• Smartphone application helps rice farmers

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    A new smartphone application is now available to local rice farmers to help them decide how to manage their crops better, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said.

    Dr. Manny Regalado, acting deputy director for research at PhilRice, said that the new application, dubbed as “Rice Crop Manager” would allow extension officers of the Department of Agriculture to give farmers a specific recommendation on nutrient, pest, weed, or water management—depending on the specific variety they use, their yield from the previous season, and the site-specific conditions of their field.

    “The use of the Rice Crop Manager will hopefully bring an increase in yield or productivity, and also raise the income of farmers by about P4,000 per crop per hectare,” Regalado said.

    Through improved crop and nutrient management, Rice Crop Manager aims to add 300 kilograms of palay (unmilled rice) to each crop per season, per hectare.

    Moreover, the additional production for the country would amount to an extra 20,000 metric tons of milled rice for each 100,000 hectares of rice cultivation per season.

    “Using Rice Crop Manager, extension workers, who bring technical know-how and technologies to farmers through the Food Staples Sufficiency Program, will be empowered to provide farmers intelligent recommendations based on technical data on rice crop management,” Regalado said.

    PhilRice recently launched the application and can be accessed for free at www.webapps.irri.org/ph/rcm. It can also be downloaded for free as an app named “RCM PH” via the Google play store.

    At present, the application is being field-tested in two municipalities in each of five provinces in the Philippines: Echague and Cauayan in Isabela; Muñoz and Talugtug in Nueva Ecija; Catubig and Las Navas in Northern Samar; Buenavista and Jabonga in Agusan del Norte; and Calapan and Naujan in Oriental Mindoro.

    In each municipality, 20 farmers are receiving recommendations via the application.

    Julian Lapitan, head of Part-nerships and the Philippine Desk at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said that Rice Crop Manager builds on the success of its predecessor Nutrient Manager for Rice, which was only focused on nutrient management advice.

    Lapitan added that IRRI fully supports the provision of relevant technologies and decision support tools, like RCM, that improve farm production and help the Philippines in its goal to be rice self-sufficient.

    Rice Crop Manager was developed by IRRI in collaboration with PhilRice.

    With the help of an extension officer, the new smartphone application provides advice after a farmer answers a series of questions. Then it allows an extension officer to save, print, or send the recommendations to the farmer’s phone by email or SMS.

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