The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) has come up with three types of organic solutions for controlling pests and fungi, which all have promising potential for mass use in the country.

“These three ‘emerging technologies’ are a product of the continued research and development (R&D) of PhilMech into non-chemical solutions for use in farming. Once these technologies are fully commercialized, the Philippines can improve the quality and safety of its food products,” said PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing.

The three “emerging technologies” of PhilMech in the field of bio-control for pests and fungi are Biofungicide Th-DGA02, Biofungicide 8a-DGA14, and Biopesticide Piper betle L. After thorough testing with the R&D collaborators of PhilMech, any of the three technologies can be readied for commercialization in the next few years.

Biofungicide Th-DGA02 is a formulation containing biologically pure culture of Trichoderma harzianum that has strong anti-fungal properties, and during lab tests has shown effectiveness against the banana crown rot disease. Meanwhile, Biofungicide 8a-DGA14 is from a biologically pure culture of a novel strain of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens DGA14, and can be used to inhibit the fungi that causes the banana crown rot disease.

On the other hand, Biopesticide Piper betle L is a volatile oil extracted from Piper betle leaves in 30-percent dust formulation. It is effective against the cowpea beetle which can destroy bean harvests; lesser grain borer which can damage grains; and the corn weevil which targets corns and other grains.

Bingabing said PhilMech developed the three organic-based controls as the agency’s contribution to make food products safer for consumption in the Philippines, and to help boost the exports of bananas to other countries.

“Today, the most widely used measure to control the banana crown rot disease and pests found in uncooked food products is to use chemical solutions. However, the long-term health implications of using chemicals to control fungi and pests in farm products cannot be ignored,” Bingabing said.

He added that PhilMech continues to do research work on indigenous Philippine plants that can possibly have active ingredients that can help control common pests and fungi in food products.

Earlier investigations by PhilMech showed a reduction of fungal and insect activities when extracts from native plants like Bituon, Bangbangsit, Anobrang, Hagonoy and Bayating were tested on grains that were stored.

The biocontrol agents developed by PhilMech can be very useful for organic farming practitioners. Organic products are becoming popular because more people are opting to consume chemical- and pesticide-free products which are safer and more environment friendly. This is also in support of the National Organic Agriculture Program of the DA. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcal is the main author of the Republic Act No. 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, which provides for the development and promotion of organic agriculture in the country.