Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Innovative rice technologies for climate change adaptation attract farmers in Ilocos Norte field day

Unpredictable or erratic rainfall patterns are among the consequences of climate change that greatly affect lowland rice farmers in the Philippines. Its effect is deeply felt particularly by farmers in the Ilocos Region, where majority hold less than a hectare of rice land. Because of this, farmers are seeking for drought-adaptive technology.

To help address this need, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Batac, Ilocos Norte organized a Grand Field Day on 10 November 2015, showcasing innovative and relevant rice farming technologies to help farmers cope with the effects of climate change. Among those who attended were more than 700 farmers, local extension staff, and agricultural college students from four provinces: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, and La Union. Senator Cynthia Villar, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, and Batac City Mayor Jeffrey Jubal Nalupta graced the occasion.

PhilRice and IRRI displayed new drought-tolerant rice varieties (Sahod Ulan series) and small farm machinery (seed drill for direct seeding) with the support of the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the DA-BAR funded Associated Technologies project under the Food Self-Sufficiency Program (FSSP). In her keynote speech, Hon. Cynthia Villar emphasized diversified cropping systems as an important strategy to cope with climate change. According to her, we could achieve this through the use of climate-resilient varieties, making educated loans from legitimate socialized credit, and farm mechanization. On the other hand, Hon. Imee Marcos highlighted the importance of agriculture in the province and her support on the ongoing activities to lessen the damaging effects of climate change.

The farmers, on their part, showed interest in obtaining climate-resilient varieties. They believe that the mechanized direct-seeding technology would enable them to plant rice without standing water in the field, and save time for crop establishment.

PhilRice Executive Director, Dr. Calixto Protacio, in his closing remarks, said, “We need to be more resourceful, especially in unfavorable areas, and we need to be prepared in relation to the effects of climate change.” Such preparedness includes developing varieties that can withstand El Niño and flooding.

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