THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has set aside P100 million to fund agricultural research at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB).

During a recent visit to the university, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said that of the funds committed to UPLB’s College of Agriculture and Food Science, around P50 million will be allocated to plant disease research at the Crop Protection research center.

It said P30 million will go to crop improvement and vegetable seed production at the Institute of Plant Breeding and P20 million will help establish a packing facility at the university, which will also serve as a storage and trading area for farmers in Laguna.

Mr. Dar urged the UPLB officials to step up their research and development activity, pointing them to current problems like the fall armyworm, which affects multiple crops, and fusarium wilt, which affects bananas.

“As the country shifts amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the agriculture sector needs individuals who will lead to the development of… inclusive agribusiness anchored on value chain systems,” Mr. Dar said.

“The sector also needs… to engage the youth more in agriculture and agribusiness, digitalization of agriculture, and the development of demand-driven and market-oriented research and extension systems,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave