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The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Aurora province had agreed to a two-year project that aims to increase farm productivity in the Region III’s third largest land.

Starting June, project stakeholders in Auroroa led by Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo and PhilRice’s Technology Management and Services Division will promote recommended pest management practices and diversified farming after series of consultation with the farmers.

Castillo, who committed technical assistance and market link for the farmers, said the pilot project in three barangays in Maria Aurora suits the province’s advocacy on organic-based rice farming.

“We welcome this new partnership as this step advances us in producing better quality organic rice.  I challenge the farmers to be more united in this undertaking because combating pests takes cooperation,” she said.

Dr. Aurora M. Corales, project proponent, said the prevalence of insect pests and diseases such as tungro, rice black bug, rice blast, and blight had caused the province’s decline in rice yield for years.

The training specialist said rice pests can hardly be controlled in Aurora particularly in Maria Aurora because farmers practice asynchronous and continuous planting.

“Farmers do not plant within the localities’ planting calendar and their fields are not fallowed for at least 30 days after harvest. These current practices often result in outbreaks as pests have continuous food supply,” she explained.

Under the project, some 100 farmers in Diaat, Malasin, and Estonilo will be tapped to adopt synchronous planting and observe fallow period to break pest cycle and destroy disease hosts.

Collaborating agencies also include the local government unit of Maria Aurora, Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office III, National Irrigation Administration-Region III, Alalay sa Kaunlaran, Inc., and DIMAES (Diaat, Malasin, and Estonilo) Irrigators’ Association.

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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