NARC Tissue Culture

To revitalize the once vibrant local abaca industry in Eastern Visayas, the National Abaca Research Center (NARC) recently established an 18-million peso worth of Research and Instructional Building that will also house a dedicated Tissue Culture Laboratory.

Dr. Flora Mia Y. Duatin, Section Head for the Tissue Culture Laboratory, emphasized that the target relocation will happen this year as they are presently sharing the facility of the Department of Horticulture (DoH) in the meantime.

“Other laboratories to be housed in the annex building of NARC have already been transferred, but in our case, we need to make sure that the Tissue Culture Laboratory is clean. It should be very clean because our plants have to be grown for 20 to 23 degrees because it contains gelatin and we put 3% of sugar in every liter, so the temperature should be stable so there will be no incidents of bacteria and fungi,” Prof. Duatin said.

The construction of NARC’s annex building started during the pandemic but got derailed because of mobility restrictions. Prof. Duatin also mentioned that the laboratory building will be equipped with air conditioning units and frames necessary for the safe transfer and relocation of the abaca plants.

The construction of the new laboratory facility will help NARC ensure that the plants are free from disease, which is one of the causes of the massive abaca wipeout in the Philippines brought about by the incidence of bunchy top disease.

Doing tissue culture in propagating quality planting materials for abaca is vital for the return of a viable abaca industry in the region, especially in the province of Southern Leyte.

Consistent with the use of science-based solutions to abaca farming, the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) is currently fast-tracking the rehabilitation of abaca plantations all over the Philippines with VSU-NARC being one of the main research agencies implementing this on the ground.

A regional Abaca Coalition that includes a multisectoral partnership among local government units, line government agencies, people’s organizations, and the academe has long been put in place as part of a grand plan to resuscitate the one productive local abaca industry.

With an improving global and domestic demand for high-quality plant fiber, the new laboratory facility is expected to address one of the key challenges in producing disease-free and resistant planting materials that will supply the needs of the region including some parts of Luzon and Mindanao.


Dr. Duatin also pointed out that German funding agencies have long recognized the great potential of abaca in the automotive industry.

Mercedes-Benz has worked with VSU researchers in the past in exploring abaca fiber as raw materials in the fabrication of an alternative material for fiberglass parts of automobiles.

As a result of this previous engagement, Dr. Duatin was sent to Germany for a training fellowship where the German counterparts introduced a temporary immersion system and bioreactor equipment that can be utilized in speeding plant growth of abaca being the key raw material in some important vehicles parts.

Dr. Duatin also explained how the new facility will be useful for both undergraduate and graduate students who would like to pursue research on abaca.

“We can make use of our center for instructional purposes to be used by students for their research activities and even graduate students could use this specifically for abaca. We also conduct training for everyone. They could ask for our expertise, they could come, or we go there to the field or their place for tissue culture and even handicrafts production,” the section head of the laboratory said.

NARC is expected to officially inaugurate this new building in time for the 35th anniversary of the center on November 25, 2022.

[Second photo courtesy of the Philippines News Agency found on this link:]

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