Written by the Web Team
Dr. Gelia T. Castillo, national scientist and member of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) Board of Trustees, challenged Mindanao farmers to improve their yield during the Farmers’ Field Day and Forum in PhilRice Agusan in Basilisa, Remedios T. Romualdez, Agusan del Norte, Sept. 22.
Close to 1,000 farmers, students, representatives of local government units, and members of the press from Regions 10, 11, and 13, attended the activity.
Recognizing the issues on food production, Castillo said “farmers have a huge role to play” in producing more rice to feed the ballooning population.
“The Caraga region has slightly higher per capita rice availability (129 kg) than the national average (119 kg)…..The challenge now is how to increase rice productivity so the region can contribute to Philippine rice self-sufficiency,” Castillo said.
Castillo stressed that 27 percent of the country’s population are in 26 marginal provinces while 17 and 16 percent are in non-rice producing cities in the National Capital Region and non-rice producing provinces, respectively. To feed this population and for the country to be rice self-sufficient in 2013, Castillo urged farmers in provinces with higher per capita rice availability to increase their production.
Castillo noted that the farmers’ inquisitiveness and their eagerness to bring their children to PhilRice experimental fields to learn with them show the tillers’ determination in improving their yield.
Meanwhile, PhilRice Executive Director Eufemio T. Rasco Jr. assured farmers that the Institute will intensify rice research and development efforts in Mindanao as some of the country’s poorest farmers are in the region. In Northern Mindanao and in Davao and Caraga regions, the areas covered by PhilRice Agusan, wet and very wet climatic conditions limit the farmers in attaining high yield.
Addressing farmers’ concerns on salinity and rat attack, PhilRice researchers advised farmers to plant Salinas varieties available at PhilRice Agusan and adopt the PhilRice-developed trap barrier system.
Dr. Nenita V. Desamero, PhilRice’s program leader on Developing Technologies to Break the Low Rice Yield Barriers in Rainfed, Upland, and other Adverse Environments, also explained to the inquiring farmers the importance of continually producing rice varieties.
“There are several reasons why we do this. First is the need to maintain diversity on the rice field. Second is to keep choices open for the farmers,” Desamero said.
She pointed that biodiversity or having a pool of varieties provides farmers with selection of available varieties to plant during pest infestations. She also said that more rice varieties are being bred owing to farmers’ varied varietal and consumers’ grain preferences.
Technology, knowledge showcase
To help farmers attain high yield, nutrient management technologies such as the Minus-One Element Technique (MOET) were exhibited during the field day and forum. MOET, a simple soil test that farmers can do to determine soil nutrient deficiencies, guide rice tillers on proper fertilizer application.
PhilRice Agusan, a center on nutrient management research, also exhibited technical posters and crop protection strategies such as the use of biological control agents.
Among the varieties showcased during the activity, farmers preferred NSIC Rc160, a variety with an average yield of about 6 t/ha, owing to its good eating quality and yield.
With a maximum yield of 8 t/ha, NSIC Rc160 is also good for ratooning or letting the rice plant produce new tillers after harvesting the crop.
“It feels great learning that farmers like the variety we bred at PhilRice,” said Dr. Manuel Jose C. Regalado, PhilRice deputy executive director for research.
Regalado also announced that the Department of Agriculture will train farmers’ associations on seed production to improve their capability in producing their own high-quality seeds.