Field testing of Carrageenan PGP in major rice and corn producing regions officially launched

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna –A project which will confirm the efficacy of carrageenan as a plant growth promoter (PGP) for rice and corn has officially begun in an inception meeting held recently.  

Key officials and experts from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), Department of Agriculture (DA), National Crop Protection Center of the College of Agriculture and Food Science of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (NCPC-CAFS, UPLB), and DA/DOST Regional Offices in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4a, 6, 9, and 11, have finalized the agreement during the meeting held at the DOST-PCAARRD headquarters.     

Titled, “Field Verification of Carrageenan Plant Growth Promoter (PGP) for Enhanced Growth and Induced Pest and Disease Resistance in Rice and Corn,” the project will conduct the field testing of Carrageenan PGP in major rice and corn producing areas of the country. 

 The project aims to improve rice productivity in the country and cut down production cost of Filipino rice farmers. It will focus on enhancing crop health and resiliency against pests and diseases of rice with the application of carrageenan PGP.

Carrageenan PGP, a technology developed by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI), was found to be high in potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), and calcium (Ca), which will help improve the growth, development, and immune system of rice.

To verify its effectiveness as a foliar spray, DA and DOST will closely work together in monitoring field test results in major rice producing regions of the country. 

The team will also test its efficacy to induce resistance against tungro virus in inbred rice, bacterial leaf blight (BLB) in hybrid rice, insect pests such as green leaf hopper (GLH), brown plant hopper (BPH), rice stem borer, cutworm, and armyworm. The influence on the population density of beneficial arthropods, which control rice pest population, will also be evaluated.

Dr. Gil L. Magsino, Director of NCPC-CAFS, UPLB will lead the implementation of the project while Dr. Lucille V. Abad, Chemistry Research Section Head of DOST-PNRI, will supply the carrageenan PGP for the seven regions. 

“Rice production can increase by 15–40% depending on the response of rice to the prevailing environmental conditions,” Magsino said.  

In testing the effectiveness of carrageenan PGP in corn, Magsino emphasized that only UPLB and Region 2 will serve as experimental sites. 

Magsino also encouraged the agriculture extension workers to train farmers on the use of the technology as this will help them in the long run.

Abad, on the other hand, explained that carrageenan PGP stabilizes at least one month after being processed. She added that the edible seaweeds used for its production are imported because of a law that bans its harvesting in the country.

With this project, farmers will use less or no chemical pesticides during the rice cropping season, hence providing them bigger profit. 

Dr. Candido B. Damo of DA Central Office is optimistic that DA-DOST researchers can deliver the project’s required outputs. 

Other representatives from DOST-PCAARRD, DA/DOST Regional offices and NCPC-CAFS, UPLB were also present in the activity.