Farmers in the country`s seventh-largest island may further benefit from the  Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) as it constructs its eight branch station in Occidental Mindoro.

Dubbed as PhilRice Mindoro Intensified Rice-Based Agribiosystem (IRBAS) station, the 4-ha site in Brgy. Alacaak, Sta. Cruz will focus on scientific rice production systems and showcase modern rice-based farming technologies, mechanized farming, and biodiversified farming systems.

“IRBAS is a priority to help farmers make their lands more productive; nothing is wasted and every step of the way, farmers will get income. We also hope to encourage farmers to be more entrepreneurial with mushroom production, vermiculture, and vegetables planted after rice,” said Dr. Eufemio Rasco Jr., PhilRice executive director, during the blessing and groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 11.

Rasco said that IRBAS is implemented through PhilRice`s Palayamanan Plus, a rice-based farming system that strengthens the understanding of the science of diversification and cropping systems.

“Everything a farmer places in his farm serves a purpose. The main crop is rice, but vegetables and livestock are also integrated to optimize the overall farm system. Ducks and fish may be integrated for pest control and added income; or azolla may be planted as source of organic inputs,” Rasco said.

Mario M. Movillon, project leader of the new branch station, said the location was selected as Mindoro is “fast becoming the food basket and food provider of the critical growth regions in the country including the National Capital Region, CALABARZON, and MIMAROPA.”

PhilRice, with its central experiment station in Nueva Ecija, has branch stations in Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Laguna, Albay, Agusan del Norte, and North Cotabato. It also has a satellite station at the Central Mindanao University in Bukidnon.

Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food;Josephine R. Sato, representative of Occidental Mindoro; and Proceso J. Alcala, secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) led the ceremonies. DA Assistant Secretary Edilberto M. De Luna, Gov. Mario Gene J. Mendiola, Vice-Gov. Peter J. Alfaro, Sta. Cruz Mayor Felimon M. Galsim, and Sangguniang Panlalawigan members of Occidental Mindoro also witnessed the event.

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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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