Friday, 20 January 2017

PCAARRD visit to ACIAR House

Buko coconut pie was on the menu at ACIAR today, provided by Dr Reynaldo V Ebora. Dr Ebora is visiting us from PCAARRD – the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development. He has spent two days at ACIAR discussing future opportunities for collaboration.

This is Dr Ebora’s first visit to ACIAR. ‘A lot of ACIAR projects have made a difference in the Philippines,’ he says. ‘In many areas, but especially in horticulture.’

Here’s our CEO Andrew Campbell with Rey Ebora under the ACIAR hallway coconut palm. Photo: ACIAR
Agriculture operates on a different scale in Australia and the Philippines. But there are many common issues around crop production, livestock and the marine environment.

ACIAR has done work in the Philippines for many years. We’re already working on projects with local partners on:
  • Cryo-preservation of seeds of several tropical fruit species—like mango and papaya, to reduce postharvest disease losses
  • Livestock management and biotechnology, and studies on smallholder livestock producers
  • Better management practices for natural stands of bamboo  
  • Managing water resources in Bohol
  • Production and improved quality, marketing and market access of fruits and vegetables in Visayas and Mindanao.
Coconut is traditionally used in Filipino desserts. Buko (coconut) pie was served at ACIAR today.
One possible area of collaboration in the future involves germplasm, and the genetic improvement of native chickens and pigs. Native pigs are real survivors, and can be an important source of food after natural disasters.

‘We have a lot of flooding and serious problems with typhoons,’ says Dr Ebora. ‘Native pigs can survive amongst the debris after a disaster—this has been reported in all areas of disaster by the locals.’

Currently the native pigs roam free, and thrive on neglect, but Dr Ebora is keen to study their DNA and research the different strains. ‘They are very specific to certain islands,’ he says. ‘We can then work on production systems.’

Other priorities for him are coconut genomics, and managing coconut scale insects. Potential areas of collaboration with ACIAR include climate change adaptation and mitigation, and germplasm conservation and development (for the native pigs, chickens, and coconuts).

Dr Ebora has met with ACIAR’s research program managers in the areas of animal health, impact assessments and horticulture. ‘It has been a very fruitful visit,’ says Dr Ebora.

And the coconut pie was pretty tasty too!

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