THE Benguet State University (BSU) spearheaded by the Horticulture Research and Training Institute (HORTI) in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Research and Extension (OVPRE) and the Office of the Extension Services (OES) conducted a forum on Conservation and Agriculture at the Igorota Hall of Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center (NPRCRTC) on February 2, 2018. This forum aimed to promote strategic development of conservation technologies in plant genetic resources (PGR) as the backbone for agricultural development, food security and sustainable livelihood.

Dr. Divina C. Jose from Bureau of Plant Industry – Baguio National Crop Research and Production Support Center (BPI-BNCRPSC), Dr. Belinda A. Tad-awan and Dr. Lynn J. Talkasen both from Benguet State University (BSU) were the speakers during the forum.

They reiterated to the audience the need for conservation in relation to agriculture.

Dr. Jose shared the Agency’s initiatives on Germplasm Collection and Conservation on Vegetables such as regeneration of potato varieties, characterization and evaluation of snap and field bean landraces and chayote, technology demonstration on indigenous vegetables and production and distribution of seeds/plant materials.

“Many of the landraces and farmers’ varieties are lost. It is important to conserve the endangered plants of valuable genetic traits present in the existing plants”, Dr. Jose said.

She added that the agency is exerting their effort to promote conservation being mandated to conduct PGR studies.

Dr. Belinda A. Tad-awan, Director of Higher Education Regional Research Center (HERRC) and Professor at the College of Agriculture lectured on “Indigenous Legumes: A Challenge to Sustainable Conservation and Utilization of Traditional Food Crop Biodiversity in the Philippine Highland”. She discussed different indigenous legume varieties and emphasized genetic erosion for these indigenous legumes due to adoption of high yielding varieties, national calamities and lack of conservation strategies despite the consumers’ preference on indigenous crops.

She concluded her lecture with a quote ”Seeds that we conserve today are treasures of the future generation”.

Finally, Dr. Talakasen discussed the results of her dissertation on Tree Height Estimation of Pinus densiflora and Pinus koraiensis in Korea with the Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Acquired Imagery. She stressed that the effective and efficient management of forests depend greatly on the availability of accurate information such as tree height.

She said the study is applicable in both flat and sloping areas but more advantageous in areas with terrain like Benguet. This is one of the potential tools to conserve our forest and can be used to trace illegal loggers.

An open forum was held after each topic was presented. One of the questions raised was directed on the proper storage that will conserve seeds in a longer period of time. Dr. Tad-awan admitted that aside from the plastic bottles as one of the storage materials, we still lack equipment to really preserve seeds as those in seed banks, hoping that HORTI will consider purchasing one in the future.