ACIAR and PCAARRD execs monitor horticulture projects in Leyte

Five projects under the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) Horticulture Program on Fruits and Vegetables were monitored recently to determine their results. 

Conducted at the Visayas State University (VSU) and Barangay Kilim, Baybay City, Leyte, the monitoring was led by PCAARRD Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora and Australian Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Mat Kimberley.

The team visited the soil fertility and crop nutrition trials at Farmville, VSU.

Dr. Rosario Salas of the Soils Project explained that the nutrient rate trial aims to determine optimum fertilizer rates that balance profitability without damaging the environment.

The team also interacted with undergraduate students and researchers of the vegetable integrated crop management (ICM) project site as they demonstrated affordable protected cropping structures such as the net covered low tunnel, house-type with plastic roof, and high tunnel.

At the VSU Department of Food Science and Technology, Dr. Roberta Lauzon, Processing Team Leader of the Tropical Fruits Project, showed the visiting team the different products derived from jackfruit and discussed the zero-waste processing of the commodity.

“The project was not only able to develop new products but also created livelihood opportunities for farmers and women cooperators,” Lauzon explained.

In a visit at the farm of Albert Rosillo, a Farmer Scientist and Cooperator of the Vegetable ICM project in Brgy. Kilim, Baybay City, Leyte, he reported that the protective cropping system has shown promising results.

The technology was introduced to Rosillo by the project team led by Dr. Zenaida Gonzaga of VSU and Project Leader Dr. Sandra McDougall.

Rosillo has more than four high tunnels. He considers cucumber as the best crop planted in the protective structure. He produced more than 2 tons in 30 harvestings of cucumber in about 800 m2 tunneled area, which is equivalent to approximately 25 mt/ha. The site demonstrated that good yield is possible with the said system even during rainy season where production risks are high. The Farmer Scientist also shared that the structure can withstand typhoons because of its removable plastic cover. The technology is considered suitable in building resilient farming communities in typhoon prone areas.

An exhibit organized by the team members followed the visits. The exhibit showcased the accomplishments and outputs of the project.  Its opening ceremony was highlighted by the launching of the July edition of ACIAR Partners Magazine featuring the Philippines Program. 

Dr. Remberto A. Patindol, VSU Vice President for Administration and Finance, expressed his gratitude to ACIAR and DOST-PCAARRD for funding the projects that led to the improved research capabilities and facilities of the University. With the program ending in 2018, he stressed VSU’s continued commitment to work with the two agencies for future collaborations on helping the poor farmers in the disaster-prone region.