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An internationally-funded project, hosted by Philippine Rice Research Institute based in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, helped increase rice production in Tarlac by 83 percent last cropping season.

Jesusa Noveda, municipal agriculturist in Lapaz, a 4th class municipality in the province,  said the project, Increasing Rice Yields and Productivity through the Promotion of Small-Scale Irrigation and Integrated Crop Management Systems in Rainfed Areas improved farmers’ yield through irrigation equipment and technologies taught in the project’s Farmers’ Field School (FFS).

Funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the local government units, the project provides engines and pump sets to help farmers in rainfed areas secure water during the dry season.

Recently, Lea Salonga, international singer actress and United Nations (UN) Goodwill Ambassador, led the distribution of farm equipment to 145 farmers-partners in La Paz.

Salonga, together with the donor-organization and public officials, awarded farm equipment such as shredder-chippers for organic composting, engines and pump sets for small-scale irrigation system, and fertilizers to the FFS participants in the barangays of Caut, Matayum-tayum, Paludpod, and Lomboy.

EU Operations Head Nicholas Taylor, FAO Representative Kazuyuki Tsurumi, UN Resident Coordinator Jacqui Badcock, La Paz Mayor Michael Manuel, Tarlac Governor Victor Yap, and Congressman Jeci Lapus joined Salonga in the activity.

The project also promotes institute-developed technologies such as PalayCheck and Palayamanan PalayCheck is a dynamic rice crop management system that presents the best technology practices as key checks, while Palayamanan is a diversified integrated rice-based farming system.

Farmers who have completed two seasons of FFS are eligible to own pump sets from the EU-FAO-DA project.

“Even if we have many millions of hungry families in this country, seeing something like this gives me hope that we will be able to rise from this mire of poverty,” Salonga said.

In Tarlac, more than 900 farmers from the municipalities of Mayantoc, San Clemente, Moncada, Ramos, Victoria, and Lapaz were identified as project beneficiaries.

Project sites also include Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Pampanga, as the provinces have large areas of groundwater and prevalent poverty incidence; and had experienced intense damage on agricultural crop and infrastructure caused by typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng in Sept. and Oct. 2009.

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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