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)