Mak­ing R&D avail­able to all

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Live -

in­dus­tries, en­ter­prises, jobs and so­lu­tions to press­ing com­mu­nity and na­tional prob­lems.

Un­der the Cra­dle Pro­gram, the pri­vate sec­tor in­dus­try will iden­tify the prob­lem; and the HEI or RDI will un­der­take the re­search and de­vel­with op­ment, fund­ing from fund from DOST and has a du­ra­tion of two years. As the im­ple­ment­ing agency, Usep com­mits to come up with one pub­li­ca­tion on banana dis­eases early warn­ing sys­tem, one disease vi­su­al­iza­tion ap­pli­ca­tion soft­ware (DVA), one IEC ma­te­rial us­ing the DVA, and a patent for the DVA, said Val A. Quimno, the project leader. “This is an op­por­tu­nity to rein­vent the banana in­dus­try,” said Hijo Re­sources CEO Rosanna Tua­son Fores in an ear­lier in­ter­view, as this will see the col­lab­o­ra­tion of the in­dus­try and the academe with the DOST, with the (R&D).

“(Banana com­pa­nies) do not give out any data. They keep th­ese as a com­pany se­cret,” said Dr. Gil­bert A. Im­por­tante, Usep Re­search Di­rec­tor.

But he is not sur­prised that Hijo Re­sources has ini­ti­ated this and in­tends to make this ac­ces­si­ble to the public since the com­pany has a his­tory of in­vest­ing on R&D and mak­ing th­ese avail­able to all.

“DOST has part­nered with them since it was the Twin River Re­search Cen­ter, Hijo was well known for that,” Im­por­tante re­called. It was in this Re­search Cen­ter where tis­sue cul­ture of ba­nanas was dis­cov­ered and de­vel­oped. While be­fore, banana com­pa­nies used the suck­ers for re­plant­ing af­ter the ba­nanas are cut down for har­vest. When tis­sue cul­ture was de­vel­oped, all plan­ta­tions used this. In the me­moran­dum of agree­ment sign­ing and in­cep­tion meet­ing for the project held last De­cem­ber 1, 2017 at the Hijo Re­sources Plan­ta­tion House in Madaum, Tagum City, Fores stressed the im­por­tance of col­lab­o­ra­tion to move the in­dus­try for­ward.

Im­por­tante said that the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines in Los Banos and the Tokyo Univer­sity have in­di­cated their in­ter­est to be­come part of the re­search de­vel­op­ment, thus he looks for­ward to a longer part­ner­ship with Hijo.

There for the sign­ing of the MOA last De­cem­ber 1 aside from Fores, Im­por­tante, and Quimno were Armela K. Razo, DOST’s chief of Spe­cial Projects Divi­sion, Dr. Danilo Pa­coy, vice pres­i­dent of Usep, and Rodolfo C. Ilao, the Di­rec­tor of the Agri­cul­tural Re­sources Man­age­ment Re­search Divi­sion of the Philip­pine Coun­cil for Agri­cul­ture, Aquatic and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Re­search and De­vel­op­ment, and DOST 11 As­sis­tant Re­gional Di­rec­tor Elsie Mae Solidum.

The Pilipino Banana Grow­ers and Ex­porters As­so­ci­a­tion (PBGEA) had ear­lier warned that the banana in­dus­try can dis­ap­pear in two to five years if gov­ern­ment will not come to its res­cue.

The banana in­dus­try iden­tify the fac­tors that are con­tribut­ing to the de­cline of this once ro­bust in­dus­try to tar­iffs im­posed on banana prod­ucts shipped to ex­port mar­kets; disease and pesti­lence; cli­mate change; speed and in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity of mar­kets, and in­con­sis­ten­cies of gov­ern­ment poli­cies.

But in­dus­try play­ers are say­ing that disease and pesti­lence are the ones driv­ing away the mar­ket as qual­ity stan­dards are no longer met.

The in­dus­try suf­fered a ma­jor blow in 2012 af­ter the typhoon Pablo hit and del­uged thou­sands of hectares of banana plan­ta­tions, and in the process spread dis­eases from farms that have been iso­lated be­cause of Si­ga­toka, bunchy top, and the most dreaded fusar­ium wilt or Panama disease.

Those who at­tended the MOA sign­ing are hope­ful that the re­search can soon ex­tend to fusar­ium wilt, which wiped out Panama’s banana in­dus­try in the 1950s. (Stella A. Estremera/ SunStar Davao)

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