RCM implementers pose for a photo opportunity along with RCM Project Head, Ms. Sarah Beebout (1st row, 4th from R), and Dr. Roland J. Buresh, Principal Scientist from IRRI (top)
With its goal of enhancing extension services through information and communications technology (ICT), the Rice Crop Manager (RCM) implementers once again convened for the National Updating and Planning Workshop.
Atty. Cipriano G. Santiago, Regional Director, expressed his gratitude to International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for choosing MiMaRoPa as the host region. He said that the different programs such as the RCM, Philippine Rice Information System and Management (PRISM), and other programs which aim to achieve a food self-sufficiency are sometimes being overloaded so it must be consolidated and packaged as one national program for better implementation in rice program. He also challenged all the participants to be supportive in all the programs implemented by the department.
Ms. Sarah Beebout, Senior Scientist I from IRRI, presented the common trends and exceptions in regional implementation based on the report from January 2017 and the updates submitted last April. She recognized top regions for performing well like region 3 for generating 7,749 recommendations and for having an improvement of 5.9 times more registered fields than last year; region CAR with an improved dissemination of 3.02 times more than last year; region 6 for monitoring 830 farmers; region 13 for increasing their farmers monitored 55.9 times more than last year; and region 2 for having 806 verified field.
The participants also raised advantages and constraints of hiring an enumerators or “pakyawan”. Hiring them will increase manpower and they can also demand to attain they targets per province but there are some instances that they cannot guarantee the quality of work or data given by the enumerators. Therefore, they need to undergo technical briefing and hands-on activity before deploying them in the field.
The IRRI presented the RCM Companion App, an alternative to browser-based RCMPh, in order to resolve the major problem which is the internet connection. This is a mobile application that needs a smart cellular sim card and android phone version 4.1 and above to generate recommendations offline. This will not also work without load or if not registered in any smart promo. It will be pilot tested in regions 3, 6, 9, 10 and 12 this year.
Since internet connectivity is the major constraints in the RCM project, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) headed by their director, Ms. Ma. Teresa M. Camba, pledged a free wifi on selected municipalities that will be identified by each region. This is part of their Technology Empowerment for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurs, and Economic Development (Tech4ED) project that aims to establish ICT centers and provides affordable free-of-charge access on the internet to deliver ICT services especially to the unserved and underserved communities.
The DICT will establish Tech4ED centers in the Farmers’ Information and Technology Service (FITS) centers nationwide and it will be part of the wifi project. Moreover, areas that are part of the FITS hosting the farmers IT service centers will be included.
“…the problem on the internet already has a solution. The DICT will work together with DA to make this happen to bring connectivity to farmers especially in rural areas. Users will not have difficulty in accessing the RCM Application”, she said.
Undersecretary for Operation, Ariel T. Cayanan, said that what you’ve take is what you actually act and what you’ve act becomes a part of your habit and those habit becomes your practice. “…ang challenge po dito ay hindi kung papaano natin ipakita na itanim, gamitin ang sistema o gamitin ang programa kundi kung papano natin itatanim sa kanilang mga isip”, he added. Inculcating the technologies to the farmers is really a big challenge to the implementers.
They were also divided into two (2) groups for the break-out session. The RCM dissemination and training group particularly discussed the training needs/gaps based on the classification of extension agents and revisited the targets for RCM dissemination and plans for Regional TOT’s for 2017. The group also had a hands-on activity on RCM Companion Application.
While the RCM research group tackled the updates in setting-up the Precision Rice Farming (PRF) research by Regional Field Office (RFO) partners, finalized the additional information to collect from PRF, and revisited the collection of barangay-level information to improve the RCM recommendation. The results of the activity will be a basis for future improvements of the RCM project.
This national activity was attended by 85 RCM implementers from IRRI, DA’s National Rice Programs, RFOs, Agricultural Training Institute and Bureau of Agricultural Research. It was held at Hotel Centro, Puerto Princesa City from April 18 to 21, 2017. (Bernadeth Z. Respicio, DA-RAFIS MIMAROPA)