Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. Dela Peña acknowledged the outputs of rice research and development and the industry’s role in helping the country’s rice sector last September 7. “In a country where rice is a staple food, nothing compares for an ordinary citizen than to be assured of having an affordable, accessible, high quality, and nutritious rice at all times,” Dela Peña said.
During the opening of the 29th National Rice R&D Conference at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). he cited some of the newly-developed technologies that farmers need to know and maximize to enhance rice productivity. These technologies were developed under the Rice Industry Strategic S&T Program that aims to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production by 2020. The program is a partnership among government agencies such as PhilRice, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), Metal Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
According to Dela Peña, specific and quantifiable targets were set under the said initiative. The use of certified seeds, bio-stimulants and elicitors, and efficient use of fertilizers and water were targeted to increase productivity by 10% while reducing production cost by 5%. Dela Peña emphasized the benefits of technologies developed for rice mechanization. He said the precision seeder and transplanter can help enhance yield by 5% and prevent losses during harvesting and drying by another 5%. The hand tractor with harvester and transplanter attachments can significantly reduce the labor cost from 20 to only two laborers in 1ha. “The improvement of the combine harvester with riding type attachment has upgraded both reaping and threshing in one passing, thereby reducing labor cost and postharvest losses from 5% to 3% per hectare. The rear-infrared drying using conduction systems can also reduce drying time by 20% compared to pavement drying,” he said. He also mentioned other technological advancements that are ready to be rolled-out in the field. “The pellet-type rice mill is suitable for village-level milling, and has a milling recovery of 60-63% for milled rice and 91% for brown rice. The irradiated carrageenan, a plant food supplement, can make the rice stem stronger, thus improving resistance to lodging and diseases such as tungro and bacterial leaf blight (BLB),” he added. Dela Peña reminded the science and technology community to ensure that R&D outputs will reach the farmers being the primary food producers. “Whether the cost that we have invested have generated the desired benefits, we still have to see that these are adapted on a wider scale with the goal of reaching more rice and rice farming communities nationwide towards achieving a rice secure Philippines,” he concluded.