True to its mission of ensuring the success of the National Greening Program (NGP), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has enlisted the expertise of the University of the Philippines-Los Banos in Laguna for the manufacture of some 100 tons “mykovam” from May 2012 to April 2013.

“Mykovam” is a fungus-based fertilizer developed by UPLB that enable planted seedlings to survive in the most adverse conditions by naturally improving their root surfaces.

Under the memorandum of agreement recently signed between DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and UPLB Chancellor Rex Victor Cruz, the “mykovam” production will be undertaken by UPLB’s National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) with the DENR providing the amount of P8 million for the upgrading of BIOTECH’s facilities.

“This undertaking affirms DENR’s resolve to employ science if only to secure NGP’s success,” Paje said, adding that NGP’s goal of rehabilitating some 1.5 million hectares of denuded forestlands hinges on the application of the fungus-based root inoculants which form colonies of microscopic beneficial fungus on plant roots.

Paje explained that past greening programs failed because science was not well factored into the program, particularly matured technologies like the development of “mykovam,” which was developed by combining eight types of mycorrhizal strains. The fertilizer was found to have the most beneficial qualities for tree species to be planted under the NGP, especially for indigenous tree species like acacia, agoho, batino, balete, kamagong, molave, mayapis, tindalo, balete, ilang-ilang, talisai and toog.

“Under the aegis of this agreement, the government’s agenda to promote science-based rehabilitation of our forestlands has taken a leap forward,” Paje said, adding that the application of ‘mykovam’ and cloning of tree seedlings will address the rehabilitation of denuded forestlands.

“Last year the NGP raised and planted some 93.26 million tree seedlings in some 128,696 hectares of open and denuded forestland. This represented 28.7 percent above its 100,000-hectare target for 2011 with five million of which consisted of indigenous species like acacia, mayapis, molave, tindalo, toog, and teak.

According to Dr. Nely Aggangan, head of BIOTECH’s Biotechnology for Agriculture and Forestry Program, “mykovam” has the ability to bring dead soil back to life particularly acidic soil which is a common condition of degraded soil in the Philippines.

“Even tree seedlings in mine tailings pond survived and grew when aided with ‘mykovam’ with a ratio of one sack of compost soil treated with mykovam per tree,” Aggangan said, referring to the legume trees planted for the reforestation project of Atlas Mining Corp. for their tailing pond area in Toledo, Cebu. #