The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) conducted its 36th Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) with the theme “Infrastructure, Information, and Innovation (I3) for National Development, Competitiveness, and Resiliency” on July 9-10, 2014 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City. The NAST PHL, established by Presidential Decree No. 1003-A in 1976, is the primary adviser to the government and science community on matters related to science and technology
The Meeting aimed to discuss three “pillars” of competitiveness as defined by the World Economic Forum (WEF), namely, infrastructure, information, and innovation and focused on the policy and governance aspects in the following infrastructure sectors: energy, water, telecommunications, and transportation.
The Honorable Cesar B. Bautista, former secretary of Department of Trade and Industry(five years) andpresently the Chairman of St. James' Ventures, Inc. and CIBI Information Inc, served as the keynote speaker. He emphasized that infrastructure, information, and innovations are considered as co-enablers to achieve country’s transformation by means of sustainable growth that is inclusive. He reported that the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (2011-2016) highlights the need for infrastructure development to support the performance of the country’s economic sectors. He reported that the Asian Development Bank in its publication “Taking the Right Road” identified the Philippine government’s infrastructure policy as coming in two stages: (1) improvement of the “climate” to generate broad-based satisfaction from business and public sector and (2) efficiency for targeted products, including agriculture/industries and service sectors to realize their potentials “Vertical Interventions” otherwise known as the “tailwinds” are provided. According to him, the country is already on its way to the second stage. He also pointed out that there is a need to (1) increase competitiveness of roads, (2) improve port conditions and increase capacities using the RORO linkages, (3) maximize ports and airports to improve the economy, (4) improve flood control systems, and (5) application of total quality management systems to improve productivity.
Insect outbreaks occur when new strains/species of insects are introduced into areas where they have no or very few natural enemies. However, eventually nature corrects itself; biological control agents appear and multiply in sufficient numbers to control the invaders. But this new state of equilibrium could take years, and by then, farmers would have suffered heavy losses.
The new coconut scale insect (CSI) devastating coconuts in Batangas, Laguna, Cavite and Quezon has been identified as Aspidiotus rigidus, which is different from the more common Aspidiotus destructor.
The immediate challenge to the CSI outbreak is to arrest/contain the further spread of CSI from the current adversely affected areas to the rest of the country. The idea is to reduce CSI population and slow down its spread in orderto give the time for the insects’ natural enemies to multiply.
Scale insects are naturally preyed upon by wasps,coccinelid beetles, earwigs, and lacewings,and these are also infected by fungi. Our key agricultural research agencies (Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Coconut Authority; University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), and Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development) are working double time to artificially rear these potential biocontrol agents in great numbers to release them in outbreak areas. Nevertheless, their efforts are relatively puny considering the gravity of the situation. Their efforts should be multiplied ten-fold to make a difference.
Contact vs. Systemic Pesticides
Scale insects are ubiquitous pests on many crops. They are relatively easy to manage/control with commercially available pesticides. In fact, household detergents and oils that are inexpensive and safe to humans and the environment have been demonstrated to be effective against scale insects.
By virtue of Malacañang Proclamation No. 783 signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on June 6, 2014, Academician Ramon C. Barba was conferred the Rank and Title of National Scientist for his distinguished achievements in the field of plant physiology, focusing on induction of flowering of mango and on micropropagation of important crop species that have earned him national and international accolades.
His pioneering work on the induction of flowering and fruiting of mango resulted in the change from seasonal supply of fresh fruits to all year round availability of abundant fresh mangoes. The regularity of mango production is the key ingredient in the development of mango exports which gave rise to an entirely new industry of processed mango products. He developed the plant growth enhancer, FLUSH, which accelerates the growth cycle of the trees and advance their flowering and fruiting stages, to assure continuous fruit bearing of mango trees. The discovery assured regular or controlled flowering of mango trees and in many dry areas like Cebu and Guimaras, hence, the flowering period for the whole country was not just confined to March and April but has extended to several months, assuring a supply of mangoes throughout the year.
This mango induction technology was patented not only in the Philippines but also in other countries, such as USA, England, Australia and New Zealand. He did not collect any royalty from the patent so that ordinary farmers can freely use the technology. Nowadays, many mango producing countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australia have adopted the technology for their mango production. Furthermore, this technology has been successfully applied on other fruit trees including cashew.
His outstanding works on plant micropropagation led major changes in the production schemes of several important crops. He and his team at the Institute of Plant Breeding developed the tissue culture protocol for banana in order to produce large quantities of planting materials that are robust and disease-free, allowing for annual replanting, which brought major shift in banana production system, now a standard practice in large farms not only in the Philippines but also in other countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He also established the tissue culture protocol for sugar cane that made possible the rapid production of large quantities of disease-free planting materials. This becomes the standard practice in disease cleaning of sugar cane varieties. Tissue culture of sugar cane has become an integral part of sugar cane agriculture worldwide.