Technology forum pushes for more efficient hybrid rice farming in PH

In its determined pursuit to achieve the goal of finally making the Philippines a rice sufficient country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) continuously intensifies its campaign for the adoption of hybrid rice technology among local farmers. This remains as the main thrust of the 8th National Rice Technology Forum (NRTF), which will be held from March 19 to 21, 2019 in Asingan, Pangasinan.

The intensified campaign aims to further convince farmers by showcasing the best farming technologies and practices through the collective effort by the national government (including the Rice Board), local government units, farmers, and the private sector. The 8th NRTF is set to be the biggest and most comprehensive—this time including collaborative and technological initiatives that were not highlighted in the previous forums.

As the old Ilocano adage goes, “Diak kita, diak pati” (“to see is to believe”), the 8th NRTF showcases the best farming practices that Filipino farmers can feasibly adopt to increase their efficiency and productivity. The forum’s techno demo, which serves as the focus of the program, is set to demonstrate the effect of various transplanting approaches—mechanical, manual, and direct seeding—to the yield using top hybrid rice varieties provided by participating agricultural firms.

Mechanized farming

More efficient farming approach
Just like in the past NRTFs, SeedWorks is one of the private-sector participants, which aim to help all agriculture stakeholders realize the life-long goal for national rice sufficiency. With its popular US88 variety, the company intends to convince more farmers to adopt a recommended approach—mechanical farming.

“SeedWorks is supporting recommendations for the mechanization approach,” said SeedWorks Philippines President Carlos Saplala. “This is a logical and effective way to significantly trim farming costs especially on labor.”

Mechanization in farming pertains to the use of modern agricultural machines to increase productivity without relying on massive labor inputs. Thus, technology can replace numerous and costly farming jobs that are usually carried out by manual and animal labor. When paired with the use of an ideal hybrid rice variety like US88, mechanized farming can bolster not just productivity but profitability as well.

Celebrity Chef and SeedWorks Ambassador Boy Logro and SeedWorks Philippines President Carlos Saplala

Intensified hybrid rice adoption campaign
Up to 85 farmer-groups are participating in the 8th NRTF. The techno demo will be the biggest since the forum started in 2013. This time, a total of 37.5 hectares of land (located in Urdaneta and Asingan in Pangasinan) is used to demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of hybrid rice varieties planted using various agricultural approaches.

Aside from the usual rice derby among hybrid rice varieties from different agri-companies, DA will also introduce a new farming technique using carrageenan (a seaweed extract) that can regulate the growth of rice in fields, leading to higher yield. This technology is in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which is participating in the NRTF for the first time.

The three-day agriculture event will also tackle the pressing issue of farm financing through credit sources that can support farmers’ associations. The Agricultural Credit Policy Council, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, and the LandBank of the Philippines will present their funding support services for local farmers.