Nine barangays affected by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 have benefited from the science and technology-based agricultural production technologies implemented by Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), in partnership with the Central Luzon State University (CLSU).
The DOST-PCIEERD-funded project is implemented to rehabilitate and enhance the productivity of areas affected by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.
“The research team assisted the improvement of four barangays in Botolan, Zambales, two barangays in Castillejos, Zambales, and three barangays in San Marcelino, Zambales, all affected by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991,” the PCIEERD said in a statement.
Assisted by experts from the University of the Philippines National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP NIGS), the researchers from the CLSU assessed the soil and farm resources in the four barangays of Botolan, Zambales.
During the study, the research team conducted on-farm testing and pilot testing of the production of selected crops to evaluate and showcase their productivity, according to the Council.
“The research team planted tomato, eggplant, sweet potato, green corn, soybean, and peanuts in two demo farms built within the four barangays of Botolan, Zambales. This was replicated in the other barangays in Castillejos and San Marcelino,” the PCIEERD noted.
The study showed that the combined application of organic, inorganic and foliar fertilizer across locations and all kinds of crops produced better yield than the combined application of only organic and inorganic fertilizer.
“Eggplant and soybean were also planted in pots of lahar soil and lahar soil where black sand was removed. It was found that the presence of black sand did not influence the performance of eggplant and soybean, and that yield increased when organic fertilizer application was increased,” the PCIEERD said.
Following the study, the potential crops and farming practices that are better suited to the areas have been identified.
The PCIEERD cited the establishment of technology demonstration (techno-demo) farms to showcase the technology developed in Botolan for crop production.
These farms were planted with various vegetables such as Diamante Max F1 Hybrid Tomato, Prolifica F1 Hybrid Eggplant, and F1 Hybrid Hot Pepper, it said.
It said around 63 farmers and technicians from local government units (LGUs) underwent training, and a manual on crop production practices in ash-laded areas was developed to guide them.
“The team also came up with two research papers already submitted for publication, and a two-year off-shoot project was also approved starting this year, with P3 million funding assistance from the Department of Agriculture Regional Office III (DARFO3),” the PCIEERD said.
“This new project will focus on increasing the income of farms through promotion and adoption of appropriate technologies,” it said.
DOST PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico Paringit expressed hope that the project results would boost food security in Central Luzon.
“We hope that this intervention can help our farmers in lahar-laden areas build back their lives better through innovations in agriculture. We are optimistic that this can help our farmers provide food for their families and to the nation,” he said.
“As leader and partner in enabling innovations, we hope that our industry players can help us reach more people. We will be relentless in our pursuit of finding solutions and opportunities that can plant the seeds of innovation in our nation.”