Hybridization program to improve coconut production in CALABARZON

A coconut hybridization project continues to improve coconut production in CALABARZON. 

Titled, “Performance Evaluation of the 2-pronged Coconut Hybridization Scheme in  CALABARZON,” the project ensures availability of coconut hybrids for the Philippine Coconut Authority’s (PCA) massive coconut planting and replanting program in CALABARZON. Likewise, it capacitates extension workers and farmers with the assisted and directed natural hybridization technology.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) is providing funds to this project that is being implemented by PCA-Region IV under the supervision of  PCA Deputy Administrator for Research and Development Erlene C. Manohar.

Accomplishments of the project were recently reviewed in a virtual meeting organized by DOST-PCAARRD.

About 8,197 planting materials of PCA 15-10 (Tacunan Dwarf x Laguna Tall) hybrid, the  variety best suited for sap production, have been harvested from project sites in Quezon. Almost 40% of these were already distributed to 15 farmers and field-planted in 25.5 hectares in Quezon, Cavite, and Laguna. Likewise, planting materials were given to an interested farmer in Torrijos, Marinduque. It was observed that the produced hybrid nuts are significantly robust, have thicker girth, and good vegetative growth.

According to the project’s S&T Consultant, Dr. Violeta N. Villegas,, the replanting of the old and senile palms will improve the country’s coconut production and consequently improve farm income and the lives of coconut farmers.

With increasing demand for emerging high-value products in the global and domestic markets, Ms. Manohar said that the planting of hybrids is seen as the answer to the industry’s pursuit towards global competitiveness.

Project team members from PCA-Region IV and PCA-Zamboanga Research Center, as well as the Crops Research Division representatives led by its Director, Dr. Edna A. Anit participated in the review (Alissa Carol M. Ibarra, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).


DOST & MOST-China approves joint R&D projects for implementation in 2021

A virtual launch on the announcement of the projects to be implemented under the DOST-MOST JRP will be hosted by DOST last 24 February 2021 via Zoom. The event was graced by DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara, Assistant Secretary Leah J. Buendia, DOST Council Executive Directors, representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, and project leaders from both the Philippines and China.

The virtual launch formally announced the DOST and MOST approved eight (8) proposals for 2021 funding under the inaugural offering of the DOST-MOST Joint Research Program (JRP) that covers areas from health, agriculture, and renewable energy.

Topping the list of approved projects is the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) “Green Oil and Phytochemicals from Cashew”, to be implemented with its counterpart from the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Below, in no particular order, are the other projects that will be implemented under the same cooperation scheme.

The JRP was recently launched as part of both agencies’ commitment to strengthen the S&T partnership of Philippines and China under the signed Memorandum of Understanding on S&T Cooperation last August 2019.  The Call for Proposals for the DOST-MOST JRP was released last May 2020, and was able to solicit a total of 37 capsule proposals submission from Filipino researchers all over the Philippines, and was further reviewed and matched with MOST to come up with the 8 proposals for funding and implementation. Each project will be implemented in a span of 2 years, and will have an annual R&D fund of up to Php 8,000,000 for the Philippine side and RMB 1,000,000 for the Chinese side.


DOST-FPRDI preserves priceless wood samples thru digitization

Treasures come in many forms and sizes.

For the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute‘s (DOST-FPRDI), a “treasure” may be an assortment of wood blocks that for many years now have been contributing to archaeology, the wood-using industries, and the country’s anti-illegal logging campaign. The oldest of these blocks is 117 years old.

The DOST-FPRDI’s Herbarium and Xylarium (Wood Library) houses around 20,000 wood samples gathered from both local and foreign sources. A go-to place for archaeologists, foresters and students for their wood identification needs, it has the most complete wood collection in the Philippines with more than 4,000 tree species to date, and about 108 contributing countries.

The oldest wood sample at FPRDI’s Xylarium is a 1903 Yakal collected in Tayabas, Quezon by W.H. Wade

“After the American occupation in the early 1900s, American experts left their collection of wood specimens gathered from their exploration of Philippine forests at the then Bureau of Forestry. During World War II, it was transferred to the Philippine Forest School (now UPLB-College of Forestry and Natural Resources), then to the DOST-FPRDI,” recalled Forester Glenn B. Estudillo of the Institute’s Material Science Division- Anatomy and Forest Botany Section.

“This is a very rare and valuable collection since some of the collected species no longer exist in the natural forests. We have to protect them because it will be hard to stockpile and impossible to replicate this collection again,” he said.

To better preserve the wood collection, DOST-FPRDI experts have recently began digitizing each sample. The process involves an inventory of the specimens and capturing high-resolution (20x) images using a digital microscope. The information and photos are uploaded and a QR code is assigned to each specimen for indexing and easy access.

For. Estudillo examines a wood sample using a digital microscope.
A quick scan of the QR code will generate information such as the scientific, local and family names, voucher number, wood sample’s place of origin, name of the person who collected it, and date of sampling.

“Every time we identify a piece of wood, we cut a thin portion off the sample. Doing this repeatedly will eventually ‘shrink’ the samples. Digitization will allow us to identify the wood species while preserving the wood blocks,” explained Estudillo.

Wood identification is the scientific process of establishing the identity of a wood specimen based on its anatomical, physical and structural properties.

“With the aid of highly-magnified photos, one can identify the species faster and more accurately than simply using the naked eye and a hand lens. Digitization also allows for greater accessibility because anyone with an internet connection and a smart phone will be able to access DOST-FPRDI’s digital wood library,” he shared.

The Institute’s wood identification service has been instrumental in the government’s anti-illegal logging campaign as it serves as basis for charges filed against loggers and shipowners that transport illegally-cut timbers.

Assigning a QR code to each wood sample is an idea that For. Estudillo co-developed with his son Aeron Casey.

It also helps archaeologists understand how our ancestors lived by identifying wood specimens recovered from their study sites. Likewise, it is crucial to clients in the construction, furniture and handicraft sectors who need assurance on the identity of their wood materials.

Estudillo concludes “In this digital age, DOST-FPRDI promises to adapt in order to preserve these priceless specimens. We are currently in the process of completing the digitization while also applying for a copyright. We hope to share our digital wood library to the public soon.” ### (Apple Jean M. de Leon)