Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Water shortage hits CL ricefields

by Armand M. Galang
Damaged riceland in San Miguel, Bulacan. Photo by Dino Balabo

GAPAN CITY – A phenomenal decrease in water supply from the local source affects over 13,790 hectares in five municipalities and a city in Central Luzon, leaving thousands of farmers and irrigation officials praying for rain.

Records show the biggest of the areas affected by water shortage is Bulacan with 4,605 hectares in San Miguel and 985 hectares in San Ildefonso, followed by Pampnga with 4,780 hectares in Candaba while Nueva Ecija has 3,419 hectares with 380 hectares in Gapan, 2,100 hectares in Cabiao, and 930 hectares in San Isidro.

Engr. Eugenio Conde, Jr., manager of the National Irrigation Administration-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-UPRIIS) Division 4 which holds jurisdiction over said areas, said the water supply from Peñaranda River “was abnormally low at only three cubic meters per second or merely 10 percent of the normal 30 cubic meters per second.”

“Kasi kakaiba ang nangyayari sa ilog natin sa Peñaranda. For the previous six years ‘yung average flow na nanggagaling sa ilog ay nag-a-average ng 20 to 30 cubic meters per second,” Conde explained, saying that irrigation officials actually had to divert water from a reservoir to the river itself due to huge supply and strong local flow.

“But this year, nag-umpisa pa nung last week ng December hanggang sa panahong ito, nagmi-minimum nang about three cubic meters,” he added. The division can get supplemental supply from Pantabangan reservoir as supplemental source, the official said.

The dam he said, has sufficient water but the system still had a hard time diverting it through the Pampanga Bongabon Irrigation System (PBRIS) due to both human intervention and natural causes.

“The problem is yung pagpaparating ng tubig natin from Pantabangan Dam down to PBRIS dam which serves as storage of water for Division 4,” Conde said. “Of the designed 20 cubic meter per second, on the average ay umaabot lamang sa 10 cubic meters ang nakakarating, halos ay 50 percent lang, the most is 15 percent” he added.

At the water requirement of 1.55 cm per hectare, Division 4 needs at least 28 cubic meters per second for its 23,917-hectare service area, according to Conde. However, only 13 cubic meters per second flow on its canals in the last six weeks.

A group of farmers from Candaba trooped to the NIA division office here to air their concern last week. But Conde said, he could only discuss with them the current condition of the reservoir and pray for rain, at least over the Peñaranda watershed.

The condition slightly improved sometime last week, Conde said, due to “moderate rainfall at Peñaranda River watershed,” he said. But water supply depleted soon to again only 40 percent of the requirement, he added.

“Kung magtutuloy-tuloy ang ulan, palagay ko’y mareresolba natin ‘yan,” he said.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Farmers compete to boost rice production

Will transplanting rice seedlings at 8-10 days – a System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Pilipinas technology, increase yield and reduce cost?

As general recommendation, rice seedlings are transplanted at 20-25 days old.  However, SRI Pilipinas, a non-government organization, is up to prove that their technology will produce 10t/ha at P5 per kilo in the Palayabangan: The 10-5 Challenge.

Palayabangan, a nationwide rice production competition initiated by the Department of Agriculture (DA), with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) as lead, kicked off in June gathered 36 individual farmers and farmer groups, seed and fertilizer companies, non-government organizations and civil society groups nationwide aiming to increase rice produce with lesser expenses.

Non-government organizations comprising farmers, NGO workers, academicians and government officials, along with other fertilizer companies, individual farmers and farmers` group nationwide, accepted the challenge. Seed and fertilizer corporations like Bayer Philippines, Syngenta and SL Agritech also participated in the competition.

Venancio Garde Jr., representative of SRI Pilipinas, said that the NGO participated in the competition to promote Palayabangan’s goal to its rice farmer-members.

“Palayabangan will help farmers increase their production and lessen their input cost,” Garde explained.

