PhilRootcrops Marks 46 Years of Rootcrop Research for Food and Nutrition Security

The Philippine Root Crop Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops) celebrated its 46th founding anniversary through a weeklong event on March 20-24, 2023.

Established on March 21, 1977, through Presidential Decree 1107, PhilRootcrops is the lead government agency for research, development, and extension in support of the industry development for rootcrops, which include cassava, sweetpotato, taro, yam, yambean, arrowroot, and other root crops.

Under the theme, "Rootcrops for Food and Nutrition Security," this year's celebration emphasizes the research center's commitment to its vision of creating wealth, enhancing health, and improving lives through roots and tubers.

Over the years, PhilRootcrops has established a quality seed system, developed processing machines and tools, and provided technical assistance on production, processing, and capacity development through training, expert dispatch, and IEC materials.

The center has also developed and implemented strategic rootcrop research and programs, customized feed formulation, generated ready-to-commercialized food products, and provided GIS mapping services and laboratory analyses, all with the goal of reducing poverty and food insecurity.

This year’s gain

The weeklong celebration kicked off with a thanksgiving mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Jerome Dejarme at PhilRootcrops Training Hall, followed by the State of PhilRootcrops' Director Address delivered by VSU President and concurrent Director of PhilRootcrops, Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin.

Dr. Tulin highlighted the agency's research achievements in response to its eight strategic objectives.

These accomplishments include the conservation of rootcrop germplasm and active exchange of genetic resources, the development of rootcrop varieties, the increase of rootcrop production, the development of environment-friendly technologies, the improvement of rootcrop production and postproduction mechanization, and the development of novel and competitive food, feed, and industrial products.

These achievements also include the enhancement of the system and management of the knowledge base of rootcrops and the improvement of the delivery and support system of rootcrop technologies and information.

The Director capped his address by expressing his heartfelt gratitude to the agency’s personnel and stakeholders for their efforts to generate and promote root crop innovations.

Following the state address, project leaders and proponents delivered detailed presentations on their research, development, and extension projects.

The presentation was followed by a forum with root crop experts and researchers to identify research gaps and strategically plan the next steps for the projects.

Rootcrops as superfoods

On the second day of the celebration, retired professors and food scientists, Dr. Julie D. Tan and Dr. Roberta D. Lauzon, conducted a lecture on the health benefits of rootcrops, food product innovations, and their role in food security.

Dr. Tan highlighted that rootcrops are now considered superfoods and are no longer a poor man’s crop by citing their high mineral content and functional characteristics that provide numerous health benefits.

Meanwhile, Dr. Lauzon presented the characteristics of rootcrops and how they have evolved from traditional plain food to now a range of delicious, healthy, and high-value products such as icecream, cookies, cake, beverages, jam, catsup, chips, fries, wine, pickles, soy sauce, flour, noodles, and animal feeds.

Some of these products were showcased in the PhilRootcrops lobby area to welcome guests and are available for purchase in Technomart and Pasalubong Center in VSU and Baybay City.

Launching of sweetpotato fries

Another highlight of the celebration was the launching of sweetpotato fries, which comes in two variations: the multi-colored one consisting of five sweetpotato varieties and the original variation consisting of a specific variety that makes good fries due to its consistency similar to potatoes.

The launching of SP fries was marked with a free tasting event for everyone, including other sweetpotato products like hopia, beverages, and soft cookies.

This was followed by a sensory evaluation aimed to understand consumers’ perceptions of the newly launched product.

The commercialization initiatives of the SP fries is being carried through by the DOST-PCAARRD funded project titled “Enhancing the Sweetpotato Food Value Chains through Smart Technologies and Partnerships in the New Normal in Western Samar which is led by Prof. Marlon M. Tambis, the Assistant Director of PhilRootcrops.

PCAARRD provides a window for collaboration with PhilRootcrops

In the afternoon session of the 2nd-day celebration of the 46th PhilRootcrops anniversary, Director Noel A. Catibog of Technology Transfer and Promotion Division (TTPD) at the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), held a virtual presentation on PCAARRD’s technology transfer modalities for future collaborations.

Dir. Catibog explained how R&D outputs are transformed into innovations and highlighted the different programs of TTPD-PCAARRD that PhilRootcrops can enter to propose projects.

The presentation aimed to inspire rootcrop research experts and enthusiasts to develop project ideas that have potential for commercialization and explore potential collaborations.

New collaborations

The anniversary celebration also included the signing of three Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) between PhilRootcrops and its new partners and technology adopters.

 The first MOA focused on developing the cassava industry in Region 8 by providing technical and financial assistance to farmers.

The MOA was signed by Visayas State University (VSU) President and PhilRootcrops Director Dr. Edgardo Tulin, AGRITERRAPHILS, INC, represented by Mr. Jun Virola, and Fatima Multi-Purpose Cooperative, represented by its Chairman, Ms. Nellen S. Albeos.

The second MOA which was signed between VSU and Mr. Jorge Go, the owner of Green Care Solution, is for the adoption and commercialization of the vacuum fryer for food processing. The vacuum fryer developed by PhilRootcrops is also from a PCAARRD-funded initiative.

The third MOA is for the commercialization of sweet potato fries and its by-products, signed between VSU, through the VSU-Agri-Aqua Technology Business Incubator (VSU-ATBI), and enteprenuer Mr. Victor De Paz.

The weeklong celebration concluded with an amazing race and family day, where a range of physical and mind games was played to enhance decision-making, foster camaraderie, and promote bonding among all personnel.

 Written by: Mikaela M. Gonggora and Danica Godinez

About PhilRootcrops

The Philippine Root Crop Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops) is a government research, development and training institution for root and tuber crops: cassava, sweetpotato, taro, yam, yambean, arrowroot and other rootcrops.
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Vision, Mission & Goal

Creating wealth, enhancing health, improving lives through roots and tubers
To provide the national leadership in formulating and implementing strategic root crop research and development programs that can reduce poverty and food insecurity
To generate and promote root crop innovations and information that can improve the lives of stakeholders along the root crop value chain.

Contact Information

PhilRootcrops, VSU,Visca, Baybay City, Leyte, Philippines 6521-A
Telephone / Fax No.: +63 (053)563-7229 Trunkline: +63 (053) 565 0600 local 1063
Email: [email protected] | [email protected]
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