DOST, USM provide planting materials to Region 12 cacao nursery operators

Kabacan, COTABATO – The University of Southern Mindanao (USM) distributed molecularly verified cacao planting materials to cacao nursery operators as part of the Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) program, the Cacao R&D Center.

The program aims to identify genuine National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) varieties that need to be reproduced and distributed to nurseries and private farms. This will benefit the cacao nursery operators, growers, processors, and consumers.

 NICER is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) while the Cacao R&D Center is monitored by the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD).

In line with this, the program team led by USM Vice President for Research, Development, and Extension, Dr. Edward Barlaan, organized the ceremonial distribution of UF18 and BR25 seedlings that were molecularly verified and certified by the Bureau of Plant Industry – National Seed Quality Control Services (BPI-NSCQS). About 1,200 seedlings were distributed to 25 willing cacao nursery operators in Regions 11 and 12. During the ceremonial dispersal, more than 10 nursery operators from Region 12 received cacao seedlings that will serve as genetic stocks or mother plants in the nursery.

“This is more than a seedling. This is life, hope, and legacy,” Dr. Barlaan said. This program will boost the Philippine’s cacao industry by ensuring and promoting the propagation, utilization, and production of high yielding varieties of cacao.

The ceremony was formally opened by Dr. Francisco Gil Garcia, USM president. According to Dr. Garcia, with the establishment of the NICER Cacao R&D Center in USM, they are able to reach more cacao growers and farmers in order to share with them the latest research outputs and technologies on cacao. Increased productivity and profitability can be achieved through the use of quality and high-yielding cacao seedlings.

With appropriate S&T interventions, such as provision of molecularly verified and BPI-certified cacao quality planting materials, high-quality, and massive cacao bean production is technically and economically feasible to meet local and global demands.

Notable persons who attended and expressed their support to the event were DOST Undersecretary for R&D Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, DOST-PCAARRD Executive Director Reynaldo V. Ebora, DOST Region 12 Director Sammy Malawan, DOST XI Regional Director Anthony Sales, and the Chairperson of the Philippine Cacao Industry Council, Consul Armi Garcia. Partners from DA, BPI, State Universities & Colleges (SUCs), together with cacao growers and nursery operators also graced the event.