit decline. However, these were not readily available to the local farmers. Through the BAR-VSU project, the researchers were able to identify the most effective chitin and chitosan source and the most effective method of treatment application.

 

Among the significant findings of the BAR-VSU project were: 1) chitin and chitosan extracted from shrimp and crab exoskeletons were comparable with standards; 2) both chitin and chitosan were effective in controlling the disease in inoculated jackfruit seedling; 3) monthly stem injection was the most cost-effective method of chitosan application followed by weekly spraying; and 4) chitosan was more effective in reducing lesion length when applied before pathogen inoculation or as preventive treatment than when applied after pathogen inoculation or as eradicative treatment.

 

BAR also funded another VSU project that increase the productivity and raise competitiveness of the jackfruit industry in Eastern Visayas through science-based manipulation of year-round production of fruits to support fresh market and processing industries. Implemented by VSU, the study sought to develop techniques for increasing female flower production of jackfruit trees, for off-season/continuous flowering and fruiting in jackfruit, and for improved fruit development, and to improve nutrient management.

 

The University of the Philippines Los Baños, through funding support from BAR, is currently exploring ways to improve the characterization, conservation and utilization of jackfruit and its related endemic species through the creation of quick, cost-effective and reliable identification, monitoring and characterization scheme using DNA barcodes, georeferenced maps and characterization profiles.

 

With the technical experts from DA-RFO 8 drafting for the jackfruit roadmap, the Agriculture Secretary’s support to the industry, and the R&D initiatives to maximize the industry’s potential, the jackfruit industry is indeed looking forward to a sweeter future. ### (Rena S. Hermoso, DA-BAR)

 

 

The Philippines is blessed with abundant and diverse species of fruits, but many of them remain underutilized in terms of food processing.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 170 of 300 fruits bearing perennial plant species are considered indigenous and most are either underutilized or neglected. They are commonly found in localities, but very few of them are available.

Recognizing the importance and potential of underutilized fruits, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), featured two topics in its seminar serried emphasizing the nutrition, processing value, product development, and economic approaches of novel products from the underutilized fruit crops. The seminar, led by the bureau’s Applied Communication Division, was held on 28 February 2019 at BAR Annex Building, Visayas Ave in Quezon City.

Dr. Dennis Marvin O. Santiago, project leader and associate professor of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, University of the Philippine Los Baños, served as the resource speaker on the topic, “Utilization of Neglected Underutilized Tropical Fruits for the Development of High Value Food Products”. The project aimed to develop high-value products from selected and underutilized indigenous fruits in the country.

According to Dr. Santiago, tropical fruit crops also known as ‘minor, ‘orphan’ or promising crops, are wild and domesticated plant species that have been overlooked by agricultural researchers and policymakers. “In fact, out of 30,000 edible plants only 30 are used to feed the world providing 95 percent of our food energy requirement. We saw the need to develop a research study intended to optimize their potentials,” he said.

Dr. Santiago emphasized the needs in processing this neglected underutilized tropical fruits because it has inherent characteristics that can turn fruit into human health product by processing them. Nutrient-wise, it has 70-95 percent water; high percentage of phytochemicals such as phenolic compounds, organic acids, carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin A, B complex, C, E with macro and micro minerals; and carbohydrates that are present in digestible and indigestible forms.

Through the project, the group of Dr. Santiago was able to optimize the processing parameters of these underutilized fruits for wine and cordial production including passion fruit, sapinit, rambutan, longan, rattan, lipote, aranga, duhat and kalumpit. Among the product lines developed included juices, concentrates, fruit in syrups, jams, and jellies. They have established a quality assurance system in the processing the indigenous fruits into products.

“Utilizing them into commonly consumed food products will address the nutritional and human health problems and in effect, improve the economic status of farmers owing to the added-value of their produce,” Santiago concluded.

Another topic discussed during the seminar series was the “Product Improvement and Marketing for Dalanghita Nectar,” presented by Dr. Victoria Noble, project leader from the Southern Luzon State University (SLSU) Tagkawayan Campus. Her discussion centered on providing basis information in the existing market situation of dalanghita in Southern Luzon. Product procedures on making dalanghita nectar were also discussed. ### (Leoveliza C. Fontanil)

Rice planthoppers (RPH), including the brown planthopper (BPH), small brown planthopper, and white-backed planthopper (WBPH), are constraints to rice production because of their direct damages. They can transmit viruses that can be devastating to rice plants.

