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PhilRice Bicol targets P1M profit per hectare per year

Despite being one of the top producers of rice in the world, targeting rice self-sufficiency remains a challenge in the Philippines. To address this concern, the Philippine Rice Research Institute is continuously developing programs and technologies that will improve rice farming in the country.


One of the recently developed projects is the Integrated Rice-based Agri-Bio Systems (IRBAS). This 2014, the project is set to be tested in all branches of PhilRice including the Bicol station situated at Batang, Ligao City.

IRBAS aims to target rice self-sufficiency by increasing the production of rice and other crops with high market value. The project will implement the diversification of crop production, explore the potential of rice-based products, and venture in on mushroom production and vermicomposting.

The project also aims to achieve a target profit of P1M per hectare per year which will be derived from the three components of IRBAS: rice-peanut production, mushroom production, and vermicomposting.

Rice-peanut production

Rice is established in two cropping season each year (wet and dry) in most of the irrigated rice fields in most of the local farming communities. For each year, instead of producing only rice, PhilRice will be diversifying the cropping system by planting peanuts in between the cropping seasons. This will be referred as Rice-peanut-rice production.

Agricultural Engineer and IRBAS focal person Melanie Aileen de Peralta said that PhilRice initially planned to use mungbean instead of peanut. However, their studies reveal that peanut has higher market value, is easily produced, and has more by-products compared to mungbean.

Peanut is usually sold by street vendors as fried, steamed, and sugar-coated. Peanut is one the most affordable finger food snacks in the Philippines and very appealing to the taste of many people. Peanut butter, a by-product of peanut, is also widely-used for cooking pastries, viands, desserts, and most often for sandwiches.

Mushroom production

Another component of the IRBAS project is mushroom production. PhilRice Bicol is now starting its mushroom culture at the station using the Kurakding, a local variety of edible mushroom. Kurakding is suitable to produce due to the environmental condition of Ligao that is favorable to its growth. There is also a potential for a wider mushroom production in the local area according to de Peralta as there is high demand of edible mushroom in Metro Manila but very little supply.

The Kurakding is also popular to local residents as it is used for preparing vegetable dishes with coconut milk and makes Bicol express more special and flavorful.

PhilRice will be using rice straws as substrate for growing Kurakding. This will avoid wastage and burning of rice straws which will also reduce the production expenses.

Vermicomposting


The third component of the IRBAS project involves the production of “organic fertilizer from biodegradable materials (e.g. plant residues and animal manure) through the action of earthworms”1. This is referred as vermicomposting.



Similar to the mushroom production, rice straw and food wastes such as vegetable peels will be used as substrate for the vermicomposting. The vermicompost or the fertilizer produced from vermicomposting can be used to fertilize agricultural lands or can be sold in the market as added income.

The income that will be generated from the three components will determine the success of the project, which is to achieve the target profit of P1M.

The IRBAS project, implemented as a business, is being carried out initially at the station as PhilRice Bicol is in the process of developing a model farm. Dr. Reynaldo Castro, branch manager of PhilRice Bicol, said that they are using the nucleus-estate strategy (NUESTRA)2 in which projects technologies developed are tested at the station and will be implemented in the nearby farming communities upon successful testing. The strategy can also be seen as a ripple effect in which the projects are implemented starting at the center (PhilRice branch) towards the surrounding communities.


The IRBAS is expected to end on April 2015. According to de Peralta, additional components that involve raising ducks, cows, and other farm animals will be included in the succeeding years of the project implementation.--by Lala Peñafiel/Albay 3rd District

References:
1 Intensified Rice-based Agri-Bio Systems (IRBAS) Project Protocol. Philippine Rice Research Institute.
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2 More information about NUESTRA on PhilRice magazine, Ripples of Change.
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