THE Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said it is looking into tapping the support of telecommunication companies (telcos) to improve the delivery of rice information to farmers offered through the PhilRice Text Center (PTC).
PhilRice Development Communication Division Head Myriam G. Layaoen said the research institute is interested to form a collaboration with national telcos to introduce updates in the system and facilities of the PTC.
“We are now exploring the possibility of partnering with telcos to provide us with technical advice on system upgrades and eventually help us reach their client base through mass text messaging,” Layaoen said.
PTC is a digital platform that provides daily consultation services to rice farmers through call and short messaging services. It also provides monthly rice tips, weather advisories, promotions and announcements. The text center also caters to students, extension workers, researchers and other stakeholders who are interested in the rice industry.
“By responding to the farmers’ queries, we give them informed decisions in their farming practices. We regularly receive positive feedback and it overwhelms us,” PTC’s main agent and agriculturist Fredierick Saludez said in a statement.
“Thank you for the tips. I got a bountiful harvest [this season],” said Sanny Huelva, a farmer-client from Masbate.
Data from PhilRice showed registered clients of the PTC as of the first quarter of 2016 jumped by 47.3 percent to 27,883 from the18,924 recorded in the same period in 2015.
The PhilRice said it considers this a “milestone” as the PTC started out with only less than 100 registered clients when it became operational in 2004.
Saludez reported top inquiries from clients are on seed quality and varietal information, pest management, seed availability and nutrient management.
The PhilRice also revealed the top provinces with the most texters are Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan and Isabela. There are also a lot of clients from Agusan del Norte, Oriental Mindoro, Northern Samar and Leyte.
The PTC was initially launched as the Farmers’ Text Center (FTC) by the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture.
PhilRice said the FTC was established due to the popularity and economical cost of text messaging in the Philippines in early the 2000s.
It was also created to complement the existing agricultural extension services and link farmers to experts who inform them of new rice-production technologies, the PhilRice said.
“The rise in the number of texters implies our clients perceive the platform useful for their purpose. We highly encourage our partners in the agricultural sector to continue promoting the PTC to make rice information more accessible to farmers, especially those who have little or no access to this information,” Layaoen said.