In March 1990, the Maligaya Rice Research and Training Center (MRRTC) in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, which was previously merged with PhilRice, officially became the Central Experiment Station. Through a US$15.7 million JICA grant approved on December 21, 1989, PhilRice improved the station and equipped it with modern laboratory and training facilities. The Central Experiment Station leads and coordinates national efforts in rice research and development.
In January 1999, PhilRice Batac was born, with big help from the National Tobacco Administration. Located in Batac, Ilocos Norte, the station serves as the center for dry land agriculture R&D focusing on the improvement of rice-based cropping systems in semi-arid areas and development of on-farm water conservation and storage techniques.
Long known as DA-Region 2’s Cagayan Valley Experiment Station (CVES) based in San Mateo town, PhilRice Isabela officially became a branch station in May 1991 with the sole aim of boosting rice production in Northeastern Luzon. The station pursues research on nutrient, water, and pest management, socioeconomics and policy studies. In 1998, with the felt need to promote hybrid rice, the way was paved for it to become the “hybrid rice center of PhilRice.” As such, its primary function is to develop, package, and promote hybrid rice and its related technologies.
PhilRice Los Baños
After finding home in Nueva Ecija in April 1988, the Institute’s “cradle” inside the campus of UP Los Baños (UPLB) was in March 1990 converted as its principal office and a branch station – the PhilRice Los Baños. It continued work on plant breeding, crop protection, agronomy and soils, rice chemistry and food science, and technology promotion and development. Situated in a prime science community, Los Baños has since served as the Institute’s front-liner in developing and implementing projects in coordination with a scientific network that includes its giant neighbors, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and UPLB. Designated as in-charge of the hybrid nucleus and breeder seed production initiatives of PhilRice, it was instrumental in the diversification of the germplasm base of the rice breeding program by using wild rice species. With its strong partnership with the scientific community of Los Baños and local government units, it also brought about a number of location–specific technologies and innovations, the most popular being the Minus–One Element Technique, a diagnostic tool to determine soil nutrient deficiency.
In July 2003, PhilRice Negros began to grow, with vital assistance from the Negros Occidental LGU, to cater to the needs of Visayan farmers. Based in Cansilayan, Murcia town, the youngest branch station is mandated to develop specialty and premium rices. It also serves as the distribution center for quality seeds of high-yielding and disease-resistant modern varieties chiefly suited for Western Visayas.
Located in Basilisa, RTRomualdez in Agusan del Norte, PhilRice Agusan was established beginning in August 1989 to service the rest of the Mindanao provinces too far from Midsayap. As the area is drenched by frequent rainfall year-round, problems frequently complained about by rice farmers are related to nutrient management. Zinc deficiency, for one, is a major setback. Thus, the station was strengthened as the nutrient management center of PhilRice. As it intensifies its nutrient management research activities, Agusan also participates in the yield trials of the National Cooperative Tests (NCT). It produces seeds of suitable varieties and makes them available to Mindanao farmers through technology promotion activities in tandem with local government units.
In December 1987, the DA-Region 12 turned over to PhilRice what was to become its first branch station in Mindanao. Located in Bual Norte, Midsayap, North Cotabato, PhilRice Midsayap evolved from the Mindanao Rice and Corn Experiment Station of the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry established in 1959. As then the sole rice center in Mindanao, it was mainly involved in seed production and research in integrated pest management to address prevalent pest difficulties in the area. Through its collaborative projects with farmer-partners and extension workers, Midsayap developed and promoted Matatag rice lines which are resistant to the rice tungro disease, a major cause of low rice yields in the area. One notable achievement of the station was the lessened intensity and prevalence of tungro outbreaks in its area of responsibility now.
Based in Batang, Ligao City, Albay, PhilRice Bicol is being developed as the center of rice R &D for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and mitigation within the five-year period (2010-2015).