THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

Agri chief backs research on transboundary crop pests and diseases

Author: DA Communications Group | 18 May 2021

The Department of Agriculture (DA) will continue to support research for development (R4D) efforts to effectively control and manage transboundary crop pests and diseases that adversely impact Philippine agriculture.

“We believe it is the opportune time to reshape the country’s crop pest management program, led by the University of the Philippines Los Baños’ National Crop Protection Center (UPLB-NCPC),” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

“We consider the NCPC as the country’s transboundary center in crop pests and diseases management, and thus the Department of Agriculture will continue to support it in whatever way we can,” said Secretary Dar in his virtual message during the agency’s 45th founding anniversary on May 17, 2021.

“We are here not only to catalyze your growth in research but also to support this new thinking that we need to put in place today for the future,” the DA chief said.

“With more than four decades of existence, the NCPC has become the country’s beacon of hope and vast wellspring of development-oriented research and concrete innovative outputs,” he added.

“I know that most of your research outputs have been utilized in a big way, and it would be good for the NCPC leadership to conduct an impact assessment of your top 10 research outputs. This will give the center the opportunity to really say: ‘Yes the NCPC continues to be relevant!’ Hence, it deserves additional financial support to do more development-oriented research today and in the future,” the DA chief said.

He also urged the agency to continue training and capacitating researchers, noting that “we have seen that even the non-important pests are now becoming important due to climate change, and today more virulent pests are affecting our crop industry.”

“Clearly the mandate of NCPC in tandem with the DA’s Regional Crop Protection Centers are more than relevant. We hope you will have the capacity to look not only at present concerns on pest management, but also on foresight analysis or future thinking,” he said.

“The agriculture sector faced major challenges last year, but it proved as the most resilient among the country’s economic sectors. This simply means agriculture can be one of the pillars to fuel the country’s economic recovery,” he added.

“We need to enhance higher levels of food sufficiency and security, because of the global distortion that is happening due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We believe that the academic and science sector, like the UPLB and NCPC, need to be continuously relevant in helping transform Philippine agriculture, in general,” he concluded.

The spread of transboundary plant pests and diseases has increased dramatically in recent years due to globalization, trade, climate change, and reduced resilience in production systems, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Transboundary plant pests and diseases can easily spread to several countries and reach epidemic proportions. Outbreaks and upsurges can cause huge losses to crops and pastures, threatening the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers and the food and nutrition security of millions.

Locusts, armyworm, fruit flies, banana diseases, cassava diseases, and wheat rusts are among the most destructive transboundary plant pests and diseases, the FAO said. ### (Rita dela Cruz, DA Stratcomms)

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