A study made by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) showed that continuous crop monoculture of high-yielding varieties with high fertilizer rate, unnecessary usage of pesticides, and the changing cultural practices, could possibly implicate the development of BPH population leading to breakdown of major genetic resistant varieties.

In keeping an environmentally-sound and a partnership-based research on rice research, Genaro Rillon of PhilRice and co-researchers have worked on project, “Construction of Epidemiology Information Interchange System for Migratory Disease and Insect Pests in Asia Region: Assessment of Rice Planthoppers Populations and Viruses in the Philippines”. The project was funded by the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI), which is being coordinated by the Bureau of Agricultural Research. It was established to monitor RPH and other viruses causing significant rice production losses in Asian countries. The goal is to reduce the vulnerability of rice crops losses caused by RPH outbreaks in the Philippines and to participate in the establishment of collaborative network.   

 Results can be accessed through the internet platform of the AFACI-Asian Migratory Insects and Viruses Surveillance (AMIVS), web-based portal system, designed as a depository for valuable information and a monitoring system.  

Project assessment and monitoring results

The monitoring of RPH populations, using light traps, was conducted at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station (CES) in Munoz, Nueva Ecija.  And in two sites using stick traps in PhilRice CES and in Mabini, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija.  

The light trap was set up weekly and used to approximate numbers of planthoppers (BPH and WBPH) density, while the sticky traps started at ten days after transplanting until maturity of rice crop. In each sampling per week, sticky trapping was conducted at ten hills randomly selected per field. At each trapping spot, the sticky trap was placed between two plants. The traps were brought to the laboratory for counting and recording the number of collected BPH and WBPH including spiders.

According to Rillon, observed high populations of RPH monitored using sticky trap coincided with the reproductive to ripening phases of rice plants in the field. Planthoppers prefer these phases of rice growth as they can get better nutrition around these stages.  It was further observed that planthopper adults invaded rice at reproductive phase and seems that they invade rice earlier during wet season.

For both dry and wet seasons, monitoring showed that WBPH was usually recorded earlier to colonize rice plants than BPH. During field samplings, spiders, coccinellids, mirids, and tiger beetles were commonly observed in the field.

The population patterns observed would indicate that RPH develops in the field and peaked towards the end or as the crop neared maturity during the dry or wet seasons. Comparing these two population peaks recorded, higher peak of population occurred in wet season as compared with dry season.  However, Rillon pointed out there was an increasing trend in the number of planthopper populations recorded and its associated hopperburn damage in some areas in the Nueva Ecija.

Initial planthopper population was usually observed during the reproductive stages and continuously increases as the crop matures. Population peaks were recorded from March to April, and from August to September. Similar patterns of populations of RPH were recorded during the dry (June - June) and wet (July - December) seasons. Consistently more BPH were recorded than WBPH. Only few patches of hopperburn injury were observed in farmers’ fields during the year. Incidence of injury ranged from 5 to 20 percent.  Incidence of rice virus disease was not recorded.

In the latter rice growth stages, populations decreased because planthoppers usually emigrate when rice is maturing due to poor food conditions of host plants. It was commonly observed that planthopper adults attacked rice at reproductive phase and seems that they invade rice earlier during wet season. For both dry and wet seasons, monitoring showed that WBPH was usually recorded earlier to colonize rice plants than BPH.

The project proponent was also able to input the data obtained from the monitoring conducted in the AMIVS system.

Recommendations and other researchable areas

Although the damage was not in serious outbreak proportions, there is also a need to continuously monitor RPH populations to prevent pest outbreak in the future.

To prevent RPH outbreak in the field, different management strategies were presented such as planting of varieties that are resistant to planthoppers, synchronous planting to avoid overlapping populations, conservation of beneficial organism to maximize natural biological control and proper use of chemical control when needed.

It is also necessary to study the changes in the practices of farmers like insecticide spray, nutrient application, variety usage and intensity of planting that favors the development of planthopper populations in the field.

