The Philippine Root Crops Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops) celebrated its 41st anniversary with the theme “Rootcrops: Increasing Relevance Through the Years” on March 21, 2018 at the E.N. Bernardo Hall.

The celebration kicked off with an anniversary mass, followed by the blessing of PhilRootcrops facilities. The center also opened an exhibit showcasing root crops of different varieties and processed products from root and tuber crops.

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In her welcome address, PhilRootcrops Director Dr. Erlinda A. Vasquez expressed her pride on the achievements of the research center through the years.

“In the four decades of the center’s existence, it has been a generator of technologies and personalities in the university and even outside the campus,” said Dr. Vasquez.

The director also commended the staff for their hard work and for their invaluable contribution to the successes of the center.

VSU President Edgardo E. Tulin highlighted the center’s vital contributions to the development of the community by advancing the university’s mandate of research and extension.

“This center has always been challenged to respond to calamities such as earthquakes and typhoons. And PhilRootcrops is always at the forefront in helping VSU deliver its mandate of helping the community,” Dr. Tulin shared.

Among the notable works of PhilRootcrops was in 2013 when the center provided five million sweet potato cuttings and half a million pre-treated cassava planting materials to rehabilitate areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). This initiative was proven to be an effective mechanism in restoring the livelihood of marginalized farmers who were severely affected by one of the world’s biggest natural disasters.

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The VSU President also stressed the importance of research productivity which sets VSU apart from other universities and colleges in the Philippines. This year, he said that he wants to give more importance on the development of a new breed of researchers and scientists by tapping the younger generation.

“For more than 30 years I have worked here [in PhilRootcrops]. We started really as young like you, and eventually we developed the love and loyalty for this institution. I hope you will gain the culture, trust and confidence of your senior staff as we seek new research frontiers for PhilRootcrops,” said Dr. Tulin.

Former PhilRootcrops Director Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo is also putting high hopes on the young generation to do more research. He challenged them to work on initiatives that will make root crops become an alternative staple crops where it can be stored and easily prepared like rice.

In line with its anniversary celebration, the PhilRootcrops launched two big projects for this year. First is the 32 million-peso project on enhanced cassava production using quality planting materials funded by the Department of Agriculture (DA). The project will be implemented nationwide wherein the center will provide quality planting materials of cassava to 15 out of 17 regions in the country. Second, the Agricultural Training Institute - Regional Training Center 8 (ATI-RTC 8) will also fund a project worth 4.5 million pesos as extension support to root crops for food and livelihood resilience in Yolanda affected communities and expansion focus sites.

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The newly-renovated PhilRootcrops Processing Laboratory was also inaugurated during the anniversary. Provided with state-of-the-art facilities and a pool of young human resource, Dr. Tulin hopes that the new laboratory will inspire new innovations and groundbreaking discoveries in the field of root crop research and development.

Housed at VSU, PhilRootcrops is the country’s lead government research, development and training agency for root and tuber crops such as cassava, sweet potato, taro, yam, yam bean, and arrowroot, among others. The center is a multi-awarded research institution having won the prestigious Tanglaw Award for more than three times. It is also a home to multi-awarded researchers and scientists who pioneered innovative researches for countryside development.