Professor Felix M. Salas of the VSU Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry (DoPAC) has just been granted the 2020 SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Award for his excellence and contributions in the field of agricultural chemistry.

Since 2011, this international grant recognizes the accomplishments of individuals in the fields of agriculture and related sciences that contributed significantly to the area of agriculture and rural development in Southeast Asia. The main objective of the award is to acknowledge outstanding Southeast Asian experts in the academe who accelerate transformation through agricultural innovation in their respective disciplines.

Part of the grant is the presentation of an inaugural lecture where Dr. Salas will deliver a research paper on ‘Innovative liquid nutrient formulations for improved yield and chemical characteristics of horticultural crops under an aggregate hydroponic system’.

Dr. Salas’ inaugural lecture will showcase the importance and significance of liquid nutrient formulations (LNF) technology in achieving poverty alleviation, food security, and rural development specifically in the Leyte province.

LNF is a nutrient management practice that incorporates both inorganic and organic nutrients as well as a liquid nutrient solution formula to be applied in a soilless hydroponic system. LNF is also seen to promote greater crop productivity, effective use of indigenous resources, efficient water utilization, and thereby applicable as a climate change mitigation measure.

Dr. Salas shares how this technology can be vital in promoting food security and rural development in the Philippines.

“After Typhoon Yolanda hit and devastated Eastern Visayas, a lot of farmlands were found contaminated with soil-borne pathogens which make traditional vegetable production difficult for farmers to sustain. The marriage of liquid nutrient formulation and aggregate hydroponics empowers ordinary people and marginal farmers to have food on their table through vegetable cultivation process in a soilless culture”, Dr. Salas explained.

The Visayas State University has funded the project on LNF for high-value vegetable production since 2013 and has utilized it in the training designs and extension activities of the university’s Horticulture and Environment Livelihood Program (HELP). Several demo farms and learning sites were previously established in Region 8 using this technology to entice local farmers to adopt the LNF.

The Liquid Nutrient Formulation technology was also employed in the extension projects of the Yolanda Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (YRRP) which was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Climate Change Commission (CCC), and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). LNF was also adopted in the implementation of the Expanded National Greening Program (ENGP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for Regions 6, 7, and 8.

As we brave another decade filled with huge environmental and socio-economic challenges, such as climate change and an ongoing global pandemic, Dr. Salas emphasized the importance of achieving food independence and sufficiency.

“With the uncertainties brought by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, every family must help mitigate its effects by engaging in horticultural crop production through the LNF technology under an aggregate hydroponic system. It is relatively easy to handle, not time-consuming, cheap, environment-friendly, productive, profitable, and can also empower people to engage in sustainable plant agriculture” Dr. Salas explained.

Joining Dr. Salas as grantees of the 2020 SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Award are Dr. Norsida Binti Man, Dr. Nazmi Mat Nawi, and Dr. Shuhaimi Mustafa from Universiti Putra Malaysia, Dr. Anchasa Pramuanjaroenkij from Kasetsart University in Thailand, and Dr. Virgilio Julius P. Manzano, Jr. from the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) here in the Philippines.

Dr. Salas is the sixth professor from VSU who became has received SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant. Previous grantees include Dr. Rotacio S. Gravoso and Dr. Zenaida C. Gonzaga in AY 2018 to 2019, Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin in AY 2017 to 2018, Dr. Victor B. Asio in AY 2014 to 2015, and Dr. Anabella B. Tulin in AY 2013 to 2014.

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