Trip Report of Visit to OISCA on December 7, 2016 with Consolidation of Developments Towards Propagation of Mindanao Silk

Attendees to the OISCA visit:

Ms. Melody "Mimi" Pimentel
Ms. Marie Elaine "May" Unchuan - Regional Director, DOT Region X
Mr. Edgar Sales - Regional Director TESDA Region X
Mr. Virgilio Fuertes - Provincial S&T Director, Bukidnon/Region X
Mr. Ermedio Abang - Provincial Director, DTI, Bukidnon
Mr. Joel Villagracia - Provincial Director, TESDA Bukidnon
Ms. Lodie Ladiz - Regional SVTIDS, Region X
Mr. Engimar Tupas - STIDS, DTI
Ms. Famelia Villanueva - STIDS, DTI Bukidnon
Mrs. Thelma Watanabe - Overall Training Coordinator, OISCA/Bago,
Mr. Shigemi Watanabe-Director, OISCA,Bago Director 

Ms. Mimi Pimentel is a fashion designer from Cagayan De Oro (COO), Misamis 
Oriental who had offered to "dress" the President and his son for the Presidential Inauguration, capitalizing on the fact that a weaving community from COO had been weaving using silk. This community, the Laguindingan Weavers or more popularly known as ASAI (from Ayala Beneficiaries Association, Inc. of 1O years ago) Loomweavers Association. is a community founded by the Ayala Foundation as a livelihood option when the residents had to be relocated to make way for the Laguindingan airport. They are a beneficiary of PTRI Training programs in handloom weaving and dyeing (as well as degumming in the early days). They depend on silk yams form OISCA and which had been coming in short supply. To encourage the community and to keep the weaving activities going, PTRI provided them over a year ago with about 11 kgs of silk yarns reeled from the R&D activities at the PTRI Technology Center in Misamis Oriental (PTRI-TCMO). This was in coordination with another young fashion designer/social entrepreneur, Martha Rodriguez who had committed to the development of Mindanao-based resources, including silk. In recent months, the Laguindingan Weavers were also participants in the capability-building workshops provided to representatives of the regional handloom weaving communities. 

This is the context for the Mindanao Silk, from silkworms reared and cocoons reeled, yams ideally dyed naturally and woven in Misamis Oriental. Ms. Pimentel sought out the material until she was referred to the PTRI-TCMO. Since the Presidential inaguration, Ms. Pimentel had purportedly been "appointed" to help with the Mindanao Silk Revitalization.

Two weeks before, the undersigned met with RD Al Alamban of DOST X together with Nora Mangalindan and Robert Casero to get updated on the CEST project to which our TCMO provided input. On top of this, PTRI - TCMO's OIC, Ching Lopez, was invited, along with RD Alamban to join a 15-member Technology Transfer Mission Trip to Aklan and Negros Occidental. The trip was held on Oct 11 - 14 by the group from Misamis Oriental headed by Provincial Governor Yevgeny Vincente B. Emano and which excluded Ms Pimentel and Ms. Unchuan. After clarification with RD Alamban, Ms. Pimentel and Ms. Unchuan, it seems that the province of MO will pursue the provincial plan while the group of Ms. Pimentel with supposed backing of DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez will work on the Mindanao regional scale. The renewed interests could only bode well for us since PTRI has been working for the past two years to inspire more interest in sericulture. The increased interest will be of good help to the plans PTRI and DOST X have in place.

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On the left is the diagram of the TWG for the Silk  Industry       Development           in  Misamis Orienta l; Gov . Emano had also indicated that he would request for additional funding support from the office of Sen. Cynthia Villar who has filed a Bill on mulberry propagation; the intended use, however, is for pulp and will not be appropriate silk worm rearing.

