AGRICULTURAL researchers presented their best outputs during the 29th Regional Symposium on Research and Development Highlights organized by the Southern Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (Smaardec).

The studies seeking to reinvigorate the agriculture sector, address hunger, generate more employment and reduce poverty in the region were highlighted in the forum held last August 22 at the Bulwagan ng Lalawigan, Mankilam, Tagum City.

“Yung hunger, local employment and poverty are still the main issues that need to be addressed... it’s a continuing challenge for us to develop our agricultural center and this is our goal as researchers and extension workers,” said Dr. Lourdes Generalao, vice chair of Smaarrdec and president of University of Southeastern Philippines.

On account of banana production being the main industry of the Davao Region, three research studies presented talked about the management of Fusarium Wilt and the introduction of a cultivar that can withstand the disease.

This include the study in “Resistance & Susceptibility of Selected Banana Cultivars to Fusarium Oxysporum,” “S & T Management Approaches against Fusarium Wilt on Cavendish in Mindanao” and “ Assessment on the Adoption of the Approaches for the Management of Fusarium Wilt on Cavendish Banana on Davao del Norte.”

Fusarium wilt is brought about by a fungus that is found under the soil and is believed by experts to take a while to be totally expunged.

It can be recalled that after the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo in 2012, the disease attacked newly grown Cavendish bananas, which greatly affected the production of the growers. Even until now, there are a lot of growers who opted to plant other produce until fusarium wilt is eradicated.

Aside from the developments regarding the disease, Smaarrdec hopes to further the technology on extracting fibers from banana that will increase the income of those who work in the industry.

The “Screening of Banana and Plantain Collections for Fiber Extraction” study discovered that the fiber from the leaf stalk and stem of bananas can be used in making cardboard, paper, cloth, decoration, and other objects that will become a source of income aside from banana export.

“There was a visitor, a Japanese, kailanganniyang banana fiber... Kasi 'yung sa middle part palang pseudo stem, dun pala 'yung very fine na fiber para banana cloth," said researcher Jonalyn Pabuaya, employee of Bureau of Plant Industry-Davao National Crops Research, Development and Production Support Center.

The Japanese showed interest in purchasing such fiber.

She added that it would be a huge help because the fiber from Banana can be sold for $4 per kilo while abaca can only be sold for P92 per kilo.

Among the other studies presented were “Enhancing the Attraction of Oriental Fruit Flies to Methyl Eugenol Using Plastic Bottle Colored Traps in Pomelo Orchard,” “Revitalization the Abaca Industry through S & T Interventions for Higher Crop Productivity Using High Yielding and Bunchy Top Resistant Abaca Hybrids,” “GIS for Upscaling the Seaweed Industry Operation in Davao Region and Tawi-tawi Province,” “Development of anti-dengue and antimicrobial compounds from Tawa-tawa,” “Taklobo Tours: Giant Clam Monitoring” and “Increasing Productivity of Durian through Flower and Fruit Thinning.” (PR)