BULA, Camarines Sur—The information campaign on the programs and services of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for rice farmers was further strengthened during the 14th National Rice Technology Forum (NRTF).
Plenary discussions were held to tackle pressing issues in the rice industry. DA officials also introduced new opportunities in terms of yield optimization in hybrid rice production, farm and fisheries consolidation and clustering, Balanced Fertilization Strategy, and drone technology.
Regional Rice Focal Person & Corn Coordinator Earl Vincent Vegas gave updates on the situation of the local rice industry, stressing the importance of enlisting in the Registration System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture so that farmers can avail themselves of assistance and other services from the DA.
Emerson Yago, national deputy director of the DA’s Farm and Fisheries Consolidation and Clustering (F2C2) Program, addressed concerns regarding this initiative. He said that the Department and its Regional Field Offices are working with local government units, through the local agriculture offices, and regional F2C2 focal persons to identify the needs of clustered farmers and farmers’ associations for their respective farming enterprises.
Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) Bicol’s Regional Officer Gabriel Atole also responded to questions regarding the possibility of local production of fertilizer. He shared that the availability of raw materials and high energy requirements are only some of the challenges that need to be addressed for the country to be able to produce its own fertilizers.
“This is why we recommend the use of organic fertilizer and soil conditioner—or a mixture of organic and inorganic fertilizers. We need to go back to the basics. We need to revive soil health and this is where Balanced Fertilization Strategy comes in. Also, there are local cooperatives that are already FPA-licensed importers that can directly supply fertilizers,” he said.
Meanwhile, New Hope Corporation CEO Anthony Tan discussed some of the advantages, as well as limitations, in the use of drone seeding technology. This was after the demonstration of the said technology for hybrid rice production in a farm in Bula.
“Let us evaluate first, then let the result speak for itself. That’s why we did this first large-scale application here in Bula. Hybrid rice farming technology is different in terms of seeding rates, seed preparation, up to application. Its result will also differ [if we consider] seasons and different regions,” Tan shared.
At the end of the techno forum, some of the participants expressed their appreciation for the new information shared with them.
“This was a big help to the farmers. We hope that this program will carry on,” one farmer-participant said.
“It was a good event! The demo site presenters explained the technology very well,” another farmer said.
A participant from the local government of Bato, Camarines Sur shared, “The use of drones must be disseminated in every municipality for techno demo purposes to lower labor cost.”
Around 3,500 individuals took part in the 14th NRTF which showcased the latest technologies and practices in hybrid rice production through plenary sessions and field tours with technology demonstrations.
The NRTF was held last April 19-22, 2022, with live broadcasts through DA Bicol and ATI Bicol’s Facebook pages. The next technology forum will be held in Ilocos Region. (with reports from DA Bicol and ATI Bicol)