SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ ― A collaborative project between the Philippine and Korean governments has culminated with exceptional accomplishments presented in the completion ceremony held at PhilRice, Central Experiment Station, May 2.
The project, Enhancing the Capacity of Production and Distribution of High-Quality Rice Seeds, is funded by the government of Korea through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) acted as the project implementers.
Started in 2013, the project aimed to improve efficiency in the processing and certification of rice seeds by reducing the processing time and certification process. It also aimed to help increase the usage of high-quality seeds among the Filipino farmers.
In an overall assessment of the project, Dr. SUH, Chong-Hyuk, project manager, reported that this initiative increased capacity for seed processing and certification, enhanced capacity of manpower and institutions, and increased awareness and adoption rate of high-quality seeds among the farmers and seed growers.
“I really appreciate all the stakeholders, especially our counterpart organizations for the success of this project,” Suh said.
The first component of the project was the construction of a modern rice seed processing facility that was inaugurated in December 2016. It can process up to 2 tons of seeds per hour, thereby ensuring the availability of quality seeds processed in a shorter time and providing timely supply to farmers.
Complementing the said facility is the provision of equipment and materials for seed processing, quality testing, and certification. One hundred thirty seven (137) units of equipment and vehicles were donated to PhilRice and BPI-National Seed Quality Control Services (BPI-NSQCS).
Another component is the capacity building of project implementers and beneficiaries that equipped them with knowledge and expertise necessary to manage and operate the seed production and distribution system. For that purpose, 9 Korean experts from various specialization were dispatched to the Philippines, while 40 Filipino officials and personnel were sent to Korea. On the other hand, 170 seed inspectors, seed analysts, and seed growers took part in the training organized by the BPI-NSCQS.
To increase utilization of high-quality rice seeds, certified seeds (CS) were also distributed to 14 farmers’ organizations from Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan. Dr. Aurora Corales of PhilRice reported that 32 tons of CS were given to 415 farmer-recipients and were planted to over 700 ha of irrigated rice areas in the said provinces. This resulted to an average increase of 0.70 t/ha in areas that were not affected by typhoon.
“We give our heartfelt gratitude to KOICA for the seeds and to the implementers who gave us technical assistance,” said Rosita Ancheta of Paed Limaquita Irrigators’ Association of Pangasinan. Their organization was recognized for their outstanding performance and participation in the project.
Sustainability and partnerships
Mr. LEE, Sangback, assistant country director of KOICA, said the project is much more successful than he expected while also highlighting the importance of sustainability.
“This is a time to start. From now on, it’s your turn to sustain our initiatives with your knowledge and experience,” Lee challenged the project partners and beneficiaries.
In response to this challenge, PhilRice’s Executive Director, Dr. Sailila Abdula, called for a continued innovation in improving the rice seed sector.
“Seeds are the building blocks of our rice industry. With the facilities, equipment, and capacity enhancement from this project, I believe we can do more for the rice farmers,” Abdula said.
During the project completion ceremony, KOICA experts also shared their country’s rice breeding experiences and how it can be adopted in the Philippines. One of their recommendations is to strengthen breeding activities in PhilRice branch stations and regional research centers. Another is to expand hybrid rice area through collective support system and well-implemented policies.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ariel Cayanan, DA undersecretary for operations, enjoined the stakeholders from the Philippines and Korea to work together.
“As the two countries continue to build a strong foundation for our harmonious partnership, nothing can prevent us from excelling in the field of agriculture in the world,” Cayanan concluded.