Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Agriculture Partylist vows to help bring modern rice technology to Filipino farmers

Cong. Salon (left) visited IRRI headquarters to learn about the scientific research program of the institute and these can be shared with Filipino rice farmers.

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—“We need to popularize these technologies,” Congressman Orestes Salon of the AGRI Partylist of the Philippines said after being briefed on the activities of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).  

Congressman Salon and his staff visited IRRI headquarters on 9 September to learn about the scientific research program of IRRI and how the results of research can be shared with Filipino rice farmers.

“We want to be able to pick up technologies on producing more rice per unit area,” he said. “What are the new technologies that address climate change? The farmers need them because they are already feeling the impact of climate change like flooding and drought but they are not prepared. Climate change affects the rich as well as the poor. But the poor are the ones who are very vulnerable.”

The AGRI Partylist advocates for the welfare of farmers, fisherfolks, and families who belong to marginalized groups who do not have the access to basic social services in different parts of the country. They implement programs that aim to benefit those experiencing severe poverty and need assistance to meet their basic human needs.

During the Party’s visit, they learned about IRRI’s work in developing rice varieties that can thrive under erratic weather patterns and produce more nutritious grains, the application of satellite imagery to rice production, water-conserving technology, and training for young scientists and extension workers.

Dr. Olivyn Angeles (in photo) from Crops and Environmental Science Division, and Dr. Shoba Venkatanagappa from the Plant Breeding Division, also provide the party with an overview of the Long-Term Continuous Cropping Experiment and IRRI’s breeding lines.

“IRRI brings together the traits in rice that are required by the poorest of the poor farmers all over the world,” Venkatanagappa explained. “We are trying to help increase the profitability of farmers so they don’t have to spend too much on expensive agricultural input and they don’t have to suffer from complete crop loss. We are in the business of reducing poverty.  Every farmer needs to have a chance. We try to develop varieties that help farmers get that one chance.”  

Dr. Bruce Tolentino, deputy director for Communication and Partnerships, emphasized that IRRI is an international public institution and its research and technologies can be accessed and used by everyone.

“This is really eye-opening,” said Congressman Salon. “We can translate the information into a popular form so that farmers and our other constituents can avail of them. We hope to come back with the entire Congressional Agriculture and Food Committee.”

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