Collaborating agencies, FCAs strengthen RiceBIS community program

DA-BAR, DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), various government agencies, and farmer cooperative and associations (FCAs) convened during a Site Working Group (SWG) meeting on 22 September 2022 in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. The SWG continues to commit on the effective implementation of the Rice Business Innovations System (RiceBIS) Community Program across the country. 

"This activity is very important to us because we will be collaborating with different agencies. We shall stay updated regarding RiceBIS, as the community expands to several places," said DA-PhilRice Negros branch director Dr. Gerardo Estoy in his welcoming remarks. 

RiceBIS program aims to create a development model for community transformation to improve the competitiveness of rice-based farming communities. Its goal is to increase income by 25% through agro-enterprises engagement to address the low productivity and income of farming households. 

RiceBIS Negros Occidental station leader Anileen Pajarillo presented the significant accomplishments and updates of the program during Phase 1 such as cluster formation and capacity building among farmer cooperatives and associations. Agro-enterprises were developed such as milled rice, pigmented rice, seed production, and custom service provision. 

Farmers were also able to reduce cost of production by up to PhP 8.00 per kilogram by using cost-reducing technologies. This also led to the increase of irrigated yield by 1 ton per hectare, and 0.5 ton per hectare for rainfed through yield-enhancing technologies. 

Sustainability plans and strategies in Phase 2 were also presented to its partner agencies and beneficiaries, particularly the development of business innovations and processes, and formalization of clusters, among other things. 

Project leader Dr. Aurora Corales, meanwhile, delivered her closing remarks to formally end the program. She expressed her gratitude to all participants of the SWG meeting, and acknowledged their comments and suggestions for the RiceBIS community program. 

Attending agencies were the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in several areas of Negros Occidental, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Trade and Industry, DA-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, and local government units. 

Following the program, DA-BAR conducted a monitoring activity to further assess the initiatives of RiceBIS and how it brought significant changes to RiceBIS Negros Agrarian Reform Cooperative in Murcia, Negros Occidental. The bureau’s Research Coordination Division also provided impressions and feedback on the accomplishment of the program, focusing on ways to improve its initiatives and strategies. 

DA-BAR will continue to monitor the progress of RiceBIS as they also coordinate with various agencies and FCAs, across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao in the following months. (### Diwa J. Velasquez)