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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Agri chief cites rice scientists as ‘heroes’, gives new marching orders

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala (inset, left) joins Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) Executive Director Eufemio T. Rasco Jr. (right) and employees in reciting the Save Rice, Save Lives pledge during the celebration of the PhilRice’s 26th Anniversary in Muñoz,Nueva Ecija on November 8, 2011. The pledge aims to encourage the rice sector and the consumers to promote and practice the sowing of just amount of seeds, cook enough rice for the family, recycle leftover rice into other dishes. These, among other interventions, are intended to help the country achieve rice self-sufficiency in 2013. Sec. Alcala encouraged PhilRice to intensify the promotion of its technologies and the use of certified and hybrid rice seeds as he assured his full support to the agency's thrusts and mandate. (Photo by Jose Lucas, DA Information Service)


Hailing the country’s rice scientists as heroes, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala last week gave initial marching orders to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to prepare for the day when the country will be exporting rice once again.


Speaking at the 26th anniversary celebration of PhilRice at the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija, Alcala said the Institute is effectively carrying out its role as government’s lead agency in rice science and development.


“Umulan man o umaraw, andiyan kayo na makibahagi sa adhikain ni Pangulo.Benigno S. Aquino III lalo na sa food security at sustainable ruraldevelopment. Kaya’t para sa akin, kayo ay tapat at mahusay na naglilingkod at hindi simpleng government employees lamang. Kayo’y maitututuring na din na mga bayani (PhilRice had steadily supported the government in helping the country achieve its goals in food security and sustainable rural development. You’re dedicated and efficient in serving the public. To me, you’re not simply employees.You’re heroes),” Alcala said.


During the program, the agriculture chief also gave awards in recognition of outstanding performance of officials and employees under the administration of Executive Director Dr. Eufemio Rasco.


He also vowed continued government support to the agency even after the country has achieved rice self-sufficiency by the end of 2013.


“When we start exporting rice, PhilRice will conduct researches on how to make our rice acceptable and adaptable in the international market,” Alcala said.


He noted PhilRice researches and programs vital in increasing rice productivity and in ensuring enough rice for every Filipino by 2013. These technologies include PalayCheck, Palayamanan, Leaf Color Chart (LCC) and Minus-one Element Technique (MOET).


Palaycheck is an integrated crop management system for rice while Palayamanan is a diversified integrated rice-based farming system. On the other hand, LCC and MOET are cost-saving and low-cost tools that aid farmers in determining the right application of fertilizers.


“Achieving rice self-sufficiency may not be that easy. About 20 typhoons annually hit our country and that we have to be more prepared with the possible occurrence of stronger typhoons, which the experts say are the results of climate change. We’re not also as lucky as Thailand and Vietnam as these countries have the Mekong River as
source of their irrigation,” Alcala said in Filipino.


With these challenges, he encouraged PhilRice to intensify the promotion of technologies and the use of certified and hybrid rice seeds.


PhilRice recommends the use of certified seeds as these seeds are pure, clean, and has a minimum germination rate of 89 percent. On the other hand, the cultivation of hybrid rice is promoted as it can increase farmers’ yield by at least 15 percent. Solita Onquit, DA Information Service

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