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Participants of the inception meeting of four R&D projects on coconut hybridization at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. (Image Credit: Crops Research Division, DOST-PCAARRD)

Coconut projects launched to ensure quality hybrid supply, capacitate stakeholders

Four projects focused on ensuring sustainable production of quality coconut hybrids, improving hybridization processing facilities, and capacitating coconut stakeholders were recently launched during a two-day inception meeting held in Los Baños, Laguna.

Monitored by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), the projects will be led by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and funded under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan’s (CFIDP) Coconut Hybridization Program (CHP) research component.

The program, “Identification of Promising Philippine Coconut Populations for Hybrid Production Using Next Generation Tools and Technologies,” with two component projects, will be implemented under the overall leadership of Ms. Mary Ann M. Abustan of the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB), College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS), UPLB.

The first project seeks to identify elite coconut populations based on their agronomic characteristics and molecular identities, while the second project will explore the proteomic profile of local coconut varieties toward the discovery of proteins and peptides. According to the program team, the results of the projects will be useful in developing hybrids with improved qualities and potential yield and in increasing Philippine coconuts’ value in various product applications.

Meanwhile, a non-R&D project, “Improvement of Coconut R&D Laboratory for Hybrid Production,” to be led by Mr. Speedy D. Crisostomo of IPB, CAFS targets to address the need for an efficient pollen processing facility to strengthen the hybridization activities in Luzon.

UPLB will also implement the project, “Building Capabilities in Designing Climate Resilient and Regenerative-Coconut-Based Farming Systems (CRR-CBFS): A Training of Trainers (ToT) Series in Support of Coconut Hybridization Program,” through the leadership of Dr. Edna A. Aguilar of the Institute of Crop Science (ICropS), CAFS. The project will engage and capacitate trainers from local government units, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), other State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), and farmer organizations from disaster-prone areas on mitigating climate risks and improving their coconut management practices.

During the meeting, Crops Research Division (CRD) Director Leilani D. Pelegrina emphasized that the projects are a testament to the long history of R&D partnership between DOST-PCAARRD and UPLB. She also encouraged the institutes to sustain their coconut research teams and further collaborate with other institutions in uplifting the coconut industry.

Also present in the activity were ICropS Director Eureka Teresa M. Ocampo, IPB Research and Extension Coordinator Maria Lea H. Villavicencio, PCA Research and Development Branch (RDB) Officer in Charge Ma. Celia M. Raquepo, DOST CALABARZON representative Aaron Joniel S. Carandang, PCA CFIDP Project Management Office (PMO) representative Roy Benedict P. Peralta, Balik Scientist Raymond F. Bader, and representatives from the UPLB Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension and Accounting Office.

The said activity was organized by DOST-PCAARRD, led by Dir. Pelegrina with key staff from CRD, including Industry Strategic S&T Program Manager for Coconut Alissa Carol M. Ibarra, Program Monitoring and Evaluation and Program-based Information System Section Head Sharie Al-Faiha A. Lubang, and Program Development and Resource Generation Assistant Head Ma. Cecilia S. Alaban. Personnel from the Technology Transfer and Promotion Division (TTPD), Institution Development Division (IDD), and Finance and Accounting Division (FAD) Accounting Section of DOST-PCAARRD also attended the event.

Following the inception meeting, the team visited the Genetics and Biochemistry-Analytical Services Laboratories and the Feed and Industrial Crops Section of IPB, UPLB.

DOST-PCAARRD representatives during the laboratory and field visit at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). (Image Credit: Crops Research Division, DOST-PCAARRD)