PhilRice Agusan turns 25


From its humble beginnings 25 years ago, PhilRice Agusan stands today with a strong foundation in creating impacts on farmers and its surrounding communities in Northern Mindanao.

With the theme Reaping the Silver, Sowing for Gold, PhilRice Agusan celebrated its 25th anniversary on 7-8 August.

Among the highlights of the celebration was the groundbreaking ceremony of the 12 million-peso building for the station’s laboratory and lodging facilities.

PhilRice’s first executive director, Dr. Santiago R. Obien lauded the previous and present staff members of PhilRice Agusan for their relentless efforts in performing the Institute’s mandate. Obien also talked about the challenges they faced in establishing the station.

PhilRice Agusan takes root when Obien recognized the topography and agro-climatic conditions of Caraga suitable for rice research and production. Former Agusan del Norte Governor Consuelo V. Calo sold 12.8 ha of her land to PhilRice and the station then was named C.V. Calo Rice Experiment Station.

Since its establishment in August 1990, the station has already trained more than 10,000 farmers and technologists on rice production and has been involved in local and national projects funded by various institutions.

PhilRice Agusan researchers have done massive work on pest and nutrient management. Research on Metarhizium anisopliae, a biocontrol agent that attacks rice black bug (RBB), and on zinc deficiency are among PhilRice Agusan’s major contributions to rice research in the Philippines.

The local tourism council in Caraga also recognized the station as a tourist destination because of its picturesque landscapes and facilities.

Led by Branch Director Abner Montecalvo, the station today maintains more than 50 ha of seed production and rice experiment areas. It has nearly 100 personnel.

“I am very happy to know that the management and staff of PhilRice Agusan has been doing a great job and plans to do a lot more. They have showed how well they maximize their resources and handle the challenges in this region,” says Dr. Calixto M. Protacio, PhilRice’s recently appointed executive director.

Farmers, former executive directors, branch managers, and employees attended the celebration.

Soil guide book to increase farm productivity


Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija – The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has produced a guide book titled Simplified Keys to Soil Series to provide farmers accurate soil identification through qualitative analysis of the soil’s basic properties: color, texture, pH (measure of acidity and alkalinity), and coarse fragments.

Wilfredo Collado, senior science research specialist of Agronomy, Soils and Plant Physiology Division (ASPPD), said that the tool will not just provide better approach towards agro-technological transfer but will also help enhance agricultural productivity in a farming area.

“Once the soil is identified, most suitable crops can now be selected and planted, and at the same time, proper soil management recommendations can be devised,” Collado explained during a seminar titled “Key to Soil Series: A Tool for Improving Agricultural Productivity,” on 22 July.

Collado also said that farmers will also be guided on soil fertility and management, and appropriate technology requirements for a particular crop.

Soil identification follows simple methods from soil sampling, color determination, pH and texture determination. The steps under these methods are detailed in the guide book.

A soil series guide book for each of the major rice producing provinces of the country (Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Iloilo, Pampanga, Tarlac, Aklan, Antique, Bataan, Bulacan, Pangasinan, Zambales, Aurora, Cagayan, Negros Oriental, and Negros Occidental) is also available.

The seminar was organized in celebration of the International Year of Soils in 2015.

Farmers, extension workers, or anyone interested may contact the PhilRice Text Center (0920-911-1398) should they want to know more about the guide book.

Rice Science Museum now a tourist spot

Science City of Muñoz – The Department of Tourism (DOT) has accredited the Rice Science Museum as a tourist facility and as a Local Government Unit-licensed tourist establishment.

With its accreditation, the Rice Science Museum is the only DOT and LGU-listed tourist facility in Nueva Ecija registered in the, a DOT-maintained website. In Central Luzon, the Rice Science Museum shares similar accreditation with the Aquino Center and Museum in Tarlac City.

Ronaldo P. Tiotuico, DOT director in Region III, said that the museum is a “good place to visit and the contents are intellectually stimulating as they present rice culture, traditions, and science in a way that the public will appreciate and understand.”

Recently, the Rice Science Museum went mobile, in partnership with the Museo Pambata, to encourage children to build a career on ensuring the country’s food supply.

In the Paglaki ko, gusto kong maging…. activity of the Philippines’ premier children’s museum, 8 to 12-year-old pupils in Metro Manila imagined themselves as agriculturists in the future.

“Children must learn about this noble career at an early age as it is a career that helps feed the nation,” said Noreen Parafina, Museo Pambata’s programs director.

Meanwhile, Charisma Love B. Gado, senior science research specialist and activity facilitator, said that studies around the world have shown the indispensable role of museums in the society owing to their educational value through informal learning and discovery.

“One of our studies showed indicators that farmers are learning from the museum during their visits. They discuss the contents with their fellow visitors; they can connect the contents with their experiences in everyday lives; and they can share what they have learned to their fellow farmers,” she said.

Since its re-launch in Sept. 2014, the Rice Science Museum has highlighted rice science, art, and technology through material culture of rice-farming communities in the country, labor-and cost-reducing machines, and rice seeds. Collections covering the species found in the rice environment, rice ecosystem, rice grains, and art works have also been exhibited.

Located at the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, the museum had thus far opened three exhibits titled, Lovelife with Rice, Abundant Harvest, and Colors of Rice. Colors of rice, which focuses on the health and nutrition aspects of rice, will run until Feb. 2016.

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