To help urban settlers start their own edible gardens at home, the University of Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) led by its chancellor, Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., turned over edible landscaping (EL) starter kits to the Department of Agriculture (DA), through Secretary William D. Dar, in Los Baños, Laguna on 18 September 2020.

 

The EL starter kit includes naturally-grown seeds, “how to plant” brochures, and sample edible landscape designs fit for urban setting such as pocket garden, balcony garden, community garden, and rooftop/container garden. The starter kit also features two QR codes found at the fan and the brochure. These codes contain scientific papers, feature articles, and the music video on edible landscaping.

 

“As the country transitions into the ‘new normal,’ it is important that we continue our joint efforts to ensure an adequate supply of affordable and nutritious food, and improve our food logistics and transportation systems,” Sec. Dar said.

 

“Edible landscaping will now form part of our household food security arsenal. While making your surroundings beautiful, with proper EL technologies, you are not only promoting aesthetics but also attaining household food security,” he added.

 

This turnover activity was made possible through the PhP 8-million project titled, “Edible Landscaping: Magtanim ng Gulay para sa Isang Masagana, Malusog, at Makulay na Buhay,” funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research under its Resiliency Response Research for Development program for the New Normal.

 

Under the said project, demo gardens will be set up at the central offices of DA, DA-BAR, and DA-Agricultural Training Institute to further promote EL in urban communities. The demo gardens will serve as a model for urban gardening technologies. More starter kits will also be distributed to different local government units and regional field offices of DA.

 

“We have been advocating this innovative technology for so many years already,” said UPLB Chancellor Sanchez, project leader.

 

UPLB, through its EL team, and DA-BAR have been working together to promote edible landscaping since 2009. Through this partnership, UPLB EL team has developed edible landscaping kits and presentation materials for adults and kids. They established numerous techno demo gardens and forged linkages with various institutions across the country. As of August 2020, more than 7,000 individuals across the country were trained on edible landscaping.

 

“It took a pandemic to shed a brighter light on this mature technology. Let us capitalize on this challenge as we turn it into an opportunity to further promote edible landscaping,” Secretary Dar called for action.

 

Edible landscaping combines various principles of landscape design with the existing technologies for small-scale crop production and maximizes the use of all available resources. Vegetables, fruits, medicinal plants, and herbs are planted instead of ornamentals. ### (UPLB press release/Rena S. Hermoso)

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Various sectors around the world have gradually adjusted to the new normal particularly in seeking innovative ways to ease the provision and access to necessities and services for the people during the pandemic. Coherently, the agriculture and the science and technology sector, through research for development initiatives, continuously devise harmonized efforts to address the surfacing problems to match the demand for basic needs of the Filipinos, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19.

 

In response to the increasing demand for disinfectants to comply with the minimum health standards set as precautionary measures against COVID-19, the Central Luzon State University (CLSU)-Nanotechnology R&D Facility, co-supported by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), has developed a nano-enhanced alcohol and sanitizer as well as face masks with nanofiber filters.

 

Started as an initiative at the beginning of the community quarantine throughout Luzon in March this year, the project, “CLSU-DOST III Initiative and Collaboration Response [towards] COVID-19 Mitigation” aims to provide the frontliners with nano-products that will help prevent the coronavirus. The project is implemented through the partnership between CLSU and Department of Science and Technology-Central Luzon.

 

The components of the nano-structured alcohol include nanoparticles infused with turmeric extract—both of which are used to enhance the 70% alcohol and sanitizer. Aside from its antiviral property, it also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties due to curcumin, a bioactive component of turmeric.

 

Based on studies, the said alcohol and sanitizer mixture could kill H1N1 influenza, SARS COV1, and MERS COV which are family of SARS COV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Hence, the usage of the said local alcohol and sanitizer can possibly prevent the spread of the virus, as claimed by the CLSU Nanotechnology Research R&D team.

 

Aside from the nano-enhanced alcohol and sanitizer, the research team also developed washable face masks and nanofiber mask filters made from polymer nanocomposites with antiviral properties. The said face mask can be reused through normal washing with soap and water, while the nanofiber filters inserted into the washable face mask pockets can be reused up to 10 times by sanitizing the filter material with nano-enhanced 70% alcohol spraying and air drying.

 

Collaborating in the production of the nano-enhanced alcohol and sanitizer are the CLSU College of Engineering-Affiliated Renewable Energy Center (AREC), and the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU). The CLSU College of Engineering and the AREC were in charge of obtaining the 70% alcohol from bioethanol referencing from the protocol shared by MMSU in its previous R&D partnership with CLSU.

 

CLSU received support from various institutions to sustain the volume of production and address the scarcity of materials in creating alcohol and sanitizer. The CLSU Research and Training Center, DA-Philippine Carabao Center-Small Ruminant Center, and the Ramon Magsaysay-Center for Agricultural Resources and Environment Studies provided molasses and yeast to create almost 300 liters of bioethanol distilled by CLSU College of Engineering-AREC. The team also received 60 liters of bioethanol as donated by Central Azucarera de Tarlac.

 

To sustain the initiative, the continuing alcohol materials were funded by CLSU Gender and Development and DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD). Furthermore, the DOST-Central Luzon also provided additional funds for the procurement of raw materials needed to support the increasing volume of alcohol and sanitizer to meet the demand of the region.

 

According to Dr. Juvy Monserate, project proponent and head of the CLSU Nanotechnology R&D Center, the nanostructured alcohol and sanitizer are made from bioethanol making it organic, safe, and cheaper as compared to the other market available alcohol and sanitizers.

 

“These efforts are service-oriented where it primarily intends to provide the frontliners—doctors, nurses, health workers, police and military personnel, and those providing services in the grounds with nano-structured alcohol and sanitizer as well as nanofiber filler face mask to serve as a weapon to fight COVID-19,” Dr. Monserate shared.

 

Per Dr. Monserate, the products are currently undergoing accreditation and will be subjected to third party analysis and confirmation to ensure its viability prior to commercialization to a wider market.

 

At present, more than 8000 liters of nano-structured alcohol, around 4000 face masks, and more than 300 nano-enhanced face masks with nano fiber filters were produced and distributed in the region. Recipients include barangays, rural health units, local government units, state universities and colleges, and hospitals from various cities and provinces in Central Luzon and National Capital Region.

 

Continuously serving targeted stakeholders in the Central Luzon and aiming to reach more areas nationwide, the nano-enhanced alcohol, sanitizer, and masks were some of the research outputs produced and strengthened by the Nanotechnology R&D Facility established in 2019.

 

The said facility, which is the first in the country that centralizes on nanotechnology R&D for Agriculture and Fishery initiatives, was funded by DA-BAR under its Research Facilities Development Grant. The operationalization of the facility through the provision of equipment was done through CLSU’s partnership with the Department of Budget and Management–Region III, DOST-PCIEERD, and DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development.

 

Harmonizing efforts from various sectoral agencies focusing on agriculture and science and technology, the CLSU Nanotechnology R&D Facility is geared towards applying nanotechnology in agriculture and food, environment, and biomedicine, among others. ### Clarisse Mae N. Abao

 

For more information:
Dr. Juvy J. Monserate
Head
Nanotechnology R&D Center
Central Luzon State University
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(0917) 148 5214

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