By Julio Yap Jr.

Mungbean (Vigna radiata), which is locally known as “munggo” or “balatong,” is one of the cheapest sources of protein in the Filipino diet. It is also a good source of minerals, provitamin A and vitamin B complex, and lysine.

Growing mungbean after rice presents a good opportunity for farmers to earn additional income because its production requires minimal inputs, and it is a short duration crop which can contribute millions of pesos to the local economy.It can be grown year-round, but is best grown when harvesting coincides with dry periods.

However, there are several factors that affect the production of mungbean in the country, like the lack of quality seeds for planting, the susceptibility of the mungbean plant to various insect pests, and in particular, the low levels of local production.

Recognizing the vital contribution of mungbean to the local economy, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCAARRD-DOST) funded the development of a carrageenan plant food supplement (PFS) to boost its production.The project is implemented by the DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and the National Crop Protection Center of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (NCPC-UPLB).

Based on research and field trials, carrageenan PFS recorded an average of a 494 percent yield increase for three mungbean varieties:Labo, Pag-asa 7, and Pag-asa 19.The three varieties, after being treated with carrageenan, produced 1.2-1.5 tons per hectare (t/ha) compared with the mungbean plants in the control field, which only produced 0.15-0.31 t/ha.

Carrageenan PFS is extracted from seaweeds and further degraded through irradiation. Irradiation is a technology which has resulted in the creation of many of the most widely grown strains of food crops around the world. Applied via foliar spray at a rate of 10 ml per liter of water, carageenan PFS promoted plant growth, seed germination, shoot elongation, root growth, flower production, and suppression of heavy metals, among others.

Aside from improving the total yield, the number of pods per plant and the number of seeds per pod also increased. A preliminary field trial conducted at the Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU) produced 12 to 15 pods per plant compared with the plants in the control field, which only produced six to seven pods per plant. The number of seeds per pod also doubled, from six to 12 seeds.

Photo shows the advantages and effects of using the carrageenan plant food supplement.

Another preliminary field experiment at the PSAU under rice-mungbean and vegetable mungbean cropping systems using different fertilizer treatments showed that mungbean plants treated with carrageenan PFS posted the highest seed yield at 1.8 t/ha. Plants treated with carrageenan also produced the highest number of pods per plant (20), and number of seeds per pod (12).

The other fertilizers tested included organic fertilizer, ammonium sulfate, ammonium sulfate+, triple superphosphate (TSP) + muriate of potash, and a combination of ammonium sulfate + boron.

The increase in the production of mungbean is expected to benefit farmers in the Ilocos region, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Western Visayas, Central Luzon, and
Cagayan Valley, and this could, in turn, contribute greatly to the local economy.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s October 2016 issue.