One fine afternoon, while German Pangilinan was resting on his hammock after a whole day of farm work, he decided to send a message in the PhilRice Text Center (PTC) to know more about NSIC Rc 438. Who would have thought that this simple act would save him from totally losing all his investments in his 3-ha rice area?
“I was introduced to new varieties when my farm became a technology demonstration site for the RiceBIS Community Program of PhilRice. I later cultivated these varieties in my farm,” the 59-year-old seed grower narrated.
Of all the varieties he planted, Rc 438 caught his attention. This variety stands out from the rest as it ripens the earliest. He typed the varietal name, sent it to PTC, and received the basic information in a second.
He learned that Rc 438 is an early-maturing variety at 106 days. He thought it would be wise to plant the variety again as it can be harvested before the onslaught of stronger typhoons in the later months of the rainy season.
When the cropping season started, German planted Rc 438 in his 0.5 ha area and NSIC Rc 222 in 2.5 ha.
“I usually plant Rc 222 because it yields 135 sacks at 60 kgs,” he said.
After several days, German harvested the Rc 438 which gave him 60 sacks. He was happy because his investment in that small parcel of land paid off.
Meanwhile, when Rc222 was almost ripened, a typhoon suddenly came, causing flood in the field and trouble to his crops.
“I only harvested 86 sacks from my 2.5 ha. There was a huge difference from the 0.5 ha that I planted with Rc 438. I lost but learned a lot,” German said.
Thirst for information
Like German, farmers can solve their concerns through practical and valuable information, especially if it is delivered immediately. Good thing, some mechanisms are up to wash their worries away like the PTC, an SMS platform developed by the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture in 2009. Farmers can send in questions on rice farming and receive responses from technical experts, faster and easier.
“From 2015 to 2017, over 25,000 individuals registered in the PTC. At least 40% of them are farmers, while others were students, extension workers, and professionals, among others,” PTC agent Fredierick Saludez said.
He also said that the most frequently asked question in the platform is on seed quality and varietal information – like what German inquired about.
Now, this seed grower from Zaragosa, Nueva Ecija is ready to face the next cropping seasons with a handful of lessons. He believes that a farmer must be eager to learn and progress. As secretary of the Pinagbuklod na Adhika Agricultural Cooperative, he committed to share the lessons to his fellow farmer-members who also has similar dilemma.
“Before, I would spend money for my motorcycle’s fuel and travel to the local agriculture office which is 1.5 km away from our house. Now, my one peso load being exchanged to a bunch of relevant and timely information is not bad. What more if I register for unlimited SMS promo, right?” German smiled.