To showcase the best and latest rice farming technologies and practices and push the adoption of hybrid rice technology, the Department of Agriculture Rice Program and the Agricultural Training Institute – Bicol in partnership with the Rice Productivity Advocacy Incorporated or Rice Board and the Local Government Unit of Bula, Camarines Sur, private seed companies, PhilRice, and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority is staging the 14th National Rice Technology Forum on April 18-22, 2022.

The event is being held in the clustered rice area covered by the San Agustin, San Ramon Farmers Cooperative (SARFC) in Bula, Camarines Sur. Said site with a total rice area of 104.30 hectares served as the technology demonstration area where 12 seed companies planted 27 hybrid seeds to showcase the advantages and benefits of hybrid rice which can give a higher yield than ordinary inbred palay seeds by 10 to 15%.The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) likewise participated in the technodemo with their 4 inbred varieties. Also showcased are cost-reducing technologies and the efficiency of using modern farm equipment and machineries, drone, and other digital tools.

According to DA-Bicol Regional Executive Director, Rodel P. Tornilla what is noteworthy about this year’s conduct of this Rice Techno Forum is the operationalization of the Consolidation scheme or the Bayanihan Agri-Clustering which is one of the four pillars that will support the One-DA Reform Agenda initiated by Secretary Dar which is now gaining ground. This involves farmers/fishers organizing into cooperatives or associations and consolidating their farms into clusters to attain economies of scale in potential partnership with the private sector to produce more cost-efficient products and generate bigger revenues and incomes and fast track delivery of government interventions and services.

In the Bicol region there are already 20 rice clusters.“Over 700 farmers, rice program implementers and delegates from the various regions of the country are participating in this event”, says Earl Vincent P. Vegas, Regional Rice Focal Person & Corn Coordinator. “They will walk through the rice areas, witness the actual field demonstration, make queries and listen to lectures and updates on the Rice industry situationer, yield optimization in hybrid rice production, Farm and Fisheries Clustering program, Balanced Fertilization Strategy and Drone Technology. Product and technology exhibits and information booths will also be set up. A Press Conference will likewise be held,” he added.

Invited to deliver the keynote message is DA Secretary William D. Dar. Other guests and DA officials to grace the event or give messages are: Ariel T. Cayanan, DA Undersecretary for Operations; Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food; Arnel de Mesa, DA Assistant Secretary for Operations; Shandy Hubilla, National Program Director of Farm and Fisheries Clustering and Consolidation Program (F2C2) and concurrent National Deputy Project Director of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP); Dr. Rosana P. Mula, Director IV, Agricultural Training Institute; Recher E. Ondap, president Rice Board; Camarines Sur Governor Miguel Luis R. Villafuerte; and 5th district Representative Jocelyn F. Fortuno.

The participating seed companies are: LEADS Agriventures, Corteva, Bioseed, Syngenta, Longping, Bayer, Philscat, Seedworks, SL Agritech, ALJAY, and New Hope Incorporated, One partner company complementing with seed companies is INAVET.

Camarines Sur is one of the 15 provinces selected for hybrid rice planting with an expected yield advantage of at least 1 ton per hectare against the traditional inbred seed varieties. (EMILY B. BORDADO/DA-RAFIS 5)