Trip Objectives:
The undersigned was requested to join Ms. Pimentel and Ms. Unchuan for the meeting with the Technical Working Group and to be joined supposedly by Congresswoman of the District of Villanueva which is where the PTRI - TCMO is located. The premises were:

1. To thresh out the group's plans for Mindanao Silk, and 
2. Meet Cong. Juliette Uy, whose daughter is also Mayor of Villanueva, township of the TCMO and who had supposedly offered to help refurbish the TCMO rearing facility in time for the planned visit in January 2017 of Ms. Universe Pia Wurtzbach. The locally funded project we have for the purpose will not make it in time, hence the supposed offer.

Cong. Uy did not make it to the trip due to some matters of urgency at the HOR. We will try to meet with her at her office before the house goes into recess this coming week.

From the last visit to OISCA in 2014, some updates were obtained from Dir. Shigemi Watanabe:
1. Thirty (30) kgs of cocoon per harvest every two months may be obtained for every 3000 sqm of mulberry plantation.
2. Every 3000 sqm can feed 1 box of silkworms feeding 3- 5 times a day.
3. Rearing house measuring 4' x 6' with double layer beddings will be required;
4. To produce the five harvests and rearings which, in tum, will produce 150 kgs of silk yarns.
5. Current selling prices is at Php3500 .00/kg.

Presently OISCA has 150 farmers from the 190-200 of two years ago, tilling 60 ha. The decrease is largely due to the prolonged dry conditions in 2015 and 2016. Total production in 2015 was at 8 tons, some 37% lower than 2014's 11 tons. The output for 2016 is expected to keep at 8 tons.

OISCA's support in the training and exposure needs of farmers is necessary for the establishment of sericulture in Mindanao or elsewhere. The Watanabes have confirmed their willingness to help and 

also recommend sending technicians to Japan for a complete immersion in the technology. Mr. Watanabe further expressed interest in studying the possibility of conserved pupae (see photo on right of canned pupae from Korea) for marketing as a food delicacy In sum PSTD Allan Francis Dara-ug took note of three potential areas of support for OISCA including possibility of concocting another revenue stream for. organ struct1
 The group with silk yarns in the OISCA processing facility with M rs. Watanabe, second from right.
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 OISCA Director Shigemi Watanabe with fresh cocoons set for the dryer, left. The shop/showroom, right.

Following the visit, this particular TWG is a loose coalition of well-intentioned individuals. A primary consideration would be to formally constitute the Mindanao Silk Project (MSP) with specific roles and expectations.

In the last discussion, Dir. Alamban advised that, while Ms. Pimentel expected that DOST X and PTRI will head the MSP, given the Provincial initiatives and to ensure smooth collaboration, he will refer the matter to the Regional Development Council. On the other hand, and to facilitate, Mimi and May will ask to work on an Executive Order. Regardless of these, DOST X and PTRI have forged ahead with plans for sericulture in Mindanao. The map below shows the areas of engagement. With the exception of the municipality of Tagaloan (before Villanueva) all others are locations identified by PTRI (Villanueva, Claveria, COO, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon) and DOST X (Malitbog, Bukidnon).

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Following the Mindanao silk project consultation between DOST X and PTRI - TCMO, the framework for the Mindanao Silk Production Hub (MSPH) follows for reference:

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Since late 2015, a MOA had been in place with Mrs. Molina, a farmer from Claveria, who persisted despite the drought and three mulberry plantings. Rearing of Y. ha. restarted in mid-November 2016 and her first cocoon harvest is expected in two weeks' time. As contained in the MOA, PTRI is committed to purchase all cocoons she is able to produce. Indications have been received that many farmers from Barangay Claveria under the auspices of the Archdiocese have signified their intentions to engage in sericulture. Todate, TCMO has provided 3,000 plantlets to the barangay. Mrs. Molina can progressively increase up to 5 has.

Two other MOAs for mulberry propagation are in process with Mountain Pines/ Brgy. Dahilayan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon which started with X ha. and Cagayan de Oro City Agriculture Office's Dr. Hector San Juan in Barangay San Juan with 3, 000 mulberries propagated in the nursery.

