Recent graduates of the Rice Specialists’ Training Course (RSTC) under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund-Rice Extension Services Program (RCEF-RESP) were urged to continue living by the mission to help the Filipino rice farmers.

Karen Eloisa Barroga, deputy executive director of Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice), said PhilRice training courses were enhanced with a module that ignites the sense of passion to help Filipino rice farmers among its trainees.

“Seasons may change but there’s one thing that should not – that is our passion on the mission we have as rice specialists,” said Barroga during the recent virtual graduation of the 21 RSTC participants.

The graduates who finished a three-month training from July 30 to Oct. 30, were from government agencies in Luzon including the local government units, Agricultural Training Institute, DA-Regional Field Office, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

According to Barroga, this training will equip the future-trainers in making farmers become more competitive especially through increased productivity and reduced yield.

“Our mission to help farmers should never change. We should never forget that we are here to serve them by helping them be more competitive,” Barroga said.

The RSTC is the first season-long modular training course with a blended learning approach in compliance with the health protocols due to the pandemic. The first module focuses on the sense of mission among participants, while the other two modules center on enhancing technical competence.

To reduce the number of days with physical contact, the graduates attended a two-week in-house hands-on intensive training on rice machine operations, agro-ecosystem analysis, seed testing procedures, soil sampling, and other nutrient diagnostic tools. Other sessions were conducted online.

Graduates were also tasked to showcase their learnings through a techno demo site and field walk for farmers in their locality.

Jonald Bautista, an RSTC graduate of the Office of the Provincial Agriculture Pangasinan, said this training has been a unique experience.

“More than improving my technical competence, I was also able to deepen my willingness to help and serve our farmers,” Bautista said.

To date, the training which rolled out in 1994 under different programs and projects of DA-PhilRice and partner agencies, has produced 700 rice specialists.

The RSTC conducted by DA-PhilRice aims to develop rice specialists with technical competence in rice and rice-based production technologies, specifically in diagnosing and managing field problems.

The RCEF-RESP is a component of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law signed by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, which allots 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.

The program is implemented by Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, Agricultural Training Institute, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

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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