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DENR to boost greening program

Published on 04 April 2013 [ ] 
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will increase by more than half the production of bio-fertilizers in the first half of the year to ensure stable supply of root growth enhancers for planting materials to be used in the government’s National Greening Program (NGP).
In a memorandum to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) Director Portia Lapitan said the agency expects to produce 155 metric tons (MT) of bio-fertilizers this semester, or 55 percent higher from last year’s production.
“A total of 155 tons are to be distributed to 16 regions from January to June 2013, with a maximum of 10 tons per region,” Lapitan said.
ERDB is using “mycorrhizal” technology in producing fungus-based fertilizers, which has for its main component a nitrogen-fixing bacteria species called “vesicular arbuscular mycorrhiza.”
Mycorrhiza is known to promote fungal infection in the root area of a plant, induce root growth, and improve transfer of water and nutrients to the host plant.
The production of the bio-fertilizer was first pegged at 100 MT in May last year, when it entered into a partnership with the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB-Biotech).
Lapitan noted that the production capacity of UPLB-Biotech has been hitting 25 MT per month since last December.
Dr. Evangeline Castillo, ERDB science research specialist and project leader for the mycorrhizal production, said some 43 MT has been distributed to various DENR field offices as of March this year.
Castillo said that satellite nursery facilities would be constructed this year to mass produce the bio-fertilizer by the DENR for the next four years of the NGP’s implementation, as well as for possible public consumption after 2016.
“The project hopes to produce about 500 tons of mycorrhiza by the end of the year from the three satellite nursery facilities established in Laguna, Bohol and Zambales provinces,” Castillo said.
She added that the mass production of bio-fertilizers was in compliance with Paje’s order to maintain an 80 percent survival rate of planted seedlings under the NGP.
The DENR is also planning to put up another mycorrhiza facility in Agusan del Norte to supply the bio-fertilizer requirements of the NGP’s implementation in Mindanao, Castillo said.
ERDB’s facility inside the UPLB has been in production mode of the bio-fertilizer in preparation for the supply needs for the second semester, while the construction of other facilities is now in full swing.
These facilities are located in Bohol Island State University in Bilar, Bohol; Ramon Magsaysay State University in Botolan, Zambales and Caraga State University in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.
Castillo said that the use of mycorrhiza as fertilizer is more practical because of its unique characteristics that boost root growth.
“With the limited availability of water particularly during long dry season, mycorrhiza increases the plant’s tolerance to drought,” Castillo said.
She said that biofertilizers were also effective even in hostile environments like mine waste areas and mine tailings site, citing studies which show that mycorrhiza has unique mechanisms that sequester heavy metals in the soil, thus increasing the plant’s tolerance to toxicity of the metals and minimizing their transfer to the plants treated with the bio-fertilizer.

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