The competition aims to level up the rice production standard to 10-5, that is, 10 tons/ha yield (or 200 cav) at only P5 input cost per kilogram of palay. The current average input cost is pegged at P11/kg.

“The 10-5 Challenge supports the goal of the Food Staples Sufficiency Program and the advocacies of the National Year of Rice (NYR 2013). NYR aims to help increase farmers’ productivity and boost their morale,” Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco Jr, PhilRice executive director said.

Palayabangan, according to Rasco, is a “new initiative that will provide opportunities for all players in the rice sector to show what they can do to improve yield and reduce production cost.”

“This initiative will also address issues on agriculture competitiveness, which would eventually help decrease smuggling and importation,” he stressed.

He added that the 10-5 Challenge will continue until the goal of “high income-low cost production” is achieved and sustained.

The competition was opened to individual farmers or farmer groups, Gawad Saka Awardees, seed companies, fertilizer companies, non-government organizations, civil society groups, and state colleges and universities.

Prizes at stake are as follows: P5 million in project fund and technology promotion activities for the national winner; P100 thousand in cash for the regional winners; and P10 thousand in cash for consolation prizes. Winners will be known in November 2013.

For queries, call or text 0920 911 1398.

PhilRice advancing research on organic farming

As the country sees the prospect of achieving 103-percent rice self-sufficiency for the first semester of this year, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the country’s lead in rice science and development, is strengthening its researches on organic rice farming to help sustain the country’s rice production in the coming years.

The rice self-sufficiency projection was stated in a memorandum to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala by Assistant Secretary Dante S. Delima and recently presented to Manila-based reporters.

With its new advocacy, Clean, green, practical, and smart farming for competitiveness, sustainability, and resiliency (Clean GPS for CSR), PhilRice continues to develop and evaluate new and farmers’ practices that will optimize organic rice farming.

“Organic farming is not only about applying manure and rice-straw in the field. There’s science in it. It is our aim to make farmers and extension workers understand the science of organic farming to avoid misinterpretations,” Ed Libetario, branch manager of PhilRice in Negros Occidental, said. PhilRice converted this station to be its center for organic rice farming last year.

To help farmers get the most from organic farming, PhilRice assesses the efficiency of organic matters on rice varieties, identifies the effectiveness of commercially-available compost inoculants and effects of organic rice cultures on grain yield and soil, and determines the occurrence and distribution of pest in organic rice ecosystems.

Studies on managing insect pests through microbial control agents and traditional plants are also PhilRice priorities in its research on organic rice farming.

Furthermore, PhilRice, which was recently cited for meeting at least 90 percent of its targets in 2012, conducts a long-term study on the use of organic fertilizers. Started in 2003, the study found that in last year’s dry season, plots treated with chicken manure produced the highest yield at about 7 t/ha.

However, the yield is not significantly different from rice plots applied with fresh rice straw, rice straw with effective microorganism base inoculants, and wild sunflower. The lowest yield, about 5 t/ha, was harvested from plots applied with commercial organic fertilizers.

With the high yield potential of rice varieties, which demands higher nutrient inputs, PhilRice researchers are identifying whether pure organic-based nutrient application will be enough to gain the highest yield that can be harvested from rice varieties.

Libetario said that understanding the relationship among the varieties, soils, and farm conditions are crucial for better organic rice production.

“When farmers do organic rice farming, they must not only look in the nutrients to be applied, but the entire farm ecosystem. It’s not enough that farmers know the quantity of organic fertilizers to be applied, but also how to manage these contents to lessen the toxicity they emit to the environment.  Remember that manure contains methane, (which is more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide),” he explained.

Libetario added that through researches, “clean, green, practical, and smart” organic rice farm practices will soon be developed and promoted to the farmers by PhilRice.

