• Translating science research to farming communities

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    MY one and a half days at the 27th NOMCAARRD Regional Symposium on Research and Development was a fulfilling one. It took me away from daily emails and web search; perhaps from a student biting fingernails on an unfinished research proposal for which half of a month’s leave to beat a lecturer’s deadline gave up all dreams for an extended vacation back to her town in the north. Or another of her kind such as a young engineer, inquiring what extra assignment he could do to make up for the allowed one absence in a trimester, unwillingly invoked because of systems breakdown in his department which he had to help bring back to equilibrium.

    The Symposium was much unlike the almost daily exchange with colleagues in my ten square feet office stacked with one might say, the documented world of internationalization attempts, some materialized, others waiting on the wings and one or two, to be simply archived as the offers are too impractical. This maiden position in a University preparing for Asean integration keeps me reaching out for links through its attached external relations role–pending files stacked for the meanwhile waiting to be labeled during a welcomed lull.

    Several decades old, NOMCAARRD is the Northern Mindanao Consortium for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development, a strong partner of PCAARD–the Philippine national consortium counterpart which awards operating and research budgets to the NOMCAARRD. Most of the research studies outsourced their research funds locally and abroad, and partly from their respective host agencies.For an indefinite period of years, its home is lodged in state universities, this time, already for a number of years, at the Central Mindanao University in Musuan, Bukidnon – a university town having the second largest track of 3,080 ha after that of UP Los Banos’15,000 ha <Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.> Its president, Dr. Maria Luisa R. Soliven is distinguished to be its first lady president since it received in 1965 its charter (R.A 4498) as the Central Mindanao University (CMU). CMU’s Research Director, Dr. Maria Estela B. Detalla is currently the able director of NOMCAARRD.

    The Symposium was the 27th region-wide gathering for the presentation of research studies that were pre-qualified by the respective research and development committees of the competing academic and NOMCAAARD-related agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. During this show of academic excellence in research, a panel of judges are invited to choose the top three for every category – those which are by professional researchers such as those from research units of government agencies and higher education institutions, defended dissertations, capstones and posters which are by either professionals or research students. Evaluators for the research studies during that symposium were Dr. Feliciano G. Calora, Director of the Forestry and Environment Research Division of PCARRD, Dr. Lesley C. Lubos – Liceo de Cagayan University’s Director of Research and Publication and Dr. Mark Anthony J. Torres of the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).

    Several research studies lead to improving farming produce and therefore would help uplift the life of farming communities. This means that families would eventually be able to meet needs related not only on everyday subsistence but also education, more comfortable homes, enough funds to meet medical fees and prescriptions that ordinarily are way beyond their reach.

    One study tested varying elevation sites that produced better quality of fruits not only taste-wise but also longer shelf life. Still another was a status survey of fern species that are not only edible but are medicinal as well. This study led to the University setting up a fernery which served not only as a formal academic laboratory but also as a living “specimen” of a scientific and practical way of supporting the growth and conservation of fern species that have not only potential for creative economics and proven medicinal properties, but also are endangered.

    On organic farming, two studies funded by the Department of Agriculture, focused on pest management technology drawn from plants. The first, drew a pesticide from the sunflower found to be effective on eggplant production. Being host specific, the study suggested regular scouting and monitoring for its use to prevent pest outbreak. Marketable yield analysis was found to increase over 38 percent in one farm and over 60 percent in another.
    Actual training of the farmers in the research sites was conducted. The farmers admitted that producing their own bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides from certain plants growing readily in their farms which they regarded as mere weeds was an eye opener for them.
    Recommendations include pest technology management (PTM) dissemination to farmer communities through radio, flyers, hands on training in bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers processing. The second study was PTM on cucumber, cabbage, pole sitao besides eggplant.
    Compared to using synthetic pesticides, increase in percentage of marketable yield of the various vegetables ranged from 30 percent to 60 percent. Like the other study, it recommends monitoring and proper identification of pests to enable farmers to apply the correct bio-pesticide and at the right time. This latter further recommends the establishment of a nursery for the source of raw materials, giving incentives to certified organic farms, village-level bio-pesticides processing and lectures on effective agri-business management. For further inquiries on said studies, you may please contact DOST Region X.

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    Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon,PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature. She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Britain and Japan. She is now the Vice-President for External Relations and Internationalization of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro) after serving as its VP for Academic Affairs for six and a half years concurrent to her ten years as dean in the Graduate Studies of the same university. She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education.

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    2 Comments

    1. Teresita T. Tumapon on

      Let’s encourage more of such down to earth research that will be in the service of rural revitalization.

      I’m glad (and I do hope he reads this) that one of the Commissioners of the Commission in Higher Education (CHED) is Dr. Ruperto Sanggalang – formerly a president of a state agricultural HEI. I rest my hope to a good extent on his helping with initiatives in academe to serve more farming communities with evidence-based knowledge.

    2. Eddie de Leon on

      The Aquino government has neglected the agricultural sector! This neglect is criminal and a traitororous act against our people.