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Faced with natural and man-made threats, the rice sector is set to make fundamental shifts in scope and direction of its work to carry out its new advocacy, Clean, Green, Practical, and Smart Rice Farming Systems for Competitiveness, Sustainability, and Resilience (Clean GPS for CSR).

Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco Jr, executive director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said in the recent 26th National Rice Research and Development (R&D) Conference that changes in productivity analysis, integration concepts, and benchmark research will soon be implemented.

“Clean GPS for CSR is the essence of our renewed commitment to the Filipinos. As we try to make this [advocacy] a reality, we need to start using the rice farming environment as our unit of productivity analysis instead of only the rice crop. We need to shift focus from Oryza sativa to Homo sapiens,” he said.

With his shift in unit of productivity analysis, Rasco emphasized the need for a more encompassing view of integration.

He explained, “Backward integration is the sense of providing the inputs such as energy required to sustain the rice environment; forward integration is to put the products through an efficient supply chain. Horizontal integration is making non-rice enterprises engage in mutually beneficial relationship with the rice crop.”

According to Rasco, these concepts are not abstract as this form of integration is already being applied in mungbean production between rice crops, which is “known not only to improve the income of the rice farmer, but it is biologically beneficial to the rice plant by supplying nutrients.”

To help farmers survive economically, Rasco said that for the first time, PhilRice will benchmark the Filipino rice farmers against competitors in Vietnam, Thailand, India, Cambodia, and China. Researchers will be deployed to these countries to understand why they can produce rice so much cheaper than the Filipino farmers.

“[As component of our advocacy], we speak of Clean GPS as methods. Clean, which basically means non-polluting. Green is for technologies that reduce the use of external inputs in rice farming, particularly energy. Practical is something that appeals to common sense. And Smart means knowledge-intensive, yield maximizing, and cost reducing technologies,” he said.

These methods, he said, will be employed in research and development activities to achieve competitiveness, sustainability, and resilience.

“Competitiveness is very timely. It is not a matter of choice anymore, but a matter of survival as we get closer to 2015, when Asian economies reach a milestone of integration and cheap rice imports,” he said.

He added that sustainability is about making sure we will not only be self-sufficient in food in 2013 but will remain so; while resilience is about helping farmers not only to fight natural and man-made threats but also to recover in case of defeat.

The shifts in direction and methods are part of the rice sector’s five-year plan to be fully implemented in 2016.

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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