Agriculture specialists and farmers acknowledged the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) for the training programs and technologies extended to its stakeholders.
On the Institute’s 35th anniversary, Nov. 5, Louderick Jimena, agricultural extension worker in Occidental Mindoro said PhilRice training contributed to his development as extensionist educating farmers in their area.
“PhilRice gave me the much-needed confidence in making decisions on the field. Through PhilRice, I have a scientific basis on what varieties to use depending on the season. I also have the technical knowledge of rice farming management now. Aside from the practical application in my field, the information are also helpful whenever I train farmers,” he said.
Daniel Parubrub of Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija said that PhilRice training helped members of Ugat-Uhay Farmers Association increase their yield.
“PhilRice is a frontliner. It develops new rice varieties to combat pests and diseases in the rice farm. The varieties are the hope of every Filipino rice farmer for a more sustainable and resilient farming. I have been to different programs and seminars – marketing, demo farm, variety trials, mushroom production, and new technology adoption. Through this, I have gained more knowledge and experience that eventually helped me achieve a higher yield. It also made me more efficient in rice farming compared to the traditional and conventional methods that we used prior to knowing PhilRice,” he narrated.
In the last decade, PhilRice has developed new rice varieties such as NSIC Rc 142 (Tubigan 7) – Institute’s first biotech-bred rice using DNA markers-aided selection that is resistant to bacterial leaf blight, tungro, and stem borer; and NSIC Rc 196H (Mestiso 16) and Rc 198H (Mestiso 17), first two PhilRice-bred hybrid rice varieties for irrigated lowland.
Moreover, PhilRice bred the first variety for direct seeding: NSIC Rc 298 (Tubigan 23) and its first two-line hybrids with UP Los Baños: NSIC Rc 202H (Mestiso 19) and Rc 204H (Mestiso 20).
Meanwhile, Armando Nelmida, farmer in Masinloc, Zambales, said that the use of drum seeders had helped them reduce rice production cost.
Eduardo Policarpio of Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija shared that his new learning on right fertilizer application will increase his harvest.
Since 1989, PhilRice has been training rice specialists and farmers to cope with the dynamic and challenging agricultural environment.
“We need to train our stakeholders because the generation of farmers is changing; the agricultural extensionists who are government employees retire; and technology is constantly advancing,” Lea dR. Abaoag, head of the Technology Management and Services Division, said.
She said that trained farmers are equipped with knowledge on rice production and basic skills in agripreneurship that help them initiate their own enterprise. Extension workers are also re-tooled on the technical aspects of rice production and introduced to transformational leadership skills.
Mayor Nestor Alvarez of Science City of Muñoz where the Institute’s Central Experiment Station is based, said PhilRice has “continuously shown resilience and strength by utilizing its resources amidst the health threats to reach as many farmers and clients across the country.”
“I believe PhilRice has grown stronger through the years because of its men and women with great and bold vision. The Institute has assiduously served our people through high-yielding and cost-reducing practices and technologies,” he said.
Digital tools were also developed to help rice growers in farm activities such as e-Damuhan used in recognizing weeds and identifying management options; AgRiDoc, virtual farming assistant; Binhing Palay, catalogue of Philippine rice varieties; and Leaf Color Computing used in assessing nitrogen status of the rice plant.
PhilRice was created on Nov. 5, 1985 through Executive Order 1061 to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for the Filipinos.