The good news for vegetable growers is that more and more new varieties are being developed by the local seed companies. One hope is that there will be less imported seeds in the coming years. Many of them will be developed right in the Philippines. After all, there are capable plant breeders who can produce seeds that are more adapted to Philippine conditions.
One company that is doing its share in promoting locally produced improved varieties is Ramgo International Corporation which established last year its own breeding and research center in Polomolok, South Cotabato. One year later, last November 25, the company invited more than 40 local government agriculturists, farmers and officials of the Department of Agriculture to see what has been going on in the company’s research station. The invitees came from as far north as the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley down to the Visayas and Mindanao. There were also a few media people like us.
And what did we see? Aside from the current bestsellers of the company, there are a number of promising varieties under trial. One that caught our attention early is a new variety of squash that is only identified by its code number Squash 11-1103. It was planted on 50 square meters side by side with another variety of Ramgo and that of another company. They were all planted on 50 square meters.
Dr. Romeo Opeña, a veteran plant breeder who spent much of his time at the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center in Taiwan, explained that the plant is not as bushy as the other varieties but it is very much more fruitful. For instance, there were more than 40 medium-size fruits produced by 11-1103 in that 50 square meters compared to only 17 in the other Ramgo variety, and 7 fruits in the variety from another seed company.