HRP empowers AEWs in heirloom rice production

BAUKO, Mountain Province  – To capacitate AEWs with the appropriate and improved heirloom rice production and post-harvest technologies, the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP) pilots the Season Long Training of Trainers (TOT) Agricultural Extension Workers for (AEWs) on Heirloom Rice Production last February 20-23.

The HRP through PhilRice-led farmers’ field schools had documented the best management practices of Cordillera heirloom rice farmers. Some revisions and recommendations from the low land practices to heirloom rice practices were also made on each management practice from variety and seed selection to harvest management. The documentation is to source out the suited farming practices and technologies for a further improved yield and increased farmer’s profit while maintaining the organic production system in the rice terraces.

25 AEWs from the different municipalities of Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mt. Province will participate in the season-long TOT which will last up to five months. Furthermore, the participants will establish a participatory technology demonstration to practice the technologies being taught.

David Sumalag, project technical staff, emphasized that the AEWs are expected to extend to Cordillera heirloom rice farmers the appropriate and improved heirloom rice production and post-harvest technologies.

Consequently, these efforts will redound to farmers’ improved heirloom rice productivity and product quality that contributes in attaining the aim of the project to increase income and sustain the heritage and food security in the rice terraces of the Cordillera, he said.

The AEWs are also tasked to conduct Farmers Field School to disseminate the participants’ learnings to the farmers.

The training specifically aims the participants to thoroughly understand the principles, systems, and components of the PalayCheck system. The system is an integrated crop management system for rice which provides recommendations on what to do and what to achieve based on best management practices for a particular agro-ecological condition.

The system also seeks to adopt recommendations at farm-level, taking into account the interactions among management practices and other factors affecting yield, grain quality, and environment towards an enhanced productivity, profitability and environmental safety practices.

Dr. Virginia A. Tapat, project leader, said that it is far more important to share the skills and knowledge to the farmers than the machinery.

The Heirloom Rice Project is headed by the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Cordillera in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) which aims for the conservation of heirloom rice and increased production and income of heirloom rice farmers.

On the other hand, the season-long TOT is jointly-led by the Agricultural Training Institute-CAR and DA-Cordillera with the technical guidance from PhilRice and IRRI experts.

By Jenny M. Dayao

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