Philippines to have germplasm laboratories for corn development

The Philippines agriculture department has revealed plans to set up two germplasm laboratories by 2015 in an attempt to preserve and develop corn varieties

National Corn Program (NCP) coordinator Edilberto M De Luna said, “This project will make sure that all our corn varieties are preserved and maintained for breeding purposes.”

Two germplasm laboratories will be established in University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Bukidnon, Mindanao.

The laboratories will serve as a repository for genetic materials of corn varieties collected from across the country.

De Luna explained, “Aside from conservation, this project will make sure that we have the materials to work with if we want to develop and improve existing corn varieties.”

The project will have three stages: preparation or planning stage this year, construction of facilities and training of corn experts next year and implementation of the collection and preservation process in 2015.

De Luna added that the department has plans to spend US$246,000 in 2013 for the preparation stage.

“We will start the construction of the facilities needed and training of the corn experts in 2014” said De Luna.

He added that agriculture secretary Proceso J Alcala has formed a project technical committee, headed by Bureau of Plant Industry director Clarito M Barron and composed of representatives of UPLB and Central Mindanao University (CMU).

De Luna revealed, “This technical committee will take care of the technical aspects of this project.”

Each laboratory will be managed and operated by corn experts from UPLB and CMU.

UPLB has already identified a facility which will be transformed into a germplasm laboratory, while CMU was yet to reveal if it has such a facility.

“By 2015, we want to start the collection and preservation process,” said De Luna, adding that the project will aim to collect varieties from other countries as well.

“We also want to develop climate change-resilient varieties, but this will come after the collection and preservation stage.”