University of the Philippines Los Baños

The birth of UP College of Agriculture (UPCA) at the foot of Mt. Makiling in 1909 marked the beginning of UP Los Baños (UPLB). A year after, the Forest School nestled under the wings of UPCA. These two – the UPCA and the Forest School – were the first of their kind in the whole of Southeast Asia. As early as 1920-21, students from India, China, Siam (Thailand), Java (Indonesia), Japan, and Guam enrolled in UPCA.

In 1927, the University of Illinois sent a team to the Philippines to evaluate the quality of university-level education in different colleges of UP. The survey results showed that only the UPCA was rated A due to outstanding performance in the trilogy of functions: instruction, research, and extension. For the academic year 1935-36, out of 583 on-going scientific investigations in the entire university, 283 or 49 percent were in UPCA although this college had only 14 faculty members.

In 1972, four Los Baños units (UPCA, UP College of Forestry, the Dairy Training and Research Institute, and the Agricultural Credit and Cooperatives Institute) gained full and complete autonomy from UP Diliman through Presidential Decree 58. As an autonomous campus, UPLB began expanding. Now, it has 9 colleges, 2 schools, 3 training centers, and 20 research institutes.


UPLB’s impact in education is reflected not only in terms of hundreds of graduates in different fields but also in the quality of graduates as shown by eleven Centers of Excellence/Development based on CHED’s critical assessments. UPLB also has very high (91-100%) passing rates in professional licensure examinations, including those for civil and electrical engineering and chemistry.

In graduate education, once you have reached the highest peak, you must climb higher. For this reason, the 887 Filipinos who obtained the PhD degree from UPLB as well as the 5,543 who earned the Masters degree represent UPLB’s major thrust in human resource development. The goal is to advance knowledge and innovation for the modernization of the Philippines. UPLB graduates have fruitful careers anywhere they go.

In general, majority of UPLB’s alumni with baccalaureate and/or graduate degrees have devoted lifetime careers in education, R&D, or government services. About 20 percent become entrepreneurs, join the banking/private business, or engage in NGO activities, and about 4 percent are absorbed by international/ regional organizations, or get a job abroad.


Impact on Local Food Production and Exports

Graduates of UPLB, with their professional training and improved technologies, have helped in developing the rice, corn, poultry, and swine industries. They have produced improved varieties of corn, fruits, beans, vegetables, and other crops to meet the growing domestic demand for food. Through new knowledge and technologies developed in Los Baños, the private sector meets high international standards for exports. These high dollar-earners of the Philippines include sugar, abaca, coconut products, banana, mango, and forest products.

Multiplier Effect of UPLB

Through the Development of other Colleges and Universities nationwide UPLB has produced visionary and pioneering leaders who have initiated, pursued, ensured, and sustained the development of many other colleges and universities. Among the most outstanding now are the Benguet State University (BSU), Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Central Mindanao University (CMU), Mariano Marcos state University (MMSU), University of Southern Mindanao (USM), UP Open University, and the Visayas State University (VSU). These universities are developing high-level human resources and improved technologies in different parts of the country.

Impact of Organizing and Strengthening R&D Institutions

UPLB has also produced many strong leaders who initiated and continued the development of numerous R&D institutions. Among these are the following: National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, Aquatic and Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), Livestock Development Council (LDC), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB), National Institute of Biotechnology and Microbiology (BIOTECH), National Crop Protection Center (NCPC), Institute of Forest Conservation (IFC), Institute of Agroforestry (IAF), Philippine Root Crops Research and Training Center (PRCRTC), Institute of Human Nutrition and Food (IHNF), Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST), Institute of Animal Science (IAS), Institute of Forest Conservation (IFC), Paper and Pulp Research Center (PPRC), Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), and twelve (12) Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs) of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Impact in Reducing Poverty and Hunger

UPLB’s strong and continuing support to the Department of Agriculture and the National Agriculture and Fishery Council (NAFC) helps ensure the continuous increase in rice and corn production to feed the country’s burgeoning population. In rice production, direct seeding of rice in Iloilo and other rainfed areas enables farmers to grow two crops every year where before only one crop could be grown. UPLB pushed for the use of light and reasonably priced shallow tubewells that enable farmers to increase rice production by 30 percent. The commercial production of hybrid corn became possible when UPLB developed techniques to control downy mildew disease. UPLB’s strong advocacy for integrated pest management reduced the use of chemical pesticides by 85-90 percent that, in turn, increased crop production. The mango industry in the country witnessed exponential growth with year-round fruit production made possible through induced flowering using potassium nitrate. UPLB set up the Agro-Industrial Development Program (AIDP) in collaboration with SUCs, LGUs, and NGOs. It established Farmer FieldSchools (FFS) in Laguna, Albay, Cebu, Marinduque, and Guimaras that boosted farmers’ income by 45 percent. This was later expanded throughout the country.

UPLB also initiated the Farmer Scientist Training Program (FSTP) as pioneered by Jose Medina, former Pahinungod Director, and implemented it nation-wide with DA-ATI as partner and in collaboration with SUCs and LGUs. FSTP has been hailed as the only DA program that addresses poverty alleviation by catering to poor municipalities. The FSTP also increased white corn production especially in Cebu through the leadership and advocacy of Ramon Magsaysay awardee Dr. Romulo Davide. The program is truly benefiting the rural poor and making them co-partners in research. Small- and medium-scale feed manufacturers in the country have benefited much from the use of local feed resources (sugarcane molasses, rice bran, copra meal, etc.) identified through scientific information. UPLB food technologists gave added value to local fruits and ube and enabled farmers to derive more benefits from them using economical processes for producing good quality wine and juices as well as ube powder.

