The annual RDE Symposium held on June19–20, 2014 at the VSU Convention Center, Visca, Baybay City, should have been conducted on November 18, 2013 yet at the Oriental Hotel, Brgy. Baras, Palo, Leyte, but it was overtaken by Typhoon Yolanda, which devastated Tacloban City and environs on November 8. As a result, the momentum for RDE projects was somewhat diminished. In the aftermath of the catastrophe, researchers of various orientations became preoccupied with relief and rehabilitation, and everything not related to survival was relegated to lesser concerns.

In fact, one research project of BFAR 8 that qualified in the regional level was not presented because the major proponent was no longer connected with the agency. Actually, more researches would have qualified, but they were not pursued to the penultimate cluster level either because of time constraints, or the proponents had conflicts of schedule.

In the Inspirational Message delivered by Regional Director Bernadette F. San Juan of DA–Regional Field Office 8, she underscored the need to create an environment/culture where RDE projects are encouraged, creative minds are nurtured, and budding researchers, especially those coming from the academe, are mentored.

According to her, there is even more need to get down to the basics, particularly those studies that would impact on the typhoon–affected populations to ease the latter’s transition into the mainstream and help them return to normalcy.

Furthermore, she said, more incentives should be given to deserving researchers through exposure to scientific forums/symposia, observation tours to credible learning institutions and research project sites, and recognition rites, as these avenues would sow seeds that would hopefully germinate, with continuous encouragement, into productive endeavors.

Likewise, she exhorted future researchers to focus on indigenous resources so they are easily identified with the Eastern Visayas region, such as studies on “EVIARC Sweet” jackfruit variety, innovative marine and aquatic researches by BFAR 8, and adaptability trials of new and improved stress–tolerant rice varieties, corn, adlai, and other high value crops.

The DA–RFO 8 had two entries in the Outstanding RDE Projects category. One was a research project pertaining to bio–control agents for jackfruit, and the other was an extension project on rabies prevention strategies, which won in the Outstanding Extension Paper category.

Entitled, “Innovative Extension Strategies on the Declaration of Biliran Province and Limasawa Island as Rabies–Free Areas in Eastern Visayas,” the project had Dr. Norietta F. Orsua as major proponent.

The entry of a joint project between Naval State University (NSU) and DA–RFO 8 entitled, “Community–based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) on Organic Fertilizer Production and Utilization for Enhanced Rice Productivity in Brgys. Hugpa and Canila, Biliran” was presented by Prof. Vilma F. Gayrama. Funded by the DA–Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), it won in the Outstanding Development Paper category.

Other researches that were submitted for evaluation in the Search for Outstanding RDE Projects were just as apt in the development of climate–smart agriculture. They pertain to postharvest treatment in mango, green mussel technology for commercialization, and ube planting material production.

Twenty–six (26) posters coming from ViCARP–RRDEN agencies and the academe were also evaluated by an erudite panel resulting in the awarding of top five winners, all coming from SCUs.

On the other hand, it was a double victory for Dr. Villaluz Z. Acedo of the Visayas State University who was the major investigator of the research paper entitled, “Improvement of in vitro and ex vitro protocols for purple yam planting material production,” and submitted as poster entry the study entitled, “Utilization of cassava starch as low–cost tissue culture medium component for rapid propagation of yam (Dioscorea alata L.) and cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz).”

Both paper and poster, which won in the Outstanding Research Paper and Best RDE Poster (1st Prize) categories, respectively, are timely and relevant in light of the current need for multiplied planting materials of high value commodities to replace those that were demolished by the superstorm in November 2013.

Expectedly, year 2013 was a lean year for research projects, since only 6 RDE projects qualified for the search based on the standards set by the Screening Committee of ViCARP–RRDEN – 4 research papers, and one each for development and extension papers.

However, the 6 that made the cut were already winners in their own right having gone through the stringent 1st level Agency In–House RDE Review (AIHRDER) and 2nd cluster level Inter–Agency RDE Review (IARDER).