CITY OF SAN FERNANDO Tamarind research pursued by the Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) have advanced the frontiers of knowledge on tamarind with positive prospects for crop production.

PSAU hosts the Tamarind Research and Development (R&D) Center. This is under the Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) Program.

Aside from this, the university is known as the home of the first sweet tamarind variety registered and commercialized in the country under Aglibut Sweet, initiatives are being done to replicate its success in sour tamarind.

PAC Sour 2 has been submitted to the Bureau of Plant Industry – National Seed Industry Council (BPI- NSIC) in August 2022 for Crop Variety Registration. The sour tamarind accession was found to be the most promising among the collections inside the university due to its length (8.30 cm, rank 1st), fruit weight (8.16 grams, rank 1st), and sourness (perceived to be the sourest based on preliminary observations).

Similar to the success in the promotion and up-scaling of Aglibut Sweet, it is the goal of the Tamarind R&D Center to jumpstart the sour tamarind industry given the high demand in the market.

A briefer from the PSAU and DOST said that part of the deliverables of the Tamarind R&D Center is the collection and characterization of different tamarind lines in the country.

Sour tamarind fruits were collected from Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Bicol, Negros Occidental, Cebu City, Eastern Samar, Zamboanga Del Sur, Cagayan De Oro, Davao City, General Santos City, Butuan City, and Maguindanao. Results show that the longest and heaviest fruits were obtained from Batangas (Region 4A) and Oriental Mindoro (Region 4B) with 15.71 cm and 16.36 cm (length) and 16.00 cm and 15.96 cm (weight), respectively. Other distinctive characteristics that were observed include dark-velvety fruits from Cebu, rounded fruits with prominent claw from Eastern Samar, and flat thick c-shaped fruits from Zamboanga.

The Tamarind R&D Center is currently conducting research to develop cultural management strategies for increasing the productivity and profitability of the sweet and sour tamarind industry. Highlights of the study show that using interlocks reduced the tree height of tamarind by 36% to 78%.

The PSAU briefer said that this is instrumental to make harvesting easier for tamarind farmers, reducing the cost of labor and for easier management practices. In addition, girdling and pruning were found to positively affect the yield and quality of pods.

The application of BCAs such as Oriental Herb Nutrient (OHN), PGP, and Trichoderma harzianum suppressed common diseases such as black leaf spot, Colletotrichum leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Against tamarind weevil, BCAs such as Metarhizium ansiopliae and Trichoderma spp. were identified to have great potential.

Through this research, the Tamarind R&D Center is optimistic that the target of increasing the national average yield by at least 30 percent is attainable in the near future.