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VERMICULITE: The mineral wonder in urban gardening

vermicultureHigh-rise condominiums, studio-type apartments, huge commercial establishments, train-like structures of slum areas— these are the common views all over the metro. Indeed, urbanization has invaded most of our cities which brought out numerous problems. One is improper solid waste disposal, which becomes an environmental threat for us Filipinos due to the previous calamities that caused severe casualties. Another effect of urbanization is inadequate space for planting various crops, herbs and ornamentals. Unfortunately, the concept of “bahay kubo” is not anymore applicable in urban setting because all you can see are cements and firewalls, instead of nutrient-rich vegetables at your backyard. Thus, families have no direct access on the health and nutritional benefits of freshly harvested vegetables, fruits and herbs.

To address problems on garbage, food security and nutrition, the concept of Urban Gardening came into the picture. Through Urban Gardening, empty containers are being utilized as receptacle for the planting media so that any person can grow his or her own vegetables, fruits and herbs within their household despite of inadequate space.

But how can we grow a healthy plant with small amount of soil?

Read more ...

IDG projects in various regions validated and assessed

idg-projectsIn its effort to improve the institutional capabilities of the overall R&D system, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is implementing the Institutional Development Grant (IDG) program. The IDG program strengthens the R&D capabilities of the National Research and Development System for Agriculture and Fisheries (NaRDSAF) member institutions through funding support for the acquisition of modern laboratory equipment and information technology wares, and for the construction and renovation of R&D facilities.

To make certain that these projects are in sync with the terms and conditions specified in the approved proposal and to assess the physical condition of R&D facilities and equipment, the Institutional Development Division (IDD) carried out a series of validation and assessment of IDG projects for CY 1999-2011 in various regions. These include: Regions 6, 7, 11, and 12. “Let us upgrade the DA research facilities such as research stations, stock farms, and experimental stations because they serve as mirror images of our department in every locality”, said Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala during the 2012 Management Committee Meeting. He added that “making them centers of technology to be disseminated among farmers and fisherfolk is one of our priorities.”

Led by IDD OIC-Head Digna L. Sandoval, the team identified the R&D needs of the various institutions. The team was composed of IDD staff members: Elvira S. Rapada, Marjorie S. Mosende, Rommel O. Obias and France Gayzel F. Caceres.

“The marching order of Secretary Alcala to upgrade the countries' research centers has been our thrust to intensify and reinforce the modernization of R&D facilities nationwide,” said Ms. Sandoval. In March, the team visited various sites in Region 6. These included: DA-RFU Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Center (WESVIARC); Research Outreach Station (ROS) at Sta. Barbara, Iloilo and Patnongon, Padang, Antique; BFAR Regional Office VI; University of the Philippines Visayas; and BPI National Mango Research and Development Center at Guimaras. After discussing with the projects-in-charge, the team affixed BAR IDG stickers on all the items purchased under the project and informed them that there should be a commemorative marker at the front of the infrastructures recognizing BAR as funding source.

In April, several sites in Region 7 were visited including the Bohol Experiment Station; Ubay Stock Farm; Agricultural Program Coordinating Office (APCO) at Dumaguete City; San Jose R&D Center; Office of the Provincial Agriculturist at Piapi, Dumaguete City; Siquijor R&D Center; Mandaue Experiment Station; Southern Cebu Farming Systems R&D Station; and BFAR-Regional Fisheries Research and Development Center (RFRDC) VII.

In this monitoring, the team observed that most stations are well maintained and fully utilized. To further strengthen the capabilities of some stations that did not yet receive funding from the bureau, they suggested that the centers submit an IDG proposal.

Monitoring of Regions 11 and 12 was held in July. Sites visited included the BFAR-RFRDC XI; University of Southeastern Philippines Davao and Tagum City campuses; BPI-Davao National Crop Research and Development Center; DA-Southern Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Research Center (SMIARC); DA-Central Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CEMIARC); University of Southern Mindanao; and Mindanao State University General Santos City campus.

With the upgrading of these research centers in the country, it has become possible for researchers to conduct more relevant and appropriate experiments and generate technologies that will benefit the farmers and fisherfolk. ### (Jacob Anderson C. Sanchez)