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PH rice farmers use SMS service to improve yield

Adrian Jimenea
The top queries that the service receives are on seed quality and varietal information, pest management, seed availability, and nutrient management

MANILA, Philippines – Local rice farmers have been actively using the short message service (SMS) or texting for the past few months to improve the process of planting and yielding crops, according to the PhilRice Text Center (PTC).

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PRRI) stated that in the first quarter of 2016, PTC recorded a nationwide increase of 47.3% of users who registered for the service. The number of users for 2016 increased to 27,833 from the 18,924 client registration in March 2015. 

Last year, PTC received an average of 240 messages per day. Messages included daily consultations from farmers, students, researchers alike. The SMS service also provided monthly rice tips, weather advisories, promotions, and announcements.

For instance, PTC gives information on rice varieties such as yield, maturity period, and reaction to pests to clients who text “Rc222”.

The top queries that the service received are on seed quality and varietal information, pest management, seed availability, and nutrient management.

The provinces of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, and Isabela registered the highest number of clients. The list also included Agusan Del Norte, Oriental Mindoro, Northern Samar, and Leyte.

Agriculturist and PTC main agent Fredrierick Saludez said that the service gives farmers “informed decision in their farming practices.” PTC considered the increases in registration as a milestone for the agency.

“We regularly receive positive feedback and it overwhelms us,” Saludez added. 

The Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (OPAPA) initialized the PTC in 2004 due to the prevalence and costs of text messaging in the country. More than that, it also served as a way to “complement the existing agricultural extension services and link farmers to experts and inform them of the new rice production technologies.”

Myriam Layaoen, head of the PhilRice Development Communication Division encouraged other parties in the agriculture industry are also encouraged to continue promoting PTC to “make rice information more accessible to farmers especially those who have little or no access to these information.”

At present, PTC looks into partnering with national telecommunications companies to upgrade their system.

Layaoen revealed that they are now “exploring the possibility of partnering with TelCos to provide us with technical advice on system upgrades and eventually help us reach their client base through mass text messaging.”

To register to the services of PTC, just type REG <space> NAME <space> LOCATION <space> OCCUPATION and send to 0920-911-1398.  

Philippines is an agricultural country rich with vast fertile lands. However, the sector remains lagging in terms of growth and production. Worse, farmers are among the country’s most vulnerable to hunger. – Rappler.com