Laciste (left) makes sure that the Philippine rice program gets a head start in 2017 as rice is a priority for the Duterte administration. Also in photo: IRRI communication chief Tolentino (center) and Quilang of PhilRice (right).
LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—The newly appointed deputy director of the Philippines' National Rice Program emphasized the importance of collaboration in developing a national strategy for rice farming and uplifting the lives of Filipino farmers.
As a pro-active start to 2017, Assistant Secretary Federico Laciste of the Department of Agriculture (DA) visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on 5 January. Laciste is also the deputy director of the DA’s National Rice Program that integrates government initiatives and interventions for the agriculture sector.
At IRRI, Laciste was briefed on the various collaborative research projects implemented jointly by IRRI and the Philippines Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in support of the National Rice Program.
The projects include:
- Rice Crop Manager, a web-based decision support tool for precision farming;
- Philippine Rice Information System, a satellite-based rice forecasting and monitoring system
- Green Super Rice, climate-smart varieties developed under the Next Generation project, and hybrid rice;
- Heirloom Rice Project;
- WateRice project, an irrigation management tool;
- Mechanized seeding and improved postharvest storage systems such as the solar bubble dryer;
- Project IPaD and IRRI Education that build a new base of community extension officers
To be more competitive farmers must produce at least 7 tons of rice per hectare at PHP 7.00 per kilogram, according to a fact sheet published from a benchmarking study of an ongoing DA and IRRI partnership project.
“This is already possible,” said Dr. Jimmy Quilang, deputy executive director of PhilRice. He explained that in their Palayabangan (“rice and pride”) challenge, one farmer produced 10 tons of rice in a hectare at only PHP 5.00 per kilogram.
"With the technologies that we have developed with IRRI, we already have ways to really make Filipino farmers more competitive,” Quilang said.
A retired police officer, Laciste studied at the University of the Philippines Los Baños in 1975.
"I took up agribusiness, so agriculture is very close to my heart,” he said. “I look forward to a continued and fruitful collaboration with IRRI and PhilRice to help our rice farmers meet their production targets and also address their production gaps.”
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