DA to build P302-million biotech center in Nueva Ecija

The Department of Agriculture (DA) will construct a P302-million biotechnology center in Nueva Ecija, which will allow the government to improve crop productivity and create new crop varieties.

Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), an attached agency of the DA, said the bulk of the funding, or about P277 million, would be sourced from the Public Law (PL) 480 of the United States. The remaining P25 million would be shouldered by the PhilRice.

“The goal of constructing this center is to generate improved technologies, increase productivity and enhance commercial value of the DA’s priority crops, such as rice, abaca, coconut, white and yellow corn, cotton, cassava, sweet potato, yam, tomato and eggplant,” Roel R. Suralta, head of the DA’s Crop Biotechnology Center, said in a statement on October 3.

“Our submitted proposal was recommended by the DA and we were able to get P277 million for this project from the US food-aid program. The remaining P25 million came from PhilRice,” Suralta added, saying the Nueva Ecija facility would be the DA’s biggest biotechnology center.

Suralta, who  is also the team leader of the Golden Rice project, added the budget will cover the construction of new buildings, purchase of state-of-the-art biotechnology equipment and laboratory furniture, and monitoring and evaluation of the project in coordination with the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries.

“The center will not only provide equipment and facilities, but also training and support to Filipino researchers who will venture in the field of biotechnology. It also aims to build a network among local and international researchers to sustain and continually advance biotechnology in the Philippines,” he said.

Enacted in 1954, the PL 480 refers to a US legislation, which mandates the US to use its agricultural productivity to enhance the food security of developing countries.

-Written by Jasper Y. Arcalas in BusinessMirror.  See original article link here.