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To mitigate pest and disease infestations in the potato industry in the region, a series of lectures were conducted during the 1st Luzon Potato Summit on April 18, 2018 at the Gestdan Centrum, Bokawkan, Baguio City by the Department of Agriculture- Cordillera (DA-CAR) under the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP).

DA Usec. Evelyn G. Laviña for High Value Crops and Rural Credit stressed that there is a need for appropriate research and technology outputs that can properly guide implementers and stakeholders in the potato industry in pursuance of its Five-Year Industry Roadmap that it is currently being drafted by its key stakeholders.

Potato Production Technology

Resource speaker, Dr. Ines C. Gonzales, Division Chief of Northern Philippine Root Crops Research and Training Center, Benguet State University (NPRCRTC-BSU) discussed the Potato Production Technology in the Cordillera. According to her, Granola and Igorota are the common varieties planted in the region.

Dr. Gonzales reiterated that potato grows well on sandy loam soils with pH ranging from 5.6 to 6.5 and on soils with high organic matter and best grows at temperature ranging from 17 degrees C to 22 degrees C with soil temperature of 13 degrees C to 18 degrees C.

She further explained that in planting seed tubers, the apical portion should be towards the center or sides to have a uniform direction of stem/tuber yield and for easy care and maintenance. Also, proper application of farm practices particularly in irrigation, weed control, side-dressing and hilling up is important, she added.

Gonzales also encouraged the farmers to produce their own clean planting materials to further improve the quality of their production.

Pest and Disease Management

Resource Speakers Dr. Asuncion L. Nagpala, Chairperson, Department of Plant Pathology, Benguet State University (BSU) and Teresita K. Mangili, Regional Technology Transfer Coordinator, Cordillera Consortium for Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research and Development (CoCARRD) discussed the diseases and insect pests of potato and its management, respectively.

Dr. Nagpala presented the different diseases of potato to familiarize the farmers of its characteristics and management. These diseases were fungi, bacteria, virus and nematodes particularly the late blight, early blight, wilt, dry rot, powdery mildew, bacterial stem rot, ring rot, and among others while, Mangili presented the major insect pests of potato namely, leafminer, potato tuber moth mealy bugs, whiteflies, mites, aphids, cutworm, cyst nematode, and among others.

Mangili further explained that integrated pest management, appropriate good agricultural practices and managing the soil is recommended to reduce insect pests and disease.

To further strengthen the country’s potato production output, the DA in partnership with the BSU continues to look for an effective solution to lessen pests and disease infestation and to come up with a seed system on potato industry through research and development. //Herman Danis