We got your back! DA vows to support NCPC amid threat of transboundary crop pests, diseases

Published May 18, 2021, 12:56 PM

by Betheena Unite

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar said the agency will continue to support research and development efforts to effectively control transboundary crop pests and diseases that adversely affect Philippine agriculture.

(Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture)

“We consider the NCPC (National Crop Protection Center) as the country’s transboundary center in crop pests and diseases management, and thus the Department of Agriculture will continue to support it in whatever way we can,” Dar said.

The secretary reckoned that “it is the opportune time to reshape the country’s crop pest management program,” which is led by the NCPC. The center is located at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

“We are here not only to catalyze your growth in research, but also to support this new thinking that we need to put in place today for the future,” Dar said.

“I know that most of your research outputs have been utilized in a big way, and it would be good for the NCPC leadership to conduct an impact assessment of your top 10 research outputs. This will give the center the opportunity to really say: ‘Yes the NCPC continues to be relevant!’ Hence, it deserves additional financial support to do more development-oriented research today and in the future,” the DA chief added.

He also urged the agency to continue training and capacitating researchers, noting that “we have seen that even the non-important pests are now becoming important due to climate change, and today more virulent pests are affecting our crop industry.”

Dar expressed optimism that the NCPC–together with the DA’s Regional Crop Protection Centers–would one day have the capacity for foresight analysis or future thinking regarding pest management.

The spread of transboundary plant pests and diseases has increased dramatically in recent years due to globalization, trade, climate change, and reduced resilience in production systems, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said.

Transboundary plant pests and diseases can easily spread to several countries and reach epidemic proportions. Outbreaks and upsurges can cause huge losses to crops and pastures, threatening the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers as well as the food and nutrition security of millions.

Locusts, armyworm, fruit flies, banana diseases, cassava diseases, and wheat rusts are among the most destructive transboundary plant pests and diseases, the FAO said.