Tuesday, August 6, 2019

IRRI, PhilRice, and JIRCAS hold WeRise training for researchers

Researchers from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) received training on WeRise (Weather-rice-nutrient integrated decision support system), an information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) tool on 22-26 July 2019 at PhilRice in Nueva Ecija, Philippines.  Through an IRRI-Japan collaborative research project, WeRise was developed and piloted in Indonesia. It integrates localized seasonal climate predictions and real-time weather data with a crop growth model to provide advisories on the best time to plant, fertilizer application schedule, and the suitable varieties for planting. Under the IRRI, PhilRice and JIRCAS joint research agreement (JRA), WeRise is being localized to suit rainfed rice areas in the Philippines.

Sustaining ICT4D project outputs could be challenging according to Badsar, Samah, Hassan, Osman and Shaffri , 2011; Marais, 2011; and De Zoysa and Letch, 2013, among others. This could be partly attributed to the need for specialized resources and enabling mechanisms for technology recipients to freely operate the tool once the project/funding cease to exist.

An integral component of the JRA is the capacity building of stakeholders identified for the uptake and dissemination of WeRise in the Philippines. As a prerequisite, the IRRI geospatial modeling team earlier conducted a workshop on the basic operations of ORYZA for PhilRice and PAGASA researchers in October 2018. WeRise yield predictions are based on recommended sowing and fertilizer application timings using ORYZA, a crop growth simulation model for rice which was developed by IRRI.

“Capacity building through these trainings is in line with the project’s impact pathway and among the keys to project sustainability,” stated Dr. Keiichi Hayashi, JIRCAS collaborating scientist.

The participants gained step-by-step procedures on producing WeRise advisories including file organization, input file preparation, and database management. They also helped improve the WeRise manual for operation and maintenance.

Ms. Lizzel Llorca, IRRI researcher - crop modeling, facilitated the training. “As much as we want to automate our database management to minimize human error, checking the quality of data also entails logical thinking,” Ms. Llorca said. “For ICT4D tools that enable data-driven decision support, the importance of checking the quality of data cannot be overstated,” she adds.

“We appreciate the patience and willingness of the resource person to share her knowledge, and the hands-on exercises,” acknowledged Mr. Job Ramos, PhilRice researcher/training participant, in recognition of Ms. Llorca’s expertise.

The tripartite agreement among IRRI, PhilRice and JIRCAS is an important milestone for the IJCRP on WeRise. WeRise field validations involving rainfed rice farmers in Iloilo, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija are ongoing.

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