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Vol. XXVI, 1st Quarter
January–March 2008


Rodel G. Offemaria

Exec. Director, PCARRD




Planet Earth is estimated to be 4.6 billion years old. In the history of the planet we call ‘home’, humanity’s time is short, about one to two million years ago, but profound. Man has made discoveries, introduced changes, and eventually altered his environment to the point of endangering his very own existence.

Scientists, academicians, policy makers or even ordinary citizens are all aware of events alien to us—record rainfall, severe flooding, massive landslides, highest temperature, melting ice caps, vanishing forests at unprecedented rates, prolonged droughts, and advancing deserts. These events claimed hundreds and thousands of lives and make our future at risk.

These events also have an immediate impact on a basic component of the biosphere: the variety of life forms or biodiversity particularly on the flora that carry the plant genetic resources.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ranks the Philippines seventh in the world in terms of species diversity and endemism. As one of the most important countries in the world for conserving diversity of life on earth, what have we done so far?

On a per hectare basis, the Philippines probably harbors more diversity of life than any country on earth. But this biodiversity is also under tremendous threat. The destruction of original forests that sheltered the wild relatives of our domesticated agro diversity represents an obliteration of our rich biological resource.

While others destroy the forests, some of our ancestors had the wisdom to practice conservation albeit in simple and practical ways. Proof of this is the fact that indigenous people are still cultivating or protecting for several generations the plants identified by their forefathers.

The National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory (NGPRL) was created through a Presidential Decree as a component unit of the Institute of Plant Breeding. It has specific designation as the national center for plant genetic resources activities. Although “rich” in mandates, NPGRL is poor in resources because it has to depend on the university allocation for operations. Recognizing this situation, the DOST very recently granted NPGRL P 1.4 million for the project, “Safekeeping crop diversity at the national germplasm repository”. Considering the importance, magnitude, and urgency of activities related to PGR, we can do much more.

This is the reason why we held a consultative meeting- to determine what else we can do together to conserve, maintain, protect, and use our very important resources. It will take more than money to do these. It will require both personal and institutional commitment to save and preserve these resources that matter to our lives and to future generations.

Let us not allow ourselves to be judged by our children’s children that we did not leave them a legacy except FOOTPRINTS.