Thursday, June 11, 2015

Philippines: ICT-aided tool helping mountain rice farmers harvest more

Mary Ann Somera, a farmer from Abra, holds a printed version of the RCM recommendation for her rice field that helped her get higher yields last year. Also in photo is Mr. Edwin Joseph Franco, the focal person for Rice Crop Manager in CAR.

Results from the use of Rice Crop Manager a decision-making tool for rice farmers, in the mountainous rice paddies of the Cordilleras in northern Philippines have been encouraging.

A farmer-cooperator in Brgy. Tamalunog, Flora, Apayao, used Rice Crop Manager (RCM), accessible through mobile or internet connection, for growing a season’s crop. He as well as local agriculture authorities were pleased to note a huge increase in his harvest as a result.

The farmer harvested 111 sacks of rice from a half-hectare field, while a fellow farmer harvested less than half of this from the same size of land.

RCM is an app that provides rice farmers recommendations on management of nutrient, pest, weed, and water depending on the specific rice variety used, yield from the previous season, and specific conditions of a farm. It could potentially be a very important tool for farmers in remote areas to get accurate farming information. Farmers would usually have to go to the nearest extension office for this kind of assistance.

“These good results have encouraged many other farmers to try RCM,” said Jayrex Pablo, a young agriculturist at Flora, who also reported that his office is close to reaching 300 farmers in the area.

Rey Duldulao, a rice farmer from Luna, Apayao, had earlier used RCM, through which he learned that he did not have to apply so much fertilizer as he used to. “I was surprised, because my yield got even better—as if RCM knew the texture of my soil,” Duldulao said.

His farmer's association maintains close contact with the local agriculture office to keep themselves up to date on good practices and new technologies available.

Edwin Joseph Franco, focal person on RCM for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), appreciates the impact of the tool on rice growers in the mountainous region. "There are farmers who have gotten better yields with the use of RCM, compared to the previous year,” Franco said. "I hope this program will become institutionalized in the coming years, so it can benefit even more farmers.”

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