Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

BPI intensifies role in food security

Author: DA Press Office | 15 March 2022

In line with the implementation of the Plant, Plant, Plant Program Part 2, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) will mass-produce seeds, seedlings, biopesticides, and biostimulants for distribution among the banner programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The new role of the BPI was highlighted by Agriculture Secretary William Dar during the agency’s 92nd anniversary on March 14, 2022 in Manila, Malate.

The DA chief further urged the BPI family to continue to be an indispensable pillar for Philippine agriculture and the advance of shared prosperity through good policy, science, and hard work.

He added that the agency has stood guard over Philippine borders to ensure food safety and lawful agricultural trade.

“Our farmers, fishers, and the mass of Filipino consumers are being squeezed by global circumstances. We have to do our jobs to lessen the suffering and the damage to human development caused by conflicts, pandemics, and the African Swine Fever, which up to this day is still lurking,” the DA chief conveyed.

BPI Director George Culaste assured that it will remain fastidious in its functions toward nation-building amidst all challenges.

For the year 2022 onwards, Director Culaste expressed various objectives that the BPI intends to succeed on. These are:

  • ensure access of farmers to quality seeds and planting materials;
  • generate new and relevant agricultural technologies to increase agricultural productivity;
  • strengthen the vegetable production program and promote vegetable consumption;
  • enforce food safety standards;
  • strengthen quarantine measures against transboundary pests and diseases, as well as pest management through surveillance and advisory;
  • open more international markets for local products;
  • strengthen the import risk analysis of the BPI’s Pest Risk Analysis of the BPI;
  • increase accessibility of buffer stocks, seeds, planting materials;
  • address the needs of calamity-stricken farmers;
  • upgrade infrastructure and support facilities;
  • develop programs focused on crop diversification; and
  • promote good agricultural practices.

As part of its efforts to strengthen its capabilities as the lead implementing office for the development of the Philippine plant industry, the BPI also inaugurated six new facilities within its compound in Malate, Manila.

The Crop Research and Production Support Division Building was constructed with the approval of the DA Rice Program in 2019 under the BPI-Rice Seed Component Program, in support of the National Seed Research Program. Construction started in 2020 and was completed in 2021.

Meanwhile, the National Plant Quarantine Services Division-NAIA Annex Building houses the BPI Biotechnology Office and the PQS-NAIA Administrative Office — both of which support the core operations of the Bureau.

Another newly-inaugurated BPI facility is the National Crop Pest Management Center, which was funded by the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan) 2. It utilizes state-of-the-art technologies befitting the country’s plant diagnostic laboratory. The Center hosts four special sub-facilities specializing in quick detection, surveillance, and monitoring of plant pests and diseases, making it possible for the BPI to become the lead implementing agency for crop pest management in the Philippines. These include:

  • Pests Reference Collection Room, where specimens of pests and diseases are securely maintained and preserved for research and authentication purposes;
  • Pests Diagnostic Laboratory, where specimens of plant diseases and pests are processed for morphological identification and plant health analyses and identification of nematodes, weeds, insects, and arthropods are conducted;
  • Molecular Laboratory, where the molecular identification of specimens take place, using a variety of techniques to analyze biological markers.
  • Microscopy Room, which contains the necessary equipment for image processing and identification of plant pests and diseases.

The Crop Pest Management Division also launched the first edition of the Biological Control Agents Mass Production and Utilization Technology Handbook, which introduces biocontrol agents as sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives for controlling plant pests and diseases.

The Central Laboratory is host to workrooms dedicated to plant pathology, entomology, seed health, and molecular analysis, with the goal of strengthening the Bureau’s diagnostic laboratories. The laboratory uses an internationally-linked online tool with assistance from Korea for identifying plant pests and diseases with quarantine issues.

Two of BPI’s new facilities are funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the High-Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) – Urban Bayanihan: the Controlled Environment Indoor Cultivation System at the BPI-Agricultural Engineering Division Building; and the Smart Greenhouse. Both were constructed under the Surviving and Rebooting Agriculture in the City as Urban Farming project, with the goal of promoting urban agriculture and ensuring food availability and security to address food access challenges in the urban areas.

“When we were inaugurating those facilities, I could see the Bureau of Plant Industry in a new environment under the new normal. It brings us to really do our jobs much more seriously and see to it that we impact the lives of our farmers and other stakeholders in agriculture,” Secretary Dar expressed.He also challenged the BPI to take proactive measures needed in these enduring times. ### (Krystelle Ymari A. Vergara, DA-AFID)

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