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DOST URGED: INCLUDE OTHER CROPS UNDER ‘FIESTA’

The AGRI Party-list urged the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to include other high-value crops aside from mangoes in its Farms and Industry Encounters through Science and Technology Agenda (FIESTA) program.

AGRI issued the call on the heels of the first FIESTA, which highlighted such advancements in Philippine mango production while bringing together farmers from all over the country.

Mangoes are a high-value commercial crop in the Philippines that provides livelihood for some 2.5 million farmers.

“Napakagandang inisyatibo nito upang ma-orient ang ating farmers sa current trends sa science and technology na makakatulong sa kanila upang mapalago ang kanilang mga ani,” said AGRI Party-list first nominee and former judge Frank Lobrigo.

“If we could humbly suggest to the DOST to widen their scope and also look into investing agri and farming technologies into other high value crops, including root crops, fruits, and vegetables so that more farmers could benefit from the program,” Lobrigo said.

FIESTA was conceptualized by the DOST-PCAARRD (Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development) and has been raising awareness about the role of science and technology in agriculture since 2014. According to DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, FIESTA aims to show the complete sphere of research and development as it tackles the entire agricultural value chain as a whole.

“By applying technology to improve the efficiency of the agricultural process, for example, lessening manual operations or work by automating processes, our farmers could do the same amount of work for a greater yield,” Lobrigo said.

“Bukod dito, sa pamamagitan ng makabagong teknolohiya, mas magiging sustainable at climate-resilient ang ating industriya ng agrikultura sa bansa. Kaya naman nagpapasalamat tayo sa inisyatibong ito ng DOST,” the former judge added.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that total agricultural imports in the third quarter of 2021 climbed by 15.8 percent to $4.16 billion from $3.6 billion in the same period a year ago.

Aside from raising awareness about the available technologies on farming, DOST-PCAARRD invested around P15 million for the development of ready-for-commercialization technologies to be implemented in Regions 8, 11, and 12.

Mangoes are a high-value commercial crop in the Philippines that provides livelihood for some 2.5 million farmers.

Some of the implemented and ready-for-commercialization technologies on mango production include Molecular Markers for Mango Cultivar Identification and Genetic Characterization of the University of the Southern Philippines (USM), the Dipstick Kit to Detect True-To-Type Philippines Carabao Mango of the Visayas State University (VSU), and the Pre-and Post-harvest Technologies of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP).

These projects were also funded with the ultimate goal of elevating the livelihood of small-scale mango farmers using low-cost technologies that span the different parts of mango production from planting to harvesting to processing and packaging.

“We could easily narrow or even close the agri trade deficit gap if we could replicate these technologies for other high value crops,” Lobrigo said.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that total agricultural imports in the third quarter of 2021 climbed by 15.8 percent to $4.16 billion from $3.6 billion in the same period a year ago.

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