Philippine Standard Time
Researchers to produce bioplastic films using nanocellulose from BANDALA abaca fibers
Featured

Researchers to produce bioplastic films using nanocellulose from BANDALA abaca fibers

Backcross Abaca with Native and Desirable Accessions to Lift Up the Abaca Industry (BANDALA) abaca hybrid. (Image credit: CRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

A new research initiative aims to produce eco-friendly bioplastic films reinforced with nanocellulose derived from the Backcross Abaca with Native and Desirable Accessions to Lift Up the Abaca Industry (BANDALA) abaca hybrid.

The project, “Application of Cellulose Nanocrystals Extracted from BANDALA Fiber as Reinforcement Material in Starch-Based Bioplastic Film,” is implemented by the Forest Products Research and Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-FPRDI) with funding support of DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).

BANDALA is an abaca hybrid developed by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) that has resistance to the abaca bunchy top virus (ABTV). With this, the project will explore its potential use for bioplastic film production as a value-adding product from BANDALA fibers.

Led by Dr. Anniver Ryan P. Lapuz, the project team will assess the effect of pulping and bleaching to the cellulose pulp from BANDALA fibers, characterize the properties of the extracted cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), test different CNC amounts in starch-based bioplastic films, and determine the production costs of CNC and CNC-reinforced starch-based bioplastic films.

According to Dr. Lapuz, the bioplastic film that will be developed by the project could serve as an alternative to synthetic or petroleum-based plastic films, which can help reduce plastic waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

The project will be implemented for 2 years. It is expected to benefit abaca and cassava farmers, abaca traders, researchers, and the pulp, paper, and plastic industries.

The project officially kicked off during an inception meeting organized by DOST-PCAARRD led by Deputy Executive Director for Administration, Resource Management and Support Services (ARMSS) Melvin B. Carlos, along with Crops Research Division (CRD) Director Leilani D. Pelegrina, in UPLB, Los Baños, Laguna.

DOST-PCAARRD, DOrSU’s Coco-HULIP project to boost sustainable coconut farming in Davao Oriental
Featured

DOST-PCAARRD, DOrSU’s Coco-HULIP project to boost sustainable coconut farming in Davao Oriental

A five-year-old PCA 15-2 (MRD x TAGT) hybrid coconut planted in Banaybanay, Davao Oriental. (Image credit: CRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

A research project recently commenced to further optimize Davao Oriental’s hybrid production towards productive and sustainable coconut farming.

Currently, there are no available recommendations for high yielding coconut hybrid varieties that are widely adaptable to the agroecological conditions of the province.

To address this gap, Davao Oriental State University (DOrSU) will implement the project, “Coconut Hybrid Utilization in the Locality for Improved Productivity (Coco-HULIP) in Davao Oriental,” under the leadership of Ms. Erna S. Macusi. The project will assess the adaptability and evaluate the productivity and efficiency of coconut hybrids towards sustainable coconut farming in the province.

Named after the Cebuano term ‘hulip,’ which means to replace, the three-year project also aims to promote the adoption of coconut hybrids to replace senile and typhoon-damaged coconut palms.

Crops Research Division (CRD) team visits one of the sites of the project, “Coconut Hybrid Utilization in the Locality for Improved Productivity (Coco-HULIP) in Davao Oriental.” (Image credit: CRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) funds the project through the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP) Coconut Hybridization Program (CHP) Research.

According to Ms. Macusi, local and small-scale coconut farmers will benefit from the project by receiving training on coconut hybrid production and seedlings of hybrid varieties as incentives.

The DOrSU project team will also establish coconut hybrid adaptability trial sites and produce reports on technical efficiency scores, productivity index, and factors affecting the efficiency of coconut hybrid production in the province.

Attendees of the inception meeting of the project, “Coconut Hybrid Utilization in the Locality for Improved Productivity (Coco-HULIP) in Davao Oriental.” (Image credit: CRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

During the inception meeting, DOrSU Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Extension Misael B. Clapano affirmed that the project demonstrates the university's active engagement in research initiatives that will increase coconut farmers’ income, boost Davao Oriental’s local economy, and achieve the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as no poverty, zero hunger, and sustainable cities and communities.

