FoodSTART+ joins a Consultation Meeting in a bid to boost the Philippine Industry for Cassava and Sweetpotato

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The FoodSTART+ team led by Dr. Diego Naziri participated in the Consultation cum Packaging Workshop/Meeting for Rootcrops (Cassava and Sweetpotato) organized by the Crops Research Division (CRD) of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) on 24 April 2018. The workshop aimed to facilitate discussion, and information exchange among experts and stakeholders from the government and private sector in identifying R&D needs of the cassava and sweetpotato industries. Dr. Edna Anit, Assistant Director of CRD, DOST-PCAARRD, said that the workshop is important to address and identify the R&D gaps for cassava and sweetpotato. The venue also provided the platform in crafting the Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) for cassava and updating of the ISP for sweetpotato.

Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo discusses about the R&D status and ongoing initiatives for cassava

Updates on R&D status of cassava and ongoing initiatives for sweetpotato were given by Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, Director of Research, and Dr. Julieta R. Roa, Professor 5 of the Visayas State University (VSU), respectively. This provided the participants an overview of how the industries of cassava and sweetpotato are faring in the Philippines, and what can be done to address the research gaps.

Ms. Abigail May O Retuta, ISP Manager for sweetpotato of DOST-PCAARRD, shared to the group the results, of the Sweetpotato Round Table Discussion held in December 2015 – an activity jointly organized by CIP and DOST-PCAARRD as part of its workplan.

The ISP for sweetpotato is a program funded by DOST-PCAARRD and implemented by partner government agencies and universities in the Philippines.

It was also envisaged that the workshop will provide new R&D proposals on cassava and sweetpotato as the Phase I of the ISP for sweetpotato will conclude in 2018.

During the activity, a focused group discussion (FGD) was facilitated by Mr. Angelito T. Carpio, Senior Science Research Specialist of CRD, where the participants were grouped into two (2) to work on cassava and sweetpotato.

A group of experts discussing about the possible R&D programs for sweetpotato.

The sweetpotato group proposed a value chain improvement with institutional markets, such as the food manufacturers and feeds industries. Strategic R&D activities involving experimentation on germplasm and varietal improvement, and development of other sweetpotato products were likewise proposed. These were to be implemented through scoping study on institutional markets, presentation of outputs to a forum of stakeholders, experts and industry players, and development of a capsule proposal. CIP’s expertise on sweetpotato was seen to play a significant role in this new endeavor.

The cassava group, on the other hand, proposed to address the industry’s problem of low yield through characterization of cassava germplasm to identify high yielding and better agronomic characteristics that can be used for farmer adoption. Further, it was proposed to develop nutrient recommendations which will be available to farmers in major producing provinces. Development of information, education, and communication (IEC) materials on cassava will also help address the lack of information on cassava production system and varieties.

The said initiatives will be proposed to DOST-PCAARRD for possible funding and implementation. Activities such as the recently-held workshop proves that both the research community and industry regard the value of cassava and sweetpotato in addressing food security in the Philippines.

Further consultations with DA-BAR will be sought to complement R&D initiatives in the finalization of the ISP for cassava and updating of the ISP for sweetpotato.

Written by: Camille Joy V. Enalbes, FoodSTART+ Communication Specialist