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Trainees from the first and second batches of African extension agronomists trained at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) are currently implementing their own local PalayCheck systems in their respective countries, and the training of a new batch is ongoing.

Lea R. Abaoag, head of the Technology Management and Services Division of PhilRice, said that the training of the African extension agronomists by the agency was conducted through the partnership of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and PhilRice under the overall South-South Cooperation project, an initiative of the Coalition for Africa Rice Development (CARD) to increase rice production in Africa.

Abaoag, who is also the overall coordinator of the season-long rice farming training program, said that the African extension agronomists were trained on PalayCheck and Palayamanan systems at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station in Nueva Ecija. PalayCheck is an integrated crop management system for rice while Palayamanan is a diversified rice-based farming system.

For the third time since June 2011, another batch of African extension agronomists are being trained in the institution. Seventeen trainees from African countries Cameroon, Gambia, Liberia and Zambia started their four-month long training on June 11 this year.

Abaoag said that after the training, the extension agronomists are expected to conduct similar trainings for farmers in their countries.

One of the trainees, Mangwi Perpetua from Cameroon, said that their country does not have check systems and they are gradually coming to understand how the PalayCheck system works.

Rice consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the fastest growth among countries outside Asia according to IRRI. SSA’s per capita rice consumption has increased by more than 50 percent in the past two decades.

According to the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, Africa’s rice consumption is within the range of 21 million metric tons, but there is a deficit of about 6.5 million MT per year valued at $1.7 billion that has to be imported annually.

“Our country has the potential to produce more rice because rice can be grown in all areas. We just need to be equipped because we have no adequate technology and skills,” Perpetua said.

She further said that the training helped them see what they can do to manage rice production.

“I realized that we can start even with a small amount,” Perpetua said.

Felisters Kayanda, a trainee from Zambia, said that the training is an opportunity for them to help their country double its rice production.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute