CORDILLERA is no exception to the effects of climate change experienced among other countries. In response to this, Benguet State University through one of its research centers, Higher Education Regional Research Center (HERRC) implemented the “ R and D Program Towards Environmental Sustainability of the Cordillera Highlands Amidst Changing Climate. ” The program is composed of ten projects, seven agriculture, forestry & natural resources (AFNR) and three social studies, implemented on September 2015 and still continuing to date.
The funding support was from the Commission on Higher Education(CHED).
One of the projects focused on the development of soil fertility management decision tool. This was an effort towards the improvement of yield and enhancement of farming practices of cabbage in Benguet.
Generated information from this study will help address the problems on improper usage of fertilizers. Among the three varieties tested Lucky Ball, Rare Ball, and Scorpio, initial results showed that Rare Ball produced that highest marketable yield.
In relation to the abovementioned project, a survey on the farmers awareness and perception regarding the effects of pesticide use on the environment and human health was also implemented in the community farms of Atok. Generated results of the study aimed to identify farmers’ pest management practices and to serve as inputs to economic valuation of pollution as an environmental damage. Initial results showed the need to educate farmers on the importance of soil micro-organism in the degradation of pesticide residues.Dissemination of the potential of weeds as a phytoremediation agent to farmers was also encouraged.
Another project is on the identification and production of selected vegetable, legume and root crops (VELERO) varieties under drought, waterlogging and cold ‘frost’ conditions. Results from this study will help farmers select better varieties of VELERO that can cope with the impacts of climate change for better food production. Under snap bean varieties, preliminary results revealed that Red bean and Lipstican were the highest yielders under drought condition. Likewise, varieties recommended for waterlogging condition were Connect and Mexican. White, Pencil and Contender varieties had the highest total seed yield per plot produced grown under cold condition.
In another project, the collection and characterization of Arabica coffee varieties grown in Mt. Province for organic production was done.
Included was the identification and assessment of the occurrence and severity of the plant diseases affecting the crop. Considering Cordillera as an emerging coffee producer in the country, this study aimed to improve the coffee industry in the locale of the study and the region as a whole with varieties resistant to pests and diseases induced by climate change. Results show that a total of 21.95 hectares were devoted to organic Arabica coffee production in Mountain Province with elevations ranging from 1,130 to 1,642 meters above sea level and temperature of 18.0 – 27, which are ideal for Arabica coffee production. Five existing Arabica coffee varieties were identified namely Typica, Red Bourbon, San Ramon, Granica and Mundo Novo. Eight plant diseases infecting the crop identified were coffee rust, sooty mold, brown eye spot, berry blotch, coffee berry disease, coffee berry anthracnose & die back, and brown leaf spot.
Another project addressed the problem on Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) by promoting orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties. The three varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes recommended for consumption and processing were Sp 30, Taiwan and Inmitlog. Further results increased b-carotene intake of consumers and livelihood opportunities.
The production of antisera for sweet potato and strawberry viruses was the output of another project. Antisera production is essential for a better quality and yield of agricultural produce which may help into the livelihood, food sufficiency, poverty alleviation, and environmental conservation in the region. Initial experiments were laid to control the Potato Virus S. which is one of the most prevalent virus disease existing in seed growing areas.
Another project evaluated agricultural wastes as a growth medium for Trichoderma isolates. Trichoderma is a widely known natural agent controlling various plant diseases of vegetables. Preliminary results show that isolates used in the experiment can be used as enhancer in composting agricultural waste products as they grow in wide range of substrates with different pH and at different temperatures.
The promotion and conservation of ectomycorrhizal mushrooms (EEMs) in the Pine tree-based areas in the region was the objective of another project. The study aimed to determine the influence of ecological, biological factors and farmers’ forest management practices and attitude towards promotion and maintenance of fruiting of the said commodity. Earlier findings show that there were many existing kinds of EEMs found along pine forest, most were collected to serve as food and for sale and some were used as medicine in which leaving some mushroom behind was the most common practice. However, EEMs were also commonly found in pine areas along with poisonous mushrooms.
On information and communications technology (ICT), one project investigated the extent to which ICT is being used towards knowledge sharing support for climate-change initiatives. Noting that accurate, adequate and timely information is vital in making decisions on how to deal with climate change, this study works towards the establishment of a knowledge base which can provide the right information at the right time for appropriate interventions. This knowledge base will be managed using Dspace. Hence, BSU knowledge products that were gathered and digitized will be deposited in this web-based repository.
One project focused on gender and organic farming with an effort to capture a gender based response to organic agriculture. Specifically, the study aimed to measure the farmers’ responses in terms of decision making, discourses and engagements of farmers in organic farming in selected communities of Benguet. Results showed that organic farming generates employment that is free from the vagaries of market. It utilizes female labor and women’s creativity, including hard work and ingenuity, defined as devising strategies to ensure markets for crops. Male farmers on the other hand still maintain conventional farms to secure family’s basic needs.