Wednesday, June 7, 2017

WateRice: New joint Philippine-IRRI water project kicks off

With the goal to achieve a rice-secure Philippines, the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) is working with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on various initiatives and interventions to improve the country’s rice productivity, the latest involving water use efficiency.

Under the national rice program, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and IRRI are undertaking a joint scientific effort to improve water use efficiency in the country’s irrigation systems. With financial support from the Bureau of Agricultural Research of the Department of Agriculture (DA-BAR), IRRI and PhilRice have launched the project, Water-efficient and risk mitigation technologies for enhancing rice production in irrigated and rainfed environments (WateRice).

An inception workshop for WateRice, which took place on 1 June at IRRI Headquarters, was well represented by all partners and national institutes including DA-BAR, the DA Regional Field Office, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), University of the Philippines Los BaƱos, PhilRice, and TechAguru.

“WateRice’s goal is to improve water use efficiency through ICT tools that can improve farmers’ decisions on water and weed management,” said Dr. Sudhir Yadav, project leader and IRRI water scientist. “We will be combining this with recommended best management practices and mechanization in both irrigated and rainfed environments.”

During the workshop, the new irrigation management decision tool AutoMonPH, was launched. Jovino de Dios, head of PhilRice’s Information Systems Division, mentioned that the tool will provide opportunities for real-time field monitoring of an irrigation system.

While emphasizing the strong collaboration of DA-PhilRice-IRRI, Dr. Jaqueline Hughes, IRRI deputy director general for research, underlined the importance of implementing a single platform of ICT tools to offer solutions for Filipino farmers. She emphasized the importance of everyone working together to build such a platform for the Philippines.

To serve as a launching pad for the project, participants shared their experiences, lessons learned, and opportunities in different regions. NIA reps also presented the new government initiatives including waiving irrigation fees to support farmers and opportunities to work with irrigation associations to accelerate adoption of water-saving technologies.

 “The project will also focus on mechanization, best management practices for rainfed and weed management to improve water use efficiency,” said Dr. Manuel Jose Regalado, PhilRice scientist and project lead. “The project will initially be implemented in Regions 1, 2, 3, 6, and 12.”


Mary Ann Burac
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