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Sixty-six researchers/scientists from the different government agencies, academic institutions, and private firms in the country rubbed elbows on January 30-31, 2012 during the National Rootcrop RDE Validation Workshop held at the VSU’s Philippine Rootcrop Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops) Training Hall.The two-day convergence of public and private stakeholders was meant to know the various government programs on root and tuber crops for improved coordination and collaboration, address specific objectives, and improve institutional, industry, and producer partnerships in relation to rootcrop industry.

 

Specifically, it aimed to: 1) understand the role and contribution of rootcrops to food security and poverty; 2) improve the rootcrops roadmaps and industry development agenda; and 3) refine the rootcrop RDE programs in the context of the various initiatives of government.

Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, VSU President, gave the opening salvo in setting the context of the workshop by presenting the more than 30-year historical sketch of PhilRootcrops; then known as PRCRTC.

Delighted with the presence of some key officials from the national government and private sector who will help validate the directions of national rootcrops RDE programs, Dr. Bacusmo enthused that “With our joint efforts, I have no doubt that we can make rootcrops more relevant to the lives of Filipino people and the economy of the Philippines.”

Dr. Julieta R. Roa, PhilRootcrops Director and Chair of the workshop organizing committee, gave the rationale and mechanics, and said that the activity would engross the minds of the participants, first, with the plenary presentations on the different rootcrop programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST); and followed by the presentations of draft roadmaps and RDE programs on cassava, sweetpotato, white potato, yam, taro, and minor rootcrops. She stressed that the RDE roadmaps are concerns of all partners and stakeholders.

In his presentation entitled “2011 Philippine Agriculture Performance and Thrusts for 2012 and Beyond,” Hon. Edilberto M. de Luna, DA Assistant Secretary for Field Operations and National Coordinator of the Agri-Pinoy Corn Program, revealed that the production of cassava in 2011 continued its uptrend with a 5.14 percent increase. It recorded increases in contract growing scheme by San Miguel Corporation in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Leyte, Cebu and Isabela due to high market demand for cassava for feeds and alcohol.

However, he said that sweetpotato production went down by 4.60 percent due to the occurrence of weevils in some areas like in Davao Oriental and Central Luzon. In Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon and Caraga provinces, camote farms were adversely affected by rainfall.

Moreover, Asec. De Luna pointed out that DA’s programs are aligned with the three goals of the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan “towards a competitive and sustainable agriculture and fisheries sector,” which are: 1) improved food security and increased rural incomes; 2) increased sector resilience to climate change impacts; and 3) enhanced policy environment governance.

De Luna further said that they are promoting Agri-Pinoy (Agrikulturang Pilipino) as the strategic framework for all programs and services of the department. These four principles and features of Agri-Pinoy include food security and self-sufficiency, sustainable resource management, support services from farm to table, and broad-based local partnership.

Other topics presented included: Bureau of Agricultural Research Rootcrops RDE Agenda and Programs (2011-2016); High Value Crops Development Program; The DOST’s Five-Point Program and Priority Research Areas (2011-2016); and the Cassava, Sweetpotato, Potato, Yam and Taro RDE Roadmaps (2012-2020).

The workshops in Day 2 were held at the Center for Continuing Education. Prior to the workshops, Dr. Fernando A. Bernardo, Technical Adviser of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and first President of then ViSCA, gave some inputs by discussing salient points on the topics “Improving Rootcrop RDE Planning, Budgeting and Operationalization” and “National RDE Action Program for Rootcrops.” It may be noted that Dr. Bernardo drafted the Presidential Decree 1107 that created PhilRootcrops, designed to secure attention and support for research and development for the then lowly rootcrops

Mr. Elmer Enicola, University Researcher of UPLB’s Institute of Plant Breeding, also inputted to the participants based on the theme “RDE Priority Setting.” After each output presentation from the participants, who were grouped into two during the workshops, open forum followed for questions and comments to improve the outputs.

Dr. J. R. Roa presented the synthesis and integrated the outputs of the two-day workshop. Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, and Mr. Ed Aller, SMC representative, provided comprehensive reactions quite meaningful and helpful to the rootcrop roadmap and RDE agenda complete with powerpoints.

The activity was formally closed by Dr. Emiliana N. Bernardo, UPLB Professor Emeritus and former director of PRCRTC, who shared valuable thoughts that indeed inspire the participants as persons, and as partners of the rootcrops endeavors to contribute to the development of the country.