Contributed by Knox Flowers, BSEI Environmental Scientist
Now I’m off to the Philippines! Agriculture plays a significant role in the Philippine economy, involves about 40 percent of Filipino workers and contributes an average of 20 percent to the Gross Domestic Product. The Philippines' major agricultural products include rice, coconuts, corn, sugarcane, bananas, pineapples, and mangoes.
We had the opportunity to deliver a presentation at a Plantation Research Department about our products’ functionality in relation to use on banana plantations. The Philippine banana plantations are some of the oldest in the region and most impacted by Fusarium wilt (a fungus that causes a vascular wilt and obstructs the xylem (water-conducting) tissue, which results in the symptoms of leaf desiccation), loss of productivity and excessive buildup of salts in the soil.
Overall, the producers were interested in using a more organic based material for their cultivation practices as the Philippines, as maintaining the health and productivity of their soil is a major short and long-term concern.