by Angel Sweet S. Herbosa
After almost seven years, the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) has recently approved three plant varieties of the Bureau of Plant Industry-Los Baños (BPI-LB). These included varieties for mung bean, pole sitao (sitaw), and tomato.
BPI-Los Baños was able to have three approved plant varieties after passing the standard prescribed by the NSIC provisions of the Seed Industry Development Act. The BPI-Los Baños used conventional techniques that involves selecting the plants with the best and relevant characteristics to cross together. Throughout the approval process, the NSIC made sure that BPI-Los Baños produced varieties that were not yet approved and that the seed testing met the requirements for accurate and prompt analysis of the seed sample to determine its quality.
BPI-Los Baños named the new varieties of mung bean “Luntian 1,” “Luntian 2,” and “Luntian 3,” the pole sitao, “Hitik 2” and “Hitik 3”, and the tomato, “Golden Globe.” These new varieties of tomato can be best grown during the dry season, while the mung bean and pole sitao are both adapted to different agro-climatic conditions in the wet and dry seasons.
As the new varieties of tomato were well adapted to the dry season, it was recommended that they be distributed in selected regions in Luzon, specifically regions 1, 2, 4, and CAR. The pole sitao and the mung bean are recommended to be distributed all across the regions of the Philippines.
Characteristics of the new plant varieties that make them special
The “Luntian 1” variety of mung bean can be planted after rice; stickiness is high; and it is resistant to cercospora leaf spot and rust, which are small circular yellow spots on the leaves. The “Luntian 2” and “Luntian 3” have the same characteristics as the “Luntian 1,” except that the “Luntian 2” has 22.57% crude protein, 3.67% ash, and 0.088% crude fat. This crude protein is a measure of protein, and the ash consists of elements that a crop needs for growth.
The pole sitao days to first harvest are 45 days during the dry season and 46 days during the wet season. As per the agraryo, about 60–70 days are required before the first harvest of the pole sitao. Compared to normal days of harvest, a variety of pole sitao that was plant-bred was harvested 25 days earlier. According to the BPI-Los Banos, this variety was helpful to the farmers and the consumers as it produces good-quality fruits and is highly resistant to the mosaic virus, a parasite that destroys crops.
The “Golden Globe” tomato has a high beta-carotene content, which is an antioxidant and could help keep our eyes healthy. According to the Bulletin of the National Research Centre, a tomato’s shelf life usually lasts up to 10.25–22 days. This new variety’s shelf life was 43 days during the dry season and 27 days during the wet season.
Reasons to adapt plant breeding
“Plant breeding not only provides but also answers the need for food security and nutritional security,” said Philippines Seed Industry Association (PSIA) President Mary Ann Sayoc.
In a changing climate that every grower is facing, plant breeding helps the growers adapt and mitigate the effects of it. PSIA President and Public Affairs Lead of East-West Seed, Mary Ann P. Sayoc, said that plant breeding can be the answer to the challenges posed by climate change. Through varieties that are pest and disease resistant, farmers would have less need for chemicals and pesticides. There are also varieties that require less water, so they are drought tolerant. Moreover, there is climate-smart agriculture that helps farmers adapt to the changing climate.
“NSIC provides seminars every second of the year on new varieties that could help farmers have an abundant harvest and seeds that are resistant to pests and diseases, which will increase production and income,” said Joselito Alcala, a rice crop farmer in Brgy. San Jose, Calamba City.
Plant breeding innovations to enter the Philippine market Agriculturist II of the BPI-Los Baños, Niña Rosales, hopes that the Philippines will enter geneediting and molecular editing for faster variety development. The process of developing a variety like a tomato usually lasts for 10 years, and the faster the variety can be determined, the more varieties that can be produced that will help in the reproduction of crops.
PSIA President Mary Ann Sayoc said that plant breeding was a hot topic globally, and by 2050 we will reach 10 billion varieties developed through plant breeding. She further explains that the Philippines is one of those countries that has a more favorable regulatory framework for plant breeding innovation. The Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) have developed guidelines to allow it to be marketed and that will determine how to treat products, whether they are GMO or non-GMO.