The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Rice Extension Services Program (RCEF RESP) has responded to the information needs of farmers in Adams – the smallest town in Ilocos Norte.
According to Nonilon Martin, RCEF extension focal, the town’s rice growers led by Municipal Agriculturist Clarita Tigui-ing, requested the program implementers in Batac City, Ilocos Norte to help them increase their yield currently at almost 4t/ha. The province’s average yield is almost 5t/ha.
“Our interviews with the farmers show the need to enhance their knowledge on pest and nutrient management as one of the ways to assist them in augmenting their harvest,” she said.
Rice experts taught 40 farmers on the use of ICT-based tools and apps such as the Minus-One- Element Technique (MOET), Leaf Color Chart (LCC), Rice Crop Manager Advisory Service (RCMAS), and Abonong Swak.
MOET provides the right amount, combination, and type of fertilizer to be applied while LCC assesses nitrogen status of the rice plant. RCMAS gives site-specific nutrient recommendations while Abonong Swak promotes organic and inorganic fertilizer combinations to meet farmers’ budget and current yield.
“I learned the right nutrient element, amount, and timing of fertilizer application. I used to apply fertilizer once or twice thinking that I could save time, labor, and expenses,” Cortes Palangen said.
Meanwhile, Damaso Dalog expressed his gratitude for the learning session, which taught him how to identify and manage insect pests and natural enemies.
“We’re looking forward to a bountiful harvest in the next cropping season. The program has provided us with an avenue to acquire accurate and science-based information from the experts,” he said.
The RCEF RESP is a component of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law, which allocates P10 billion fund every year for the rice farmers. Sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Villar, the program is a six-year government initiative to help the farmers compete in the international rice market. The local government units and lawmakers assist in its implementation.