While the research on organic rice farming is ongoing, PhilRice advocates the balanced use of organic and inorganic nutrients, not only to cut costs but to make rice farming more sustainable.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Small farmers cites high production

SAN ILDEFONSO, Bulacan--Call them small, but farmers in this agricultural town are nothing but small, and they are producing big.

This is due to their continued utilization of modern agricultural technologies that has been tested abroad.

An example is the use of plastic mulch which was first introduce in Taiwan, then the drip irrigation system practiced and perfected in Israel and India, and the use of effective micro-organize first practiced in Japan.

Apolinario Cruz, a 59-year old farmer from Barangay Pala-pala here said that new technologies have dramatically increased production in his four hectare farm.

“I was able to send my Children to college, one of them has graduated already, and that is only through farming,” he said.

The same was echoed by Reynaldo Victoria, a farmer from Barangay Bubulong Malaki here.

Victoria said that in the last 1o years, he has been using plastic mulch in his farm which dramatically reduced cost of maintenance of the farm like regular removal of weeds.

Like Cruz, Victoria said that he also regular participated in training workshops to increase his knowledge on new technologies.

The most recent training they participated on is the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Livelihood training which introduced them to drip irrigation system and the use of effective microorganisms.

The three month long training module that required hands on practice ended with a harvest festival yesterday at the Bulacan Agricultural State College (BASC) demo farm here.

The said training program is aimed at increasing capacities of local farmers as 2015 draw near.

Connie Angeles, head of the Livelihood and Outreach Program of the SM Foundation Incorporated (SMFI) said that by 2015 there will be open trading Asia and local farmers must be prepared not only to produce but be an entrepreneur.

SMFI sponsored the training program and partnered with Harbest Agribusiness.

Angeles said that out of the 126 participants from Bulacan, 80 had completed the module and will join 6,500 other farmers in the country who had earlier participated in the said training.

“So far, those who participated in our trainings has testified they in made a difference in their lives, especially on their harvest,’ Angeles said.

She said that they will continue to hold trainings in other provinces to further equip farmers with new technologies and improve their production. (Dino Balabo)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Phl rice to be preserved using Korea`s technique

Complete structure of rice plant can be preserved until four years using a plant preservation technique developed in Korea .

Dr. Jeong-Kwon Nam , rice breeder from the National Institute of Crop Science of Korea ’s Rural Development Authority, recently trained researchers of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) on rice plant liquid preservation at the Korean Project on International Agriculture (KOPIA) Center based in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

“This type of plant preservation retains the original color and structure of the plant, even symptoms of diseases, until three to four years,” Nam said.

Nam said liquid preservation can be done in easy-to-follow steps but requires risky liquid solutions. In conducting the method, the Korean expert recommended the use of proper protection equipment such as gloves and masks.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sang-Guei Lee, KOPIA director, said plant preservation is necessary to “provide a form of verifiable evidence of a plant’s existence in time and space.” The technique is also useful for museums and future studies on rice varieties.

The liquid preservation method will be PhilRice’s first in preserving rice plants with complete structure.

“Currently, PhilRice has a genebank to preserve only the rice grains. This preservation method will be a good start and later, studies may be conducted to increase the storage life of this method,” Dr. Norvie Manigbas, lead of KOPIA’s varietal improvement team, said. 

Manigbas said PhilRice will try rice plant liquid preservation to improve the quality of rice varieties to be showcased in museums.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First B.S. Meteorology course opens in CLSU

by Ramon Efren R. Lazaro

Sixteen science scholars in B. S. Meteorology course, under the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute Junior Level Program has started undergoing a six-week bridging program that started on  April 23   at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU).

CLSU president Ruben Sevilleja  noted that  the pioneering project  is auspicious because of the changes in climate. He added the dearth of expertise in atmospheric science and meteorology demands for capacity building in this specialized area of study. 

On the other hand, Filma Brawner, director of the Science Education Institute, said the bridging program is a way of leveling the differences in the training of scholars from the different universities.

