The municipality of Guiguinto in Bulacan is targeting to become the Garden Capital of the Philippines by 2022 through sustained development and promotion of its blooming billion-peso cutflower industry.
Incumbent Guiguinto Mayor Ambrosio Cruz Jr. said the construction of the P7.5-million Innovative Laboratory (iLAB) for Tissue Culture for Ornamental Plants in Guiguinto Garden City in Cloverleaf would boost the municipality’s stature as the fast-growing cutflower center of the country.
The laboratory is being established by the municipality in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), with each government agency shouldering half of the total cost.
The laboratory is expected to improve the locality’s conventional cutflower production practices to an advanced and faster way of tissue culture, Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said.
Through the tissue culture laboratory, local cutflower farmers could quickly generate identical mature offspring of one plant with desirable traits, which is applicable for commercial, large-scale production of plants, de la Peña added.
Other benefits of the laboratory, de la Peña said, are—production of plants without seeds; production of plants from seeds or stems that may otherwise have low chance of growing; novel hybrids; genetically modified plants with improved traits; and production of plants in sterile conditions with greatly reduced chances of transmitting disease, pests and pathogens.
“This [project] is a quid pro quo as the DOST would learn from our gardeners at the same time our gardeners would learn scientifically from the DOST,” Cruz said in a briefing for the BusinessMirror executives and journalists at Garden City in Guiguinto, Bulacan, on May 4.
Cruz disclosed that he plans to create a Guiguinto Garden Authority (GGA) that would be attached to the Municipal Agriculture Office to oversee and ensure the growth of the locality’s cutflower industry in the future.
The GGA would undertake necessary policy-making decisions and interventions to spur the development of its cutflower industry, which they aim to be considered as the Garden Capital of Southeast Asia, Cruz added.
“We are confident we are on-track [to become the Garden Capital of the Philippines by 2022]. In a scale of 1 to 10, I could say we are already at 7,” he said.
“Our name itself is a challenge to us. Guiguinto means ‘to be gold,’ and to be gold is to be No. 1,” he added.
The 2-hectare Garden City serves as the municipality’s showcase area on the advancement of its local cutflower industry.
At present, Cruz said they plan to convert 30 hectares to 50 hectares of the municipality’s rice fields into cutflower-propagation farms to further expand the land dedicated to gardening.
Cruz added that the local government is encouraging rice farmers to lease their rice fields to gardeners to earn more. He explained that farmers could earn P240,000 annually for leasing their land.
This amount, he said, is beyond the reach of Guiguinto rice farmers due to low palay yield. Cruz said the local government has convinced some rice farmers to lease 7 to 8 hectares.
Guiguinto is well-known for its horticulture business that is continually expanding, particularly the propagation and business of ornamental plants for landscape purposes, a briefing paper from DOST said. Currently, there are 86 registered garden plant farmers in the municipality, most of which are members of the Garden City Multipurpose Cooperative (MPC).
The municipality’s ornamental plant business alone has been estimated to be worth over P300 million.
With the great potential of ornamental-plant farming, the municipal government supports the promotion of the ornamental plant business by holding the annual Halamanan Festival and Landscape competition.
With the implementation of Republic Act 10816, or the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016, there is an increasing interest in the application of tourism in the field of agriculture or farming, the briefer said.
Following this interest, the DOST implemented the Science for the Convergence of Agriculture and Tourism Program, wherein identified farm sites are given technical assistance to prepare them in their certification as Farm Tourism sites by the Department of Tourism.
As one of the identified farm sites included in this program, the Garden City MPC are being provided with technological interventions for the capability building of their farmer-members.
In order to supplement this intervention, the DOST Central Luzon, in collaboration with the local government of Guiguinto, is planning to establish the tissue culture laboratory for ornamental plants and cutflowers at the Garden City Showcase Site.
The collaborative project of DOST Central Luzon and LGU Guiguinto, iLAB Garden City aims to provide technical assistance to the ornamental plant farmers in the municipality of Guiguinto through the establishment of a tissue culture laboratory intended for the research, development and propagation of ornamental plants.
Currently, the ornamental plant farmers in Garden City employ conventional farm practices such as cuttings, marcotting and grafting. However, such conventional practices have high mortality rates of transplants and may not be applicable for some ornamental plant species.
Specifically, the project is comprised of three components. First, the Guiguinto government will administer the construction of the building to house the laboratory as their counterpart in the project. Cruz said this could be startted within the year.
Second, the provision of necessary laboratory equipment and apparatus for the operation of the plant tissue culture laboratory. And, third, the employment of laboratory personnel and provision of necessary and appropriate technical trainings for the capability building of the laboratory personnel involved.
Image credits: Henry Ansaldo de Leon