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A gathering for the future.

More than 500 researchers, agriculture workers, and farmers had gathered for the 26th National Rice Research and Development (R&D) Conference to discuss solutions that will sustain good harvests in the coming years.

With the theme, Rice R&D for competitive, sustainable, and resilient (CSR) economy, the conference, hosted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), was held in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Sept. 4-5.

Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, keynoted the two-day scientific gathering.

Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco, PhilRice executive director, observed that during the past years, the rice R&D community has focused on improving rice harvests and making the land productive.

“We are here to prepare for the future of rice and its environment as statistics related to climate change, energy, land and water resources, and malnutrition, among others, are not getting better,” he said.

To identify strategies that will address rice-related issues, the conference will highlight studies focusing on thematic areas: rice breeding and technologies for improving yields and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, grain quality, and nutrition; and pest management options for sustaining productivity and the environment.

Researches on crop management options, farm mechanization, and energy generation for efficient and resilient farming; and systems and tools, technology promotion for increasing productivity and attaining food sufficiency and competitiveness will also be presented.

A World Bank-commissioned survey released in June this year revealed that eight out of 10 Filipinos have “personally experienced” the adverse effects of climate change in the last three years. The Philippines also rank third as the most vulnerable country to weather-related extreme events.

In energy, a report of the Asian Development Bank, stated that the country’s “contribution of renewables will shrink from 43 percent in 2010 to 14 percent in 2035, by which time proven indigenous gas and coal reserves will be depleted.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted in 2008 found that an average of 9,000 hectares of farmlands devoted to rice are converted or planted with other crops every year. The country is also on the brink of facing a water crisis over the next 10 years unless new sources are developed to meet its demand.

In malnutrition, the National Food Coalition said that the Philippines and Cambodia are tied at 2nd rank with 17 percent prevalence of undernourishment. Our country has 16 million undernourished persons.

“We hope that the conference will bring about consensus on how to implement the identified strategies and initiatives to ensure hopeful future for the rice farmers,” Rasco said.

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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