With the average palay (unmilled rice) yield in the Philippines now at 4 metric tons per hectare, farmers who are able to achieve way beyond that must know a thing or two that the average rice farmer does not. One of them is Dr. Dionisio Alvindia, a scientist at the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) who was recently appointed the agency’s officer-in-charge director.
Alvindia has been planting rice in a 25-hectare land in Nueva Ecija for more than a decade. He said among the major keys to increasing rice production is using of farm machines from land preparation to threshing to recover palay.
“I bought surplus Japanese farm machines and modified them for the rice farm,” Alvindia told The Manila Times. “I even welded the parts together with my own hands.”
The yield of the rice farm he tends is 8 MT/hectare or twice the national average.
Surprisingly, much of Alvindia’s work at PhilMech in recent years is not related to rice farming. To date, he has patents for two of his scientific findings: A variety of bacteria (Bacillus amyloliquefaciens), and fungi (Trichodermaharzianum), both of which can be used to control banana crown rot.
He has published three books, two for international circulation: Postharvest Diseases of Non-Chemical Bananas: Issues and Concerns and Non- Chemical Approaches of Managing Crown Rot Disease of Banana, published by Lambert Academic Publications in 2012 and 2013 respectively; and Fungal Diversity of Non-chemical banana and its environs in the Philippines: A Handbook for Taxonomists and Para-taxonomists published by PhilMech in 2011.
In the Philippines, Alvindia is one of just two with a rank of Scientist III and the only one to be recently promoted from Scientist I to his current rank. “If I get promoted to the next rank, I would be the only Scientist IV in the Philippines,” he added. The highest rank is Scientist V.
Alvindia said his heading PhilMech means he will be required to get out of the laboratory and interact with people in the organization and the Department of Agriculture (DA), and from the farming sector.
Also among the major programs PhilMech must continue supporting is the DA’s rice self-sufficiency program. Fortunately, his rice farming experience will be very valuable, Alvindia said.
He also believes that yields of rice farms can be increased through scientific interventions with mechanization being one of them.
“Definitely, we need scientific interventions to increase the yields of rice farms in the Philippines,” Alvindia added.