(First in a series of posts about things I got to experience in the Philippine agricultural scene recently I’m not sure how many there will be yet… Guess we will see.)
I’m really quite lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to combine vacation travel in a few countries with a short side trip or two to an agricultural venue. Yeah, I know to some people that sounds like work while on vacation, but it’s really just an opportunity to see something very different from home. So it should come as no surprise that while I was in The Philippines for a couple of weeks vacation, I was pumped to see some of the farming sector as well as beaches.
It’s only a couple of days out of two weeks, but it was incredible how much I was able to see (and hopefully learn!)
Traveling with friends, including one who lived & worked in Los Banos, Philippines, that was a town I had heard a lot about over time. And while I was jazzed about going there, I guess I didn’t much understand what I’d see.
Los Banos is home to one of the major campuses of the University of the Philippines. UPLB is one of the leading ag colleges in the country (I know some people who would say firmly it is the leading, but I’m betting there are differences of opinion but Wikipedia seems to be complimentary of UPLB). Advanced degrees are offered & the campus was quite nice, but we spent our day seeing some of the research institutions in town.
We joined a high school group as they toured the National Institute of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology and listened to scientist Lerma Moran provide an overview of biotech. Her presentations centered around two elements: 1) a film on the importance of sustainability & food security in a nation with a growing population and 2) the ways in which Philippine scientists are looking for novel approaches to issues faced locally.
I’ve sat through & even given a number of presentations overviewing biotech, and the film on sustainability & food security hit a number of familiar elements, albeit it with a decidely local focus. That was actually quite interesting to me as I enjoyed seeing that there are some similarities across the cultures. But the PowerPoint presentation Lerma gave was a bit different. It was given from a totally national perspective – talking about the types of biotechnology scientists in The Philippines has developed and/or introduced.
What I found particularly interesting was some of the local biotech products that have been produced by this research & development center. The list included:
- Microbial fertilizers and inoculants
- Enzymes for use in cheese
- An e-coli testing kit and some other diagnostic tools
- Vaccines for animals
Like most school groups I’ve seen on tours, there were very few questions raised, but I’m hopeful that they left with some food for thought. And hopefully it got a few more folks to consider agriculture and the way our food is produced.
The photos I’ve posted show:
- An entrance to the UPLB campus highlighting an upcoming lecture series on food security and the university’s role in the issue.
- Lerma Moran (right) talks briefly with my friend Geeta and Kristin Bajet who was one of our hosts in Los Banos and is a scientist with The Philippines’ National Institute of Crop Protection.
- Albert poses in front of a display of some of the biotech advances that have been developed by The Philippines’ National Institutes of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology.
Mace Thornton says
Nice blog entry, JP. I think the only time I have ever traveled abroard, I have been working. Someday, I will have to see if I can withstand the pull of ag while abroad.
It’s not the first time for me… On my first trip to Japan included my working it out where I could see rice transplanting and meeting a farmer. That turned into a two-part freelance story for a rice mag! In Turkey, I met several cotton farmers and learned a good bit there, then talked to a guy with a major textile mill for a freelance article that paid for the trip. In Malaysia, a couple of college friends took me to a rice museum and I found out another one had a farm when I got to his home. I’m thinking I held out best in Holland & Italy, but those included at least loosely-related side trips! Yes, I’m seeing a pattern! Thing is, I have learned so much about each country this way and it’s usually only a day or two out of a couple of weeks. So my farm geek status has been here for a long time! And yes, don’t forget that this fall I took vacation time to attend my first-ever livestock show!