Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bicol Consortium of Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (BCAARRD) continues to deliver responsive projects that seeks to expand our knowledge on Pili as well as address various issues and concerns being faced by the industry.
BCAARRD along with its host school, Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry (BUCAF), presented a program that will lead to a hopeful number of breakthroughs in the world of the Pili.
The program is entitled “Accelerated R&D Program for Capacity Building of Research and Development Institutions and Industrial Competitiveness: Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) Program: Pili Research and Development (R& D) Center” and it is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) under the Science for Change Program.
The PILI NICER Program started in October 2019 and had a challenging year one implementation due to the occurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On 8 July 2020, a meeting was conducted among the project leaders and research personnel at the BCAARRD office to review the Program.
A series of meetings were also held for the Year 2 renewal. The DOST-PCAARRD Directors Council Meeting was held on 20 July 2020. The DOST Governing Council Meeting was then held on 12 August 2020. Finally, on 25 September 2020 the DOST-Execom Meeting was conducted.
After the presentations and series of evaluations, the PILI NICER Program was renewed for year two implementation.

Strengthening Partnerships
     To fully implement the Program, Bicol University cooperated with various universities such as the Central State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) and Partido State University (ParSu).
    The three lead cooperating agencies then came up with a series of proposals under the said Program. Seven projects were finalized and approved for implementation.
    The projects and lead researchers are the following:
Pili-genetic Resources in Albay, Catanduanes and Sorsogon – Judith R. Chavez, BUCAF
Geo-mapping and Characterization of Pili Farms in Four Major Producing Provinces in Bicol Region – Vladimir R. Foronda, CBSUA
Enhancing Pili Nut Propagation and Distribution System – Dr. Lester M. Narvaez, BUCAF
A Comprehensive Pili (Canarium ovatum Engl.) Information System Utilizing Web 2.0 Technologies: A Roadmap towards KM Build-up – Dr. Ronnel R. Atole, Partido State University
Identification and Regional Benchmark Survey of Emerging Diseases of Pili (Canarium ovatum Engl.), Canopy Microbial Diversity, and Molecular Study and Pathogenicity Test Establishment for “Tayangawon” – Dr. Marissa N. Estrella, BUCAF
Growth and Yield Response of Pili Nut (Canarium ovatum Engl.) to Bio-fertilizer Application – Dr. Lester M. Narvaez, BUCAF
Techno-mapping and Retro-fitting of Existing Pili Postharvest Processing Equipment in the Bicol Region – Estrella Calpe, BUCAF
BU spearheads the Program with Dr. Estrella as leader. It leads five out of the seven projects which are being implemented by BUCAF.
The linkages had been expanded to other member institutions of BCAARRD to strengthen collaborations among members and also with the partners in the private sectors. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed by the concerned parties.

Coping with the New Normal
Despite the dangers posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, BCAARRD and its partner agencies are doing their best at executing the projects based at different universities in the Bicol Region.
    While some of the objectives of the individual projects are facing delays because of protocols instructed by the government, the program is showing promising results.
Each project tackles and focuses on certain industry problems. In general, the Program aims to provide S&T-based intervention to the industry by developing enhanced production and postharvest technologies expected to increase the yield and overall production of quality pili nut.

Target Beneficiaries
    The Pili NICER Program targets various sectors of whom will benefit the said Program.
    In the executive brief written by BCAARRD Director, Dr. Marissa N. Estrella, she cited six beneficiaries of the Program, namely: pili growers in Bicol Region, traders, processors and input providers, researchers, nursery owners/operators, Agricultural Technicians and R&D Planners, and Policy Makers.
“Ultimately, these integrated outputs aim to improve quality of life of households in marginal pili farming communities in the Bicol Region.” Dr. Estrella further wrote. (Julianne Nicolle Moral, SRA, BCAARRD)