Carrageenan plant growth promoter to help small-scale farms
(The Philippine Star) - May 14, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Farmers from Bulacan showed their interest in using carrageenan plant growth promoter (PGP), a breakthrough that uses carrageenan extracted from seaweeds and degraded through irradiation. 

Multi-location trials conducted in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, and Iloilo showed that the technology increased the yield of rice by 15-40 percent. 

In a recently held farmers’ forum, Leonardo Ignacio, a 65-year-old farmer from Bulacan, said technologies like carrageenan PGP could be very helpful to Filipino farmers like him. 

“I am interested in carrageenan fertilizer since it is a safer alternative, more usable in small-scale farms, and more affordable,” Ignacio said in Filipino. 

Experiments conducted by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) in cooperation with the National Crop Protection Center of the University of the Philippines – Los Baños (UPLB) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) showed that PGP could strengthen the rice plant against natural disasters, help the crop grow longer panicles, stronger and healthier compared with crops applied with commercial fertilizers. 

After hearing carrageenan PGP’s strengthening properties, Mario Valero, another Bulacan farmer whose farm was affected by Typhoon Nona, expressed interest in the technology. He said he would need carrageenan PGP in his two-hectare rice farm, which gives him 56 cavans every harvest season. 

Currently, the developers of carrageenan PGP are open to expanding its use to other crops like corn, tomato, and other vegetables to the advantage of farmers like Ignacio and Valero, who also plant sitaw, string beans, tomatoes, and okra. 

The field testing in Bulacan showed that the application of 9 li/ha of carrageenan PGP in addition to three and six bags of chemical fertilizer per hectare led to a 65.4 percent increase in grain weight, and increase in panicle length from 3.5 percent  to 12.5 percent.

The development of carrageenan PGP is funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the DOST.

PGPs were distributed to 650 farmers for testing in Pulilan, Bulacan, and will be field tested in 2,000 hectares of rice in the province. 

Last year, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and DOST Secretary Mario Montejo signed a memorandum of agreement to upscale verification testing in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4A, 6, 9, and 11.

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