Rice research, development confab highlights new technologies

NUEVA ECIJA – A conference on rice research and development was held on March 11-13 at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station in Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, here to address poverty and malnutrition in the country.

This year’s theme focused on the technologies and strategies that enhance productivity and sustainability of the rice industry. It also highlighted the models being used to efficiently promote new technologies for better adoption.

To address this, recent PhilRice researches are geared toward the development of locally adapted technologies that will provide consumers with higher yield and more nutritional values. These include breeding of varieties that are vitamin-enriched and resistant to major diseases, PhilRice Executive Director Leocadio S. Sebastian said.

“Technologies generated from rice R&D so far address poverty and malnutrition. Rice R&D can contribute to the improvement of the possible productivity and sustainability options that farmers can employ in alleviating their poverty conditions,”   Sebastian said.

More than 500 rice scientists, R & D workers from agencies under the Department of Agriculture, state universities and colleges, local government units, non-government and people’s organizations, and farmer-leaders attended the three-day event held annually by PhilRice which brought together updates and developments on rice research and development conducted by the network members nationwide.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted that protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies remain as the leading nutritional problems in the Philippines. In addition, FAO confirmed that about 12 million Filipinos are underweight while about 28 million are unable to buy food to meet their nutritional requirements and other basic needs.

The Social Weather Station’s (SWS) December 2007 report noted that about 2.9M Filipino families suffered from involuntary hunger (no food to eat) for the last three months.

During the conference, PhilRice’s economic impact on its stakeholders and to the country as a whole was presented.

In addition, the conference also showcased research presentations on rice technology generation and promotion, scientific poster viewing, launching of new knowledge products, and exhibit of rice technologies.

Farmers’ Field Days, which showcased the experiments on the 100-hectare experimental farm of PhilRice, was held on March 11 and 12. PhilRice's Technology Management and Services Division estimated more than 2,000 farmers who witnessed the PhilRice-generated technologies on rice and rice-based farming systems.

“We need to enhance the transfer of results of research and development whether it be knowledge or technologies so that farmers can benefit from them,” Dr. Sebastian said. (Yhen Solsoloy)