UPLB’s Innovative Programs Recognized/Adopted Nationwide

The Barangay Integrated Development Approach for Nutrition Improvement (BIDANI), which included micro- financing, became a breakthrough in the promotion of community nutrition. This started as a small project of the College of Human Ecology (CHE), then rapidly expanded to become a national program involving 10 regional universities and covering over 350 villages on sustainable basis. The Pahinungod, a volunteer corps to serve the less fortunate, mobilized hundreds of UPLB faculty and alumni to serve children, youth, and adults in 68 provinces, including indigenous people, abused children, and pupils with learning difficulties. The program has received numerous honors and awards. The offering of the Value Integration Promotion in Civic Welfare Service (VIP-CWS) in lieu of ROTC in college is an innovative program that has its beginnings in UPLB. It has been adopted by over 50 SUCs and was highly appreciated by CHED. UPLB’s Radio DZLB was given the Golden Dove Award for Best AM Station and the DOST Media Award for Regional Radio Broadcasting in 2001, a proof of its effective service performance.


Asian Leaders Finished their Graduate Degrees from UPLB

About 2,900 graduate students from other Asian countries obtained their Masters and PhD degrees from UPLB. Over one hundred from each country graduated from Los Baños. Many of these UPLB alumni have trained high-level human resources and developed new knowledge and technologies relevant to existing conditions in their own countries. Thus, graduate studies in UPLB have multiplier effects. Many UPLB Asian alumni now occupy leadership positions in their national universities, R&D centers, and Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry.

Filipino Alumni of UPLB Hold Leadership Positions in International Organizations

Many Filipinos gained international recognition for themselves and their alma mater by competently handling leadership positions in important international organizations. These include the following: UN – Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Acid Tropics (ICRISAT), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Water Research Institute (IWRI), Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC), World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), and the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP)

UPLB’s Innovative Programs and Technologies are Adopted Worldwide

UPLB pioneered in offering the BS, MS, and Ph.D. programs in development communication, and many universities in Asia and in South America have adopted a similar program. UPLB initiated the innovative Regional Training Program on Food and Nutrition Planning that aimed to establish a cadre of human resources who are fully capable of integrating nutrition considerations into development planning and management. Similar programs have since been adopted in many Asian countries.

New scientific findings, technologies, and systems developed by UPLB are recognized and used in other countries around the world. A few examples are the following:

  • Induced flowering of mangoes that makes all-year round mango production possible. Asian and South American countries now make use of this technology.
  • Production of biofertilizers for crops and forest trees
  • High-yielding and disease- resistant varieties of sugarcane
  • Los Baños bush sitao – highyielding and needs no poles to grow
  • C4-63 – the first high-yielding, pest-resistant, and good quality modern rice variety, widely grown not only in the Philippines, but also in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and South India
  • Extra-nuclear inheritance of susceptibility to Southern leaf blight in corn, a scientific discovery that helped in averting further multi-million dollar losses by the US corn industry
  • Mixing 15-20% alcohol in gasoline for increased fuel efficiency and greater economy
  • Over a hundred varieties of high yielding, pest- and diseaseresistant, stress-tolerant crop varieties
  • Biotechnology breakthroughs for the production of planting materials, detection of diseases, development of biofuels, and enhancement of postharvest life of crops

UPLB’s Reputation Attracted Many Big Donors to Los Baños

In view of UPCA’s reputation and critical role in national development, the World Bank, for the first time in history, approved a long soft-term loan for an educational institution, specifically for UPCA’s massive facilities development. This was a significant precedent that paved the way for other developing countries to tap World Bank facilities for developing their higher institutions of learning. Big donors also came to provide funding for the establishment of international and regional institutions in Los Baños.

Among these are:

  • IRRI – established by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations on UPCA’s Central Experiment Station
  • SEARCA – established by the Southeast Asian Ministries of Education Organization (SEAMEO) with support from USAID
  • ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity – established by the ASEAN and the German Cooperation and located at the upper campus of UPLB

Regional offices for Asia/ Southeast Asia have been established also in Los Baños by international agencies to take advantage of synergism with vital units of UPLB.

These include:

  • World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF)
  • International Network for Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP)
  • Bioversity International (BI)
  • International Services for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA)
  • Fishbase Information and Research Group, Inc. (FIN)
  • Wordfish, and the
  • Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA)

UPLB Garners Top International Awards

Hundreds of top national honors and awards received by the UPLB faculty and alumni could fill a big volume of publication, but only one international award needs to be highlighted here: The Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. This was received by the UP College of Agriculture in 1977 “in recognition of its quality of teaching and research, and for fostering a sharing of knowledge in modernizing Southeast Asian Agriculture.” In 2012, it was awarded to Romulo G. Davide, retired professor of CA, for his scientific-extension-public service work on corn production using a participatory approach among corn farmers.

The author, Dr. Fernando A. Bernardo is a UPLB alumnus (BSA ’58) who went on to become an administrator, institution builder, historian, author, poet, and artist. He laid down the foundation of the UPLB Graduate School, became the dean of the UP College of Agriculture, and built the Visayas State College of Agriculture, now the Visayas State University into one of the foremost institutions of higher learning in agriculture, forestry and allied sciences in the country. He became the executive director of SEARCA and the deputy director general of IRRI. He has seen and chronicled how UPLB has developed and progressed through the decades.