National Scientist Ramon Barba passes away

by Charissa Luci-Atienza

National Scientist Dr. Ramon C. Barba has died at the age of 82.

National Scientist Ramon Barba (NAST PHL website)

This was confirmed by Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña to the Manila Bulletin on Monday, Oct. 11.

Barba died on Sunday, Oct. 10.

“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 said in a Viber message to the Manila Bulletin.

Barba was recognized for his achievement in the field of plant physiology, focusing on the induction of flowering of mango and on micropropagation of crop species.

In 2014, late President Benigno S. Aquino III conferred the Order of National Scientist to Barba and fellow academicians Angel Alcala; Gavino Trono; and Edgardo Gomez.

The award is the highest recognition to an individual who earned a doctoral degree in any field of science and has made significant contributions in one of the different fields of science and technology.

Barba’s flower induction treatment is considered as the most significant breakthrough in mango research in the country, based on his profile posted on the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) website.

“His technology of using potassium nitrate to stimulate flowering is a milestone in the study of tropical tree physiology and is the main stimulus to the growth of the local mango industry,” it said.

“His researches on tissue culture of bananas, sugarcane, cassava, and many other horticultural crops have resulted in the development of valuable methodologies in plant physiology and plant breeding,” it added.

Barba was elected a member to the NAST PHL, the country’s highest recognition and advisory body on science and technology.

Barba got a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture at the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture (UPCA) in 1958.

From 1958 to 1960, he served as assistant instructor at UPCA’s Department of Agronomy, Fruit Crops Section.

He also earned his Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Horticulture at the University of Georgia in 1962 and a doctorate in plant physiology at the University of Hawaii with an East-West Center grant in 1964.

He completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Horticulture in 1967, and a year after, he returned to the Philippines.

In 1969, he was appointed as assistant professor at the UPCA, and after six years, decided to resign from his post. He was re-appointed as professor in 1981.

Barba also served as consultant for the Quimara Farms on Mango Production, and project director of CORE Foundation.

He also worked at Plantek, a biotechnology company in Singapore as its part-time director.

Among the numerous awards received by Barba were the following: The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines for Agriculture by the Philippine Jaycees (1974), Rizal Pro Patria Presidential Award for Tissue Culture (1980), the Most Distinguished Alumni Award, University of the Philippines (2004), and the SEARCA-Dioscoro L. Umali Achievement Award in Agricultural Development (2011).

He was born on Aug. 31, 1939 in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte to Juan Madamba Barba and Lourdes Cabanos.