March 11, 2007

Sosimo Ma. Pablico

PhilRice to receive another grant-in-aid from Japan

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) expects to receive another grant-in-aid from the government of Japan, as the Philippine Investment Coordination Committee and the Cabinet committee chaired by Secretary Margarito B. Teves have already approved the agency’s proposal calling for the improvement of the research and development facilities in its seven R&D centers, which are distributed throughout the country.

All that is needed is a confirmation of the PhilRice proposal by the NEDA [National Economic and Development Authority] board before the Philippine government endorses it to the government of Japan for consideration under its general grant-aid program.

The construction of PhilRice research buildings and the improvement of its central experiment station into a world-class facility as well as the provision of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and facilities during the time of the first executive director, Dr. Santiago R. Obien, were made possible through a grant-in-aid from Japan.

Since 1991 the Japanese government, through JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency], has been also continuously providing financial and technical support to PhilRice by way of technical cooperation projects.

PhilRice executive director Dr. Leocadio S. Sebastian said the new grant-in-aid project aims to strengthen the R&D capabilities of PhilRice R&D centers in developing and promoting location-specific technologies in strategic areas in the Philippines. This will enable the agency to address more effectively the goals of improving rice productivity to increase farmers’ income and boost national rice production, as well as reduce poverty in the rural areas.

The seven R&D centers to be covered by the project are those in the following locations: Batac, Ilocos Norte; Murcia, Negros Occidental; Midsayap, North Cotabato; Los Baños, Laguna; RTR, Agusan del Norte; Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija; and San Mateo, Isabela.

The project is expected to be supported with a budget of 600 million from the government of Japan and a Philippine counterpart of 118 million covering taxes and duties, banking fees, and operation and maintenance costs.

The grant-in-aid from Japan will enable the construction of facilities such as farm operations and mechanization, crop service and office/laboratory buildings, seed storage, and the provision of laboratory and farm equipment.

Dr. Sebastian said the proposed facilities will support the implementation of two on-going technical cooperation projects [TCP] between JICA [Japan International Cooperation Agency] and PhilRice as follows: TCP 3 – Development and Promotion of Location-Specific Integrated High-Yielding Rice and Rice-Based Technologies; and TCP 4 – Rice-Based Farming Systems Training and Support Program for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. TCP 3 is being implemented in Nueva Ecija, Ilocos and Agusan provinces.

He added that the PhilRice R&D centers, which are located in major rice-growing zones, focus on particular areas to address specific problems in each region. For instance, hybrid rice is the focus of PhilRice San Mateo, rice-based farming systems for PhilRice Batac, food science and grain quality for PhilRice Los Baños, pest management for PhilRice Midsayap, nutrient management for PhilRice Agusan, and direct seeding for PhilRice Negros.

“These stations develop or modify technologies to suit the needs and preferences of farmers and serve as satellite centers in promoting technologies and in getting feedback from the rice industry stakeholders, particularly the farmers and extension workers of local government units,” Dr. Sebastian said.

“With the new grant-in-aid project, these R&D centers will be able to respond more effectively and carry out their role more efficiently,” he said.

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Copyright 2006 Ilocos Times. All rights reserved.

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