Friday, July 12, 2019

Smarter planning for better planting: building capacity for WeRise technology to help rice farmers increase productivity and income

West Lombok, Indonesia - The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in collaboration with the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology West Nusa Tenggara (AIAT-WNT), organized a two-day training for agricultural extension workers to deliver advisories to rice farmers through the Weather-rice-nutrient integrated decision support system (WeRise).

WeRise is an Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) tool that integrates seasonal climate predictions with crop growth and nutrient management models to provide recommendations on optimum planting times, suitable rice varieties to use, and the timing of fertilizer application for rainfed rice-growing areas under current and future climate conditions. As farmers continue to grapple with the effects of climate change, the IRRI-Japan Collaborative Research Project (IJCRP) developed the WeRise platform to help farmers plan their crop calendar to increase yields and resilience as well as practice efficient water use. In this way, WeRise aims to improve rainfed rice productivity and the livelihoods of farmers.

Held 26-27 June 2019 at AIAT-WNT, Indonesia, the training built the capacity of 27 extension workers from the districts of Central, West, North, and East Lombok; and AIAT WNT on how to generate advisories from WeRise. The participants were also asked to develop communication plans to facilitate the delivery of advisories to farmers in the four districts, including key messages, pathways, and feedback mechanisms.

In focus group discussions conducted by IJCRP in 2016, extension workers cited the insufficient number of technology facilitators and limited technology information as among the challenges they encountered in the technology transfer process. This WeRise training was conceptualized to address this issue.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Sasongko Wijoseno Rusdianto, Director of AIAT-WNT, was confident that WeRise will support extension workers and researchers to do their work. Dr. Siti Munifah, director of the Center for Agricultural Extension of Indonesia’s Agency for Agriculture and Human Resources Development, provided an overview of the country’s extension system and updates on current extension modalities. "I have great hopes for the agricultural extension officers involved in this training to be committed and highly motivated, despite the regulatory changes related to the institution of agricultural extension," she said. “The involvement of extension agents from four districts in WNT is also a manifestation of the implementation of performance indicators, so that they play an active role in monitoring priority programs to increase rice production, especially in rainfed rice fields.”

Mr. Hendro Yulistiono, head of the WNT Provincial training agency in agriculture and plantation, discussed the role of extension workers in the technology transfer process and in influencing the farmer’s decision-making and technology adoption.

After the training, a majority of the participants agreed that WeRise is easy to use (80%) and would help them in their work (72%). Majority also agreed that they can easily understand the WeRise advisories (76%) and that it would be easy for them to explain the advisories to farmers (60%).

The training was supported by the IJCRP on Climate Change Adaptation through Development of a Decision-Support Tool to Guide Rainfed Rice Production (CCADS-RR), which is funded by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF).

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