NABUA, Camarines Sur-The Regulatory Division of the Department of Agriculture-Bicol conducted the Pest Risk Identification and Management (PRIME) Project Crop Health Assessment Retooling Training on June 13-15, 2019 to assess the project and to introduce the 2019 app for data gathering and submission of reports in one of the hotels here.

More than 30 agriculturist and extension workers from the municipalities of Bula, Libmanan and Minalabac; staff of PhilRice, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and DA-Bicol participated in the three-day training.

PRIME is a four-year project funded by DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) in collaboration with DA, PhilRice, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to improve rice productivity, welfare, and competitiveness of Filipino farmers by mitigating risks of major pest outbreaks. The end goal of the project is its mainstreaming into the regular program of DA-regional offices. This project started in April 2017 and will end on October 2021.

At present, PRIME will focus on 5 rice pests/diseases—rodents, bacterial blight, blast, tungro/green leafhopper; brown planthopper.

According to DA-Bicol Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations Dr. Edgar R. Madrid, this retooling training will enhance the skills of the field workers in terms of efficient data collection.

On the other hand, the farmers will benefit from the output of the field workers because they will come up with information and guide essential in planning, decision making and scheduling for proper pest management.

For the Bicol Region, the pilot areas include 31 sampling sites of 45 farmers in Minalabac; 29 sites of 34 farmers in Libmanan, and 25 sites of 30 farmers in Bula.

He added that advance and regular monitoring and surveillance on rice field can prevent pest outbreak. 

IRRI Information System Specialist and app developer Abel Callejo, the PRIME Collect 2018 app was upgraded to PRIME Collect 2019. The upgraded app is faster in generating and submitting field data on field profile, cultural practices, pest survey, pest management, nutrient management and yield information.

PhilRice Senior Science Research Specialist Leonardo Marquez cited that one of the challenges of PRIME is the harmonization of protocols for rice farmers on pest management. He also urged the participants that in selecting sites, it should be 50 meters away from residences and avoid selecting fields with irrigation and drainage problem.

Topics discussed include the identification of major pests, weeds, rats, viral diseases, bacterial and fungal diseases, site selection, insect pest and damage, application of geo-tagging, assessing and updates on Prime Collect Application and data validation.

The other speakers include Jay Ar Baldoza, Emma Caning, Marquez, Hansel Arcilla, and Borris De Los Santos. Marquez also said that a farmers’ meeting and assessment will be conducted this July. (jaysonmgonzales with photos by Borris De los Santos)