Gov. Emano, a farmer himself, had proposed a techno-demo farm to validate the farming system the provincial TWG had agreed upon. TCMO had surveyed the 1-hectare farm in Misamis Oriental and had found this to be water-clogged. Just the same, since some farms in OISCA were found to be suitable despite being water clogged, Ching Lopez of TCMO is confident that the farm will also be appropriate for sericulture. Todate, TCMO has provided 2,000 mulberry cuttings for a target cocoon production in 2017.

For 2017, the rearing facility at the TCMO will be rebuilt. A budget has been approved for Php3M for the purpose. Other considerations for the facility are:

a) Secure water supply - a water catchment unit was secured through ITDI-PCIEERD to help alleviate the lack of this resource; RDD and TCMO; DONE

b) Replace the cold storage units - consultants managing the maintenance of the IRRI cold storage units were contracted to assess the cold storages in the TCMO which had recurring breakdowns over the course of the last three years (two of four had been in disrepair for even longer). The conclusion was that the design of the units were improper and must be replaced, not just repaired. RDD project proposal

c) Secure power supply - studies have to be done in this given breakdown of even the basic refrigeration equipment; Power provider CEPALCO and the City Engineers Office have been consulted. No concrete results have been obtained todate. TCMO

d) The capability of the PTRI - TCMO personnel in silk rearing, processing and germplasm management has to be supported. This will be in preparation for the anticipated need for steady supply of hybrid silkworm eggs. Of the 94 parent lines, 54 came from the defunct Technology Center in La Trinidad, Benguet). Four of the 8 commercial breeds known as Mindanao hybrids have been widely distributed since they were made available in 2000 and remained to be disease-free and high-yielding stocks until today. The Mindanao silk was coined after them. The Center can sufficiently supply the egg requirements for the Mindanao silk production. RDD project proposal; TCMO for propagation

e) The germplasm collection of TCMO currently has 94 parent lines. it will be necessary to prune and cut the inventory to the more resilient and productive of the lot. This is material for a research project which RDD has to pursue with the Genome Center; RDD project proposal

f) Given that the operations seem to be hampered by the availability of the mulberries {which, in turn is hampered by the lack of water) as feed, the possibility of developing pre-processed feeds for the silkworms made from mulberries, much like processing fresh leaves into pulp then made into thin sheets of flakes, similar to the sea weed-derived Nori flakes will have to be studied. We plan to call this development, if it comes to pass, Mori flakes. TCMO/RDD project proposal

g) TCMO will open another 2.5 hectares in TCMO for mulberry propagation solely for raw silk production subject to manpower augmentation. This will serve as a model farm of moriculture and cocoon production. The Center will enhance the sericulture facility of TCMO and beef up/strenghten its manpower.

h) TCMO will continue to mobilize farmers to start planting mulberry in the eastern municipalities of Misamis Oriental and most of the municipalities in Bukidnon with DOST-10, LGUs, MAOs, mayor's leagues of the two provinces and training on cocoon production will follow. To this end, manpower component as well as vehicle for mobility will be necessary.

i) DOST 10/PTRI through CEST may propose for scaling up of weaving centers with the provision of handlooms with better ancillaries (stainless steel reeds, nylon, if not texsolve heddles) to weaving proponents. Training on handloom weaving (basic and advance,

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especially as silk weaving requires different ancillaries) and natural dye extraction and application may be part and parcel of the  proposal.

j) Through CEST-UP Program, DOST-10 will put up a filature facility in TCMO in 2019 when significant cocoon production would have been achieved. PTRI will facilitate the technical support of the establishment. OISCA has 160 reels while the PTRI in the Bicutan compound has about 60 In the meanwhile, a PTRI program proposal to incorporate items b, d, e, f, g, h and a micro scale silk reeling facility for 20 to 40 reels which we had noted during the Laos benchmarking visit, will be submitted.

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