DOST Region XI representative Sharon B. Mendoza-Alegado and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Region XI Regional Manager Juvy T. Alayon also expressed their willingness to collaborate with the DOrSU team toward achieving the project’s objectives.

The meeting was led by CRD Director Leilani D. Pelegrina, Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) Manager for Coconut Alissa Carol M. Ibarra, and other key staff.

Following this, the DOST-PCAARRD team visited one of the project sites planted with PCA 15-2 hybrid (Malayan Red Dwarf x Tagnanan Tall) in Banaybanay, Davao Oriental.

DOST, DOST-PCAARRD conduct workshop to strengthen Philippine coconut research
Featured

DOST, DOST-PCAARRD conduct workshop to strengthen Philippine coconut research

A coconut research and development (R&D) planning and workshop was recently organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) to harmonize the R&D initiatives and strategies of relevant national government agencies (NGAs) and state universities and colleges (SUCs).

A total of 73 officials and representatives from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Visayas State University (VSU), and DOST-PCAARRD joined the activity.

The participants identified the gaps, challenges, and researchable areas in biotechnology and breeding, cultural and postharvest management, and insect pest and disease management to establish a national coconut R&D roadmap.

DOST-PCAARRD’s Executive Director Reynaldo V. Ebora delivers his opening message during the Coconut R&D Planning and Workshop held in Calamba, Laguna. (Image credit: CRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

This roadmap will provide direction and focus for coconut research—bridging gaps with science and technology (S&T) toward a sustainable, resilient, and progressive coconut industry.

Moving forward, it will be further discussed with S&T consultants to ensure that the industry needs will be addressed. 

During the program, DOST-PCAARRD Executive Director Reynaldo V. Ebora emphasized the crucial role of the coconut industry in the Philippine economy and highlighted the need for unified, science-based efforts to address the industry's challenges.

Echoing this, PCA Deputy Administrator (DA) for R&D Roy T. Devesa stressed the program’s importance in aligning initiatives, harnessing people and resources, and establishing a cohesive vision for the industry’s advancement. 

Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) Manager for Coconut Alissa Carol M. Ibarra facilitates one of the breakout sessions during the Coconut R&D Planning and Workshop. (Image credit: CRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

DA Devesa presented PCA’s coconut R&D initiatives in bioenergy and carbon accounting, integrated crop management and protection, varietal improvement, food and non-food products development, technology transfer, and intellectual property and commercialization.

Likewise, Ms. Maria Dara F. Realin and Dr. Maricel A. Leorna, representatives from UPLB and VSU, respectively, presented their agencies’ current coconut R&D initiatives.

DOST-PCAARRD Deputy Executive Director for R&D Juanito T. Batalon closed the program, assuring the agencies of the Council’s continuous support in achieving shared goals for the growth of the coconut industry.

Crops Research Division (CRD) Director Leilani D. Pelegrina, Assistant Director Sharie Al-Faiha A. Lubang, and Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) Manager for Coconut Alissa Carol M. Ibarra led the activity.

DOST-PCAARRD participates in an international project on climate change impacts in tropical fruit production
Featured

DOST-PCAARRD participates in an international project on climate change impacts in tropical fruit production

Mr. John Benrich Zuniga from the Forestry and Environment Research Division (FERD) during the country report presentation held last May 30, 2024. (Image credit: FERD, DOST-PCAARRD)

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) takes part in an international collaborative project, “Tropical Fruit Consortium-Addressing climate change impacts on tropical fruit production and strategies of adaptation and mitigation (DFNet III),” spearheaded by the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center (FFTC). 

The DFNet III project aims to discuss and identify mitigation strategies for addressing the impact of climate change on smallholders in tropical fruit production. One of the project’s major outputs is a compendium of best practices tailored to farmers in the Asia Pacific Region and recommendations for promotion and dissemination.

Core group members visiting a durian farm/plantation (left) and banana plantation (right) in Uttaradit, Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Image credit: FERD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Mr. John Benrich M. Zuniga from the Forestry and Environment Research Division (FERD) represented DOST-PCAARRD as one of the core group members. Another core member representative from the Philippines is Dr. Bong Salazar of the Institute of Crop Science (ICropS), College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). The core group members of the project include 22 participants from nine countries: Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam. 

