Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo R. Serrano, who also chairs the Department of Agriculture-Biotech Program Steering Committee, says the DA Biotechnology Program Office is bent on transforming Philippine agriculture from a resource-based sector to a technology-based sector.
“We are developing and promoting biotechnologies that can ensure increased yields, low production cost, and high-value products so that we can maximize the use of limited resources available for agriculture,” Serrano stresses.
DA-BPO is also striving to improve the quality of crops and vegetables and give them resistance against diseases and pests.
A significant achievement in this regard is the successful introduction and commercialization of Bacillus thuringiensis corn. Bt corn has proven that biotechnology-based agriculture can expand production, with this type of corn gaining a unit yield of 37 percent, which translates to an additional profit of P10,000 per hectare. Pesticide expenses are also slashed by up to 60 percent.
The Philippines has also been using both traditional and modern biotechnologies in extracting high-value products from traditional agricultural commodities.
For instance, coconut is now being the used as source of sugar, honey, vinegar, biofuel, virgin coconut oil, industrial feedstock and health drink.
Abaca is now better known for non-fiber byproducts like surfboards, car accessories and insulation material.
Rice husks, bran and other milling byproducts are now utilized as energy source, medicines and health supplement. Seaweeds are also being tapped for high-value products like health supplements, medicines and cosmetics.
There have been also studies on various plants and herbs like malunggay, banaba, rice, papaya, banana, mango, pineapple, duhat, astuete, seaweeds/carrageenan, and marine bioactives.
Through modern and traditional biotechnology, the natural ingredients derived from these plants like essential oils and active pharmaceutical ingredients are extracted for various industrial applications.
biolife news service