• Farmers use fungi species to boost production

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    BAGUIO CITY: A fungi species tested to suppress soil borne diseases is being reproduced for farmers who are engaged in vegetable production in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

    The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has been reproducing the fungi of the trichoderma species cultured through laboratory procedures using rice hull, according to Teresita Mangili, a BPI researcher.

    A study on the effective use of trichoderma species started in BPI in 2003 against nematodes, small worm-like parasitic organisms that infect potatoes.

    The use of the fungi species was first tested in organic farms in Buguias, Benguet province. The species was also tried in strawberries and was found to be effective in preventing the spread of soil-borne diseases.

    Throughout the years, farmers benefited from the use of the trichoderma species, using the fungi species to combat plant diseases instead of commercial pesticides.

    Research on the effective use of the said species is important because it is a bio-control material isolated in the soil, which does not pose any threat to humans, Mangili said.

    Trichoderma species is also found to prevent club root, a disease which causes massive swelling, distortion and severely retarded growth common in crucifers such as cabbages. There is no pesticide yet manufactured to counter the plant disease.

    It is also used as soil enhancer that boosts the microbial activity in the soil and increases nutrient plant intake.

    According to Mangali, the BPI is mass-producing the species for the use of farmers mostly from Sagada, Mountain Province. Farmers in Buguias, Atok and Kabayan in Benguet province and Bauko in Mountain Province are already using the trichoderma species in vegetable production.

    Jeffrey Sotero, Tublay Municipal Agriculture Officer, who started using the fungi last year, observed that the fungi species also induced the decomposition of compost mixture.

    While it enriches soil, it also enhances plant growth, which serves as a supplement to plant needs, Sotero noted. He applied it in his farm, which produces lettuce, beans, garden pea, and cucumber.

    BPI assisted the Benguet local government for the establishment of a mini-laboratory for the mass production of the trichoderma species. Two laboratories are also expected to be established in Buguias and Bauko, Mangili said.

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