P302-M crop biotech center underway

  • 27 June 2018

Source: The Manila Times
27 Jun 2018

THE Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said it started construction of the new P302-million Crop Biotechnology Center to help boost productivity in rice, research and development in the country.

On Tuesday, the agency said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol approved the construction of the building located at the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija. It is expected to be completed next year.

PhilRice said the facility will serve as a "hub for implementing an effective and efficient agricultural biotechnology research and development agenda." It will house laboratories, a theater and a multi-purpose hall that can hold 500 to 800 people.

"These advanced facilities will host biotechnology programs on other priority crops such as corn, coconut, coffee, sugarcane and banana," it added.

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) cited that biotechnology has improved farmers' practices and income as well as the environment.

"The farm level economic benefit of planting biotech maize in the [country from 2003 to 2015]is estimated to have reached $642 million," the report read.

It also noted that "farms planted with Bt maize in northern Philippine provinces have significantly higher populations of beneficial insects such as flower bugs, beetles, and spiders than those planted with conventional hybrid maize."

In rice research, PhilRice has produced 14 climate change-ready varieties including El Niño-ready NSIC Rc 272 (Sahod Ulan 2) and NSIC Rc 346 (Sahod Ulan 11), which has shortened the breeding of the country's staple food to five to seven years from the previous 10-12 years.

Through biotechnology, PhilRice also ventured into developing Golden Rice to address vitamin A deficiency that affects 2.1 million Filipino children.

The Crop Biotechnology Center is part of PhilRice's thrust to improve biotechnology research in the Philippines, mainly through the agency's developments that help farmers grow additional high yielding crops with resistance to climate change and stress.