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BAR-supported multi-purpose R&D Center for MAO in Tagkawayan inaugurated

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In an effort to enhance the delivery of agri-fishery services at the grassroots level, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) officially opened the newly-established Multi-Purpose R&D Center for the Municipal Agricultural Office (MAO) during its inauguration on 17 March 2016 in Tagkawayan, Quezon.

BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar, who served as the guest of honor and keynote speaker, underscored in his speech that BAR, through RA 8435 or Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), is investing on agricultural institutions such as the R&D Center in Tagkawayan so that the MAO are equipped with modern facility and they can provide better services to the farmers.

“The R&D facility will be a suitable workplace for researchers in producing and commercializing technologies to attain a safe, secured, and sustained food. It can also be used for conduct of trainings and seminars to disseminate low-cost technologies where farmers and fishers can take advantage of,” Dr. Eleazar said.

Strategically-located at the center of the municipality, the Center will serve as an agri-fisheries hub offering a dynamic mix of traditional practices and modern technologies, and free access to services offered by the MAO. It contains a laboratory for tissue culture and soil testing, meeting and training rooms, office of the municipal agriculturist and staff, and the local radio station of Tagkawayan that airs agri-fisheries news.

Present in the activity were Tagkawayan Mayor Jose Jonas A. Frondoso, Vice Mayor Veronica Masangkay, officials of the Sanguniang Bayan, MAO Rolando Mendoza, researchers, extensionists, and other members of the local government.

“We are thankful to the Department of Agriculture and BAR for providing funds to build this modern facility. Through this, we can improve our services to increase agri-fisheries productivity not only for Tagkawayan but also for the whole region” said Mayor Frondoso.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Masangkay expressed her full support to the initiatives of the MAO and suggested to revive citrus production. In response, MAO Mendoza said “the facility gave us additional confidence in performing our jobs, we promise to double our effort to increase agricultural productivity”.

After the program, Rev. Fr. Celso L. Baretto led the prayer and blessing of the building. This was followed by a ceremonial ribbon cutting and unveiling of the commemorative marker. The activity concluded with the traditional tossing of coins which is symbolic of abundance and success. ### (Jacob Anderson C. Sanchez)

First Phl integrated lab and R&D building in Region 2 now operational

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True to its promise of transforming the agriculture sector in Cagayan Valley (Region 2) into one of the most progressive sectors, the region is able to maintain its stature as one of the top producers of major agricultural products including corn, rice, legumes, among others. This is made possible through the leadership of the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 2 that focuses its efforts on providing and improving the quality of service delivery to its stakeholders particularly the local farmers.

With its battlecry, “Marun to Green”, DA-RFO 2 aims to have a complete turnaround on the run-down conditions of its facilities and devitalized its manpower into modern and competitive resource. “Marun” is an Ilocano word that means dilapidated while “Green” symbolizes transformation.

Regional Executive Director Lucrecio R. Alviar, Jr., envisioned that the region can achieve sustainable agricultural development if the facilities and support services given are responsive to the needs of the stakeholders. Thus, DA-RFO 2 continues to embark on programs and projects that will help them attain this vision.

Through a co-funding project with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the DA-RFO 2 was able to put up and upgrade its facilities, including the DA- Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Laboratory (DA-CVIAL) and the Research and Development (R&D) Division Building.

Funding support was made possible through the bureau’s Institutional Development Grant (IDG), a facility that is extended to member-institutions of the National Research and Development System in Agriculture and Fisheries (NaRDSAF) for the construction, upgrading, renovation, and/or acquisition of R&D facilities and equipment.

DA-CVIAL, a world-class diagnostic facility

It took five years before the idea of establishing a world-class diagnostic laboratory in Region 2 was finally realized. DA-CVIAL is now fully operational and is ready to provide various diagnostics services to the people of Cagayan Valley and other provinces in the country. DA-CVIAL is the first integrated, state-of-the-art, one-stop-shop diagnostic facility in the country. It is equipped with modernized laboratories and equipment and ithouses four major laboratories, namely: 1) Regional Soils Laboratory, 2) Regional Crop Protection Center, 3) Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, and 4) Regional Feed Laboratory.

