MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is constructing a P302 million biotechnology center that will serve as the hub for effective implementation of technological advancements in the local farming sector.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol has approved the construction of the facility which will rise in Munoz, Nueva Ecija.
Targeted for completion next year, the center will house laboratories, theater, and a multipurpose hall that can accommodate 500 to 800 people.
It shall also host biotechnology programs on other priority crops such as corn, coconut, coffee, sugarcane, and banana.
Majority of the funding or about P277 million will come from the US government through the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act. The balance will come from the Philippine Rice Research Institute.
The center will not only provide equipment and facilities, but also training and support to local researchers who will engage in the field of biotechnology.
It also aims to build a network among local and international researchers to sustain and continually advance biotechnology in the Philippines.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research (SEARCA) said the country's biotechnology has improved farmers' practices and income.
For one, SEARCA said farms planted with Bt maize have significantly higher populations of beneficial insects such as flower bugs, beetles, and spiders than those planted with conventional hybrid maize.
In rice research, biotechnology has shortened the breeding of the country's staple food from 10-12 years to five to seven years and has produced more than 10 climate change-ready varieties.