DOST-CAR provincial directors discuss with agricultural technician Ed David (second from right) the benefits of the PNRI-developed carrageenan plant growth promoter.
CAR science heads eye seaweed plant food to boost upland crop yield
The plant growth promoter (PGP) made from seaweeds is now poised to hie-off to the highlands to deliver the same benefits it brought to lowland crops. Developed by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) using irradiation technology, the seaweed-derived PGP has been proven to increase yield and make crops resistant to pests and extreme weather.
The PGP, also called plant food, has also shown to improve vegetables grown in the uplands after successful tests on rice, legumes, corn, banana, and other vegetables. This gained the interest of the DOST provincial directors in the Cordillera Region.
“We can do technology demos and field tests. We will support you,” told Ed David to the directors in a meeting on May 21 during the SM Malls x DOST Exhibits Opening in SM Baguio. David is an agricultural technician of the Vitalgro Foliar Fertilizer of VVZ Corporation, a commercial adoptor of the PGP.
In the said meeting, David shared their experiences on the effects and benefits of Carrageenan PGP to various farming communities in Region III. Describing the foliar fertilizer as a cheaper alternative to other commercial plant supplement, David revealed that using PGP resulted in a higher harvest yield and better protection from pests and extreme weather.
Extracted from red edible seaweed, also called as “guso” or “gulamang dagat”, the PGP fertilizer is a “green technology” for being environment friendly. It serves as a natural pest repellent and an attractant to beneficial insects such as aphids and beetles.
He also offered to facilitate technology demos and trials in the Cordilleras, which the directors welcomed, considering the farming associations in the highlands that produce rice, fruits, and vegetables. Further, the directors proposed that the PGP technology be featured in a regional S&T caravan to be held within the year which will travel across all provinces of the Cordillera Region.
The interest on the carrageenan PGP sparked during a technology presentation of PNRI for DOST-CAR regional and provincial heads. “Its proven effectiveness on vegetables made us realize that it will be very helpful to our stakeholders here in CAR,” Regional Director Nancy Bantog said.
DOST-PNRI delegates and DOST-CAR officials headed by Dr. Nancy Bantog (second from left, front row) agree to promote the Carrageenan Plant Growth Promoter in the Cordillera Region through technology demos, trials, and caravan.
The DOST-PNRI-developed Carrageenan Plant Growth Promoter which increases yield and improves quality of crops is commercialized and labeled by Vitalgro Foliar Fertilizer (left) and Aqua Oro Philippines (right). [Photos lifted from Vitalgro and Aqua Oro FB Pages]
DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña (second from right) and DOST-PNRI Director Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla (rightmost) cheer on as Walter W. Brown, chair of the A Brown Company, Inc, leads the official groundbreaking of the Tanay Electron Beam and Cold Storage Facility on May 13, 2022 in Brgy Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal. The facility will be headed by Irradiation Solutions Inc. President Paul Francis B. Juat (third from right). [Niña Grace S. Pineda | PNRI-Nuclear Information and Documentation Section]
First commercial irradiation facility to rise in Tanay, Rizal
The first commercial multipurpose irradiation facility in the Philippines has laid the grounds for construction in Tanay, Rizal last Friday, May 13, 2022. The facility, under the Irradiation Solutions Inc. (ISI), a 100% subsidiary of A Brown Company Inc. (ABCI), will be the first private company in the country to offer commercial electron beam (e-beam) irradiation services, with provision for cold storage. This privately-operated facility shall cater to clients in food, medical devices, commercial products, pharmaceutical, and packaging industries.
In an e-beam process, products are exposed to continuous beams of electrons which damage and destroy microorganisms and pathogens, resulting in sterilized products that have a longer shelf life.
ISI will be using a 10-million-electron-volt (MeV) e-beam accelerator manufactured for commercial irradiation and sterilization application. This will sterilize medical masks, dressings, syringes, surgical staplers, and other single-use medical devices. It will also make agricultural and fishery products to be of export quality and gain wider access to international markets.
Over the past 30 years, e-beam technology has been widely accepted globally and more than 1,200 e-beam irradiation facilities are currently operating worldwide.
DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) Director Carlo A. Arcilla said that ABCI and ISI realized DOST’s commitment to help set-up a private irradiation facility. DOST-PNRI will assist in the training of the future workers of the ISI irradiation facility on the different aspects of the irradiation process.
Last year, local government officials of Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay had an educational visit to the PNRI e-beam irradiation facility to learn about the irradiation processes and equipment used.
The Tanay municipal council initially had doubts on irradiation technology, according to Tanay Mayor Rex Manuel Tanjuatco. But ISI’s presentations based on comprehensive research and the LGU’s recent educational visit to the irradiation facility in DOST-PNRI helped win the nods of the local government officials.
