PHILIPPINES-ECONOMY-COMMODITIES-RICEAccording to the latest news posted on the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) website  it has been revealed that Philippine rice farmers can now increase their paddy yields with the new developed  SMS technology  which  will be aligned with the ‘Rice Crop Manager (RCM)’ tool. As per report, two years back, the IRRI devised the RCM decision tool, in which to use mobile devices and computers were recommended to rice farmers, to help them to increase their yields. The RCM tool was funded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) through its Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP). According to the DA research, rice farmers in Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Oriental Mindoro, and Agusan del Norte increased their average yield by 300 kilograms and average net income by about PHP 4,000 (around $85) per crop per hectare.

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Further, now, in a latest development, the DA and the IRRI have added text messaging facility to the RCM tool to provide site-specific advice to farmers in addition to the web-based application. However, since only 20% of the farmers who are registered in RCM are using mobile technology, the remaining are unable to receive text messages sent from the RCM through the DA-Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). Therefore, SMART Communications signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the DA-ATI and the IRRI to provide low-cost mobile package to farmers, with special call and SMS rates to the DA-ATI’s hotline center and Farmers’ Contact Center (FCC), among others, whom farmers can contact for their agriculture related concerns, according to the sources.

In this regard, to begin with, SMART and DA-ATI distributed mobile phones with preloaded SIM cards to small scale farmers in La Paz, Tarlac. It is one of the  welcome opportunity for a public-private partnership to reach more farmers with science-based information and to help them for better management of  their crop,  to increase their income, as well as to  improve their lives, as it was emphasized by  an IRRI scientist.