Development of improved eggplant varieties

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EGGPLANT is considered to be the top vegetable crop of the Philippines and the 16th most highly-consumed crop in every Filipino meal.

However, statistics showed that there is low profit to cost (NPC) ratio per hectare in eggplant production in the country.

This means that a large fraction of the cost is still allocated to pesticides due to the high incidence of infestation of insect pests like the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB) and leafhopper.

To boost the income of the farmers, a project funded and monitored by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) will develop improved eggplant varieties with increased resistance against insect pests, specifically EFSB and leafhopper.

The project titled “Development of Improved Eggplant Varieties with New Plant Defense Genes for Multiple Insect Resistance Using Innovative Technologies” will be implemented by the Institute of Plant Breeding of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, in collaboration with the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines Diliman, University of Tsukuba in Japan, and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture.

The five-year project will use genomics, IT-based phenotyping platforms, molecular marker technologies, and new breeding techniques.

The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the income of eggplant farmers through higher yield, lower input costs, and improved product quality.

In a related development, the production of oyster mushroom is also being promoted as an alternative source of livelihood in the llocos region, particularly in disaster-prone upland communities in the province of Ilocos Sur.

This initiative is being implemented through a project by the University of Northern Philippines (UNP), in cooperation with the Northern Luzon Polytechnic State College (NLPSC) and Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC).

The program is also funded by the DOST-PCAARRD.

The two-year project dubbed “S&T Community-Based Farm for Oyster Mushroom Production as an Alternative Source of Livelihood in Disaster Vulnerable Areas of Region 1” costs more than P4 million and is approved under PCAARRD’s umbrella program on S&T Frontline for Emergencies and Hazards (SAFE).

It is intended to engage the different communities in agribusiness allowing farmers and fisherfolk to generate alternative source of income to help them immediately recover after the devastation from calamities such as floods, typhoons, and drought.

This initiative was conceived in response to super typhoon “Lawin,” one of the strongest typhoons that hit the country in 2016.

Typhoon “Lawin” caused an estimated P66 million worth of damage to farms in llocos region.

Records show that selected farmer cooperators started the preparation of mushroom fruiting bags in March 2018 and accumulated a total volume of 247.75 kg fruiting bags on August.

Total sales of P49,670 were registered by clustered farmers in three municipalities of Ilocos Sur namely, Alilem, San Emilio, and Lidlidda.

This data shows the potential of mushroom production as an alternative crop to increase the income of farmers and fisherfolk devastated by natural calamities. (jaypeeyap@ymail.com/PN)

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