THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture’s Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said it will bring its agroenterprise development program to more than 3,000 new farmers to promote higher-value products like special varieties of rice and byproducts.

The Rice Business Innovation Systems (RiceBIS) program lead, Aurora C. Corales, said Phase II involves partnerships with farmer organizations in eight new locations.

The program has eight current sites. Each new site hopes to engage at least 400 farmers. The 21 farmer organizations currently involved in the program produce mushrooms, brown rice, special rice, and rice brew.

Participating farmers receive training in production, processing, organization building and management, and agripreneurship.

“Producing rice is more profitable with (a) guaranteed market. In RiceBIS, we encourage farmers to engage themselves in profitable rice and rice-based enterprises by teaching them how to market their products in groups and how to develop enterprises and add value to their products,” Ms. Corales said.

Farmers who joined RiceBIS have reported increased yields of 1.24 tons per hectare (t/ha) during the dry season. The average postharvest losses were also cut by 14.81% during the 2019 wet season.

The program targets to increase yields by 1t/ha in irrigated areas and 0.5t/ha in rain-fed areas.

Participants are also introduced to combine harvesters which reduce farm production costs by 30% and limit postharvest losses by 12%.

RiceBIS also involves the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), DA regional offices, and local government units. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave