Friday, March 12, 2021

IRRI research partners present sustainability plans for WeRise in the Philippines

National agricultural research and extension system (NARES) in the Philippines presented their sustainability plans for the Weather-Rice-Nutrient Integrated decision support system (WeRise).  The plans were presented during a virtual and on-site Handover Ceremony and Sustainability Workshop on 09 March 2021.

WeRise is a digital tool for rainfed rice farmers adapted for the Philippines by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) with funding from Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS). The project is implemented by IRRI, Department of Agriculture (DA)-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and JIRCAS. WeRise provides advisories on the best time to plant and apply fertilizer using suitable varieties based on weather conditions, crop growth, selected farm characteristics, and management practices. The advisories are web-based and can be accessed through a computer or smartphone three months before the cropping season. This gives farmers sufficient time to allocate limited resources such as capital, labor, and inputs and plan for upcoming cropping seasons. 

The participants presented activities related to scaling up use of the tool, further validation in additional locations, increasing awareness of the tool, and institutionalizing WeRise through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and Smarter Rice Program Package of Technologies for rainfed rice areas. PhilRice Deputy Executive Director for Research, Eduardo Jimmy Quilang also suggested the “Popularize, Sustain and Scale through Partnerships” approach, which served as the framework of the sustainability plans used by some DA regional and municipal offices. 
Keiichi Hayashi, JIRCAS project leader, highlighted the importance of partnerships and reminded stakeholders that they are co-owners of WeRise. “We have a very good experience in this project as we met and collaborated with excellent partners,” Dr. Hayashi said. 

“I would like to recognize everyone’s roles in the development and validation of WeRise in the Philippines,” said Carolyn Florey, IRRI Technology for Development lead. “Your continued support and passion have allowed us to achieve tangible results.” 

JIRCAS Program Leader Satoshi Tobita and PhilRice Executive Director, John De Leon led the handover of WeRise to PhilRice, the lead agency for the further development, maintenance, and operation of WeRise in the Philippines. 

 “Digital agriculture relies on quality data to gather information, improve decision making, enable innovative services, enhance communication among stakeholders, and accelerate the value of actionable information at scale,” Dr. De Leon said. “This bodes well with our mandate and PhilRice will surely join pushing for more digital solutions like WeRise to improve rice farming and help shape their inclusive applications in our country’s rural context.”

A total of 101 farmer cooperators and key officials and representatives from JIRCAS, PhilRice Central Experiment Station, PhilRice-Negros, IRRI, and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration attended the event. Other participants were from DA-Regional Field Offices of Central Luzon and Western Visayas; DA-Agricultural Training Institute of Central Luzon and Western Visayas; DA-Provincial Agriculture Offices of Iloilo, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac; and municipal agriculture offices of Miag-ao, Sta. Barbara, and Cabatuan (Iloilo), Lupao and Cuyapo (Nueva Ecija) and Victoria and Tarlac City (Tarlac).  

The event was organized by IRRI, PhilRice, and the municipal agriculture offices of Miag-ao, Cabatuan, and Sta. Barbara (Iloilo) with funding from JIRCAS.

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