LUNCH IS SERVED. Agriculture officials – led by Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and Research Segrefredo Serrano  (1st from left) and Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Edilberto De Luna (2nd from left) – join farmers and other participants in a boodle fight during the annual Farmers’ Day at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna on Wednesday, 1 October 2014. DA is IRRI’s number one partner in its National Research & Extension System.  For IRRI’s part, Dr. Bruce Tolentino, Deputy Director General for Communication and Partnerships, highlighted the importance of having a strong partnership between IRRI and DA to unleash the unparalleled potential of Filipino farmers. (Photo by Kathrino Ressureccion, DA AFID)


“Ang pinakamatinding epekto ng climate change ay nararamdaman sa sector ng mga magsasaka’t mangingisda,” [The greatest effect of climate change is felt by the farmers and fisher folks] Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano told hundreds of farmers from Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Cavite , Cagayan Valley , Cordillera, and India and Bangladesh during the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Farmers’ Day, Oct. 1.

Themed “Technologies for a Changing Climate”, the annual activity held at the pioneering rice research center in the world in Los Banos, Laguna, has further fortified the alliance of DA and IRRI to support the interest of the Filipino farmers facing the challenges of climate change.

Usec. Serrano said that with the stronger typhoons hitting the country, it is unacceptable for the department to treat casualties as plain statistics. “Pinahahalagahan namin sa DA ang pinakamahalagang yaman ng ating bansa, ang mga mamamayan. Sila ang dapat maging sentro ng lahat ng programa at makaramdam ng kaunlaran.” [DA values the most important resource in our country, the citizens. They should be the center of all government programs and the beneficiaries of progress.]

Climate change is the “game-changer” in agriculture, added Serrano. A 1-2 degrees centigrade change in temperature will have an immense impact in the yield of crops and will cause corresponding rise in production cost.

Effects of climate change include rise in sea level, global increase in temperature, drought, salt-water intrusion, and flooding, all of which adversely affect the farming sector.

Serrano said that farmers should be grateful because IRRI has developed rice varieties that could effectively respond to the ill-effects of climate change, such as the varieties that can withstand extreme environmental conditions of drought, flooding, and salinity.

IRRI Deputy Director General Dr. Bruce Tolentino said that IRRI’s number one clients are the farmers and if farmers are unsatisfied with IRRI’s research work, then everything is useless.

Nobody can beat the Filipino farmers in terms of ability and talent. “Wala pa ring tatalo sa galing at talino ng Pilipinong magsasaka,” said Tolentino.

“DA has been very supportive and in fact IRRI’s #1 partner in its National Research & Extension System (NRES) empowering our local farmers” he added.

Usec. Serrano assured farmers and and other agriculture stakeholders that the DA is addressing the adverse impact of climate change through strategic partnerships with R&D institutions such as IRRI to develop, upgrade and disseminate appropriate technologies and other interventions.

Fifteen climate change resilient rice varieties were developed by IRRI along with DA agencies including the Bureau of Agricultural Research and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). These are Tubigan 25, 21 (suitable for irrigated areas), Tubigan 18 (suitable for

both rainfed and irrigated areas, Sahod Ulan 8, Sahod Ulan 6, Sahod Ulan 8, (rainfed), Sahod Ulan 5, Sahod Ulan 3 (drought-prone rainfed areas), Katihan 1 (upland areas), Submarino 1 (flood-prone areas), and Salinas 18, Salinas 16, Salinas 15, Salinas 11, Salinas 9 (for areas with saltwater intrusion).

To enrich their knowledge on IRRI’s research, farmers toured around the institute’s various research stations and given information on: (1) Heirloom Rice by Dr. Casiana Vera Cruz, (2) Genetic Resources Center / International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER) by Dr. Maria Concepcion Toledo, (3) Long-Term Continuous Cropping Experiment (LTCCE) and Rice Crop Manager by Rowena Castillo, and (4) Submergence-tolerant rice by Alvaro Pamplona.

Marketplace booths on Conserving rice genetic resources, Grain quality & nutrition, Mechanization, and Alternate wetting and drying (AWD) were also exhibited. (Marlo Asis, DA-AFID)