Mestiso 7 shows potential in the rice industry

The newly developed public hybrid NSIC Rc136H or Mestiso 7 may very well be a better choice during the wet season than the first public hybrid, PSB Rc72H or Mestiso 1.

Dr. Manuel G. Gaspar, national hybrid rice seed coordinator, said Mestiso 7 is an alternative for Mestiso 3 during wet season because of its tolerance to pests and diseases especially in areas without history of tungro infestation.

Aside from its greater tillering ability and good milling and eating quality, Mestiso 7 has fairly high consumer acceptability in both raw and cooked forms compared to Mestiso 3.

Mestiso 7 is the ninth Philippine hybrid variety and the seventh in the Mestiso series. It produces a higher yield during the wet season, according to PhilRice breeder Thelma Padolina.

This variety is an early maturing hybrid bred by the Los Baños-based International Rice Research Institute for irrigated lowlands. It was evaluated in the National Cooperative Tests' (NCT) by the PhilRice-led Rice Varietal Improvement Group.

Field tests showed that Mestiso 7 is adaptable in all the NCT sites during wet and dry seasons consistently. It produced  high and stable yield across locations and seasons. Its adaptability was thoroughly tested in irrigated lowland.

This variety has intermediate reactions to blast and bacterial leaf blight. However, it is moderate susceptible to insect pests like stemborer, green leafhopper, brown planthopper, and susceptible to tungro virus.

Padolina said "hybrids are one of those options we can rely to improve our productivity.  We see to it that the upcoming varieties are better than the previous in one or more traits."

Seeds of Mestiso 7 can be availed starting May 2007 planting from Tabuk Hybrid Rice Seed Producers MPCI, Apayao Seed Producers Cooperative, San Manuel Cooperative, Nueva Ecija Hybrid Rice Development Cooperative, Davao Oriental Seed Producers Cooperative, Davao Del Norte Seed Producers Cooperative, Southern Agusan Seed Producers Cooperative, Butuan Seed Producers Cooperative and PhilRice central and Midsayap stations.

On the other hand, Aggie extension workers explore online training

Sixteen agricultural extension workers mostly at 40-60 age brackets have proven that they are not too old after all to ride on the wave of digital technologies. Currently, they are taking up the one-and-a-half-month (from July 6 to August 20, 2007) online course on rice production technology offered by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). 

This online course, according to PhilRice Executive Director Dr. Leocadio S. Sebastian, is an introductory program being offered to primarily run-test the viability of the e-learning system, as well as to gauge the learning curve and readiness of their clients (extension workers) in this kind of learning platform.' 

Designed using the blended pedagogical approach, the online course – which is about the Minus-One Element technique or MOET (an easy and cheap way to diagnose the nutrient deficiencies in the soil) – is composed of a series of online lessons and discussions, as well as field works. Online discussion, which is done through forums and chat, is supplemented with the use of short messaging system or "text" to facilitate better interaction despite geographical disparity.   

Moreover, in this course, the enrollees, who are agricultural extension workers from Cabanatuan City and the Science City of Munoz in Nueva Ecija, are each required a farmer-cooperator. The farm of the farmer-cooperator serves as the participant's experimental field where he/she will apply his/her learned knowledge. 

"With this pilot test, we hope to hear feedbacks from them (extension workers) on how the system works and on how we can improve it to better serve them," Sebastian said. 

"We envision to offer both onsite and online trainings in the near future to give our clients more learning options," he stressed. 

During the course orientation last July 6, the participants were taught of the basic uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as computer and Internet.  

"We also toured and oriented them on the basic functions of Moodle, the cyber school or the learning management system that we used for this online course," said Ronan G. Zagado, the online course coordinator. 

Moodle is an open source web-based learning management system that is customizable based on one's learning program design and the learners' needs. And since the Moodle is open source, PhilRice does not have to pay an annual license fee to run the software. 

Surprisingly, more than a hundred of people coming from different places in and outside the country have visited the e-learning site since it was uploaded in June. 

A component project of the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture Program (a network of government institutions providing education, training, extension, and communication in agriculture using ICTs with PhilRice as the lead implementing agency), the online course can be accessed at www.openacademy.ph.#