MARAWI CITY - The Department of Agriculture and the Mindanao
State University (MSU) are collaborating to help reinvigorate
the troubled abaca industry in the south which used to be a
big foreign exchange earner through a newly-developed biotechnology
variety that has been proven to be resistant to deadly viruses.
Director Alicia Ilaga of the DA Biotechnology Program cited
during the recent launching of the Biotechnology Information
and Resource Center at the MSU main campus cited that the virus
resistant abaca developed by the panel of experts led by Dr.
Antonio Lalusin of the Institute of Plant Breeding at the University
of Plant Breeding in Los could be the solution to fast deteriorating
abaca industry, particularly in central Mindanao.
Dr. Macapado A. Muslim, the MSU president, acknowledged the
need for abaca growers to pursue agricultural modernization
in Mindanao, which continues to be plagued by deadly mosaic,
bract mosaic and the bunchy-top viruses which had earlier crippled
the Bicol region. Bicol used to be the country’s biggest
Initially, Muslim has proposed the setting up a of tissue culture
laboratories to be hosted by the MSU system, to propagate the
newly-developed biotech abaca variety.
Ilaga said that Mindanao can fast rehabilitate the dwindling
abaca industry, with its vast areas suitable to abaca plantations
to meet the country’s export demand.
While Bicol accounts for 66 per cent or 52,666 hectares of
total abaca area mapped by the DA, it also reported a 27 percent
incidence of viral diseases prompting government to look at
Eastern Visayas to augment the abaca needs of the country.
But Muslim noted that given the necessary funding for research
and development, the MSU can promote truly Filipino biotechnology
products starting with the virus-resistant abaca.
He offered to mobilize the 21 agriculture scientists of the
MSU College of Agriculture in Marawi to step up government’s
efforts in modernizing agriculture in the south. It was gathered
that MSU has already submitted 36 project proposals for research
and development projects to boost agriculture modernization
in the south.
"Given the continuously increasing population in the country,
biotechnology is an option" to meet the country’s
food demands, Muslim said
Ilaga said that DA Undersecretary Segefredo Serrano will meet
with the MSU officials to map out possible collaboration efforts
in promoting abaca and other biotechnology crops.