Still reeling from typhoons and drought that hit the country, smallhold rice farmers face a new hurdle. The nationwide preventive lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 restricted the movement of food and goods. Thus, bringing food from the farm to tables have become more challenging. Rice farmers’ lives and means of living are at risk thereby threatening food security and sustainability.


This major problem requires an innovative solution through relevant research for development (R4D) interventions. As the lead rice R4D institution, the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) initiated the RiceBIS project to improve the competitiveness of rice and rice-based farming communities in select provinces in the country.


About the project


Funded by DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research, the RiceBIS Phase II involves 15 RiceBIS communities with ten clusters of farmer organizations each to cover 400 farmer-beneficiaries per site. This includes twelve major rice-producing provinces: Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Quirino, Tarlac, Zambales, Quezon, Masbate, Aklan, Negros Oriental, Cotabato, and Agusan del Norte.


Anchored on the clustering approach, the RiceBIS Community Program aimed to address low productivity and income among local farmers through a modern approach in line with DA’s twin goals.


To promote rice farming modernization and rice-based enterprises improvement through the distribution of matured technologies, RiceBIS project merges production and marketing strategies to transform farming communities to become market-driven and participatory through the promotion of livelihood programs and climate-smart farm technologies.


The technologies under the RiceBIS project include yield-enhancing and cost-reducing technologies anchored on the PalayCheck system, Palayamanan, and clustering approach. Through which series of training, promotion, and demonstration are conducted through Farmers’ Field School (FFS) including organizational development and agripreneurship.


RiceBIS technologies


The clustering approach primarily aims to facilitate community collective action such as synchronous crop establishment and harvesting using farm machines, mobilization of farmer leaders, and group marketing. This approach will serve as a strategy to enhance the adoption of yield-enhancing and cost-reducing technologies.


To improve resiliency and achieve sustainable agro-enterprise, the RiceBIS program conducted clustering activities this year across all selected project sites in the country.


PalayCheck for production technologies contributed significantly in the increase of production and profitability of rice farming in the country. It has been proven to help farmers achieve high yield through proper rice crop and technology management as long as key check recommendations (e.g. high-quality seeds, proper water, nutrient, and pest management practices, land preparation, among others) are ensured. Such developed practices opened opportunities, improved the livelihood, and increased the income of smallholder rice farmers.


Meanwhile, farm diversification and integration are being promoted especially in rainfed areas through the Palayamanan technology platform. Cropping patterns, ecosystems, and resources play a big role in the implementation of this technology. It solved concerns on monocropping by having other sources of livelihood such as planting vegetables and fruits while raising livestock and fishpond for continuous food supply, increased farm productivity, and improved ecological balance or diversity. Hence, achieving food security and economic stability.


As of writing, the PalayCheck for production technologies is further being disseminated to RiceBIS farmers through various FFS and establishment of technology-demonstration sites. These rice technologies, which the farmers can adopt in their community, will be showcased in learning fields.


RiceBIS and other initiatives


Different project implementers conducted various initiatives in selected RiceBIS sites in the country. Other activities held through the said project included project briefing, focus group discussion, site validation through aerial mapping and geotagging, cooperative inspection, and establishment of more techno-demo sites. Further, a ceremonial seed distribution of bags of certified seeds from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program for the farmer-beneficiaries was also launched.


Turning the pandemic into an opportunity to identify and address vulnerabilities in the country’s food systems while improving the competitiveness of farming communities to a sustainable agro-enterprise, DA-PhilRice through the technologies under the RiceBIS Community Program aims to make rice farmers resilient and bring transformation to society in line with the New Normal for a much better post-pandemic scenario.


Further, PhilRice further added that its plans for the second semester include the conduct of postharvest losses data gathering, establishment of technology demonstration sites and RiceBIS communities, and partnership-building with rice stakeholders. ### Jireh Alodia R. Laxamana




For more information:

Dr. Aurora M. Corales

Chief Science Research Specialist

DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute

(044) 456 0277 local 511

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Jayca Y. Siddayao

Senior Science Research Specialist

DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute

(044) 456 0277

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In our goal to continually improve the services we provide, we would like to get your insights on the second part of the online seminar on Production System and Meat Processing from Organically Grown Native Pig you attended. Your views and comments will really help us make our upcoming online seminars and events even more useful and relevant. Please let us know what you think. You can say as little or as much as you'd like.

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In our goal to continually improve the services we provide, we would like to get your insights on the second part of the online seminar on Commercialization & Promotion of Processing Potato Varieties Thru Rapid Multiplication Technique you attended. Your views and comments will really help us make our upcoming online seminars and events even more useful and relevant. Please let us know what you think. You can say as little or as much as you'd like.

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            The agro-climatic condition of a place is often associated with a particular fruit that is abundantly growing in that locality. For instance, the mere mention of the Cordilleras, with its highlands and cold weather, one of the first few things that immediately come into mind are strawberries and citrus.


            “Fruit production is presently one of the major sources of income in the Cordillera and strawberry and citrus are among the high-value fruit crops in the region,” affirmed Maritess A. Alimurung, researcher and project leader from the Bureau of Plant Industry-Baguio National Crop Research Development and Production Support Center (BPI-BNCRDPSC).


            Strawberries are mostly grown in Benguet and part of Baguio City and some farmers are now starting to grow in other municipalities of Benguet (Atok, Buguias, Kibungan, and Mankayan) and Mountain Province (Bauko and Sagada). Meanwhile, citrus with its wider cultivation, can be seen in the Cordillera and other regions in the country.


