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PhilRice Bicol breaks ground for new lab, training building

LIGAO CITY—Expanding its facilities for rice research, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) Bicol Station held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new laboratory and training building with lodging facilities yesterday, June 9, at Batang here.

The ceremonial groundbreaking was led by ASec Edilberto De Luna, Dr. Reynaldo Castro, Ligao City Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua and former Mayor Linda P. Gonzalez with representatives from Bicol University Research Center, Department of Agriculture, agriculturists, researchers, and local officials.
The ceremonial groundbreaking were led by PhilRice OIC-Executive Director ASec Edilberto M. De Luna, Ligao City Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua, former Ligao City Mayor Linda P. Gonzalez, PhilRice Bicol Branch Manager Dr. Reynaldo Castro, and representatives from Bicol University Research Center, Department of Agriculture, local officials, and agriculturists.

The project costs P 10.9M and is expected to be completed on November 27, 2015.

“This facility will not only showcase research activity but this will focus more on the production of seeds to cater to the needs of our farmers and seed growers in the region,” said ASec De Luna.

The production of rice in the Philippines has significantly increased over the years due to proper use of technologies and new varieties of rice, despite limited area for agriculture, according to De Luna.

The ceremony also gathered stakeholders in the agricultural sector including agriculturists, researchers, extension workers, and policymakers. ASec De Luna saw this as an opportunity to draft a rice research agenda.

Aside from research facilities, former Mayor Gonzalez also envisions the establishment of rice museum where different rice varieties and technologies developed by the institute will be displayed, and eventually become a tourist destination. This will encourage the youth and families not to leave farming.

PhilRice Bicol is also something that Congressman Fernando V. Gonzalez has dreamed of, said former Mayor Gonzalez. Because rice is next to coconut as top agricultural crop produced in Ligao, they are prioritizing agricultural programs that will enhance farming activities in the local areas.

“The station represents a good part of the population, the farming sector, of the Bicol region,” said former Mayor Gonzalez.

Congressman Gonzalez and former Mayor Gonzalez were named as the Father and Mother of PhilRice Bicol due to their painstaking efforts to establish a branch in Ligao City.

Ligao has always proved to be the rightful place for the institute, ASec De Luna acknowledged.
There is good collaboration among researchers, agriculturists, LGUs, along with strong support from the City Government of Ligao.

“We are one with PhilRice with this vision,” said Ligao City Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua while stating her commitment to support the institute. (By Lala Peñafiel)

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