By: Leah D. Domingo, SEARCA S&T Media Service

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna – Projects focused on improving production of organic vegetables were recently awarded by the Los Baños Science Community Foundation, Inc. (LBSCFI) during the R&D awarding and closing ceremonies of “Syensaya”, LBSCFI’s local celebration of the National Science and Technology Week.

The awards were presented recently at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture based inside the University of the Philippines Los Baños’ (UPLB) Campus.

clip_image002LBSCFI, originally called the Los Baños Science Community, is one of four science communities established by the Department of Science and Technology in accordance with the Presidential Executive Order No. 784 in 1982. It became a nonstock foundation in 2001 and is now composed of 23 Los Baños-based member-agencies that foster the spirit of sharing of resources and expertise.

New organic varieties

 For this year’s edition, the LBSCFI R&D Awards recognized outstanding works in the agriculture, forestry and environment sectors R&D through its Philippine Agriculture and Resources Research Foundation, Inc. (PARRFI) Awards.

Winning in the research category was the project titled “Variety evaluation, on-farm trials and seed production of organic vegetables in Southern Luzon” by Dr. Rodel G. Maghirang and his team from the UPLB-Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB).

The pioneering project on organic vegetable breeding started in 2010 with funding from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

Tasked to develop vegetable varieties that will perform well under organic conditions and yield the same or more than commercial varieties, the project produced potential varieties of pole sitao, cucumber, lettuce, squash, tomato, and eggplant.

“Yield and overall performance of the developed varieties were observed to be at par or greater than the yield performance of commercial ones if grown under low input organic system. These organic varieties show promise to answer diversity, sustainability, and efficiency in crop production,” Dr. Maghirang said.

 More seeds, more organic farmers

clip_image004The winner in the development category was the project titled “Development of organic seed production system of lowland vegetables and legumes at the Bureau of Plant Industry-Los Baños National Crop Research and Development Center and strengthening partnership in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Bicol Region” implemented by Dr. Herminigilda A. Gabertan and her team from BPI- LBNCRDC.

The project devoted three hectares for the production of organic seeds of bitter gourd, bottle gourd, cowpea, cucumber, eggplant, mungbean, mustard, okra, pole sitao, soybean, sponge gourd, and tomato.

Moreover, the project partnered with organic farmers in the CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Bicol, providing on-site training on organic vegetable and seed production that benefitted 1,700 farmers.

Technical assistance and initial farm inputs were also given to encourage more farmers to practice organic farming.

In June 2013, the BPI-LBNCRDC was awarded the “Organic in Transition” seal by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines, making it the first government agency in the country to gain such certification.

 LBSCFI R&D Awards

The LBSCFI R&D Awards is now on its 15th year having started in 1990. It has has four component awards: F.S. Pollisco, F.O. Tesoro Technology Transfer, M.S. Swaminathan, and PARRFI.

The F.S. Pollisco Award gives due recognition to outstanding R&D works in forestry, while the F.O Tesoro Technology Transfer Award is for as its name suggests, for technology transfer R&D. The M.S. Swaminathan Award, on the other hand, is also for agriculture but includes agroforestry, biodiversity, natural resources management, and socio-economics.

The annual R&D Award is the highlight of SyenSaya’s closing ceremony. Syensaya, otherwise known as the Los Baños Science Festival, also offered an interactive science exhibit intended for the youth and a techno-forum for the general public during its three-day run, August 12–14.