Wednesday, December 18, 2019

IRRI-PhilRice-JIRCAS collaborative research project holds the 2nd WeRise stakeholders’ meeting

Stakeholders’ participation throughout the project cycle is important in enhancing project design and results sustainability. Twenty-five key stakeholders from the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office (DA-RFO), Western Visayas, Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) -  Iloilo (PAO Iloilo), Agricultural Training Institute - Western Visayas, Municipal Agriculture Offices (MAOs) of Miag-ao, Cabatuan, and Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, and project members/leaders from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) convened for the 2nd Weather-rice-nutrient integrated decision support system (WeRise) stakeholders’ meeting. The meeting aimed to share project updates; obtain feedback; and identify current rice program priority areas, challenges, and opportunities where WeRise research activities can contribute.

WeRise integrates localized seasonal climate predictions and real-time weather data with a crop growth model to provide advisories on the best time to plant and apply fertilizer as well as the suitable varieties/possible varietal combinations for planting to maximize the entire cropping season. It was developed through an IRRI-Japan collaborative research project funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan. Under the IRRI-PhilRice-JIRCAS collaborative research project (IPJCRP), WeRise is being localized to suit rainfed rice areas in the Philippines.

Mr. Elias Sandig, Jr., PAO Iloilo’s Assistant Provincial Agriculturist and Ms. Virginia Agreda, Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center’s (WESTVIARC) Chief welcomed the participants and encouraged everyone’s participation for a fruitful meeting.

Dr. Keiichi Hayashi, JIRCAS project leader, provided project updates including the initial results of the field validations which are being conducted in collaboration with the MAOs of Miagao, Cabatuan, and Sta. Barbara. “WeRise is a tool for strategic crop production planning aimed to overcome constraints in rainfed rice production,” he said. “To date, there are four varieties in the database and nine more varieties will be uploaded soon. The varieties were chosen based on farmers’ preferences and seed accessibility,” he added.

Ms. Lizzida Llorca, IRRI researcher -crop modeling, also demonstrated the current version of WeRise.

Focal persons/partners from the regional, provincial, and municipal-level agencies presented their rice program initiatives which include WeRise on-farm validation activities, other climate-smart rainfed rice production technologies, and organic rice production. At the national level, Dr. Eduardo Jimmy Quilang, PhilRice Deputy Executive Director gave an overview of PhilRice R&D focusing on the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) which has seed, mechanization, training, extension, and credit components. RCEF complements the National Rice Program.

Participants of the WeRise stakeholders' meeting

Around 63% of Iloilo’s rice areas are rainfed. From the discussions, challenges encountered in implementing rice program initiatives include erratic rainfall. The lack of experienced research personnel at the MAOs, unbalanced distribution of workload among research personnel at WESTVIARC, and the absence of a research division at PAO Iloilo highlight the importance of research collaborations particularly on capacity building. LGUs where MAOs are attached are mandated to conduct both research and extension activities. Project partners at the MAOs have been trained by IPJCRP on data collection and management for the conduct of field validation activities.

As a culminating activity, a group workshop was held to brainstorm on the needs, opportunities, problems, and solutions for rice sector initiatives per municipality. Stakeholders suggested to continue validation activities and integrate WeRise with other rainfed rice production technologies and compare production cost if WeRise timing will be followed compared to farmer’s timing.

The meeting which was held on 27 November 2019 at Casa Real, Iloilo City was co-organized with PAO Iloilo.

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