Danessa Rivera – The Philippine Star
October 8, 2023 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) plans to scale up the production of Bio N fertilizer, a microbial-based fertilizer, to help address the persisting supply and cost issues of inorganic fertilizers.
UPLB-National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) director Fides Marciana Tambalo is seeking government support to expand the production of Bio N fertilizer, a technology which it developed, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Increasing Bio N fertilizer’s production could significantly aid the agricultural sector in addressing shortages and soaring prices of fertilizers.
The DA, under its national corn program, had previously funded the establishment of 17 Bio N mixing plants across the country.
Developed 40 years ago, Bio N is a microbial based fertilizer made of microorganisms (bacteria) isolated from the roots of talahib (Saccharum spontaneum) which can convert nitrogen from the air into ammonium nitrogen in the soil.
Available in 200 gram sachets, this fertilizer can boost crop yields for rice, corn, and vegetables while preserving soil health.
Additionally, it promotes plant health and makes plants green, even in drought conditions and in the presence of pests, reducing the incidence of rice tungro and corn earworm infestations.
The UPLB-BIOTECH earlier said microbial fertilizer enhances shoot growth and root development and can replace 30 to 50 percent of total chemical nitrogen requirement of crops.
It said five to six sachets of Bio-N – priced at P100 per sachet – can replace two 50-kilo bags of urea per hectare planted to rice.
Currently, urea fertilizer retails at an average of P1,780.90 per bag as of the third week of September, data from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) showed.
While this is lower compared to the P2,582.33 per bag average a year earlier, this remains higher than pre-pandemic levels and prior the war between Russia and Ukraine – two of the world’s major sources of fertilizer.
FPA data showed urea fertilizer retailed at an average of P1,523.14 per bag in 2021, P1,041.35 per bag in 2020, P1,045.65 per bag in 2019, and P894.59 per bag in 2018.
The request for support was discussed in a recent courtesy meeting with DA senior undersecretary Domingo Panganiban.
The meeting aimed to further strengthen the partnership between DA and UPLB-BIOTECH, as well as explore possible collaboration with the goal of enhancing the research endeavors of the institute.
During the meeting, Tambalo also discussed current products and projects of the institution and also appealed for assistance from the department for the establishment of a specialized research facility focused on agriculture.
The National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) is recognized as the first premier national institute on molecular biology and biotechnology within the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
It operates as the research and development unit of UP Los Baños, collaborating with various departments and disciplines in engineering, chemistry and applied microbiology to conduct research, training and extension in biotechnology.
Apart from Bio N fertilizer, the UPLB-BIOTECH also pioneered several notable technologies, including Fermented Plant Juice, K-SolB, Maizinc, BioPlasma, Oryzinc, NitroLink, BioSol, PhosphoLink, Micro Mix, NitroPlus, Bio-organic Fertilizers (BOF), BioGroe, Brown Magic, Mycogroe, MykoPlus, MYKOVAM, Nutrio, VAM Root Inoculant (VAMRI), and ACTICon.