Key officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) updated the farmers on the agency’s targets for the next six years during the recently concluded Lakbay Palay at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Nueva Ecija, Sept. 15-16.
Speaking to over 1,000 farmer participants, DA’s Director for field operations Roy M. Abaya and National Rice Program senior technical adviser and PhilRice’s first Executive Director Dr. Santiago R. Obien said that the DA aims to achieve rice self-sufficiency and provide available and affordable food for all Filipinos.
Abaya represented DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol as guest speaker on the first day of the event while Obien represented DA Assistant Secretary for Operations Richard C. Año II on the second day.
“The target is possible since we have the technology and hardworking farmers,” Obien said.
Obien explained DA’s plan to create a national color-coded agriculture and fisheries map to ensure that appropriate crops are planted based on geographic, climatic, and soil type of a certain area.
“We will conduct a national consumption survey to predict what kind of food the country needs to produce over the years,” he added.
He added that the said agency will do a nationwide soil-analysis, improve rice technologies, introduce high-yielding varieties, rehabilitate soil and fertilizer program, and harvest and postharvest facilities.
DA also plans to improve the method of insurance for farmers, provide free irrigation, curb rice smuggling, and intensify research and development.
The two-day event taught farmers on the latest technologies on rice farming. Among the stations visited by farmers were the FutureRice Farm, Palayabangan: The 10-5 Challenge, breeder seed production area, azolla and organic fertilizer production, Palayamanan Plus complex, and Rice Science Museum.
Lakbay-Palay is a major activity of PhilRice done twice yearly, one each for dry and wet seasons. It gathers thousands of farmers as well as students, researchers, and decision makers from different provinces.