PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to pursue agricultural technology advancement that will elevate the current condition of the Philippine rice industry and push for sustainable rice value chains.

Marcos visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquarters in Los Baños in Laguna on Tuesday, November 29, 2022, where he urged stakeholders to support initiatives that will benefit the rice industry in the country and raised the need to adopt supportive policies to modernize the rice sector as part of a vibrant agri-food industry in the Philippines.

“The pandemic and the situation in Ukraine have been a glaring reminder of how fundamental the agricultural sector is and food supply is to not only in the Philippines but to the entire world,” he said.

“We hope to strengthen those partnerships because we very much need — not only to be able to disseminate or to provide these new varieties, the new techniques — but we also have to have a more focused approach to how we deal with the agricultural sector to the rice lands in the Philippines,” he added.

While there were already new technologies disseminated to the local farmers to address the problems that the country is facing, Marcos said more agricultural technologies are being pursued as rice crops face risks from higher fertilizer prices and challenges in water management.

He also highlighted the need for a more advanced research, which the IRRI does to support the rice sector of the country.

Marcos took note of various initiatives being done to improve crop resilience, which includes direct seeding of rice, Laser Land Leveling (LLL) and Solar Bubble Dryer.

Direct seeding of rice is the process of putting up a rice crop from seeds sown in the field. It offers a more sustainable and environment-friendly option, reducing the labor and cost of rice production while significantly lowering water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

On the other hand, the LLL is a laser-guided mechanized system to redistribute soil across a field for a leveled and uniform cultivation area, significantly improving water and input efficiency and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions of paddy farming.

Solar Bubble Dryer is a low-cost seed drying technology that can be set up anywhere, eliminating losses from traditional sun drying such as spillage, animals, weather, and vehicles running over the grains.

The IRRI also briefed Marcos about the Hermetic Storage System wherein airtight seed storage containers in various sizes help reduce oxygen and moisture penetration, minimizing losses from insects and rot and helping preserve grain quality for longer.

Marcos expressed gratitude to IRRI, to which he served as an ex-officio member of IRRI’s Board of Trustees being the concurrent secretary of the Department of Agriculture, as he recognized its vigor and success over the years in the development of climate-resilient, high-yielding rice varieties and farming technologies that significantly improved farmers’ productivity, profitability, and competitiveness all over the world.

IRRI is an independent, nonprofit, research and educational institute, founded in 1960 by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations with support from the Philippine government.

It is the world’s premier research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger through rice science; improving the health and welfare of rice farmers and consumers and protecting the rice-growing environment for future generations. (SunStar Philippines)