The rice paddy art, also popular in Japan and other rice-producing countries, shows the faces of celebrity loveteam Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza known as ‘Aldub’ made of purple rice, a traditional variety, and NSIC Rc360, an inbred variety.
In designing the rice paddy art, the Institute’s FutureRice program employed the anamorphosis principle, an art technique used for a distorted artwork that will only appear normal when viewed from a certain angle. It is the same principle used in 3D street and room art.
“We used ‘AlDub’ as our design specimen for the paddy art and through Photoshop, we were able to incorporate the design in the dimension of the field,” explained Nehemiah Caballong, FutureRice’s ICT specialist.
“We adjusted the image to the vantage point of the viewing area. Then, we processed it into grids to determine where to plant the rice varieties on a certain coordinate in the field,” Caballong added.
PhilRice’s Genetic Resources Division provided the traditional variety.
The netizens on social media flooded the FutureRice Facebook page with praises for the team’s creativity and talent.
Davin Capili wrote, “Kudos to the person behind this project. You guys are so creative and innovative!”
Netizen Rui Dx on Facebook reacted, “This is now part of my bucket list – to plant rice! This project is exceptional. You just encouraged people like me to be more involved in rice planting.”
According to FutureRice Program Leader and PhilRice Deputy Executive Director for Administrative Services and Finance Roger F. Barroga, the creation of the rice paddy art aims to raise the awareness of ‘millennials’ on rice farming and agriculture.
“This is one of our strategies to make the youth of today be more informed about the current situation of rice farming in the country. There are many opportunities that await them in agriculture,” Barroga said.
Kevin Delgado on Facebook said, “This is a good and creative project. I never knew planting rice can be that fun.”
Another digital native Ivy Dianne Cambusa wrote “Sobrang nakakaiyak, a good sign na kapag kakain ka ngayon ng bigas, iisipin mo kung paano pinaghihirapan ‘yun ng mga magsasaka.”
The rice paddy art also reached the attention of Maine Mendoza and other celebrities posting photos of the project on Twitter.
As of press time, Mendoza’s tweet has garnered more than 15,000 likes and has been retweeted over 6 thousand times by netizens. The FutureRice’s Facebook page has received over 8,000 reactions and 500 shares.
Young and new forces in rice farming
A PhilRice study says that the average age of Filipino farmers is 58. While agriculture remains to be seen by young people as a non-lucrative career path, PhilRice employs various initiatives to engage the youth in rice farming.
PhilRice’s Infomediary Campaign mobilizes young people to serve as information providers or infomediaries in the rice-farming communities. The campaign operates in 108 high schools nationwide in collaboration with the Department of Education and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security.
The Institute’s Rice Boot Camp is a training program that helps enhance the capacity of fresh graduates in agriculture and related sciences on the latest rice production technologies.
PhilRice has also an initiative for the out-of-school youth (OSY) through the AgRiDOCs (Agricultural Development Officers of the Community) implemented by Project IPaD. The seven week-long training equips OSYs with both technical knowledge and a positive mindset toward farming and agriculture.
During the launching, the FutureRice team took the opportunity to brief the visitors on the latest farming technologies used at the farm.
“More than taking a selfie, the art teaches my generation that rice farming can also be cool and exciting. I work in agriculture and I hope that more people from the youth sector will work for the Filipino farmers,” said Xarin Sto. Domingo, a 23-year-old researcher at PhilRice.
While the rice paddy art is the center of attraction, the 5-ha FutureRice farm also houses clean energy facilities, drone technology, advanced farm machines, and an experimental field that showcases hybrid, inbred, and traditional rice varieties.
“Rice farming is not only for agriculture graduates. It transcends all fields. The FutureRice farm taught me that even people in the information technology can help our farmers by developing mobile applications suited for farming,” said Jan Arnel P. Landingin, a BSIT student from Central Luzon State University (CLSU).