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A group of eight-member National Technical Committee for the Gawad Saka came to the Visayas State University (VSU) on July 12-13, 2013 for field validation of the nomination of Dr. Erlinda A. Vasquez, professor of PhilRootcrops and 2012 Regional Gawad Saka Outstanding Agricultural Scientist awardee, to the 2013 National Gawad Saka Search for Outstanding Agricultural Scientist.

 

The Technical Committee is composed of Dr. Teodoro S. Solsoloy of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), Dr. Roberto F. Rañola, Jr. of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Dr. Edralina Serrano of UPLB, Dr. Tereso A. Abella of Central Luzon State University, Ms. Digna L. Sandoval, Engr. France Gayzel F. Caceres, Ms. Mara Shyn M. Valdeabella, and Mr. Wilson Villoria II from DA-BAR.

The group was warmly welcomed by VSU President, Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, together with Dr. Othello B. Capuno, VP for Research and Extension; Dr. Marcelo A. Quevedo, OIC-Director of PhilRootcrops; and Prof. Alan B. Loreto, Executive Officer.

Dr. Vasquez expounded her two research work on "Biological Control of Cassava Red Spider Mite (Tetranychus kanzawai) Using Predatory Mite (Amblyseius longispinosus)" and the "Sweetpotato Weevil (SPW) Pheromone" to the evaluators.

In the first study, Dr. Vasquez revealed that the technology is being used by the Matling Industrial and Commercial Corporation (MICC), owner of the biggest cassava plantation in the Philippines located in Malabang, Lanao del Sur.

Dr. Vasquez explained that red spider mite is the most serious arthropod pest attacking cassava in which the immature and adult mites suck the sap of the plant that causes defoliation at high infestation resulting to low yield and low starch content. She added that high reproductive rate, short life (1-2 weeks) of the red spider mite and faster development of acaricide-resistant population can cause severe outbreaks especially during prolong dry season.

Dr. Vasquez found out that the predatory mite, Amblyseius longispinosus, is the most suitable and efficient biocontrol agent among the available natural enemies of cassava red spider. Thus, MICC adopted the mass rearing for mass production for continuous supply of the predatory mite to combat the acaricide-resistant population.

Moreover, Dr. Vasquez elaborated her second study on "Pheromone for the Control of Sweetpotato Weevil." She defined pheromone as the chemical released by an organism to communicate with other individuals of the same species. According to her, the sex pheromone in sweetpotato weevil control is only attracting the male weevils. Its uses included monitoring of weevil population in the field, reduce weevil population by luring adults into trapping or killing device, and mating disruption.

Dr. Vasquez also mentioned the advantages in using pheromone in pest control such as: being environmentally-friendly since pheromone is biodegradable and is dispensed in very minute amount; no health risk to users since it is not toxic; no health risk to consumer because it has no direct contact to agricultural products; and compatible with other control measures.

After her discussion, questions were raised by the panel of evaluators how feasible and effective the technologies work once utilized in the field. They were even brought to the experimental site where they actually saw how the sweetpotato weevil pheromone attracted the male sweetpotato weevils and got trapped and killed.

The group also had a chance talking with some sweetpotato farmers in Dulag, Leyte who are using the technology in their sweetpotato farms to validate how the technology works in the field.

Gawad Saka is an annual event of DA in cooperation with other government institutions, non-government organizations and the private sector which aims to give due recognition and to pay tribute to dedicated individuals and institutions whose exemplary accomplishments in their respective fields of endeavor and contribution in the country's agricultural development are deemed worthy of emulation.

This year, BAR proposed to send the winners of Outstanding Agricultural Scientist and Researcher abroad with the objective of capacitating them with advanced agricultural technologies.