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Philippines, Cambodia boost cooperation on rice research, production

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Philippines and Cambodia have agreed to boost their cooperation on rice research and production following the visit to the Department of Agriculture last February 20 by officials of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Accompanied by officials of the Los Baños-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Cambodian Agriculture Secretary Dr. Ty Sokhun informed Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol that his country seeks Philippine cooperation in learning new rice growing technologies, particularly in the development of new seed varieties and knowledge exchange on rice farming.
Seventy percent of Cambodia’s rice lands are rain-fed while only 30% of their farmers use hybrid rice. While most Cambodian rice farmers could only plant once a year, Cambodia remains one of the major rice exporters in Asia, with the Philippines a major destination for its rice exports.
DA officials informed the Cambodian delegation that the Philippines under the Administration of President Rodrigo Duterte intends to ensure sufficient rice production to meet the growing demand of Filipino consumers.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Operations and National Deputy Director of Rice and Corn Program Frederico Laciste Jr. said the Philippines under the DA’s program aims to increase the annual yield per hectare of local rice farms by investing on hybrid rice propagation so that Philippine rice farmers could eventually produce sufficient rice for the country’s needs.
“The program envisions a competitive and climate-resilient rice industry that can provide the requirement of the country at any given time,” Laciste said.
Piñol told the Cambodian agriculture officials that he intends to visit Cambodia next September to explore agricultural joint ventures and to learn more about Cambodian rice farming technologies.
Dr. Sokhun was accompanied during his visit to Secretary Piñol by IRRI Development Specialist II and Chief of the Party Dr. Georgina Vergara, Cambodian General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) Director General Dr. Hean Vanhan, GDA Director of Department of Rice Crops Ngiren Chhay, and Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute Director Dr. Ouk Makara.
“Our Cambodian friends here produce rice that is highly aromatic and uses quality rice varieties,” Dr. Vergara informed Secretary Piñol.
Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) OIC-director Vivencio Mamaril informed the Cambodian delegation that the Philippines implements a rigid seed registration and seed certification system.
“By law, seed certification is not mandatory,” Mamaril told the Cambodian officials.
But he stressed that “in the Philippines, the government can only procure seeds that are certified.”
“However, a variety cannot be certified if it wasn’t registered in the National Seeds Industry Council,” Mamaril said.
The Cambodian delegates will visit the facilities of BPI – National Seed Quality Control Services (NSQCS) and PhilRice. They will also visit IRRI headquarters in Laguna to know more on pest management and crop management.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.