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ACIAR and DOST-PCAARRD fund key projects to support PHL fruit industry

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (Aciar) and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-Pcaarrd) have funded two projects on banana and mango that are expected to aid the country’s fruit industry.

Banana and mango are among the fruit crops identified as priority commodities in the Harmonized National R&D Agenda for 2017-2022 and DOST-Pcaarrd’s Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) and currently being studied under the “Aciar-Pcaarrd Horticulture Program on Fruits and Vegetables.” The project titled “Integrated management of Fusarium wilt (FW) of bananas in the Philippines and Australia,” aims to reduce the impacts of FW and improve the productivity and viability of banana plantations managed by smallholders.

The project’s accomplishments include—the identification of mesh-wire boot as the most effective scrub in removing soil to limit the spread of disease inoculum; report on the economic feasibility of growing Giant Cavendish tissue-culture variant 218 in infested area; and the conduct of the Mindanao-wide banana symposium participated in by 140 banana growers and agricultural extension workers.

The other project, titled “Research and development of integrated crop management for mango production in the southern Philippines and Australia,” is purposed to reduce product losses due to pests and diseases, decrease inputs costs and improve quality and yield of mango to augment growers’ profit. The accomplishments of this project are—the identification of parasitoids as potential natural enemies of cecid fly; demonstration and training on canopy management in Davao Occidental and Davao del Sur; and the conduct of a national survey on best practices in nine major mango growing areas in the country.

In a message, Dr. Jocelyn E. Eusebio, director of the Crops Research Division of DOST-Pcaarrd, expressed the council’s dedication to support Aciar in its future R&D activities on banana and mango.

The accomplishments for the two-year duration of the projects were presented during the end-of-project review held in Cebu City by implementing agencies, including the University of Southern Mindanao, University of Southeastern Philippines, Southern Philippines Agri-business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology and Provincial Agriculturists Offices in Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur.

Dr. Bob Williams from the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Queensland, and Dr. Avelino D. Raymundo, professor emeritus from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, were the external reviewers.

According to Dr. Richard Markham, Aciar Horticulture Research Program manager, research needs to be done in the spirit of enquiry and exploration. He added that these endeavors could also mean taking risks sometimes and making mistakes.

Banana expert Dr. Agustin Molina Jr. was also there to attend the review and recommended to provide science-based information and policies to policy-makers in order to help advance the banana industry.

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