Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija – The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) conducted a mindsetting exercise towards agripreneurship among the farmers of the Pinagbuklod na Adhika Credit Cooperative of Macarse, Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija as part of its RiceBIS Community Program, July 20.
According to Dr. Ronan G. Zagado, PhilRice development communication specialist and the program campaign coordinator, RiceBIS stands for Rice Business Innovations System. It is a new development program launched by PhilRice this year to help increase farmer’s yield, lower their production cost, and link them to business development service providers.
Zagado stressed that farmers’ mindset on farming is generally production driven. The mindsetting event, he said, was carried out to prepare and condition their hearts and minds towards agro-enterprise development with rice as the resource base. “By agro-enterprise development, we want to teach farmers to be critical by asking not only ‘what to produce’ and ‘how to produce’, but also ‘what to sell’, ‘how to sell’, and ‘to whom to sell,” Zagado elaborated.
During the mindsetting event, a film showing inspiring stories of successful farmers opened the event. Farmers’ social skills and familiarity to each other were then challenged in the next activity called the human bingo. From its name, the activity is similar to the well-known game Bingo except that instead of the bingo balls’ numbers, what would fill in the bingo cards of the farmers are the signatures of their co-farmers.
According to the winner of the game, Ms. Merlita Ulip, she was able to get to know her fellow farmers more with the game. “Getting to know more about the farmers in the cooperative will help them build a stronger cooperative,” said the campaign coordinator. He added that a strong farmer-cooperative is necessary to achieve the program’s objectives as well as to ensure its sustainability.
The main part of the mind setting event was the activity called Palay-isipan where the farmers were asked about the RiceBIS program. The activity aimed to increase the awareness of the farmers about the program and instill in their minds how the program can contribute to their farm productivity and profitability.
Likewise, the event introduced the Be Riceponsible campaign of PhilRice to the farmers. Ms. Adeline P. Gomez, science research specialist of PhilRice, discussed how the participants can be “riceponsible”. She talked about the importance of the consumption of brown rice, particularly its benefits for our health and for the farmers.
After all the activities, the organizers and the farmers had small group discussions to reflect and draw out lessons and feedback from the activities.
Facilitating the mindsetting activities were the development communication student-interns from the University of the Philippines Los Banos, Central Mindanao University, and Visayas State University.
The RiceBIS Community Program in Nueva Ecija is a collaborative undertaking of PhilRice, Zaragoza Local Governmenit Unit, Nueva Ecija Provincial Agriculture Office, and the DA-RFO 3. It is not only implemented in Nueva Ecija, but also in Isabela, Ilocos Norte, Negros Occidental, Albay, Quezon, Agusan del Sur, and North Cotabato.
“Our goal is to develop rice-based enterprise models that farmers can use to increase their income and eventually their well being,” Zagado concluded.