Department of Agriculture and SRI Advocates worked together to Unravel the Rice Crisis
The Department of Agriculture (DA) made an announcement to adopt the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) during the last National Organic Agriculture Congress held in Cebu City on November 2018. The DA has asked SRI-Pilipinas to conduct the SRI training for its staffs who are involved in the DA’s Rice Program, in cooperation with the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI).
SRI is an agro-ecological practice for managing rice plants, soil, water, and nutrients. It has the following elements: transplanting young seedlings, single seedling per hill instead of a handful, transplanting at a wider space in a square pattern, increasing the use of organic fertilizers and pesticides, less water use by applying wet-dry cycle of soil. Having these elements, SRI can result to higher yield and rice quality, the wider spacing increase the exposure of plants to sunlight, air and nutrients. Also, it is definitely environment-friendly since it reduces the use of chemical fertilizers and agro chemicals.
The first batch of training was attended by the 32 Rice Focal Persons – two from each of the country’s 16 regions last December 5-6, 2018. The training was consists of a two-day orientation involving lectures and practicum, and then a season-long trial and demonstration by each participant on a 100-500 square meter plot. The SRI-Pilipinas trainers in the various regions will make themselves available as resource persons during the season-long trials.
The result of these trials will determine how well the trainees have learned SRI principles and practices; and how serious the government is in resolving the rice crisis in our country. DA Secretary Emmanuel Pinol apparently decided to order the training in pursuits of resolving the rice crisis and impressed with the SRI technology.
NICE researcher had a chance to talked with Mr. Venancio Garde, National Trainor of SRI Pilipinas, after their training with the Regional DA focal persons on SRI and expressed optimism on SRI mainstreaming with the DA. He further expressed that “SRI would not have spread at all, much less gotten this far, if we were promoting a method that did not work. We have persisted in promoting SRI even without the full government support before. SRI is spreading at the grassroots level slowly but surely. We built a core network of more than a dozen farmer-trainers spread throughout the Philippines. Today, knowledge of SRI is diffusing in all provinces of the country, we are certain that we will eventually reach every rice farmer with the government support and with this new development”.