The innovative agricultural technologies in rice and corn were showcased in an EXPERT-O webinar series dubbed as Innovations in Rice and Corn Production. The promotion of the technologies was primarily set by the Department of Science and Technology Region VI (DOST VI) in partnership with DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD). The webinar is an initiative of DOST VI to help improve the production of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in agriculture especially in the rice and corn sector and aspiring entrepreneurs to showcase technologies and better practices providing solutions to different problems encountered.

DOST-PCAARRD’s top technologies on rice and corn production were presented by Supervising Science Research Specialist, Noel A. Catibog, namely Ride-On Rice Precision Seeder for Wet Direct Seedling, a local 8-row riding-type precision seeder that has a seeding rate of 15-30kg/ha and at least 2ha/day field capacity, suitable for both hybrid and inbred rice production generated by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice); Rice Transplanter which minimizes labor cost only requires two persons to complete transplanting activities which were also generated by PhilRice. It can transplant 2-6 seedlings per hill at a planting depth of 2-6cm, hill spacing of 12-18cm, and arow spacing of 30cm.; the Rice Combine Harvester which can operate in wet harvest seasons, and the Far Infrared Grain Dryer, which is a new rapid drying technology.

More agricultural technologies were presented such as the Rice Transplanter Attachment, which increases the utilization of hand tractors in farm areas as well as to reduce the cost of farm-level mechanization that will directly benefit farmers, rice field owners, and planters. This technology was generated by the DOST-Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC). Another technology is the Rice Harvester Attachment, an efficient rice harvesting equipment that can be readily mounted to and dismounted from the hand tractor units and reduce labor cost. A technology generated by Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) was the Compact Ultra Impeller Rice Mill, this equipment uses an impeller as its hulling mechanism, capable of producing both white and brown rice with milling recovery comparable with rubber roll type but higher by 5% as compared with “Kiskisan.” Other technologies include the Local Riding-type Rice Transplanter, Carrageenan Plant Growth Promoter, and the BioGroe.

On advanced agriculture or the so-called smart agriculture, the SARAI technologies, or the Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines was presented.

SARAI is composed of different agri-technology related services and real-time monitoring of production areas using remotely-sensed images. This project was implemented by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) together with the 11 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and six (6) National Government Agencies.

Among the technologies mentioned, the Carrageenan Plant Growth Promoter, Compact Ultra Impeller Rice Mill, and BioGroe caught the attention of the online participants. “Carageenan is an indigestible polysaccharide (carbohydrates) extracted from edible seaweeds. Polysaccharide, when subjected to modified irradiation technology, can be a very useful plant growth supplement,” explains DOST-PCAARRD expert. DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) representative Mr. Gregory Ciocson added that this supplement makes an effective organic fertilizer at an exceedingly small dose and increases rice yield by 15-30%. The application of three and six bags of chemical fertilizer per ha., combined with 20ml/L of Carrageenan yields higher grain weight (450g and 455 g/10 hills, respectively) than the farmers’ practice of applying nine bags of chemical fertilizer/ha. In treated plants, this growth promoter also enhances the crop vigor of rice with significantly higher productive tillers and panicle length or the length of the pinnacle.

The webinar also discussed topics on white and brown rice milling including the advantages of the equipment promoted by DOST-PCAARRD. The webinar was also joined experts from DOST-Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MRIDC) represented by Ms. Girlie Millo and Mr. Rey Mariposque and also specialists from UPLB and PhilRice, all catered the inquiries during the open forum.

Promoting aggressively the adoption and commercialization of the technologies in Western Visayas, DOST VI encourages interested MSMEs to adopt the agricultural technologies presented. Interested technology adoptors may write a Letter of Intent to DOST VI and include the applicant’s brief information and business background.

The webinar was conducted in celebration of the Proclamation No.304 in 1964 which is Rice and Corn Week to raise national consciousness and interest to Filipino farmers to increase their production of crops. (SSalazar /DOST VI with reports from KSBernardino, BPanes, JRGabiota)