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    The Baguio National Crop and Research and Development Center (BNCRDC) of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) is waging a war against the two principal enemies of potato farmers - bacterial wilt and potato cyst nematode.
     
    Jesus Aspuria, BPI-BNCRDC chief, says that both pests have become a nightmare for potato farmers in the Cordillera, a region noted as the vegetable capital of the country. "The bacterial wilt is a soil and seed borne-disease that attacks potato plants. Wilting of plants was observed one month after planting,"he explains.
     
    He said potato cyst nematode, on the other hand, is a soil-pest that also affects potato plants. The BPI-BNCRDC has the procedure to detect if the soil is infected with this particular pest. To address the problem, the screening of different potato varieties is being carried out to select for resistance or tolerant varieties. For the potato cyst nematode, he said that Trichoderma was found most effective in preventing this pest.
     
    In the Philippines, potatoes are concentrated in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Davao. Aspuria said CAR is the oldest potato-growing region, which annually covers 10,900 hectares of land. He said Benguet supplies 62 percent of the annual potato production in the country followed by Davao (14 percent), Mountain Province (12 percent) and Bukidnon (10 percent).
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