UP Mindanao Unveils Newest Food Security Research to the Press

| Written by MPRO_admin

“Food security is one of our most basic concerns . Without it we endanger everything else that is vital to us – from political stability to social justice”.

This urgent reminder from UP Vice President for Public Affairs Jose Dalisay, Jr. kicked off the Media Luncheon on Food Security for Sustainable Development held at UP Mindanao on the afternoon of July 6, 2017 by the Communicating Science and Technology in UP (CoST UP) Program. The event provided an opportunity for three scientists from UP Mindanao’s Food and Agribusiness research niche to have a conversation about their research with members of the Mindanao media.

Taking a ‘ridge to reef’ approach, the featured scientists gave presentations and took questions on topics that contribute to food security and sustainability in both agricultural and marine settings. Joining guests from the media were faculty, students and officials from UP Mindanao, including Chancellor Sylvia B. Concepcion and the deans of all three of its colleges.

Dr. Juma Novie Alviola took to the stage first, with a presentation on the use of sago flour to improve the nutritional profile of selected food products. Alviola’s team studied the effects of substituting various amounts of sago flour in products such as bread and puto. The team found that its use increased the crude ash and fiber content in these products, while decreasing their fat and protein content.

However, for bread, no greater than a 10% substitution of sago for wheat flour resulted in preference by consumers that equalled that of regular bread – a problem that puto did not encounter up to the project’s substitution limit of 50%. This and other results are prompting additional research by Alviola’s team to find wheat alternatives that offer value-added products for the growing gluten-free market.

Dr. Emma Ruth Bayogan presented research that hoped to combat the considerable postharvest losses in pummelo – the world’s largest citrus fruit. Knowing that prolonging the shelf life of the fruit via low temperatures was expensive, Bayogan’s team evaluated the use of the less expensive chemicals, 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) and chitosan on Magallanes pummelo for that purpose, instead. They found that using 500 parts per billion of 1-MCP and 1.5% chitosan both had great potential as postharvest treatments to maintain Magallanes pummelo quality under ambient conditions.

Dr. Emma Ruth Bayogan of UP Mindanao answers a question about her research on the Magallanes pummelo. (Photo by Bong Arboleda, UP MPRO)

Finally, Dr. Cleto Nañola presented his team’s research on the connectedness of reef fish populations along a 300-km. span that included Pujada Bay, Sarangani Bay and the Davao Gulf. Noting differences in body shape, mouths, fins and gills among three species of fish, Nañola’s team determined that even at shorter distances of around 100 km., populations of the reef fish were “completely different from each other” – highlighting the importance of helping preserve both the fish themselves and the environment they inhabit.

These presentations were followed by an extensive question and answer segment, where members of the press got to exchange views with the scientists on issues ranging from better dissemination of these findings to reaching out to other government office with similar mandates.

Members of the press in attendance included Boom Castillo (Sun Star Davao), Yas Ocampo (Mindanao Times), Joe Palabao (Business Week Mindanao/ Mindanao Daily), Nitz Escarpe (DXRP/Radyo Pilipinas Dabaw), Dhelle Alo (MSU-Gen San), Arnold Colama and Cy Bermudez (Radyo ni Juan), Bien Abanos (DXGN), Angelita “Alma” Mahinay (DXOW/DXKT), Roan Abasolo (City Info. Office), Rhodamae Hernandez and Bong Alis (Peoples Television), and Paulo Rizal (Davao Today)

Joe Palabao of Mindanao News Daily kicks of the question and answer segment with a query to the presenting scientists. (Photo by Bong Arboleda, UP MPRO)

In his opening remarks, Vice President Dalisay highlighted the importance of strengthening the bridge between science and journalism through similar events to address the country’s food security problem and other issues. Despite its less-than-glamorous nature, Dalisay noted that the science beat in journalism was “one of the most important” due to the explicit need to develop a scientific culture in the country.

“Artists and scientists have this in common – nobody listens to us. Far too often we leave our most important policy decisions to politicians, priests, generals,  and businessmen. Far too often we rely on emotion and opinion to carry the day,” Dalisay said.

The CoST UP project is one of the University’s primary initiatives to help bring science closer to both the media and the public. Also included in the project’s plans for 2017 in addition to this media luncheon, are holding the 21st Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Workshop for science communication in the Visayas and hosting the first-ever UP Science Journalism Awards. (Andre Encarnacion, UP MPRO)