DA, IRRI rice sufficiency program in full swing


Rice sufficiency program in the Philippines.

Photo by ricewisdom
Rice plant - a staple food source for Filipinos

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dennis Araullo, concurrent  National Program Coordinator forRice and Corn, recently visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for the presentation of the DA-IRRI joint accomplishments for 2010 on the Rice National Program Coordinator for Rice and Corn, e Self-Sufficiency Program (RSSP) at the IRRI Headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna on 27 January 2011.

Dr. William Padolina, IRRI deputy director general for operations, congratulated DA for aligning the efforts of its different agencies in support to RSSP. “In my 10 years of tenure at IRRI, this is the first time that I’ve seen and felt the presence of the concerted efforts of the different agencies of DA which play important roles in making an impact to a program as big and as significant as this,” he said.

Asst. Secretary Araullo, who assured IRRI of its commitment to achieving rice self-sufficiency, came with the five bureau directors of the DA who each provide vital inputs in the sub-projects and components of the RSSP in close collaboration with IRRI. Present in the IRRI visit were Dir. Asterio Saliot, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Dir. Nicomedes Eleazar, Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), Dir. Clarito Barron, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Dir. Silvino Tejada, Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), and Deputy Exec. Dir. Jose Manuel Regalado who represented PhilRice Exec. Dir. Ronilo Beronio.

IRRI scientists took turns in presenting their research agenda and specific reports on the progress of RSSP. Mr. Julian Lapitan, IRRI project coordinator on RSSP and senior manager, National Program Relations, presented the RSSP 2010 accomplishments and plans for 2011-2012. The project is being implemented by IRRI and PhilRice with DA agencies and regional field units (RFUs), and local governments. Three sub-projects under RSSP include strategic assessment, development and adoption of high-yielding rice varieties and technologies, and capability building which includes ICT and training.

Dr. Achim Dobermann, acting director general and deputy dir. general for research, presented IRRI’s research agenda and gave recommendations on how best to achieve rice self-sufficiency and the necessary conditions that would have to happen it the RSSP is to be achieved successfully.

Other presenters were IRRI scientists involved in the project including Dr. Parminder Virk on new varieties that can withstand environmental stresses such as drought, flooding, heat, cold, and salinity; Dr. Roland Buresh on nutrient management; Dr. Grant Singleton and Dr. Flor Palis on the Integrated Rice Research Consortium; and Dr. Noel Magor on the Pinoy Rice Knowledge Bank (Pinoy RKB).

Both IRRI and DA is especially proud about its joint accomplishments in capacity building particularly on strengthening ICT for farmer’s use such as the Nutrient Manager for Rice Mobile (NMRiceMobile) and the Pinoy RKB. The NMRiceMobile, launced at ATI earlier this month, is the world’s first mobile application that allows farmer’s easy access to information about rice specifically on fertilizer management. On the other hand, the Pinoy RKB, a collaboration between PhilRice and IRRI, is accessible online and provides up-to-date information on rice production using the PalayCheck system.

The team of IRRI experts, headed by Dr. Padolina, also showed the DA delegation its long-term cropping trials, international rice genebank, ecological engineering field trial, DA-IRRI seed production experiment site, and the geographic information systems (GIS) office.

IRRI considers as one of the notable outcomes from the meeting BAR Dir. Eleazar’s proposal to expand IRRI’s ecological engineering research among the DA’s Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs) who implements R&D projects nationwide particularly those funded through BAR.

Ecological engineering is the design of ecosystems for the mutual benefit of humans and nature. It involves restoring floral biodiversity to provide resources for natural enemies against pests and diseases in the field. IRRI is looking at sesame among the viable sources of natural enemies. Incidentally, BAR has on-going project through the RIARC based in Bicol on sesame production and it is now looking at the possibility of also promoting sesame’s benefits in crop protection. BAR is likewise monitoring and evaluating four on-going projects with IRRI.

The group looks forward to follow-up meetings on seed production and distribution through IRRI and BPI’s collaboration, and inviting IRRI’s GIS experts to discuss the use of satellite images in validating and confirming actual area planted and harvested to rice by season through collaboration with the BSWM. (Miko Jazmine J. Mojica/DABAR)