Dar leads launching of Crop Biotech Center
VARIOUS plant products can now be developed with the launching of the state-of-the-art Crop Biotechnology Center (CBC).
Agriculture Secretary William Dar led recently the launching of the facility which is located in the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) complex, in the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija.
Dar disclosed that the launching of the facility aims to ensure food security and enhance the competitiveness of Philippine agriculture. It will also help attain the “Sustainable Development Goal No. 2 on Zero Hunger” of the United Nations.
The recent UN Food Systems Summit held in New York, USA, underscored the important role of biotechnology and other scientific innovations in attaining food security by all countries.
“Biotechnology is the Philippine government’s response in the call for sustainable agricultural modernization,” Dar said.
“As such, the Duterte government is investing in the establishment of state-of-the-art facilities that will conduct research for development activities to ensure the sustainable production of quality food items,” he added.
In particular, Dar said the DA-CBC scientists will develop crop varieties that are high-yielding, early-maturing, sturdier against pests and diseases, climate-resilient, more nutritious, and cost-efficient for the benefit of current and succeeding generations of Filipinos.
“This Crop Biotechnology Center is not just a showcase, but the ‘ground zero’ for increasing the productivity of various crops to feed the growing population of the country, which is also being tested by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Dar further stressed.
“On behalf of the ‘OneDA Family,’ I challenged the CBC to be the catalyst of development and utilization of modern biotechnologies for crops,” he added.
Dar also explained that when they rounded up the other biotechnology centers in the Science City of Munoz – such as the Livestock Biotechnology Center hosted by the Philippine Carabao Center, and the proposed fisheries biotechnology center under the DA-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute – they would be building an ecosystem of agricultural abundance, adaptivity, and sustainability.
The P277.3-million CBC was funded under the US Public Law (US PL) 480 Program funds.
Heather Variava, Chargé D’ Affaires of the United States Embassy in the Philippines, who was represented by US agriculture attaché Ryan Bedford, meanwhile, said the US is proud to support the construction of the CBC through the US PL 480 Program also known as the Food for Peace Program.
“This cutting-edge center will be the heart for Philippines’ research and development on critical areas in agriculture biotechnology,” Variava said.
For his part, DA-CBC Chief Dr. Roel Suralta said that crop scientists of the “OneDA Family” agencies are all welcome to conduct their respective researches in the center for major crops, in addition to rice, like corn, coconut, coffee, sugarcane, and banana, among others.
Suralta said at the Center, they can do various R&D tasks using genomics and genetics, bioinformatics, and computational breeding, molecular breeding, genetic engineering and germplasm enhancement, tissue-culturing, diagnostics and ecosystem biology, natural products, and value-adding towards the creation of new or improved agronomic and horticultural crops.
Dar, on the other hand, said that the Center will also help enhance and develop a core of suitably-trained and specialized personnel on various levels for research development in biotechnology and related fields.
“Itong Crop Biotechnology Center ng ‘OneDA Family’ ay maituturing nating isang matibay na pamana ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa sambayanang Pilipino,” he said.
In his short virtual message, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte congratulated the people behind the completion and inauguration of the CBC.
” The opening of this facility will strengthen our country’s research and development programs in agricultural biotechnology. May you all be inspired to pursue greater growth in agricultural sector for the benefit of every Filipino. Mabuhay po kayong lahat!” the President said.