Development of okra varieties for local and export markets shows promising results

An ongoing study in the development of improved okra lines for local and international markets showed promising results as reported by the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Institute of Plant Breeding. 

Okra or lady’s finger is considered to be one of the top export vegetables in terms of value and demand. 

“The five-angled type of okra has a vast potential as one of foreign exchange earners and counts for 66% of the total export of fresh vegetables,” project leader Claudette D. Oraye said. 

With this in mind, UPLB-IPB researchers proposed a project to identify okra breeding lines/genetic stocks with favorable qualities appropriate for the local and export markets. The local market prefers the smooth type while the export market (particularly Japan) prefers the 5-angled or star-shaped okra. 

The said DA-BAR-supported study also aimed to identify okra accessions with good nutritional quality and good quality based on farmers’ preferences during on-farm trials. 

Hybridization of okra accessions were done based on potential yield, overall performance, pest and disease resistance. Forty-six successful cross combinations from seven advance lines of okra generated from transplanted lines were noted.  A total of 661 breeding lines resulted in a series of generation advancement of okra lines. 

“Further crosses will be done to improve various traits such as stature, fruit quality, fruit color, and leaf lobing,” Oraye said. 

From the yield trials of advanced lines of smooth-type okra for the local market, the highest yielder was registered as okra ‘Dilag’ to the IPB Germplasm and Technology Registration and Release Office (GTRRO). ‘Dilag’ is high yielding, and has green, smooth, and good eating quality fruits.  Fruits also remain tender even at larger pod sizes. It is undergoing seed production prior to commercialization through the National Seed Foundation. 

From the yield trials of 5-angled okra, three breeding lines (OK 183767-2-0-0-5, OkC 20-2-0, OkC 20-15-0) were found to have higher yield compared to the other entries. Marketable fruits were tracked up to 10 cm without blemishes and freckles as compared to other fruits that are oversized, deformed, and with insect damages. 

Further yield trials will be done prior to registration of these lines to GTRRO. The project will also coordinate with the okra exporters for possible testing of these lines under Tarlac conditions. 

In support to DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant program, okra seeds and seedlings were distributed to residents of Los Baños, Bay, and Calauan, Laguna; and Padre Garcia, Batangas during the pandemic. 

A total of 324 seed packets and 250 seedlings were distributed to 125 individuals in Los Baños and Bay, 20 schools in Padre Garcia, and other individuals in the country. The said activities came as part of another DA-BAR supported project titled, Evaluation, Multiplication, and Promotion of Indigenous Vegetables. (### Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)