DOST projects to address impacts of ‘Odette,’ Covid-19 on crop sector

PhilRootcrops-VSU distributes sweetpotato planting materials in Southern Leyte.

Typhoon Odette in 2021 and the height of Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 have damaged and adversely affected farmers and communities.

To help the farmers and communities recover their livelihood sources, the Crops Research Division (CRD) of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) recently launched two projects.

Coconut rhinoceros beetle

Odette damaged more than 6 million (M) coconut trees in Region 13, and 3 M trees in Region 8. The damage caused the proliferation of coconut rhinoceros beetles (CRB) in the regions.

CRB is a major insect pest of coconut, which damages the palm by chewing into the emerging fronds, feeding on the sap, and injuring the young growing tissues.

If not addressed properly, its damage will ultimately result in early nut fall and lower yield.

To curb the CRB infestation, project leader Johana C. Orense from the Philippine Coconut Authority’s Davao Research Center (PCA-DRC) said the CRB control strategies include using a biological control agent, called “green muscardine fungus” (GMF), and other pest management strategies.

The project will have mass distribution of 6,270 kilograms of GMF to 7,838 hectares of Odette-affected coconut plantations.

The training of agriculturists and farmers on integrated pest management of CRB to prevent future outbreaks will also be held.

At the same time, the Philippine Root Crop Research and Training Center of the Visayas State University (PhilRootcrops-VSU) project aims to address the unemployment and food shortage brought about by the pandemic.

Marlon M. Tambis, project leader from PhilRootcrops-VSU, said the project, “Enhanced Distribution, Nursery Establishment and Product Utilization of Rootcrops in Region 8 to Mitigate the Impact of Covid-19,” is a spin-off of their completed project in 2020.

PhilRootcrops-VSU will distribute planting materials of sweetpotato, cassava, yam and taro in several municipalities in Northern and Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran.

The project is also expected to generate sustainable livelihood opportunities for the communities in the target areas.

Through the initiative, PhilRootcrops will establish more rootcrop nurseries and production areas to sustain the supply of planting materials.

They are also planning to train the beneficiaries on various production and processing technologies to maximize the production and consumption of rootcrops.

CRD OIC, Dr. Allan B. Siano, expressed his gratitude to the project teams for developing quick response projects that will benefit the farmers and other stakeholders affected by natural hazards.

The two projects were discussed during a meeting attended by project team members and administrative staff from PCA-DRC, PCA-Albay Research Center, PCA-Region XIII, and VSU; and DOST-PCAARRD representatives, led by Siano and Ramon A. Oliveros, Supervising Science Research Specialist of the Office of the Executive Director-Administration, Resource Management and Support Services.

Image credits: PhilRootcrops-VSU , PCA Davao Research Center


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