Rice production in the Philippines is constantly faced with threats to food security due to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the major challenges to Philippine agriculture is the practice of unsustainable land management such as inadequately leveled fields. An improperly leveled field causes uneven water distribution that leads to poor crop establishment and the inefficient use of seed, water, fertilizer, and pesticides. However, this can be addressed by using laser land leveling technology.
Laser land leveling technology is now being widely adopted in neighboring Southeast Asian countries. In the Philippines, it is becoming more popular thanks to government support through the programs of the country’s Department of Agriculture (DA). Its adoption can be enhanced further by building the capacities of Filipino researchers and extension agents who are essential in pushing innovative technologies like the laser land leveling technology throughout in the country.
On 16-18 November 2020, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and DA-Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE) held a virtual training on laser land leveling technology attended by 25 participants. Dr. Hung Van Nguyen, Engr.Carlito Balingbing, and Engr Joseph Sandro from IRRI’s Mechanization and Postharvest led the theoretical discussions on laser leveling principles, the different components of the equipment, and the benefits of field leveling.
Two-day hands-on sessions were conducted in two batches on 23-26 November at DA Regional Office 3 in Pampanga to provide the participants with the opportunity to conduct actual field operation of the laser leveling system.
Ariodear Rico, director of BAFE, praised the conduct of the virtual training. “This intervention to disseminate laser land leveling technology is also an important component in water management,” Engr. Rico said.
Martin Gummert, a senior scientist at IRRI and lead of the project with DA-BAFE, lauded the efforts of the organizers of the virtual training as well as the participants. Mr. Gummert expressed his excitement over the initiatives of DA-BAFE to disseminate the technology to Filipino farmers.
The training is part of the recently signed memorandum of agreement between DA-BAFE and IRRI for the implementation of Laser Land Leveling for Land Use Efficiency in the Philippines project. Part of agreement focuses on building the capacity of the R&D and extension agents from different regional offices of the DA.
The activity complements the efforts of the DA to capacitate its research and extension agents in the regional offices and support the dissemination of machinery by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization under the Rice Tariffication Law.
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