Agency seeks bigger budget for rice R&D
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is seeking a bigger budget for rice research and development, citing studies showing that the country’s R&D spending has been lower than those of neighboring countries.
PhilRice noted that based on the 2009 World Competitiveness Yearbook, the Philippines allocated only 0.12 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to R&D.
In comparison, Malaysia and Thailand allocated 0.64 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, of their GDP.
“Increasing budget for rice R&D means not just improved rice production, but also better livelihood outcomes for Filipino farmers,” PhilRice Executive Director Eufemio T. Rasco Jr. said in a statement.
According to the Washington DC-based International Food Policy Research Institute and the Bangkok-based Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions, Philippine spending on R&D increased by only 3 percent to $133 million in 2008 from $129 million in 1996.
Over the same period, R&D spending in Vietnam—from where the Philippines is now sourcing a big chunk of its rice imports—rocketed by 270 percent to $86 million from $23 million.
PhilRice, citing data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noted the impact of increased public spending on R&D on rice productivity.
In Vietnam, rice yield dramatically went up to 4.89 tons a hectare in 2008 from 3.77 tons/ha in 1996.
PhilRice said that a 2007 external review conducted to assess the impact of the agency’s activities showed a 75-percent net return on investment.
This means that farmers have benefited from the cost-reducing and yield-enhancing technologies developed by PhilRice.
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