The Regional Soils Laboratory provides technical information and analysis for soil, and fertilizer recommendations relative to soil condition and plant nutrient requirements to aid farmers in attaining the optimal benefits of soil and plant and environmental protection and preservation while the Regional Crop Protection Center provides adequate information and immediate control and solutions to problems on pests, plant diseases, nutritional disorders and pesticide injury for quality assurance and consumers protection from health hazards owing to indiscriminate use of pesticides. The Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory provides immediate and efficient diagnostic services in the reduction of the occurrence of major diseases and control disease outbreaks of livestock and poultry to ensure product safety and consumer welfare; and the Regional Feed Laboratory formulates and enforces product standards to ensure product quality, consumer safety and acceptability for both local and international markets.

With the establishment of DA-CVIAL, the regional office can now accommodate a larger number of clients with much lesser waiting period for testing and analysis. “We can assure you that this time we have an enhanced and competitive services compared before. Our equipment, our manpower, and our capability is more than doubled in terms of accuracy, capacity, and efficiency,” said Dir. Alviar. It is also targeted that CVIAL will be a research and training hubs for future laboratory technicians, researchers, and modernized farmers.

As of writing, it is said that the laboratory services are free of charge for backyard farmers/raisers and for barangay projects, and for special cases like disease and/or pests outbreaks.

R&D Division, seat of zonal research for agri and fishery

Aside from being the front liner for performing the functions of R&D planning, project coordination and implementation, monitoring and evaluation and, extension in Region 2, the R&D Division of DA-RFO 2 is also designated to be the seat of Zonal Research Center for Agriculture and Fisheries (ZRCAF) for Luzon and the Regional Research and Development and Extension Network (RRDEN).

ZRCAF is a consortium of research centers of DA-RFOs and BFAR from Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and CAR. It addresses cross-regional issues and problems in agriculture and fisheries R&D. On the other hand, RDEN is a network composed of five research outreach stations in Region 2, DA’s bureaus and attached agencies, the academe, local government units, and civil societies that focus on strengthening the direction of RDE agenda and programs in the region.

With the magnitude of tasks at hand, it is seen fit to have a complementary working facility that will support and facilitate the efficient and effective delivery of services to its stakeholders.

Through the funding support from BAR, the once worn-down R&D Building was replaced with a newly-constructed building, furnished with equipment needed to continuously serve the people of Cagayan Valley by producing quality outputs such as updated Regional Integrated Research and Development and Extension Agenda and Program, project proposals, promising and matured technologies, among others. ### (Diana Rose A. De Leon)

Potential of medicinal plants in IP communities studied

2016-01-bulek-plantTraditional medicine is being practiced as part of the culture of many indigenous groups in the Philippines. As defined by the World Health Organization, traditional medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.

In this regard, a group of researchers from the Mindanao State University led by Ms. Maria Luisa Cabrera studied ethno-pharmacological plants used by indigenous people communities in the SOCSARGEN region. The topic was discussed by Ms. Cabrera in a seminar series held at the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).

According to Ms. Cabrera, traditional medicine continues to persist especially among IP communities because of their belief that there is spirituality in the efficacy of floral resources as medicine. “Aside from that, it is because of easier accessibility to and availability of resources, high cost of medicines, and limited access to health care,” she added.

Supported by BAR, the study aimed at documenting the ethno-medicinal knowledge, practices, and resource assessment in the three IP groups, Blaan’s, Tboli’s, and Obo’s in SOCSARGEN, particularly in General Santos City, South Cotabato, and Sarangani Province; and prospecting for bioactive components from the traditional medicinal plants being used by the IP groups through ethno-botanical approach.

