Help rice farmers, Negrense consumers urged

MURCIA, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL -- The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) is urging Negrenses to be responsible rice consumers amid the challenges of producing more grains supply to feed the country’s growing population.

Data from PhilRice showed the Philippines has only around 2.4 million rice farmers for a population of more than 90 million, each having an average per capita consumption of 114 kilograms.

Ev Angeles, senior science research specialist of DA-PhilRice who spoke at the “Knowledge Sharing and Learning” activity held at PhilRice Negros Occidental office on Tuesday said that as the population increases, the challenge of producing more rice for the farmers also increases.

Angeles said rice farmers need the collective help of all sectors especially the consumers in coping with other challenges such as more and stronger typhoons, adverse effects of drought, smaller agricultural lands due to urbanization, and few extension workers.

“Ordinary consumers play a huge role in achieving the rice sufficiency level of the country that is, through responsible rice consumption,” she said.

Data from PhilRice further showed that the average age of Filipino farmers is up to 58 years old only, Angeles said, adding that most of them have minimal income and capital.

The DA-PhilRice also raised concern on decreasing number of students getting agriculture-related courses.

This is an important part in the chain especially in passing on the knowledge and skills in agriculture to future generations, it added.

As part of addressing these challenges, DA-PhilRice together with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) through their collaborative project called IPAD: Improving Performance and Delivery conducted a two-day sharing and learning activity participated by students and teachers, micro-finance sector representatives, seed producers, input providers, and farmers.

The activity is aimed at making all the sectors especially the consumers realize what they can do to help farmers overcome the challenges and inspire more people especially students to venture into and love agriculture.

IRRI Junior Specialist Jerome Cayton Barradas said that through the activity they are sharing with the participants various programs including researches and new technologies that can help farmers boost their production.

Barradas presented and discussed the Rice Knowledge Bank and Rice Crop Management. These are easy to access tools like downloadable applications and learning materials about steps on rice production and other good agricultural practices, including pest and nutrient management.*

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