‘AlDub’ rice paddy art hopes to attract millennials to farming

‘AlDub’ rice paddy art hopes to attract millennials to farming
The rice paddy art, featuring the faces of the popular AlDub love team, aims to drum up young Filipinos' interest in farming and agriculture

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ lead agency on rice research is trying a new approach to attract young Filipinos to venture into rice farming: featuring the faces of popular celebrity loveteam Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza – better known as ‘AlDub’ – on rice paddies.

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) created its rice paddy art using purple rice, a traditional variety, and NSIC Rc360, an inbred variety.

To create the design, the institute’s FutureRice program used the anamorphosis principle, a technique used in 3D art where a picture looks distorted but appears normal when viewed from a certain angle.

“We used ‘AlDub’ as our design specimen for the paddy art and through Photoshop, we were able to incorporate the design in the dimension of the field,” said Nehemiah Caballong, FutureRice’s information and communications technology specialist.

“We adjusted the image to the vantage point of the viewing area. Then, we processed it into grids to determine where to plant the rice varieties on a certain coordinate in the field,” he added.

Featuring the faces of the AlDub pop culture phenomenon is just one of PhilRice’s strategies to entice millennials to go into agriculture, according to FutureRice program leader Roger Barroga.

According to a PhilRice study, the average age of Filipino farmers is 58. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala had earlier said that he wanted to make farming “sexy” again to young Filipinos to sustain the country’s food security.

“This is one of our strategies to make the youth of today be more informed about the current situation of rice farming in the country. There are many opportunities that await them in agriculture,” Barroga said.

The rice paddy art also aims to drum up interest in the 5-hectare FutureRice farm, which features clean energy facilities, drone technology and advanced farm machines, as well as an experimental field using hybrid, inbred, and traditional rice varieties.

Creative strategy 

The rice paddy art was launched on March 3, and since then, netizens have taken to social media to praise the creativity behind the new initiative.

Netizen Rui Dx said on Facebook, “This is now part of my bucket list – to plant rice! This project is exceptional. You just encouraged people like me to be more involved in rice planting.”

Another netizen, Kevin Delgado, wrote, “This is a good and creative project. I never knew planting rice can be that fun.”

23-year-old PhilRice researcher Xarin Sto Domingo also expressed hope that the rice paddy art will convince millennials that farming can be “cool and exciting.”

“I work in agriculture and I hope that more people from the youth sector will work for the Filipino farmers,” Sto Domingo said.

To complement this effort, PhilRice is also mobilizing young people to spread information about its programs in rice-farming communities through its Infomediary Campaign.

It is also offering a training program to update fresh graduates in agriculture on the latest technologies on rice production.

The AlDub-inspired rice paddy art will be available for viewing until harvest day on April 3. – Rappler.com

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