Thursday, April 16, 2015

Philippine agriculture officers undergo training on field trial protocols

Regional field officers from the Department of Agriculture (DA) underwent training in preparation for participatory varietal selection (PVS) trials that they will facilitate for the 2015 wet season. PVS is a simple way for breeders and agronomists to determine varieties that perform well on-farm and are preferred by farmers.

The activity was conducted under the Accelerating the Development and Adoption of Next Generation Rice Varieties for the Major Ecosystems in the Philippines (NextGen Project), which aims to accelerate the release of new rice varieties to Filipino farmers. The course was designed to help the participants from Regions 1-3 and the Cordillera Administrative Region improve their data collection and field layout techniques.

"We conducted  the training to make sure that the data we would get from the PVS trials managed by these field officers in the different regions are accurate or error-free because that would affect the results of the NextGen project," said Thelma Padolina, a NextGen counterpart from the Philippine Rice Research Institute ( PhilRice).  "For example, if the field layout alone was incorrectly set up, that would affect all the sampling data and we want to avoid that.”

“What was good about doing the field layout exercise was that besides being hands-on, it was also collaborative," said Dr. Arthur Dayrit, a supervising science research specialist and the rice development and extension focal person in Region 3 who attended the training activity at PhilRice in Nueva Ecija.  “We were able to discuss our ideas and clarify any differences in doing the actual field layout before going into the field.”

Once farmers have selected 2-3 varieties at the PVS trials managed by the field officers, the registered and certified seeds to be planted by accredited seed growers in specific rice areas  will be certified by the National Seed Quality Control Services of the Bureau of Plant Industry so the seeds  will be commercially available to farmers.

"Our aim in the NextGen  project is not only to breed the next generation of superior rice varieties,” said Dr. Mary Jean Du, a scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). “But also to provide a mechanism for making seeds more available in the regions, helping them become seed self-sufficient."

The participants were also trained in data analysis and using the Rice Crop Manager.

"As researchers we need that because it's important for us to know how to interpret the data correctly," noted Dr. Jesson del-Amen, the National Cooperative Trial (NCT) cooperator from the Benguet State University in CAR.  "I also found the Rice Crop Manager interesting because that was something new for me.  It is simple to use and, as long as you have Internet connection in the field, you can use it to help farmers directly."

The course, which was held  on  23-26 March, was the last of a series conducted by PhilRice and IRRI. Similar training were conducted in the Visayas and Mindanao earlier this year. The four-day training is part of the Philippine Food Staples Self-sufficiency Roadmap  2011-2016, a product of a series of workshops spearheaded by the DA Rice Program and participated in by various agencies in the Department of Agriculture. Its target is to achieve rice self-sufficiency for the country by 2013 and maintain it through 2016.

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