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Department of Agriculture Sec. Proceso J. Alcala urged Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the country`s lead in rice science and development, to help him find ways to attain the country’s goal of rice self-sufficiency by 2013.

“Attaining rice sufficiency is possible when we find ways to make it possible with the efforts of institutions such as PhilRice,” the agriculture secretary said in Filipino during his visit to the Institute`s Central Experiment Station in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, February 17.

In a facility and field tour, Alcala noted the skills and ability of the Institute`s researchers in producing breeder and foundation seeds and in generating farm technologies and machines such as controlled irrigation, windmill pump irrigation system, rice husk gassifier engine system, carbonizer-pump system, and post-harvest storage systems.

“We`re here for solutions. And we are blessed as we have good scientists and laborers who are the country`s life in giving technologies to the farmers,” he said.

Alcala also met the Rice Self-Sufficiency Officers (RSOs) of PhilRice in their learning fields and instructed that once they graduate in April, they will be deployed by the Department to different convergence areas.

Early this year, PhilRice was cited for having high quality research inputs by an external reviewer in 2007. It is presently optimizing available resources as it implements  medium and long-term corporate plans after its Board of Trustees, chaired by Alcala, approved the Institute’s program thrusts for 2011-2016.

Supporting the secretary`s tall order of attaining rice self-sufficiency, programs about developing technologies to break the low rice yield barriers in rainfed, upland, and other adverse environments, are crafted.

In 2012, PhilRice breeders are expected to release two inbred direct-wet-seeded rice varieties with at least 10 t/ha potential yield to further increase rice productivity in irrigated lowland.

Moreover, two hybrid varieties with potential yield of at least 12 t/ha will hopefully be released from 2012 to 2014. Alcala also instructed PhilRice to rapidly multiply NSIC Rc222, a high-yielding rice variety good for irrigated and rainfed environments.

Moreover, mechanical rice transplanter, combine harvester, reversible airflow dryer, and electronic grain color sorter will be promoted and commercialized.

Calling on the Institute for a more speedy technology transfer of technologies to rice farmers, Alcala said the country has stepped down from being the world’s largest importer of rice, currently top ranked by Indonesia.

With a lesser bulk of importation than the previous months, Alcala said the amount of rice recently imported would be enough to cover the supply shortage brought about by drought early last year.

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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