Gawad SakaTwo PhilRice researchers were recognized in the 2016 Regional Gawad Saka Award, an annual search by the Department of Agriculture (DA) for outstanding achievers in agriculture and fisheries.

Dr. Roel R. Suralta, Scientist I and Crop Biotechnology Center head, received the Outstanding Agricultural Scientist Award for Central Luzon. Meanwhile, Dr. Riza Abilgos-Ramos, Rice Chemistry and Food Science Division head, received the Outstanding Agricultural Researcher Award for Central Luzon.

Suralta, 42, one of the country`s pioneer researchers in root studies based at the Institute, is one of the Presidential Lingkod Bayan awardees in 2013. He was also conferred the Scientist I rank by the Philippine Scientific Career Council and was awarded Outstanding Young Scientist in the Philippines in 2010.

His studies highlight root plasticity or crop adaptation traits in response to fluctuating soil moisture stresses typically encountered in marginal rainfed lowland rice areas in the Philippines. His research findings helped in breeding high-yielding, drought-tolerant rice cultivars, and in managing optimum agronomic traits under different rainfed lowland rice conditions.

A son of Poro, Cebu, he finished his PhD in Agricultural Sciences at the Nagoya University, Japan through the Monbukagakusho Scholarship in 2008.

Abilgos-Ramos, on the other hand, is currently leading the nutritional quality assessment of Philippine rice and rice-based crops; quality assessment of iron and zinc-dense rice; development of vegetable supplements in rice-based products; and factors influencing food intake and nutritional status of rice-based farm households.

Through her involvement in the Rice biofortification project of the HarvestPlus program, the high-iron rice (IR68144 or MS 13) was released as special variety for farmers to plant all over the country.

Ramos’ valuable contribution as part of the team working on enhancing the micronutrient content of the staple rice made significant impact on the realization of complementary and sustainable solution to the iron-deficiency anemia problem of the country.

Her study on rice-based crops (moringa and chili pepper leaves) produced nutritionally enriched value-added rice-based products that not only supply one’s requirements for micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron, and folate, but also benefit consumers and rice-based farm communities.

Abilgos-Ramos finished her PhD in Plant Science and Analytical Biosciences at The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom through the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program in 2010. She is from Daet, Camarines Norte.



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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