Some says that rice farming nowadays is expensive. But do you know that farmers can actually get more yields from rice without spending so much? This is what has been experienced by rice farmers in Silago, Southern Leyte who adopted the package of technology introduced by a team of researchers from the Visayas State University.
The farmers' story of successful technology adoption started in 2014 when a project on the Diffusion of the VSU Practices in Lowland Rice Production to Interested Rice Farmers of Region 8 was implemented by a team of researchers from the Department of Agronomy. The project was funded by VSU, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The project team includes Dr. Alfredo B. Escasinas (team leader), Prof. Ed Allan L. Alcober, and Dr. Ruth O. Escasinas. The project aims to increase rice yield by introducing localized technologies suitable to the existing farming conditions and to increase farmers' income by eliminating some expensive management practices without negatively affecting grain yield.
The team first implemented the project in the following communities of Silago, Southern Leyte: Barangays Hingatungan, Katipunan, Patik Puntana, and Lagoma. The rice production practices introduced by the VSU team include minimum tillage (no plowing and harrowing), use of botanical pesticides instead of chemical pesticides, natural control of Tungro, use of mallard ducks to control golden snail, control of rats in the ricefield, and many other environment – friendly cultural management practices that increase grain yield. The extension activities conducted by the VSU team to introduce the technologies include establishment of demonstration areas at the farmer's field using the farmer's land and inputs, lectures about the nature and application of the technologies, and conduct of trainings for the actual application of the technologies.
Panciano Hadlocon, one of the farmers who adopted the recommended practices said, Kuntento na kaayo ko sa akong ani sa una, pero paggamit nako sa gitudlo nila ni sir Fred namo dinhi, dako jud kaayo ang kausaban sa akong ani. Halos gidoble gud ang akong ani sa una sa ani nako karon. Usa pa, di na ko mabalaka nga ang ani sa akong humayan mao ang akong ipakaon sa akong pamilya kay nakasiguro man ko nga luwas ni kay wa man ko naggamit og kemikal. (“I was already contented with the yield of my rice farm before, but when I adopted the rice farming practices introduced to us by Sir Fred, I noticed a great difference in my rice yield. My harvest nearly doubled compared to my harvest before. One more thing, I am not anymore afraid to feed my family with my rice harvest because I didn't use chemicals.)
Another farmer−adopter, Silverio Davo, narrated, Sukad nga nisunod ko ani nga mga pamaagi sa pagpananom og humay, dako jud kaayo ko og natigom. Ngano? Kay wa na man koy daghang gasto sa pagsuhol sa trabahuon kay di na man sya hasol. Unya naibanan pa ang akong gasto para sa spray kay mas barato man ang botanical kumpara sa kemikal nga pestisidyo. (Since I started using the recommended practices, I have saved a lot of money. Why? It's because I don't spend much for labor [inland preparation] because this farming practice requires only minimum tillage. Also, I spent lesser for [pesticide] spray because botanicals are cheaper than chemical pesticides.)
A lady farmer named Celestina Escobal also shared her positive perception about the recommended rice production practices. She said, Ang maayo jud ani nga pamaagi kay dili sya makadaot sa tawo ug sa palibot kay safe man ang botanical kay organic man na siya. (What is good with the recommended practice is that it is safe to humans and the environment because botanical pesticides are organic.)
Despite the positive experiences of some farmers, there are still many who have not adopted the VSU−introduced rice production practices. In fact, according to Manong Panciano, the total number of the farmers who adopted the recommended practices does not even reach fifty (50) percent of the total number of rice farmers in Silago. This, however, has not discouraged the VSU researchers. Instead, they take it as a challenge that they will continue to face. Good results of their extension efforts are already evident, and to them, it is already encouragement enough to continue what they are doing.