Thursday, November 13, 2014

Philippines Rice Awareness Month launched

The Philippine Department of Agriculture launched Rice Awareness Month, 10 November 2014, to highlight the value of rice as the country’s staple, and promote government efforts to increase rice production.

President Benigno Aquino III signed Proclamation 524, declaring November as Rice Awareness Month, putting to fore the partnerships and programs aimed at increasing the country’s rice productivity.

"Science has been a crucial part in our efforts to be food secure,” said Secretary Proceso Alcala. “We determined underlying problems and corresponding solutions to achieving this through studies conducted by our partners at IRRI and Philrice.”

IRRI Deputy Director General V. Bruce J. Tolentino gave tribute to IRRI and the DA’s strong and long-standing partnership.  “The research that happens at IRRI cannot happen without this partnership. The first seeds and the first attempts at bringing technology to the farmers, start in the Philippines, with the DA,” said Dr. Tolentino.

Dr. Tolentino also noted that IRRI and DA’s collaboration has been strongest under Sec. Alcala's stewardship of DA. “No one can dispute that in the last 3-4 years, the Philippines has been the fastest growing country in Asia in terms of rice yield.”

DA Assistant Secretary for Operations Edilberto de Luna hopes that every Filipino practices responsible consumption of rice to reduce wastage. “Our effort to optimize domestic rice production is two pronged: increase productivity, and reduce wastage. We also encourage all Filipinos to eat brown rice, and other `pigmented` rice, which have been proven to be more nutritious than white rice.”

The RAM puts focus on the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), seven-project strong partnership between DA and IRRI with the objective to meet the domestic requirements of the country, aims to strengthen national resilience to impacts of climate change. To address the challenges of increasing adoption of yield-enhancing technologies, improving the delivery of extension and research services, and strengthening the capacities of concerned public institutions.

Featured in the RAM launching exhibit are two of the seven areas of collaboration under FSSP. These are the Heirloom Rice Project, and the Next Generation Rice Project. The heirloom project seeks to provide assistance to heirloom rice farmers in enhancing their productivity and linkage to market, while Next-Gen will help accelerate the development and adoption of higher-yielding varieties and hybrids with resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.

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