The Tamarind Research and Development (R&D) Center highlighted a significant boost in tamarind yield and fruit quality through science and technology (S&T)-based interventions.
The local production of tamarind, also dubbed as "brown gold," has been declining over the years despite its potential for commercialization as fresh or processed fruit.
To address this, the Tamarind R&D Center was established through the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) Program being monitored by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of DOST.
Through the project, “Development of S&T-based Production Management Strategies for Tamarind,” potential technologies were identified to increase the yield and fruit quality of tamarind such as interstocking, grafting, nutrient management, girdling, pruning, and use of biological control agents (BCAs) and extracts to manage insect pests and diseases.
According to Program Leader Mary Grace B. Gatan of the Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU), the results of their experiments showed that girdling in March improved pod production by 390%, while pruning after harvest in April increased pod quality by 465%.
Moreover, grafted tamarind trees, including those with interstock, bore fruits as early as 2 years after planting, as compared with ungrafted tamarind trees, which take longer to produce fruits.
Dr. Gatan also shared that use of oriental herb nutrient (OHN) and plant growth promoter (PGP) serves as preventive measures against black leaf spot, powdery mildew, Fusarium leaf spot, and Colletotrichum leaf spot diseases. Meanwhile, Metarhizium anisopliae was identified as a potential BCA against tamarind weevil (Sitophilus linearis).
Training sessions on production, management, and marketing strategies were also held to promote sustainable tamarind cultivation.
In total, the Center produced 5,300 grafted tamarinds and expanded 121 hectares of sour tamarind plantations in Central Luzon.
On the other hand, the accomplishments of the project, “Genomic Characterization for Improvement of Sour and Sweet Tamarind Varieties,” were used in the ongoing registration of the first sour tamarind line ‘PSAU Sour 2’ to the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC). Three more lines (‘PSAU Sour 1,’ ‘PSAU Sour 3,’ and ‘Nueva Ecija’) are in the pipeline for registration.
Project Leader Adrian B. Bantegui reported that his team, along with their former project leader Jacob Anderson Sanchez, created a database of the morphological and molecular features of 5,200 fruits and 2,600 flowers of tamarind. They also established a tamarind collection at PSAU with 540 plants from all regions of the country.
Moving forward, the Center targets to further validate the identified technologies and push for nursery accreditation from the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) for sweet and sour tamarinds.
The outputs of the Tamarind R&D Center were evaluated by S&T Consultants Domingo O. Angeles from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Ma. Anita M. Bautista from UP Diliman (UPD) during the pre-terminal program review led by DOST-PCAARRD’s Crops Research Division (CRD).
Also present during the activity were the PSAU team led by President Anita G. David, DOST Region 3 Representative John Kenneth P. Soratio, and DOST-PCAARRD representatives from CRD and the Technology Transfer and Promotion Division (TTPD) led by CRD Program Monitoring and Evaluation and Program-based Information System (PME-PBIS) Section Head Sharie Al-Faiha A. Lubang and Commodity Specialist for Tamarind Ma. Cecilia S. Alaban.