Earlier this year, there have been a series of field visits to immerse the core group in actual field situations and experience firsthand, the challenges of tropical fruit farmers in the context of climate change. The field visit in Chiang Mai, Thailand last March 20–24, 2024 focused on the following commodities: durian, mango, rambutan, cacao, banana, and longan. Most of the visited orchards are owned by smallholder farmers showcasing exemplary agricultural practices, low-carbon farming, and other adaptive practices.

FFTC and core group members during the open forum/country presentation and discussion. (Image credit: FERD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Last May 30, 2024, Mr. Zuniga presented the updated country report for the Philippines focusing on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies and technologies of tropical fruit industries. Among the highlighted DOST-PCAARRD programs are Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines (SARAi) and climate change technologies under the Industry Strategic Science and Technology Programs on cacao, mango, banana, and Queen pineapple. In terms of the mitigation aspect, solar-powered greenhouses and low-emission technologies have also been highlighted. 

Several field visits to other countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are being planned with the core group members until 2026. The aim is to document improved methods/strategies to adapt to climate change impacts in different countries. 

At the end of the DFNet III project, a compendium will be developed that will highlight strategies, technologies, and best practices for climate change adaptation and mitigation in tropical fruit production specifically catering to smallholder farmers.

DOST-PCAARRD joins the IUFRO World Forest Congress 2024, wins Best Poster Award
Featured

DOST-PCAARRD joins the IUFRO World Forest Congress 2024, wins Best Poster Award

Mr. John Benrich Zuniga of the Forestry and Environment Research Division (FERD) of DOST-PCAARRD receiving the best poster award from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) President John Parrotta. (Image credit: FERD, DOST-PCAARRD)

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) participated in the 26th International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Congress held on June 23–29, 2024 in Stockholm, Sweden. Mr. John Benrich M. Zuniga of the Forestry and Environment Research Division (FERD), presented two papers and won the best poster award under Theme 4: Forests for Sustainable Societies. 

The winning paper, “Strengthening Intersectoral Convergence in the Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) of Abandoned Brackishwater Fishponds in the Philippines,” highlights the strategies to mainstream institutional convergence among relevant agencies and the participatory governance with local community in implementing EMR. 

The paper is part of Mr. Zuniga’s Master’s thesis supported by the DOST-PCAARRD under the  Thesis/Dissertation Assistance program monitored by the Institution Development Division (IDD). The study is also part of the completed project, “Ecological Mangrove Restoration of Abandoned Brackishwater Fishponds in the Philippines,” implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB). Mr. Zuniga was a former project staff of the said DOST-PCAARRD-funded project. 

Mr. Zuniga presenting two poster research papers during the IUFRO World Congress. (Image credit: FERD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Mr. Zuniga also presented the paper, “Complementing Natural Regeneration with Actual Planting: A New Approach to Mangrove Rehabilitation in the Philippines,” which also piqued the interest of fellow researchers in the congress.

Participation in the congress served as a platform to further develop ecological mangrove restoration in the Philippines through open forums that welcomed recommendations from scientists. 

The IUFRO World Congress was attended by around 5,000 participants from more than 100 countries, making it one of the largest global forest events in the world. Held every 5 years since 1893, the Congress gives a unique opportunity to gather leading scientists and top leaders worldwide to contribute and co-create a sustainable future within forestry, climate, and society—aligned with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Best poster awardees from 16 different themes and divisions in the congress. (Image credit: FERD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Thus, it was further noted that the congress’ objectives are aligned with the priority areas of DOST-PCAARRD’s Forestry and Environment sub-sector. As a way forward, the Council’s possibility of being an official member of IUFRO, to be represented by FERD, will be explored and proposed. This will provide a venue to strengthen and widen the international network/linkage of DOST-PCAARRD with worldwide researchers and organizations igniting possible collaborations in the future.

The attendance at the congress was supported by DOST-PCAARRD’s Foreign Travel Fund (PFTF) and was facilitated by the Policy Coordination and Management Division (PCMD). Additional support was also provided by the Office of the Executive Director for Administration, Resource Management and Support Services (OED-ARMSS) through the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF).