PhilRice researcher Alvin D. Palanog, 35, grew up in a sugarcane hacienda in La Carlota City in Negros Occidental where his father worked as a laborer. As in most agricultural communities in the Philippines, life is difficult in their community during lean months or what they call as “tiempo muertos”.
Alvin is the first in his village to set foot in the University of the Philippines Los Baños as a scholar of the Provincial Government.
“When I was admitted to the UP College of Agriculture, I planned to shift to Agricultural Engineering after a semester. But, after a while, I realized that I was probably predestined to it,” shares Palanog.
Working for 12 years now at PhilRice Negros, Alvin specializes in rice breeding and physiology. He is involved in a project that evaluates micronutrient-densed lines being developed by PhilRice and IRRI.
He joined PhilRice Negros in 2005 and was then assigned to handle collections of traditional varieties. He was among the pioneer researchers of the station to engage in germplasm collection and preservation, which are essential processes in seeds conservation.
From 2014 to 2016, Alvin was a part of the team that developed selection criteria and strategies in organic rice breeding. This is an important contribution in the province as Negros Occidental leads in the practice and promotion of organic farming.
Additionally, Alvin also led a study on the grain yield performance and stability analysis of rice varieties and identification of high yielding traits under drought stress. These studies identified NSIC Rc152, NSIC Rc222, NSIC Rc224, and PSB Rc14 which can thrive and yield well in Western Visayas. Results of these studies were published in international refereed journals Asia Life Sciences and Field Crops Research.
Along with researchers from PhilRice, Alvin was a part of the team who worked on IR10M300, the development of first high Zinc rice in the country funded by HarvesrtPlus, which is now a released variety as NSIC Rc460.
A major challenge in optimizing yield in Western Visayas is its relatively huge rainfed areas, says Alvin. In Negros Occidental, aside from it being a sugarcane country, use of high-quality seeds remains low.
“Like most of us, I dream of a progressive and competitive rice-farming communities. That farming will become a sector of progress and wealth. If this happens, farming will be an easy choice for anyone,” says Alvin.
‘Out of office’
Being a promising young researcher that he is, Alvin tries as much as possible to maintain a healthy work-life balance. He ensures that he spends adequate time with his family, especially with his 4-year-old son. He says his time with family helps him reconnect to his inner purpose, which drives him to working hard.
Alvin also knows that he has to keep himself healthy so he juggles quite a number of ball games such as volleyball, soccer, and basketball. He is also into chess and table tennis.