Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Philippines: CURE joins Arakan farmers in field day

The Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) joined farmers of Arakan in North Cotabato, a province in Southern Philippines, during the annual farmers' field day on 27 August 2012 organized by the University of Southern Mindanao (USM).
The Municipality of Arakan, home of the aromatic upland rice variety dinorado, is the key site for CURE's upland rice workgroup, led by IRRI's Casiana Vera Cruz together with key site coordinator Edwin Hondrade of USM in Kabacan, Cotabato.

The field day was attended by 87 farmers from eight villages in Arakan and was co-organized by Dr. Hondrade with Rose Hondrade, also of USM.

The event, which coincided with the 21st founding anniversary of the municipality, kicked off with a walk-through of the experimental site where the observational nursery for upland traditional rice varieties, the National Cooperative Testing of new improved upland rice varieties, and the Formal and Informal Mother Trial plots are located. 

“These plots supervised by USM also serve as a fallback for farmers who experience a poor or bad harvest,” Dr. Rose Hondrade said. “They can get good quality seed from here.”

Nestor Nombreda, president of the Arakan Community Seed Bank Organization (ACSBO), said that farmers get to earn extra if they manage their crop well. “We get requests for seeds when others see that our rice plants look good.”

The event also served as a mini seed fair, filled with games and prizes, in which farmers brought quality seed that they produced from the different varieties of upland rice and their favorite dinorado. Those who brought the most number of good quality seed were given IRRI shirts, caps, and Super Bags as prizes.

“We practice what we learned in the community seed bank training,” said Thelma Mallorca, one of the farmers who brought prize-winning seeds for display during the mini seed fair.

Seedlings and root crops were also given away to all farmers as part of the Pagkain Para sa Masa (Food for the Masses) Program of the Department of Agriculture.

Pagkain Para sa Masa is a self-help household food security program for the upland and internally-displaced communities in Mindanao,” Dr. Edwin Hondrade explained. “We have taken this opportunity to distribute seedlings of various fruits and vegetables to our farmers to help augment their food supply and income.”

The event was attended by representatives from IRRI—Dr. Vera Cruz (CURE workgroup leader for the uplands), Elenor de Leon (communication and extension specialist), and Jessieca Narciso (IRRI videographer).

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