        The offering of the B.S. Meteorology course,  under Project COMET (Consortium for Meteorology Education and Training), is a collaborative undertaking of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Bicol University (BU),  Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU),  Visayas State University (VSU),  and AGHAM Party-List.

            In 2009,  Angelo Palmones,   Chairman of the Philippine Typhoon Committee Foundation, Inc., and now AGHAM Party-list representative in the 15th Congress,   initiated the move for the offering of the B. S. Meteorology  for the first time in the Philippines .
“The services of meteorologists are now in demand by different economic sectors   such as aviation, shipping, agriculture, food industry, research, and the academe. The first batch of B.S. Meteorology scholars now is making part of history because offering  the course is  first in the Philippines ,  even in Southeast Asia ,”  added Florentino Tesoro.
            “The beauty of the program is that it carries not a single flag.   It is  a synergy of multi-agency  undertaking,  of hopes and dreams becoming a reality to serve and help protect our country and people from natural disasters,”  said BU president  Fay Lea Patria  Lauraya.

            Cynthia Celebre, PAGASA chief for training and research, explained that
 “Meteorology is a noble profession, and a meteorologist is committed to protect and save lives and properties” and asked “Imagine what the Philippines will be liked visited by 18-20 typhoons yearly without the meteorologists?”

Friday, April 27, 2012

PhilRice urges public to save rice

Here is a call to all Filipinos: save rice to help save the P 6.2 billion in rice imports annually, and help the country achieve rice self-sufficiency.

Dr. Flordeliza H. Bordey, an economist based at Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and official spokesperson for the Food Staple Plan of the Philippine Food Staples Self-sufficiency Roadmap (FSSR) for 2011-2016 said each Filipino wastes two tablespoons of cooked rice every day. FSSR is a document produced through a series of workshops spearheaded by the Rice Program of the Department of Agriculture.

“This wastage, when summed up, easily translates into 308,833 tons of raw rice per year. Given a per capita consumption of 119 kg a year, this wastage can feed 2.6 million hungry Filipinos in a year,” Bordey said. When not wasted, the wastage could have saved P 6.2 billion in rice import a year.

As part of the government’s campaign to save rice, households are urged to cook rice just enough for the family, and not to overwash before cooking to cut wastage and control the loss of nutrients.

Parents are encouraged to teach their kids to finish off the rice on their plates or get only the amount of rice they can consume.

On-farm rice conservation is also sought. PhilRice’s Arnold S. Juliano said improper harvest and postharvest activities can lead up to 15% loss, equivalent to 15 of every 100 cavans palay harvested. “At P17/kg the loss could be worth P12,750,” he said.

Rice experts also recommend that harvesting should be done when 80% of the grains are already golden yellow to avoid yield losses.

“Harvesting and threshing on time ensure good grain quality, and increase milling recovery,” Juliano explained.
On rainy or cloudy days, experts advised farmers to use rice hull-powered flatbed dryers that can dry 6 tons of paddy rice in one operation. Proper drying lessens the risk of spoilage, and diminishes insect attack and discoloration caused by grain heating.

This rice-conservation call is part of PhilRice’s campaign dubbed as Save Rice, Save Lives, which was launched in 2010. Two years ago, the theme was “weRice” to embody the Filipinos’ collective soul as a nation shaped by rice encouraging the rice-consuming public “to rise” by conserving rice, attain better nutrition through brown rice, and bolster income from rice farming.

Last year’s theme Eat your rice right aims to encourage Filipinos to eat the right amount of rice to prevent wastage and to try other sources of good carbohydrates such as white corn, sweet potato, and cassava.

DA-PhilRice is a government-owned and –controlled corporation that aims at developing high-yielding, cost-reducing, and environment-friendly technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

For more information, please visit or contact DA-PhilRice at Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija with telephone number (044) 456-0285 loc 511/512 or any PhilRice station near you. You may also text your questions to 0920-911-1398.