Filipino Farmers Lose PhP33.85 Billion Annually Due to Delays in Bt Eggplant Commercialization
Eggplant farming in the Philippines is a profitable business and a major source of income for farmers. The crop, however, suffers tremendous damage from the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB), its major pest. The Bt eggplant project being conducted by scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB-IPB) is considered one of the tools to address this problem.
In a study conducted by Dr. Cesar Quicoy, economist and professor from UPLB, it was shown that eggplant farmers are losing PhP33.85 billion (US$634 million) due to the delays in the commercial approval of Bt eggplant.
Dr. Quicoy studied the cost of delaying the commercialization of Bt eggplant in three different adoption rate scenarios: 15%, 30%, and 50% of the total eggplant production. At 15% adoption rate, eggplant farmers are losing PhP10.155 billion in potential revenue in the first year of Bt eggplant commercialization. At 30% adoption rate, eggplant farmers should have earned at least PhP20.311 billion annually. Moreover, at 50% adoption rate, eggplant farmers could have earned at least PhP33.852 billion in potential revenue in the first year and at least PhPP37.889 billion in the 10th year of its adoption.
Bt eggplant or Bt talong contains a natural protein from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis which makes it resistant to EFSB. The Bt protein affects EFSB only and is safe for humans, farm animals, and non-target insects. The commercialization of Bt eggplant will not only increase the yield and profit of eggplant farmers but also improve their health and the environment because of the 48% reduction in chemical pesticides used per hectare and 19.5% lower environmental footprint against non-adopting farmers.
The study also reports that farmers could reduce their total cost of production per hectare by at least PhP2,480.18 by planting Bt eggplant. Farmers could also double their net income of PhP35,756.06 to PhP71,060.33 because of the additional yield of 2.12 metric tons per hectare. Farmers are guaranteed additional income from the reduced production costs and lesser damages in crops produced, resulting in more marketable products.
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