Despite the scrapping of funds for the rice program next year, an official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the rice self-sufficiency goal remains attainable.
Dr. Santiago R. Obien, senior technical adviser of the DA’s national rice program, said the government is implementing various measures to achieve rice self-sufficiency.
“The target is possible since we have the technology and hardworking farmers,” Obien told over 1,000 farmer participants during the recently concluded Lakbay Palay at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Nueva Ecija.
Obien said the DA will soon create a color-coded agriculture and fisheries map to ensure that appropriate crops are planted based on geographic, climatic and soil type of a certain area.
“We will conduct a national consumption survey to predict what kind of food the country needs to produce over the years,” he said.
Obien said the DA is also planning to improve the method of insurance for farmers, provide free irrigation, curb rice smuggling and “intensify” research and development.
The rice farmers also learned about the new program, called Rice Productivity Enhancement (RIPE), that aims to conduct a thorough review of the country’s water-management and irrigation policies.
Roy M. Abaya, DA director for field operations, added that the government will do a nationwide soil analysis, improve rice technologies, introduce high-yielding varieties, rehabilitate soil and fertilizer program, and harvest and postharvest facilities.
The two-day event taught farmers on the latest technologies on rice farming. Among the stations visited by farmers were the FutureRice Farm, Palayabangan: The 10-5 Challenge, breeder seed-production area, azolla and organic fertilizer production, Palayamanan Plus complex, and Rice Science Museum.
Lakbay Palay is a major activity of PhilRice done twice yearly, one each for dry and wet seasons. It gathers thousands of farmers, as well as students, researchers and decision-makers from different provinces.