June 20, 2024

Researchers in Benguet said climate change is posing a challenge to their efforts to come up with disease-resistant varieties of vegetables like potatoes.

Cynthia Kiswa, director at the Benguet State University Research and Development laboratory, said as an effect of climate change, insects and pests have now found it easier to multiply.

“We are developing climate-resilient varieties because more diseases emerge and we want to develop disease-tolerant potatoes. There are more insects because they have become more conducive to multiply due to the climate,” Kiswa said.

She said they are perfecting the aeroponics system technology and drip irrigation, which they hope will address diseases and pests.

Kiswa said the most common potato diseases include the systematodes and leaf light diseases that cause early decay and a drop in production.

She said the presence of “scabbing” or “chickenpox appearance” in potatoes’ skin results in the produce being classified as of lower quality and sold cheaper.

Bacterial mill disease among potatoes is also being addressed.

“The diseases have been there all along but are more difficult to control now,” Kiswa said.

At least 75 percent of the 120,000 metric tons of potatoes in the country are produced in Buguias, Bakun, Kibungan, and Atok in Benguet.

The commodity is also produced in Bauko, Mountain Province, and in Tinoc, Ifugao.

Kiswa said one of the functions of the research and development laboratory of the university is to produce not just “clean” planting materials but also climate-resilient varieties that will allow the production of the farmers to continue producing the commercial and household requirements for the commodity.

She said the Department of Science and Technology funds their research and has also provided funds for the improvement of the tissue-culture laboratory of the university that allows it to produce “clean” and disease-free planting materials for the farmers. – PNA