By Finbarr G. Horgan
Over 100 farmers visited the Western Visayas Agricultural Research Center (WESTVIARC) at Jaro, Iloilo to discuss ecological engineering as an environmentally friendly pest management strategy for rice during the International Rice Research Institute and the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (IRRI/DA-BAR) Open Day on 6 November 2014.
Ecological engineering is a management strategy to build diversity which strengthens the rice field’s natural capacity to cope with pests. It includes the growing of vegetables on bunds to increase habitat diversity which can be a source of additional income as well contribute to better nutrition of farming households.
The farmers visited ecological engineering field plots where the Center's manager Corazon Arroyo and Virginia Agreda, a researcher at WESTVIARC, explained the concept of ecological engineering. The group then attended a presentation by IRRI researcher James Villegas and viewed a video on the ecological dynamics behind the method by Dr. Buyung Hadi, an IRRI entomologist.
During an open forum the farmers had an opportunity to ask questions and give their recommendations for and reactions to ecological engineering practices. Farmers’ feedbacks were also documented in a survey designed by IRRI and the DA and conduced by WESTVIARC staff.
The Open Day was organized by WESTVIARC together with IRRI entomologists and ecologists. This was the fourth in a series of open days funded by DA-BAR, the Global Rice Science Partnership, and the German Ministry of Education and Science as part of the LEGATO Project
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