Consequently, they are now anticipating the creation of more jobs and other opportunities as a result of this new facility, which is expected to create an impact to the local economy.
ISI President Paul Francis Juat described irradiation technology as a “proven safe technology” that can further the growth of various industries and help in developing the downstream industries. He is in high hopes that after two years of technical planning and preparation, the 11,700-square meter irradiation facility will be operational after 15 months. (Michael Angelo C. Sia | PNRI-Nuclear Information and Documentation Section)
Aerial perspective of the Tanay Electronic Beam irradiation facility. [Courtesy of Irradiation Solutions Inc.]
Clients at the DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute can now have safer, more convenient transactions at PNRI’s one-stop shop for business transactions called iPOSSH or the Interim PNRI One-Stop-Shop. (Photo by Niňa Grace S. Pineda | PNRI-Nuclear Information and Documentation Section)
PNRI enhances one-stop shop for biz transactions
The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) recently relaunched its one-stop shop for business transactions with enhanced features. Called iPOSSH, or the Interim PNRI One-Stop-Shop, the site serves as the centralized venue for nuclear services transactions with DOST-PNRI’s clients.
Clients transacting for various services of PNRI are directed to the iPOSSH after an online appointment is completed. At the iPOSSH, clients can pay for the services they want to avail of and will be issued official receipts onsite.
“iPOSSH has been established years ago, but the pandemic prompted the Institute to make it more accessible but at the same time safe for the clients,” said Dr. Preciosa Corazon Pabroa, PNRI’s Nuclear Services Division chief. “During the pandemic, iPOSSH was relocated near the PNRI back gate to make it easier for the clients to transact.”
As the health protocols eased up, the iPOSSH was refurbished, including the setting up of airconditioning system, to make the place more comfortable for clients, according to Dr. Pabroa.
“It is the Institute’s initiative for ease of doing business to all PNRI customers while keeping PNRI premises secure," she added.
She also explained that it is currently “Interim” because the place will later be expanded physically and its various services will be made available daily. As of this report, transactions for various services are still on a schedule basis.
The Memorandums of Agreement and Understanding for the SWIM Project are signed by the DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and Isabela State University through PNRI Director Dr. Carlo Arcilla (second from right) and ISU President Dr. Ricmar Aquino (second from left) as witnessed by Dr. Orlando Balderama (leftmost) of the ISU and Dr. Preciosa Corazon Pabroa (rightmost) of the PNRI. (Photo by Niňa Grace Pineda, DOST-PNRI)
Nuclear techniques eyed for more precise hydrology studies
The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) and Isabela State University (ISU) recently inked an accord to conduct collaborative studies that will use nuclear techniques to complement classic hydrology studies.
“Classical hydrology techniques will be carried out by the ISU while PNRI will complement the classic hydrology with isotope techniques to make the results more precise,” said Mr. Raymond Sucgang, PNRI project leader.
The PNRI-ISU collaboration was sealed in the signing of memorandums of agreement and understanding on March 4, 2022. Aside from collaborative research, PNRI through its Nuclear Analytical Techniques Application and ISU will be embarking on academic initiatives to come up with scientific solutions responsive to current water problems.
The project is part of the Smart Water Infrastructure Management (SWIM) Research Project which aims to introduce innovative water management approaches, technologies, and innovation that will address drought, flooding, and sedimentation in the region. It will also develop a water resources management masterplan for the LGUs, and policies and guidelines on integrated water resources management.
“Why establish SWIM R&D Center in Region 2? Because the Cagayan River Basin, the biggest basin and longest river in the country, is a recurring water hazard in the region that produces major crops such as rice, corn, sugarcane, cassava, and tobacco,” explained Dr. Orlando Balderama, ISU project leader.
With funding from the DOST through the Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) program, the SWIM project will establish a university-based water research center. Said Center will implement R&D education and capacity building programs in the water resources sector and river basins, and provide technical extension services. Research focus will be the Batanes, Isabella. and Cagayan basins.
The Center aims to address through R&D the problems of recurring water hazards in the region due to inclement weather conditions, resulting in damages to agricultural properties. Four component R&D projects to be carried out by the Center are: (1) Smart Water Resources Planning and Development of Water Resources Projects and Interventions; (2) Integrated Assessment and Analysis of Hydraulic Assets for Sustainable and Resilient Flood Control Infrastructures; (3) GIS-Based Decision Support Tool in Managing, Monitoring and Applying Intervention of Water Infrastructure for Smart Cities: Case for Cauayan City; and (4) Smart Water Control Infrastructures for Effective Irrigation Management.