Two professors emeriti from the Kyoto University and Mie University in Japan shared their insights on how to restore the Ifugao rice terraces in a seminar at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station in Nueva Ecija, May 6.
Prof. Hiroshi Tsujii, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in Thailand, attributed instances of abandonment of some of the Ifugao rice terraces to external pressure that leads the Ifugao youth to seek non-agricultural jobs, aging farmers, and out-migration of young people, which reduces the needed workforce to cultivate and maintain the rice terraces.
Meanwhile, Prof. Makoto Hoki, an agricultural engineer and former research fellow at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) talked about mechanization efforts to conserve the terraces.
Prof. Hoki mentioned that mechanization can solve the insufficiency of workforce issue. He enumerated a number of farm machines that can be used for the said purpose.
Meanwhile, Arch. Renato B. Bajit, PhilRice staff tasked to oversee the restoration of the Batad rice terraces, said that PhilRice has been actively involved in the restoration efforts.
Bajit mentioned help from the rice engineering and plant breeding groups that thus far resulted in improved farming operations in the area. He noted that locals are open to modern rice farming technologies.
“We helped them manufacture and maintain their own farm machines. With DA-PhilRice’s support, especially from the DA Rice Program, we also encouraged them to participate in the commercialization of their heirloom (traditional) rice, so they can maximize their income and later on reduce dependence from the government,” Bajit said.
The restoration of the Batad Rice Terraces was implemented from February 2012 to November 2014. Rice production trials in the area reported a significant yield increase from 2MT to 4MT. Practices and technologies relating to seedlings per hill and proper spacing were demonstrated.