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Science is key

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During a visit to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. highlighted to scientists and experts the importance of harmonized efforts from all sectors to attain food self sufficiency, saying the government is focused on improving rice production and reducing post-harvest losses through science and technology.

Following the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to increase rice production, Laurel announced that the Department of Agriculture would launch a massive modernization program to increase rice recovery after milling from 62 percent and lessen wastage after harvest.

He also committed to look into the staffing of PhilRice, with the aim of adding more employees, as well as scientists to help improve the country’s rice sector.

With 140 hectares and eight stations throughout the country, Laurel noted that PhilRice is acutely undermanned, especially for its central role in producing seeds and developing technology that will help increase rice output.

Laurel also said the DA is moving with urgency to improve infrastructure and mechanization, irrigation and drying facilities to increase efficiency in rice production.

“Ultimately, our aim is to minimize importation as soon as possible for the country’s food security and improve farmers’ incomes,” he said.

PhilRice executive director John de Leon explained that they evolved from a purely research and development institution to an agency that executes operations properly and well with full transparency by digitalizing the process and involving all partners in embracing digitalization.

PhilRice receives P3 billion from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund to finance its numerous R&D programs, which eventually should be scaled to farmers, and another P600 million for training and extension along with the Agricultural Training Institute and the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization or PhilMech.

The Philippines still has a lot of catching up to do in terms of the science and technology of agriculture, particularly in rice farming, where there is still a lot of room for productivity to increase and wastage to be minimized so we can get the most out of our farmlands. Supporting and Involving the nation’s scientists in this massive effort to improve our self-sufficiency and competitiveness as a rice-producing country will be key.

Hopefully our government is ready and willing to turn that particular key.*

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February 2024
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