Cultivate hybrid seeds. Use mechanized farming equipment. Acquire irrigation. Avail of the rice crop insurance. These were the prime advocacies imparted to a sum of 200 rice farmers from the municipality of Kalawit in Zamboanga del Norte and Barangay Punta in Dipolog City during the Rice Information Caravan held last July 11 and 12 respectively.
Headed by the Department of Agriculture IX (DA9) alongside attached agencies such as the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), National Food Authority (NFA) and the Local Government Units (LGUs), the activity centered on informing the farmers of the modern ideas and practices in rice production through familiarizing the agencies’ rice support programs and getting involved in the farm-mechanization movement.
“With the rise of new farm equipment and methods, we too, must catch up with technology”, said Reynaldo M. Campomanes, DA Operations Chief, pointing out the slow progress of mechanization in remote areas such as Kalawit.
Evelyn Academia, Regional Rice Commodity Coordinator, also stressed the need to have new technologies in rice production. “It is not just enough to have harvest or daily food in out tables, but we must also consider securing new technologies and venturing into enterprise”, she said. Academia also expounded the four main programs for rice of DA encouraging the farmers to patronize hybrid rice as it is endorsed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol.
Alteration in the region’s irrigation system was also highlighted as NIA representative Engr. Dionisio Solatorio related to the farmers the development of Solar Power Irrigation as proposed by Sec. Piñol. Engr. Solatorio updated the farmers of the present condition of irrigation systems in their areas and announced that free irrigation will be observed for the rest of the year.
As for the rice crop insurance, Charlito Brilleta of PCIC clarified that only those who are registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) can avail of the insurance that guarantees financial and crop support for rice farmers.
Henry Povadora, Research Specialist, Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) helped the farmers fight the infestation of Rice Black Bug by introducing effective methods in exterminating these pests such as light trapping, deployment of natural enemies, flooding, among others. Another issue addressed was the recently talked about “fake rice” which was directly negated by NFA representative Joy Nina Bernido, who assured the farmers that the rice in the market is real and not fake.
The open forum at the end of the program addressed questions and initial reactions from the attendees, and were given clarification by the corresponding agency experts.
Also present during the caravan were the local mayors and agriculturists who took part in informing the farmers of the recent developments and other concerns in the rice production in their areas of assignment.# (Darwin Reyes, DA9)

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