To reduce poverty and hunger, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has increased its investments on agriculture through the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) implemented with research institutes and public agencies.
The program, which covers rice, white corn, saba, cassava, and sweet potato, implements projects aiming for adoption of yield-enhancing technologies, increasing income, and improving delivery of extension and research services.
Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, deputy director general for communications and partnerships of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said that the rate of return to agricultural research in general exceeds 40 percent. Specifically, rice research gives a benefit of US$1.46 billion per year, boosting rice yields by an average of 11.2 percent.
For the last three years, the government budget for research and development for rice had amounted to P800-900 Million or about 12 percent of the total budget of the National Rice Program.
Under FSSP, the program initiatives include cross-country research, associated technologies, and rice crop manager, an ICT-based technology that provides a decision-support tool that can be accessed by computer and mobile phone to increase yield and income of farmers.
Project implementers are also monitoring rice growing-areas, developing next generation rice varieties, raising productivity and enriching the legacy of heirloom rice, and enhancing the capacity of the next generation of farmer intermediaries and rice extension professionals.
The economic policy adviser added that “on a social investment basis, there’s nothing like investing on agricultural research that will pay off.”
“The 2014 4th Social Weather survey found that 17.2 percent or an estimated 3.8 million families experience total hunger. … [Through agri research, which we may consider a social investment, we can expect a better rate of return to society],” he said.
Recognizing the partnership between DA and IRRI since the first green revolution, Tolentino acknowledged DA’s capability and the ability of scientists to communicate with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and other attached agencies as “unparalleled.”