Covering 57 hectares across three regional sites in Iloilo, Aurora and Southern Leyte, the demo plots were established as a core component of Better Rice Initiative ASIA (BRIA) in the Philippines training curriculum for extension intermediaries and smallholder farmers.
The demo plots served as learning sites to contextualize lessons in the training of trainers (ToT) and farmer field schools (FFS) with field-based examples. This has allowed farmers to test and validate what they have learned from trainings in real field conditions.
With this experience, it is easier to convince farmers to test rice-based technologies on their own farms. The demo plots were implemented during the 2016- 2017 wet season and consisted of 0.5 hectares each.
One plot group showcased farmers’ practices where they applied their usual practices with no intervention. To provide comparison, the BRIA plot group applied cost-efficient technologies, hybrid rice, and best practices in rice cultivation. Promoting cost-efficient technologies and sustainable practices aligns with the government’s effort to help farmers boost farm yield and income. The government has spearheaded a campaign encouraging farmers to plant hybrid rice, which is part of a national goal to achieve food sufficiency by 2020.
Comparing plots, farmers generally witnessed higher yield from the BRIA plots with a yield margin of 0.13-1.4 ton/ha. The yield increase was achieved by using high quality seeds, a pragmatic pest management approach, better crop nutrition, and the PalayCheck System.
A PhilRice study showed the use of high quality seeds contributed to roughly 10-15 percent yield increase. To achieve higher income, cost-efficient technologies and sustainable crop management practices must be implemented.
In the farmers’ plots, participants spent twice as much money as necessary to adopt the recommended seeding rate. Instead of 20 kg/ha for inbred rice, farmer participants used the traditional seeding rate of 40 kg/ha. In this case, farmers already lost a considerable amount of money which could have been used for other farm expenses.
BRIA in the Philippines has worked to narrow this knowledge gap through trainings with extension intermediaries and farmers. The trainings apply a comprehensive manual on the rice value chain continuum to capacitate farmers to view farming as a business. Specifically, farmers are taught how to make sound business decisions, increase profits, keep records, budget and conserve money.
BRIA implements activities in four countries, namely Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam. Its object is to promote sustainable rice production, strengthen value chains, raise incomes of rice farmers, develop capacity, and contribute to improved nutrition of the population.
BRIA is a sister project of ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems
Story and photos courtesy of Better Rice Initiative ASIA