Philippine Standard Time

2023 NSTW Green Economy conference highlights rainforestation and vegetable value chain projects

The 2023 National Science, Technology, and Innovation Week (NSTW) Green Economy Conference celebrated Philippine agriculture and natural resources’ efforts as it highlighted rainforestation and vegetable value chain projects at the Iloilo Convention Center on November 22, 2023.

Science and technology (S&T) immersive and sustainable projects in tree and vegetable farming presented great results in food security and in creating job opportunities in communities.

Visayas State University (VSU) Professor Marlito Jose M. Bande presented the outputs of the rainforestation project, reiterating the 33-year pursuit of this movement in the country. The project capacitated 74 rainforestation trainers and established more than 28 thousand hectares (ha) of demo farms managed by 11,955 farmer-adopters. The project was conducted in 22 sites with approximately 900-ha area.

Dr. Marlito Jose M. Bande presented VSU’s rainforestation project at 2023 NSTW. (Image credit: ACD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Dr. Bande explained rainforestation as a global technology in rehabilitating deforested watersheds using indigenous tree species to preserve rainforest biodiversity. The project reported impacts on habitat restoration, biodiversity conservation, community empowerment, provision of stable income, and high carbon sequestration potential.

On the other hand, VSU Professor Zenaida C. Gonzaga furthered the green economy discussion on vegetable value chains. She emphasized its role in the evolving market expectations in the Philippines.

With the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)-Good Agriculture Project (GAP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the collaborative project targeted increased capacity of vegetable supply chains in the Philippines to deliver quality vegetables. She mentioned vegetable quality, food safety, nutritional value, and price as the important qualifications for consumer demand.

Dr. Zenaida C. Gonzaga discussed the project on vegetable value chains at 2023 NSTW. (Image credit: ACD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Dr. Gonzaga added that the GAP approach detects vegetables as safe for consumption. GAP also produced pest-free and disease-control-resistant vegetables.

Soil microbial results collected from various samples in most pilot farms are marked safe from Escherichia coli. Crop microbial results from different pilot farms indicated that fruit-type vegetables -- tomato, sweet pepper, eggplant, bottle gourd, and green chili -- were generally satisfactory. In contrast, crop microbial results of leafy green vegetables -- lettuce, Chinese cabbage, and water spinach -- were unsatisfactory. In conclusion, the closer the plant parts to the ground, the more susceptible they are to contamination.

Moreover, key findings in irrigation microbials from various pilot farms in Leyte revealed that spring water in Cabintan, Ormoc is a safe source of water for irrigation, while surface waters from rivers, streams, and stagnant sources in Baybay and Mahaplag contained microbes above the contamination limit.

The Visayas Consortium for Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Program (ViCARP) led the Green Economy Conference themed, “Creating More Green Jobs through S&T: Toward Sustainable and Empowered Communities,” at the NSTW 2023.  The activity convened researchers, investors, students, and other key individuals from different fields in agriculture and natural resources sectors.