In the study, ethno-medicinal practices of the IP communities were described in terms of the kinds of diseases that are mostly being treated, method of preparation and application, and plant parts used. These ethno-medicinal claims were validated using appropriate analysis of the plant components, resulting to identification of phytochemical profiles and pharmaco-toxicological properties.

The study revealed that six ethno-medicinal plants utilized by the IP groups exhibit potential sources of novel antibiotic and anti-aging drug constituents. These were Canarium strictum (simbolo), Cinnamomum mindanaense (kaningel), Schefflera odorata Blanco (tamlang), Mentha suaveolens (bulok-bukay), Acmella grandiflora (bulek lumenge/toothache plant) and Diplodiscus paniculatus (blobo). Most of the plants were found to have alkaloids, steroids, and flavonoids, and majority of them have active antioxidants and antibacterial properties. “While the plants have presented remarkable single or multiple pharmaco-toxicological profiles in congruence with the IP claims, further pre-clinical screenings and testing are still needed for the development of drugs and natural products from these plant sources,” Ms. Cabrera said.

Through the Indigenous Plants for Health and Wellness Program, BAR supports initiatives that encourage Philippine biodiversity, including studies that involve health promoting values of various plant species, as well as better appreciation and utilization of plant resources to ensure plant conservation. ### (Anne Camille B. Brion)

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For more information about the study, please contact:
Maria Luisa Non Cabrera
Faculty, Science Department
Mindanao State University-General Santos City
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UPLB recycles landscape waste through newly-acquired technology

Waste ManagementIt is no doubt that the Los Baños campus of the University of the Philippines (UPLB) is one of the greenest in the country. With more than 14,000 hectares of real-estate holdings, UPLB offers its residents with cool, fresh air and countless scenic views that serve as an impressive backdrop for students and faculty busy going about their academics.

UPLB’s wide open spaces entail a great deal of maintenance. From the university’s forestry right down to its main gate, clean-up has yielded huge loads of landscape waste made up of tree branches, dried leaves, and grass. Prior to the university’s acquisition of new machinery, these heaps of debris were left at certain parts at the university to decompose or to be burned. Aside from being inefficient, these practices also disrupt the beautiful atmosphere UPLB is trying to maintain for its constituents. In light of UPLB’s Chancellor, Fernando C. Sanchez’s Jr. goal to make the campus a highly conducive, green environment for students, the university set out to buy new heavy equipment as efficient solutions to its problem on organic waste management.

UPLB university researcher and one of the project staff, Maria Charito E. Balladares, visited the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) to talk about such efforts. Balladares came in to discuss UPLB’s project titled “Technology Utilization of Landscape Organic Waste Materials for Crop Production.” The project was funded through a partnership between BAR and UPLB.

One of the new machineries that was acquired for the project was a wood chipper. This yellow piece of machinery reduces wood branches and trunks into the more manageable size of a wood chip. UPLB’s wood chipper can process branches and trunks up to 12 inches in diameter. The university was also able to acquire a debris loader. This machine works very much like a heavy-duty vacuum that sucks in heaps of dried leaves or cut grass and loads them onto a truck after it processes the waste in an attached shredder. The same goes with the wood-chipper, after the organic waste is processed by the machine, the product is loaded to a truck.

With new waste management practices brought about by the acquisition of heavy machinery, UPLB has also ventured into research as to how landscape organic waste can have extended new uses. Results of initial experiments show that there is great potential for wood chips, when decomposed together with other landscape organic wastes, to be a source of fertilizer and soil conditioner. Another use of wood chips would be as mulching material and UPLB’s edible landscaping team has been using the mulching material in their indoor exhibits, including the displays they build in partnership with BAR.

According to Balladares, mulching material lowers the need for plants to be watered as the mulch conserves water in the soil. It also eliminates the need for chemical weed killers or herbicides. Growth is further improved as mulching material can also loosen the soil’s density, leaving enough breathing space for air and water to reach the plant. Aside from using woodchips as mulching material, the project was also able to use woodchips as a medium for growing orchids. Balladares discussed the possibilities of woodchips to be an alternative for charcoal, coconut husks and fern chips used in growing orchids.

Ever since the university acquired their own wood chipper and debris in 2011, they managed to significantly decrease the waste needed to be disposed of and opened doors to relevant research. According to Prof. Norma G. Medina, assistant professor and project staff, further research is still continuing as to how they can fully utilize landscape organic waste materials and on how they can further improve the composting process. ### (Ephraim John J. Gestupa)

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For more information about the study, please contact:
Maria Charito Balladares
Crops Science Cluster, College of Agriculture
University of the Philippines Los Baños
Phone: +63 (49) 536-2227
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Adlay: A healthy, versatile food ingredient

Adlay grainStanding tall in the wild, adlay (Coix lacryma-jobi L.) can be easily overlooked due to its grass-like appearance that blends well with the other wild plants. But unlike weeds, the stem of adlay could grow from 1 to 3 meters tall (from 3 to nearly 10 feet). It bears tear-like shape grains which become the source of (staple) food of many indigenous people particularly in the highlands.

Adlay belongs to the family Poaceae or the grasses, the same family to which wheat, corn, and rice belong. It produces good yield in areas where rice and corn hardly grow like the highlands. Adlay can tolerate low pH, poor soil quality, water logging and is resistant to pests.

Adlay as a staple food crop has a good eating quality. Its grains which when matured are harvested, pounded, threshed, and winnowed, can be cooked and served steamed just like rice. As food source, adlay is as versatile as rice. It has a pleasant mild flavor making it a good ingredient in soups and broths. The grain can be ground into flour and used to make breads, pastas, and porridge. Its ground grains can be roasted and turned into coffee or tea and further processed and fermented into wine.

Just like its counterparts, rice and corn, adlay is highly-nutritious. In a chemical analysis provided by Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), a 100-gram serving of adlay is rich in carbohydrate (73.9 g), protein (12.8 g), and fat (1.0 g). It is also packed with other minerals including calcium (25 mg), phosphorus (43.5 mg), iron (5 mg), niacin (4.3 mg), thiamine (0.28 mg), and riboflavin (0.19 mg).

Given the crop’s potentials, which can complement the long-established major staples such as rice and corn, the Adlay Research and Development (R&D) Program was initiated. The program, which is being led by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), pushes for the development, utilization, and promotion of adlay as an alternative crop to our food staples, and as an additional source of income and livelihood in non-traditional corn and rice areas.

The bureau has initiated various activities to introduce the crop to the public and hopefully to champion it as a staple crop along rice and corn. Adaptability yield trials were initially conducted in the regions, followed by more trials implemented by DA Regional Field Offices (RFOs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), and now, even the private sector. These yield trials brought about the development of site-specific recommendations for different areas in the country.

With the sufficient supply of adlay seeds to expand its productions, the DA-RFOs have been developing and creating food products from adlay. This is still part of promoting the crop to the public highlighting its versatility as a food ingredient and its nutritive value providing rice-dependent consumers other food source of carbohydrates.

Across the regions, various adlay products have been developed and are now available to be tapped by the private sector for mainstream market. Among these products include: adsoy, gourmix, champorado, 3-in-1 coffee, nutrimeal, herbal coffee mix, breakfast cereal, wine, adlay pop, cracker, cereal bar, and polvoron.

These products were developed through the research initiatives of the R&D partners of the bureau with the hope of not only introducing adlay as a versatile food ingredients but more importantly, bringing these products to the awareness of the public and providing them alternative aside from the usual staple crops that we eat. ### (Rita T. dela Cruz)

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For more information about the study, please contact:
Project Monitoring and Evaluation Division
Bureau of Agricultural Research
Phone: (63) (2) 928-8505 local 3110