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Climate-friendly rice growing method yields more

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Climate-friendly rice growing method yields more

/ 12:09 AM January 06, 2016

LA UNION farmer Federico Rullamas has a lot to smile about.

His second season crop of high-value organic red rice not only fetched him a very good price in the market, his yield of 170 cavans per hectare also won him the “Highest Yielder for Naturally Grown Organic Rice Farming” award in 2015.

Rullamas used a new method of growing rice called the system of rice intensification (SRI), which involves a simple set of rice management practices that farmers can easily learn in one season. He also supplemented SRI with composted chicken manure plus home-made organic sprays which he learned from SRI Pilipinas trainer Venancio Garde Jr.

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Garde calls his original formulation the “soil nutrient enhancer” but adds that this is no secret and that it can be learned for free via text to SRI Pilipinas Hotline (0939-1178999).

Rullamas learned the new method from training that was jointly sponsored by the local government of Aringay, La Union, and SRI Pilipinas. Through the efforts of agriculture committee chair Ramsey Mangaoang and the full support of town Mayor Eric Sibuma and Vice Mayor Charlie Juloya, the Aringay Sangguaniang Bayan has allotted P300,000 yearly for the conduct of SRI training among Aringay’s rice farmers every planting season. More than 100 Aringay farmers graduated from the training last November.

Following the method, Rullamas planted very young 12-day old rice seedlings singly, at a distance of 12 inches (30 cm). He practiced alternate wetting-and-drying and used a mechanical weeder to control weeds.

For his efforts, Rullamas was rewarded amply. He got an average of 26 tillers per plant (more than double the typical number) and 41 cavans from his 2,400-square meter field—an impressive yield of about 8.5 tons or 170 cavans per hectare, compared to the national average of about 80 cavans.

Rullamas’ growing method is considered very climate-friendly, because it minimizes carbon dioxide emissions by avoiding fossil-based chemical fertilizers and reduces methane emission by drying the rice field regularly.

SRI is also considered climate-resilient, because the resulting rice plants are also sturdier, deeper-rooted, and therefore less vulnerable to droughts, floods and high winds.

For farmers like 47-year-old Rullamas who are threatened with increasingly more extreme weather events due to climate change, that is a lot of benefit, considering that the method is also less costly than its conventional counterpart.

(For details, contact Mr. Mangaoang at 0920-8788979 or Roberto Verzola, 0917-8117747)

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