National Scientist Ramon Barba, pioneer of year-round mango flowering tech, passes away at 82

October 12, 2021 - 7:54 PM
Photo of late National Scientist Ramon C. Barba (Photo from NAST website)

National Scientist Ramon C. Barba, responsible for year-round mango flowering, passed away on Monday, October 11, according to the Department of Science and Technology.

Barba was conferred the Order of National Scientist, considered the highest recognition given to a man or a woman of science in the country, on June 2014 by late former President Benigno Aquino III by virtue of Malacañang Proclamation No. 783.

The award was created under Presidential Decree 1003-A on December 16, 1976.

According to a Manila Bulletin report, Barba’s death was confirmed by DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña.

He died at 82 years old.

“I will honor him in behalf of DOST on Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. here in DOST where his cremains will be brought,” de la Peña was quoted as saying.

In a Facebook post, DOST remembered Barba for his work on plant physiology particularly the induction of mango flowering.

“His pioneering work on the induction of flowering and fruiting of mango resulted in the change from seasonal supply of fresh fruits to year-round availability of abundant fresh mangoes,” it said.

“The regularity of mango production is the key ingredient in the development of mango exports, which gave rise to an entirely new industry of processed mango products,” it added.

The DOST noted that this technology was later patented in the Philippines and in other countries such as the United States, England, New Zealand and Australia.

Barba did not collect any royalties from this patent, the agency stated. This selfless act allowed ordinary farmers from these countries to use his invention.

“Nowadays, many mango producing countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australia have adopted the technology for their mango production. Furthermore, this technology has been successfully applied on other fruit trees including cashew,” DOST said.

Other important works of Barba to Philippine science are:

  1. Plant growth enhancer called FLUSH – “accelerates the growth cycle of the trees and advance their flowering and fruiting stages to assure continuous fruit bearing of mango trees.”
  2. Developed the tissue culture protocol for banana with the help of his team at the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) at the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños – became “a standard practice in large farms not only in the Philippines but also in other countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America”
  3. Established the tissue culture protocol for sugar cane – became “the standard practice in disease cleaning of sugar cane varieties”
  4. Developed micropropagation protocols for more than 40 important species of ornamental, fruit, and plantation crops, aquarium plants, and forest trees including cassava, white potato, rattan, bamboo, ramie, derris, garlic, and shallot, in addition to banana and sugar cane

Barba earned his degree in B.S. Agriculture at UP College of Agriculture in 1958. He then finished his graduate studies in horticulture in 1962 at the University of Georgia.

He then received his doctorate degree in horticulture in 1967 at the University of Hawaii.

Barba was also a member of the National Academy of Science and Technology, the government body that nominates Filipino scientists to be recognized as a National Scientist.