            “Varieties which are mostly National Seed Industry Council (NSIC)-registered are being mass propagated at BPI-BNCRDPSC and different growers are getting planting materials for rehabilitation and establishment of new citrus orchards both under backyard and commercial scale,” Alimurung said.


            Farmers are reaping the fruits of good income because of the favorable climate and established good cultural management practices but due to pest infestation coming, quality and volume of produced fruits are being compromised.


            “Infestation of different pests like mites, whiteflies, thrips, aphids, fruitflies and fruit bugs is presently a major problem on both strawberries and citrus. High infestation occurs during the dry months which are also the period of flowering and fruit development of both fruit crops,” Alimurung explained.


            Thus farmers resort to the use of synthetic pesticides because of high pest infestation especially during the flowering and fruit development stage. “With the present pest problem affecting strawberry and citrus production and the different factors contributing to the continuous or permanent infestation and severe damage of the pests, different strategies are needed for better management of the different pests. At present organic crop production is being promoted and practices to promote organic fruit production must be evaluated,” she added.


            With this premise, a team of researchers from BPI- BNCRDPSC conducted a project to identify effective pest management strategies for organic production of strawberry and citrus in the Cordillera. The initiative was funded and supported by the Bureau of Agricultural Research.


            Four studies were conducted to manage population and damage of white grubs of snoutbeetle (Metapocyrtus (Trachycyrtus) spp.) attacking both strawberry and citrus, two spotted mites (Tetranychus urticae Koch) on strawberry and citrus red mites (Panonychus citri). Effect of fungal biological control agents Metarrhizium anisopliae and Beauvaria bassiana, agricultural oil sprays, wood vinegar and botanical extracts were evaluated on mites. Beauveria and Metarrhizium isolates MA-RB and MA-RBB were founf more effective among the isolates tested.


            It was found that soil application of these fungi, one week before transplanting and follow-up application one month after transplanting, significantly reduced population and damage of white grubs that were feeding on the roots. Spraying of the fungus late in the afternoon using 300 to 400 g fungus grown in cracked corn mixed in 16 li water also reduced population of mites and application at early pest population are more effective.


            Spray oils, wood vinegar and plant extracts evaluated against two spotted mites on strawberry and red mites on citrus significantly reduced population and damage. Mineral oil at 1-1.5 percent rate of application, hot pepper and ginger extract at 30 to 40 ml per li water applied every 1-2 weeks were more effective. Application during late afternoon controlled build-up of mite’s population and resulted to lower degree of damage and higher marketable yield on strawberry and better growth of citrus seedlings.


            Evaluated products/practices that were considered compatible with organic production are now being promoted through developed IEC, during trainings on organic production in the region and also to individuals or groups who are availing of fruit planting materials at BPI-BNCRDPSC. Results of the project were also presented in different scientific conferences for wider technology dissemination and promotion. ### Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino



Contact details

Maritess Alimurung

Agriculturist/Project Leader

BPI-BNCRDPSC, Guisad, Baguio City

phone: (074) 445-9084, 445-9085 or 300-3584

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To help urban settlers start their own edible gardens at home, the University of Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) led by its chancellor, Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., turned over edible landscaping (EL) starter kits to the Department of Agriculture (DA), through Secretary William D. Dar, in Los Baños, Laguna on 18 September 2020.


The EL starter kit includes naturally-grown seeds, “how to plant” brochures, and sample edible landscape designs fit for urban setting such as pocket garden, balcony garden, community garden, and rooftop/container garden. The starter kit also features two QR codes found at the fan and the brochure. These codes contain scientific papers, feature articles, and the music video on edible landscaping.


“As the country transitions into the ‘new normal,’ it is important that we continue our joint efforts to ensure an adequate supply of affordable and nutritious food, and improve our food logistics and transportation systems,” Sec. Dar said.


“Edible landscaping will now form part of our household food security arsenal. While making your surroundings beautiful, with proper EL technologies, you are not only promoting aesthetics but also attaining household food security,” he added.


This turnover activity was made possible through the PhP 8-million project titled, “Edible Landscaping: Magtanim ng Gulay para sa Isang Masagana, Malusog, at Makulay na Buhay,” funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research under its Resiliency Response Research for Development program for the New Normal.


Under the said project, demo gardens will be set up at the central offices of DA, DA-BAR, and DA-Agricultural Training Institute to further promote EL in urban communities. The demo gardens will serve as a model for urban gardening technologies. More starter kits will also be distributed to different local government units and regional field offices of DA.


“We have been advocating this innovative technology for so many years already,” said UPLB Chancellor Sanchez, project leader.


UPLB, through its EL team, and DA-BAR have been working together to promote edible landscaping since 2009. Through this partnership, UPLB EL team has developed edible landscaping kits and presentation materials for adults and kids. They established numerous techno demo gardens and forged linkages with various institutions across the country. As of August 2020, more than 7,000 individuals across the country were trained on edible landscaping.


“It took a pandemic to shed a brighter light on this mature technology. Let us capitalize on this challenge as we turn it into an opportunity to further promote edible landscaping,” Secretary Dar called for action.


Edible landscaping combines various principles of landscape design with the existing technologies for small-scale crop production and maximizes the use of all available resources. Vegetables, fruits, medicinal plants, and herbs are planted instead of ornamentals. ### (UPLB press release/Rena S. Hermoso)