DOST keen on carrageenan
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - March 8, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will conduct research and development on the application of their breakthrough carrageenan plant growth promoter (PGP) in corn farming to see if it can dramatically increase yields as it had done for rice, mungbean and peanuts.

Engineer Sancho Mabborang, DOST Region 2 director, said that with funding from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), the Isabela provincial government and state universities and colleges in the region led by Isabela State University recently started the R&D project.

“We’re excited to see the results of this effort,” Mabborang told The STAR.

While Region 2 is corn self-sufficient, Mabborang said that further increasing yield will be an added boon to the livelihood of corn farmers not only in the region but also in other areas of the country.

The DOST, particularly its nuclear research unit, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, had developed the carrageenan PGP through a project also funded by PCAARRD. The PNRI had used its state-of-the-art electron beam facility in Diliman, Quezon City to irradiate carrageenan and come up with the plant food supplement.

With just 3.2 liters per hectare of water mixed with the right proportion of PGP, the formulation was proven effective in increasing the yield of rice, mungbean and other crops by over 20 percent.

The PNRI team that developed the carrageenan growth enhancer, headed by Lucille Abad of the institute’s chemistry research section, won the 2017 Excellent Research Team of the Year Award from the Japan-based Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA) for their breakthrough product.

The FNCA, a Japanese government-led cooperation framework for the peaceful applications of nuclear technology, recognized the carrageenan plant food supplement (PFS) for its potential in helping spur development of Philippine agriculture and attaining food security.

Corn production is considered key to the production of animal feeds, and thus vital to the growth and viability of the Philippine animal industry.

Mabborang said that corn is the second most important national food crop after rice.

He pointed out that corn, particularly yellow corn, was the main component of up to 75 percent of formulated feed for livestock, poultry and aquaculture fishery.

White corn, the variety for human consumption, is the staple food of up to 20 percent of the Philippine population, he said.

DOST Region 2 is lobbying for the creation of a corn R&D center located in Cagayan Valley, the country’s top corn producer. Cagayan Valley is composed of Cagayan province, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya and Batanes. “If we can further increase our corn production, this will mean bigger profits for our corn farmers. And an adequate, if not surplus, supply of corn in the country can have a positive impact on the country’s livestock production,” Mabborang said.

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