P20-M agro-fishery lab center to benefit farmers, fisherfolk

THE Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) of Negros Occidental is building a P20-million Agro-fishery Laboratory Center this year seen to benefit local farmers and fisherfolk.

Provincial agriculturist Japhet Masculino said there is a need for the province to improve its laboratory services especially for agriculture and fishery sector.

He said the center will house three laboratories intended for fisheries, soil and biocontrol.

“Through the fisheries laboratory, we can detect diseases or problems concerning our marine resources like red tide,” Masculino said, adding that “possible adverse effects of its occurrence can be allayed immediately.”

The biocontrol laboratory will be used for production of metarhizium anisopliae as control agent for pests like rice grain bug infesting some farms in the province.

OPA will utilize the soil laboratory to ensure the fertility of the soil through identification of appropriate measurement in applying fertilizer.

Masculino said they are tapping the Department of Agriculture (DA), particularly the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), for possible assistance.

“We will request them, if they can provide us the equipment because the P20-million budget of the province will be mainly used for the construction of the building,” he added.

The three-storey structure will most likely be established at the Provincial Government's property at Barangay 39 in Bacolod City.

OPA though is also considering an area within the Panaad Park and Stadium in Barangay Mansilingan.

Masculino said they initially wanted to have the facility constructed near the Negros First Organic Technology Center in Barangay Tabunan, Bago City.

However, due to possible contamination since there will be a biocontrol laboratory, OPA decided to look for other “compatible” areas, he said.

The P20-million allocation is part of about P96 million in development fund of OPA this year.

It is included in the 20 percent Development Fund of the Provincial Government for 2018 totaling to almost P393 million.

Masculino said the laboratory center will really benefit the farmers and fisherfolk mainly through protection of agro-fishery resources from pests and diseases as well as effects of climate change.

“It will positively contribute to the province's goal of ensuring food safety and security,” he added.
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