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To help Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) double its rice production in succeeding years, extension workers in its five countries recently completed a four-month training course on rice production conducted in the Philippines since June.

Implemented by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the country`s lead in rice science and development, in coordination with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the training equipped 25 extension workers with knowledge and skills on extension strategies and rice cultivation technologies that can be adapted in SSA.

“I`m so eager to go back to my country and work on improving the yield of our farmers, who only harvest less than 2 t in a hectare,” Catherine John Mumo, one of the training`s achiever awardees, said.

Among the rice production techniques the extension workers learned from the Philippines, Catherine John, an extension worker in Kenya, said nutrient management practices such as the use of Minus One Element Technique and Leaf Color Chart will be modified to make them suitable in their countries.  MOET is a reliable, low-cost, and easy alternative technique that farmers can do to diagnose soil nutrient status while LCC or the four-stripped plastic “ruler” is used in assessing nitrogen status of rice plant.

“Our harvest is quite low because farmers lack knowledge in the proper application of fertilizers. [More often, they apply fertilizers even when not needed by plants],” she said.

As part of the season-long training, participants from Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, implemented PalayCheck in five rainfed rice communities of Talugtug, Nueva Ecija and learned Palayamanan. PalayCheck is an integrated crop management system for rice while Palayamanan is a diversified rice-based farming system.

“I particularly learned a lot from our integrated pest management lectures and hands-on training. The skills and knowledge we picked up here will definitely help us to be of better service to our farmers,” Catherine John said.

Five Filipinos from the local government units of Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, and Isabela are also participants in the 16-week rice training program.

The training, funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency with USD 4 million, is part of the overall initiative of the Coalition for Africa Rice Development (CARD) to increase rice production in Africa. Reports have noted rice consumption in the region increases by 6 percent yearly. SSA imports nearly half of its rice consumption at around USD 3.6 billion a year.

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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