The Heirloom Rice Project held a training activity on the systematic collection, inventory, and cataloguing of existing heirloom rice varieties in North Cotabato at the office of the Department of Agriculture-Central Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Research Center (DA-CEMIARC) in Kidapawan, North Cotabato on 14-15 January. This is part of the project’s effort to enhance the skills of trainees and farmer-beneficiaries in identifying useful traits that will help them better understand the characteristics of heirloom rice cultivated in the municipalities of Alamada and Banisilan such as Dinorado, Kasagpi, Azucena, Hinumay, and Awot.
Mr. Renato Reaño, and Ms. Pauline Capistrano, senior associate scientist and researcher,respectively, at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), trained 25 participants from Alamada, Banisilan, the Philippine Rice Research Institute, and DA-CEMIARC. The training course aimed to improve the participants’ skills in variety characterization and purification to add value to on-farm genetic resources that are actively used. The participants also received a lecture on the production, maintenance, and use of good-quality seeds. These skills could help maintain the purity of heirloom rice varieties on-farm, especially those intended for the local and international market, ensuring uniformity and consistency of plants and seeds. In addition, they were taught to prepare and manage worksheets to standardize characteristic traits needed for a community registry, which is submitted to the Plant Variety Protection Office under the Bureau of Plant Industry, giving farmers control over and access to seeds and propagating materials in accordance with the Plant Variety Protection Act. The genetically purified varieties can also be analyzed for breeding, grain-quality, and market-preference studies.
Dr. Amalia J. Datukan, regional executive director of the DA-Regional Field Office in Region XII, encouraged the participants to apply the skills they would glean from the training. Dr. Neil Doton, an offical from DA-Region XII also encouraged the participants and trainers alike and commended the project’s efforts in the region. Dr. Nollie Vera Cruz, project leader of the DA-IRRI Heirloom Rice Project, also stressed the importance of the identification and characterization of heirloom rice varieties, which is one of the project’s major components.
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