The Philippines produces 15.2 million tons of rice; leaving 11.3 tons of rice straw spread out in the field. The abundance of rice straw can be used for a number of profitable practices like composting, mushroom production, and as feed for animals.
However, it is still perceived to have of little value in the Philippines because of its difficulty in collection and lack of opportunities to use rice straw as an additional source of income. Rice producers would prefer burning it in open fields for easier management. About 60-80% of rice straw is burned in the open field, which contributes to greenhouse gas emission and air pollution.
To develop optimal, localized, and sustainable rice straw management solutions in the country, IRRI, the Philippine Rice Research Institute, and the Philippine Carabao Center, launched the Sustainable Rice Straw Management for Bioenergy, Food, and Feed in the Philippines (RiceStrawPH) project. Funded by the Philippine’s Department of Agriculture Bureau of Agricultural Research, the two-year project aims to develop sustainable technologies and practices in using rice straw for bioenergy, mushroom, and animal feed production.
“It is very exciting to see how we are taking further steps, through strong collaboration with our Philippine partners, to find ways to manage rice by-products, for optimal resource-use efficiency in farms in the most environmentally sustainable manner. This is very crucial for us to achieve a sustainable impact in rice–based ecosystems,” said Jon Hellin, IRRI Platform Leader on Sustainable Impact.
“We must create incentives for farmers to stop burning and to do this under the umbrella of enabling legislative framework,” he said.
Together with other project collaborators from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Bureau of Plant Industry, and the University of the Philippines Los Banos, a two-day workshop was held on 26-27 June at IRRI to discuss and align the project’s plans with the Philippine Rice Program.
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