Mindoro State U gets demo farm

A TECHNO-demo-learning farm established under a Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) project has been turned over to Mindoro State University (MinSU) in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro.

The ceremonial turnover of the "Upgrading the Calamansi Value Chain towards Improving the Calamansi Industry of Oriental Mindoro" project to showcase good agricultural practices (GAP) was held part virtually and part on site. Presiding were Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, and Levy Arago Jr., MinSU president.

"SEARCA put up the techno-demo-learning farm at the MinSU campus with technical assistance from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, a partner in the calamansi project. DA-BAR (Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research) provided the funds for its establishment... while MinSU provides counterpart funds for the implementation and monitoring of the learning site," Gregorio said.

Pedcris Orencio, SEARCA program head for Research and Thought Leadership, noted that one of the project objectives was to promote faculty and student exchanges. Although this was constrained by the pandemic, it gave rise to the idea of a techno-demo-learning farm by which project results could be delivered directly to stakeholders, he added.

Land preparation at the field demo farm has been completed, followed by planting of new seedlings and rehabilitation of old trees, Orencio continued.

A SEARCA-organized webinar that coincided with the demo farm turnover highlighted GAP and good manufacturing practices (GMP). Participants included representatives of agriculture offices in Oriental Mindoro and other key industry stakeholders as well as members of the SEARCA-UPLB-MinSU project teams.

Topics covered included protocols for clean and disease-free planting materials and nursery management; GAP in calamansi production such as nutrient, water and canopy management; perspectives to improve post-harvest handling; compliance with standards and market potentials of processed calamansi-based products; and the global market landscape.

Christine Pine, Oriental Mindoro provincial agriculturist, said the demonstration farm would showcase appropriate technologies and results could be used as inputs to the Annual Investment Plans of local government units.

Christian Anthony Agutaya, MinSU vice president for research, development and extension, expressed hope the undertaking would help continue the university's contribution to sustainable development and economic recovery given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

SEARCA's Orencio said, "The project is not the end of SEARCA's research interventions; rather, it opens windows for future collaborations to upgrade the calamansi value chain and improve the calamansi industry in the province."

In 2016, SEARCA partnered with MinSU and the municipality of Victoria for a project to increase yields and production of calamansi-based products, diversify products and markets, and boost incomes.

It also helped organize the Victoria Kalamansi Farmers' Federation and supported it through training and other learning activities.

Victoria town has the highest production in terms of volume, area and average yield among Oriental Mindoro's 14 towns.