Science Speaks - Blog by ISAAA

Festival Celebrates Bountiful Bt Cotton Harvest for Filipino Farmers and Weavers

By Kristine Grace N. Tome
May 29, 2024

The Philippine Fiber Industry Authority (PhilFIDA) held the first Bt Cotton Harvest Festival at the Batac Research Center I, Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), Batac City, Ilocos Norte on May 7, 2024. The significant event in the agriculture sector gathered cotton farmers, weavers, researchers, and representatives from the national and local government agencies and the academe.

Bt cotton, developed by PhilFIDA, contains the Bt fusion gene called GFM cry1A, produced on the protein template of Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac of the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The Bt fusion gene confers resistance to bollworm infestation, leading to more harvestable cotton bolls and reduced need for pesticides. After rigorous tests and evaluation, the Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) issued a biosafety permit for the commercial propagation of Bt cotton in 2023.

The festival in Batac City is a celebration of the successful commercial harvest of Bt cotton. A  ceremonial harvesting of cotton was held, symbolizing the resilience and potential of the local agriculture sector, according to PhilFIDA. With Bt cotton adoption, PhilFIDA projects a triple yield increase from 1MT to 3MT, ensuring a stable supply of locally produced cotton yarns for our weavers. With the significant increase in harvest, PhilFIDA is optimistic that Bt cotton can spur the revival of the Philippine cotton industry.

Aside from the ceremonial harvest, the festival also featured other engaging activities, such as dance performances from Pinili Dance Group, and messages from distinguished guests such as City Mayor of Batac Hon. Albert D. Chua, Vice-Governor of Ilocos Norte Hon. Cecilia Araneta-Marcos, MMSU President Dr. Shirley Agrupis, Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Department Legislative Liaison Officer, and Consumer Affairs Atty. Genevieve Velicaria Guevarra, OIC-Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations Dr. Florentino Adame, and the former National Cotton Coordinator Dr. Edison C. Riñen. Senator Loren Legarda also sent her message to inspire the festival attendees.

“The festival celebrated not only the successful commercial harvest of Bt cotton, but also shed light on its advantages and its pivotal role in improving crop yield, consequently raising farmers' income,” PhilFIDA highlights.


PhilFIDA’s media release
Philippines Approves Bt Cotton for Commercial Propagation
Bt Cotton Harvest Festival in Batac, Ilocos Norte (Images from PhilFIDA)

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