After nearly four decades of grappling with farming challenges in Pinukpuk, Kalinga, Melecio Pecasio Jr. embarked on a learning journey. Recognizing the limitations of traditional farming methods that were affecting his yield and income, Melecio enrolled in the Farmer Field School (FFS) under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Rice Extension Services Program (RCEF RESP).

In 2021, Melecio completed 14 sessions of lectures and hands-on training at Clemencia’s Rice-based Integrated Farm in Tabuk City, Kalinga. He effectively applied the knowledge he acquired, with a particular emphasis on nutrient and pest management.

“We’ve observed a significant increase in crop by planting certified inbred seeds from the RCEF Seed Program such as  NSIC Rc 514, 222, and 506, and by implementing effective farming techniques. Before, we were able to harvest up to 5.3t/ha, but now we can harvest up to 7.5t/ha,” he said.

Besides the increase in yield, there was a reduction in  production costs, particularly on farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticides, achieved by following the Right E-A-T (element, amount, and timing) in fertilizer application. Melecio’s expenditures amounted to P40,000/ha, but they’ve been slashed to just P25,000. 

Driven by the success he experienced and the desire to help fellow farmers, Melecio embraced the opportunity to become an FFS trainer at Healthy Harvest Integrated Farm in Pinukpuk, Kalinga. 

He underwent rigorous six-month training to hone his skills and knowledge under the guidance of Alma B. Cortez, former trainer at Clemencia’s Rice-Based Integrated Farm and owner of Healthy Harvest Integrated Farm. 

“During his time as a farmer-scholar, I saw his potential and passion for learning. In our farm school, we establish competency and credibility. Before admitting him, we enhanced his skills and ensured he is capable of mentoring his co-farmers,” Cortez shared.

Cortez also commended Melecio’s adaptability to emerging farming technologies including digitalization, and his commitment to helping rice farmers. 

From October 2022 to the present, he has trained and facilitated nine batches, comprising a total of 225 farmers. He epitomizes the transformation of a farmer field school scholar into a certified trainer.

The RCEF RESP is a component of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law, which allocates P10 billion fund every year for rice farmers. Sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Villar, the program is a six-year government initiative to help farmers compete in the international rice market. The local government units and lawmakers assist its implementation.

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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