Sunday, May 31, 2015

‘Better Rice Initiatives Asia’ Sets To Increase Iloilo Rice Productivity

‘Better Rice Initiatives Asia’ Sets 
To Increase Iloilo Rice Productivity
by Sheila Mae H. Toreno

Iloilo is among the three provinces selected for the implementation of the Better Rice Initiatives Asia - Fostering Agriculture and Rice Marketing by Improved Education and Rural Advisory Services (BRIA-FARMERS) here in the Philippines. 

According to Chief Advisor Matthias Radek of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), BRIA-FARMERS aims to support small-holder rice farmers in increasing their income by optimizing their production techniques,  marketing access and the strengthening of the whole rice value chain. This shall contribute to make the Philippine rice sector more competitive.

Mr. Radek added that the project is being implemented in collaboration with a wide range of partners such as the Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and private partners such as Yara and Bayer Crop Science. Project sites of BRIA-FARMERS are in the provinces of Iloilo, Aurora, and Southern Leyte. 

Six municipalities in Iloilo will be involved which are Leganes, Mina, Oton, Pototan, Sta. Barbara and Zarraga. 

GIZ and its partners had considered several factors in choosing the project areas. “The municipalities have a majority of their agricultural areas planted with rice, their yield per hectare is equal to or less than the provincial yield, and there is a share of irrigated and rainfed lowlands. Also, there should be the presence of local traders in the area for the marketing component and the involved municipalities shall have a positive record in terms of good housekeeping (DILG Seal of Good Housekeeping),” Mr. Radek emphasized during the interview. 

There will be training among Municipal Agricultural Officers (MAOs), Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs) and field technicians of Iloilo at Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center, Jaro, Iloilo City from May 25 until May 28. 

“We aim at strengthening the agricultural extension service by offering specific modules such as the use of a learning technique called Adult Learning. This will help the farmer leaders and extension workers in presenting agriculture contents in a very interesting and joyful manner. AEWs are very skilled and they are experts in technical details. At the same time it is important to see that a good learning methodology can improve the learning effect for their audience especially when explaining very complex issues. Thus, this module will give them the opportunity to deliver their knowledge even better,” Mr. Radek explained. 

Some 30 MAOs and AEWs will attend the four-day activity which besides adult learning also includes intensive workshops topics such as farming as a business, designed for farmers to learn more about farm economics and improve their farm management from an economic point of view and thus improve their incomes.  In the months to come BRIA-FARMERS will offer a series of trainings with new training modules and new topics, which the BRIA-participating municipalities wished to avail. Soon, the project partners will also establish demo-fields displaying several options on how to improve rice production. 

“The training is just a part of the whole package. We are also providing support to participating LGUs and will assist the municipalities in establishing demo plots, conducting field visits and improving information drive for the farmers. We will help the LGUs deliver more and even better trainings,” he added. 

On March 18 this year, DA and GIZ signed a memorandum of agreement on BRIA-FARMERS which will run until November 2017. Besides in the Philippines, BRIA is also working in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam aiming to improve the rice value chains in Southeast Asia, and contributing to sustainable rice production and healthy rice-based nutrition. /MP

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