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The Korean Project on International Agriculture (KOPIA) Center in the Philippines, which is hosted by Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), is expected to intensify its efforts to improve rice varieties and cultivation in the country with the appointment of its fourth director.

Incoming KOPIA Director Dr. Wonha Yang said that the goal of his stay in the Philippines is to help Filipino farmers increase their income, and he promised to do his best for the agency.

“The Philippines has a good condition (for rice production). We will help you achieve rice self-sufficiency,” the new director said during turnover ceremonies held July 2 at PhilRice-CES.

The country was 98 percent rice self-sufficient in 2012, according to Department of Agriculture (DA). Dante Delima, DA assistant secretary, expressed optimism that the country will eventually become rice self-sufficient within the year.

Before joining KOPIA, Yang was the head of the Chuncheon substation of the National Institute of Crop Science of Rural Development Association (RDA)-Korea.

His main work involved research on rice cultivation technique in direct seeding and machine transplanting; rice stress physiology on effect of water temperature to rice plant; and rice cultivation and production.

South Korea, despite having limited lands to till for farming, is rice self-sufficient and exports many types of agricultural commodities. It has one of the most modernized agriculture sectors in Asia.

Three directors preceded Yang since the establishment of KOPIA-Philippines in September 2012 through a Memorandum of Agreement signed by RDA-Korea and the Department of Agriculture of the Philippine government. They are: Dr. Jae-Duk Kim, Dr. Sang-Guie Lee, and Dr. Jeong-Taek Lee whose term ended this month.

The Center was established as a symbol of South Korea’s support and gratitude to the Philippines’ for sharing its rice supply when South Korea needed it decades ago.

The project started its initial research and development activities in the 2011 dry season by screening 15 Korean and Philippine rice cultivars, and demonstrating three types of Korean machines for direct seeding. Both activities were set up at PhilRice CES. The project was expanded to Kalinga, Pangasinan, Isabela, Aurora, Laguna, Iloilo, and Bohol during the 2011-2012 cropping seasons.

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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