National Scientist Ramon Barba, considered the “father of horticulture” in the Philippines, died on Oct. 10 at age 82, as confirmed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Barba made many major scientific contributions that significantly impacted horticulture and agriculture in the country. Most of his work revolved around plant micropropagation, which then resulted in vital shifts in the production schedules of essential crops.
One of his most well-known contributions came from his efforts to turn access to fresh mangoes from a seasonal crop into a fruit that can be harvested year-round. His efforts in this field were recognized and applied across the world—including Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America.
In an official release, the DOST honored the late horticulturist’s groundbreaking achievements which yielded lasting impacts worldwide.
“He developed the plant growth enhancer, FLUSH, which accelerates the growth cycle of the trees and advance[s] their flowering and fruiting stages to assure continuous fruit-bearing of mango trees.
“The discovery guaranteed regular or controlled flowering of mango trees and in many dry areas like Cebu and Guimaras, hence, the flowering period for the whole country was not just confined to March and April but has extended to several months, promising a supply of mangoes throughout the year.”
In 1958, Barba graduated with a degree in Agriculture at the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture and served as an Assistant Instructor in the same college until 1960.
He also became the inaugural program leader of the Tissue Culture Laboratory in 1975 and went on to continue until the late 1980s without being compensated for his work.
In 2004, Barba was elected as a member of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL), the highest advisory and recognition body of the Philippine science community.
A decade later, the late President Benigno Aquino III signed Malacañang Proclamation 783 to formally confer the title of National Scientist to Barba.
In a statement, the UP Genetic Researchers and Agricultural Innovators Society memorialized his heartwarming demeanor and remarkable scientific contributions to the country.
“What we loved the most is how he is approachable within and outside campus grounds, especially at night while he takes his cup of coffee in a nearby fast food. A humble man that possessed revolutionary wisdom.
“His contribution to the country could not be overstated—a technique to induce off-season flowering in mango trees […] enabled a three-fold yield increase in mango, not only in the Philippines but also to different corners of the globe.
“Despite the patent granted to him, he nonetheless allowed free use of the technology by mango growers, the benefits not only felt by the growers but also by other key stakeholders in the agricultural sector.”
Barba’s necrological service will take place on Oct. 15 at 9 am in DOST before his state funeral at Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig. DZUP