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The executive director of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), urged the rice sector to consider green and smart initiatives to attain food security and sufficiency.

Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco Jr highlighted energy in rice farming, mechanization, biotechnology, use of information and communication technologies, and upcoming Philippine Rice Academy as some green and smart initiatives that could help the country achieve rice self-sufficiency.

Speaking in the recent 2012 National Rice Summit held in Clark, Pampanga, Rasco said green initiatives aim to reduce external input, particularly energy, while smart initiatives are knowledge-intensive and hard labor-reducing technologies.

Currently, PhilRice has the Energy in Rice Farming Program as key green initiative in helping the agriculture sector reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

Rasco also emphasized the need to lessen dependence on fossil fuel on various stages of rice production, from land preparation to marketing the produce.

The Energy in Rice Farming Program was unofficially launched in this year’s combined first and second quarter issue of the PhilRice Magazine in 2012, which features ways to reduce energy in rice farming.

Prior to serving as PhilRice director, Rasco wrote a book on nipa as a potential energy source. In his presentation, he stressed that nipa produces up to 15,000 l/ha of alcohol annually, while  sugarcane,  a known and traditional source of alcohol only produces nearly 7,000 l/ha.

To address drudgery and labor shortage, PhilRice engineers have already developed farm machines designed to address location-specific concerns. As smart initiative, PhilRice had developed and promotes rice combine, transplanter and drumseeder to help reduce significant yield losses attributed to manual farming.

Moreover, PhilRice researchers optimize biotechnology tools on developing heat- and submergence-tolerant varieties to help farmers adapt to climate change. The Institute’s genebank houses more than 12,000 accessions that serve as materials for breeding work.

With the ‘e-everything’ phenomenon in the Philippines, PhilRice also harnesses benefits from information technologies.

“Space technology and meteorology can be used to determine status of rice farms, forecast disasters, and organize disaster response”, said Rasco. He also stressed the use of IT applications for precision farming and supply chain management.

Rasco added that PhilRice is working on a Philippine Rice Academy, an advanced research and training academy focused on promoting 21st century farm techniques. These modern techniques are anchored on precision agriculture principles and practices and entail the use of machines, information technologies, and biotechnology.

Around 500 rice farming practitioners, researchers, scientists, advocates and enthusiasts from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao attended the National Rice Summit, which was spearheaded by Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology.

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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