RAINFED AGRICULTURE: Needs To Be Prioritized

The country’s susceptibility to frequent rains can be channeled to the benefit of the agriculture sector through dryland farming, according to a House Leader.

Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA Party-list authored House Bill 6330 or the Philippine Rainfed Agriculture Institute Act which seeks to improve the livelihood of resource-poor rainfed communities and empower them to cope with drought, global warming, rising food prices, land degradation and other risks arising from environmental and climate change.

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A RAINFED RICE FIELD

 

Rainfed agriculture or dryland farming refers to the cultivation of crops without irrigation, utilizing mainly water that comes from precipitation stored in unsaturated soil.

“We can turn our weakness into strength if we put more focus on the research and development of rainfed agriculture. Given that a considerable size of the country’s agricultural land relies heavily on rainfed agriculture, we must now give priority to its policy framework,” Deputy Speaker Garin said.

According to the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), only 12.5 percent (1.626 million hectares) of the country’s agricultural area is irrigated, while an estimated 75 percent of cultivated agricultural lands in the Philippine is dependent on rainfed agriculture.

The bill seeks to establish the Philippine Rainfed Agriculture Institute (PhilRAI) and promote the development of a robust and innovative farmer-centered, need-based national Rainfed Agriculture research for development. It also calls for the creation of the Strategic Framework of PhilRAI which will serve as the basis for developing programs for Rainfed Agriculture and as an action plan for research, development, extension, and monitoring activities.

 

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Harvesting organic rice in a rainfed  field in Iloilo.

The Framework shall espouse the following components: building climate resilient communities, resilient farming systems innovation, integrated natural resources management; database development and management, capacity building, advocacy information and dissemination, monitoring and evaluation.

Another salient component of the framework is the proposed gender mainstreaming and development which will enable all capable farmers, including women, to actively participate in the development of rainfed agriculture.

“Five million families are dependent on rainfed agriculture. It is time to tap new productivity-enhancing technologies, put it on top of our legislative priorities, and learn more about how it directly affects food-security,” Deputy Speaker Garin added.

 

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High-value vegetable in rainfed field.

While supportive of using new technologies in agricultural development, Deputy Speaker Garin also urged to take into consideration the useful elements of traditional systems to help small farmers adapt to the changing agricultural landscape of the country.

The bill has been pending with the Committee on Agriculture and Food since September 2017. (Press Release)

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