Iloilo City — In the performance of its directive to provide scientific knowledge and cutting-edge technological innovations utilized in areas of maximum economic and social benefits for the people, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña commends the Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association (ZIDOFA) at Zarraga, Iloilo during his project site visit. ZIDOFA promotes the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to help farmers get greater yield. “Congratulations, you might be the first agricultural product to be endorsed in OneStore. This is something well accomplished.” said Sec. de la Peña. DOST’s OneSTore is an e-commerce web application platform that operates nationwide and caters primarily to Philippine consumers which aims to further assist the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) widen the scope of their target market.

Originated in Madagascar in the 1980’s, the SRI can reduce plant population, water requirements, increase land productivity, and promote less reliance on artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other agrochemicals, all while buffering against the effects of climate change and reducing greenhouse gases.

ZIDOFA also presented a machine they are still developing basically for weeding purposes. The research and development team of ZIDOFA plans to incorporate artificial intelligence to cover certain parameters in farming.

The Secretary suggested that ZIDOFA shall register the technologies they come up with so as to provide protection and also develop technologies not limited for rice production. He also added that the association may also work with academe to gain support and further connections that would help the association in terms of funding and research and development.

ZIDOFA Chairman Joby Arandela also shared his gratitude in the support that they get from DOST.

“We are very thankful that DOST is supporting organization like us. We hope to help the community here in Iloilo and the farmers to become productive and competitive because I believe that people from Western Visayas can compete not only here in the Philippines, but in the whole Asia as well.” ZIDOFA’s Chairman Arandela said.

“Rest assured that DOST will be looking forward to support your future endeavors.” Secretary De la Peňa further added.

ZIDOFA is an organization dedicated to create a closed-loop organic food value chain which covers the whole spectrum of activities in the chain. It helps small-farmers who are interested in converting some of their land to organic farm areas undergo series of trainings and seminars. ZIDOFA’s assistance continues until post-harvest drying and milling, packaging and marketing. (DOST6/jragabiota)