PhilRice plans to continue monitoring RPH to establish population patterns of the insect pests. This is also to sustain the strong regional collaboration that is essential for the generation of information to improve management of RPH in the country.

AFACI is an international cooperation body committed to improving food production, promoting the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices, and enhancing the extension services of Asian countries.  The Philippines is one of the member-nations of AFACI since it was inaugurated in 2009. ### (Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca)

 

 

At the heart of every initiative of the Department of Agriculture is the farmer. Apart from the department’s goal of achieving food security, DA safeguards the livelihood of the men and women who contribute to the country’s supply of food. For farmers and fisherfolk, access to technologies is a major consideration for the sustainability of their practice.

As an archipelago made up of more than 7000 islands, the economic experiences of farmers and fisherfolk sit at polar opposites. Access to specific farming inputs, from clean water to a steady supply of electricity, varies greatly depending on location. With climate becoming more unpredictable, so does the economic status of farming communities.

DA acknowledges the actuality of smallscale farmers and fisherfolk making up most of the sector’s stakeholders. While at first glance it may seem to be a serious problem, it could also be a window to an opportunity.

In other parts of the world, under-developed communities such as those in East and West Africa are empowered by the local government and private entities through the introduction of off-grid agricultural technologies powered by renewable energy.

In order to see firsthand how this works, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), through funding support from the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) sent two of its top officials, Assistant Director Digna Sandoval and Applied Communication Division head Julia Lapitan, to the “Eilat Eilot International Renewable Energy Conference” in Dan Eilat, Israel. This bi-annual event is hosted by the company that bears the same name and it highlights the best and the ground-breaking initiatives on renewable energy.

Despite only having 20 percent of its total land area is to be considered naturally arable, Israel maintains its status as a country that produces and exports its own agricultural commodities. This is made possible through technological innovations in the field of agriculture and renewable energy.

In the conference, policymakers from the international community met with investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, and industry leaders. This year, the conference put a spotlight on off-grid and smart-grid technologies powered by renewable energy.

Green energy is generated by harnessing energy from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, and flowing water. They are otherwise known as renewable energy since it can be readily available and sourced out from nature whenever it is available, unlike fossil fuels whose availability diminishes as it is further used and exploited.

Fossil fuels are harnessed through heavy machinery done by big corporations while renewable energy can be harnessed both in a commercial scale and small scale. Green energy is available even in rural and remote areas.

During their visit in Israel, Lapitan and Sandoval attended a series of panel discussions that showcased the best in agricultural technologies and farming systems which are considered as off-grid. One example is Irrigation by Condensation which is a technology developed by ROOTS Sustainable Agricultural Technologies. The system is made up of interconnected pipes, through it flow cold water which condenses the humidity in the air surrounding the pipe, thereby creating a continuous supply of water for irrigation. The cooling machine that refrigerates the flowing water inside the pipes is solar powered.

Also made possible by green energy are fresh water irrigation systems for communities who only have access to saltwater. Among the off-grid technologies showcased is Tethys Solar Desalination, a water treatment solution that directly uses the heat harnessed from the sun’s rays in processing salty or contaminated water into clean water. The desalinating machine is scalable; it doesn’t use electricity, and is built using recycled raw materials.

Aside from powering certain farming machinery with green energy, the conference also highlighted technologies that enable individuals to generate their own source of green energy. HomeBioGas is a start-up company whose backyard appliance converts organic waste into methane gas and organic fertilizer, all without the need for electricity Instead, HomeBioGas utilizes solar energy and bacteria that breakdown organic waste into gas.

BAR is in a strategic position to explore the technologies showcased during the Eilat-Eilot conference. After an insightful visit to Israel, Sandoval and Lapitan reported the need for BAR to look into the development and promotion of green energy among its research projects.

Given that renewable energy is a science that has widespread, multi-sectoral impact and relevance, one of the necessary steps BAR is taking as it explores green energy is through complementation initiatives with other government agencies. In 2018, BAR initiated meeting with representatives from the Department of Science and Technology and the DA-Agricultural Training Institute in order to strengthen inter-agency complementation. This is to ensure a seamless flow of information from R&D generated results to the development of new projects.  ### (Ephraim John J. Gestupa)

 

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