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 February 18 2008
Participants visit the Agricultural Park at UPLB showcasing field plots planted with vegetables and herbal plants applied with compost and bio-pesticides.

Participants visit the Agricultural Park at UPLB showcasing field plots planted with vegetables and herbal plants applied with compost and bio-pesticides.

LOS BAÑOS, PHILIPPINES - Excessive and inappropriate use of agrochemicals has undeniably resulted in negative and sometimes irreparable effects on the environment. In an effort to increase crop yield, the once fertile soils have become acidic due to heavy chemical fertilizer application. Degraded soils and groundwater pollution caused by chemical leaching have resulted in lands becoming unproductive in the long run. In the same way, reliance on chemical pesticides to manage pest problems has aggravated environmental ruins. Pesticide residues raise food safety concerns among domestic consumers and pose trade impediments for export crops.

While chemical inputs have raised the agriculture’s productivity levels, the benefits however, are short-lived. As such, farmers and consumers are now in search for alternatives to agrochemicals that would provide them safe and substantial amount of food without harm to the environment--- alternatives that are safe, secure, and sustainable.

It is in this context that bio-alternatives or bio-agents, such as bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides, came in. For years, scientists in many countries have been researching on suitable and effective bio-agents as among the strategies to raising crop productivity levels. In the Asian and Pacific (ASPAC) countries, bio-fertilizer and bio-pesticide technologies are now in various stages of development and utilization.

FFTC, in coordination with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), organized the international workshop on appropriate use of bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides for small-scale farmers held in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines on 19-23 November 2007 with the primary goal of bringing together experts from all over the ASPAC region in order to share and exchange practical and technical information and enhance cooperation in this area among the countries in the region.

Bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides have enormous contribution in improving crop production and agricultural ecosystems. Hence, during the workshop, significant research findings and technologies were presented. The workshop provided a better understanding of the efficacy and safety of these technologies in small-scale farms. It also gave a clear picture of the general status and prospects of bio-agents as promising strategies for environment-friendly and sustainable crop production.

During the workshop, 13 speakers representing 8 countries discussed and identified bio-agents that are suitable and effective to local conditions. Participants deliberated on ways to promote proper use of bio-agents and strategies to improve adoption of technologies by small-scale farmers.

The field observation tour at the Center for Rural Technology Development in Calauan, Laguna provided participants with some information on vermicomposting technology. Also, the Agricultural Park at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) showed participants the actual field plots planted with vegetables applied with compost and herbal gardens filled with plants that can be used as natural pesticidal control, and many others. Moreover, the visit to UPLB’s National Crop Protection Center and National Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology gave them the opportunity to see some technological advancement in bio-fertilizer production and bio-pesticide research undertakings.