Ilocos Red tomato farmers receive help from UPLB, DOST-PCAARRD

Education, agriculture, and technology agencies in the Philippines have banded together to address the need of farmers of the “Ilocos Red” variety of tomatoes for new productivity and processing technology.

University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) researchers and experts from Northern Foods Corporation and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) have partnered to develop an integrated crop management (ICM) technology aimed at benefitting at least 2,000 tomato farmers by 2020.

The new technology aims to increase the productivity of fresh and processing tomato in the Philippines using adaptable and site specific pest and nutrient management products and technologies.

It will be implemented by UPLB, NFC, Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), Regional Crop Protection Center, and local government units of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

The program has three project components, which will focus on diseases, insect pests and weeds, and nutrient management.

The team will practice a systems approach in integrating the results of each project to come up with one comprehensive ICM technology for tomato.

The productivity of tomato is known to be threatened by many diseases. The most destructive disease of which is tomato leaf curl disease, which is transmitted by whiteflies. ‘Ilocos Red,’ the variety being planted by NFC for processing to paste, is susceptible to the said disease.

To address the tomato leaf curl disease in Ilocos Red, the first project will establish the disease profile of tomato, and determine the efficacy of healthy seedling technology and carrageenan technology for leaf curl management. Then, field-validated ICM recommendations will be formulated.

The second project will address the insect pest and weed problem in tomato production. An improved control and management of insect pests and weeds will be developed.

The research team will involve the farmers in the program by promoting the adoption of village-level production of biological control agents (BCAs) such as Trichogramma, helicoverpa nuclear polyhedrosis virus (HNPV), and earwigs in their farms. They will also capacitate the members of the farmers’ cooperative in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur as part of the sustainability plan of the project.

Among the expected outputs of Project 2 are site-specific insect pest succession pattern, modified release strategy of BCAs, carrageenan technology for managing insect pests, improved weed management strategies, and field-validated ICM recommendations for fresh and processing tomato.

The third project will complete the comprehensive ICM program on tomato. It will focus on the development of site-specific nutrient management program for tomato production in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

The research team for Ilocos Red tomatoes will promote the ICM recommendations for the new tomato processing technology through information drives and other activities.

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