A farmer-led research of Rice seeds and multiple benefits

(This was published in the Bi-annual Publication of the Northern Mindanao Consortium for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development - Vol. 31 No. 34 - ISSN 0116-4023 - January-June 2006)


A farmer is also a researcher. This is what Mr.Rogelio S. Aro firmly believes in after being one for forty years. According to him “Farmers are the best people to select and breed plants because of their extensive experience in the field...there is no need for well-educated scientists and sophisticated laboratories to help in testing plant breeds, (we can learn to be) not dependent on outside source."

To further stress his point, Aro has successfully conducted a cross-breeding experiment of MASIPAG Rice lines that was presented to the Northern Mindanao Consortium on Agricultural Research and Development (NOMCARRD) Symposium last August of 2004.

The seed study

Every farmer knows that the seed supply is the most important resource in the production of rice. By ensuring a good supply of seeds, a farmer is almost halfway in his task. Therefore, seed supply needs to increase, not only in number but more so in quality.

To address this concern, Aro conducted a study to know the result of different MASIPAG rice lines cross with other MASIPAG rice lines. Furthermore, the study also aims to meet the needs of the small farmers, so as not to be dependent on local markets by purchasing inputs like: seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. This will also help in knowing the importance of the on-farm plant breeding by testing and selecting produced lines that suit the climate, soil and management of the farmer within the farm and consumers acceptability.

The plant breeding experimentation was conducted at Buyog, Banlag, Valencia City last 2002. It was conducted on farm and not in the warehouse or laboratory to adapt to the natural climatic condition of the field. The identification of the parent lines are based on the performance of the agronomic traits that are: synchronization of flowering stage, grain size, number of tillers, plant height, tolerance to pest and diseases. There were two cross breeds named after the researcher, Rofelio Aro Buyog (RAB). RAB 01 is a product between Mamintana (male) cross with Dalagang Bukid (female). Meanwhile, RAB 02 is a cross between MASIPAG 09 (male) cross with Dalagang Bukid (female).

When 50% of the flowering stem of the parent line appeared, it is then the indication that it is ready for breeding. The pollen part of the male plant is snipped off and sprinkled on the female plant. A glassine bag is used to cover the plant for protection from damage or failure on the breeding process. The plant is observed for 10 days, after which the bag is removed from the bred line and is observed for another 1 month until it is ready for harvest.

Success in a seed

The study successfully concluded with the stability of the newly produced seeds RAB 01 and RAB 02, as observed, of the 3rd and 4th Generation. RAB 01’s 1st seed is the 1st generation, this was later planted as 2nd generation and harvested a total of 150 grams. From this, the 3rd generation of 150 grams was planted again and produced a total of 15 kilos. On the 4th generation a total of 30 sacks was harvested from 15 kilos of seeds planted in 2500 sq meters or .25 hectares. Throughout the 5th and 7th generation a constant of 40 sacks has been planted in 2500 sq meters.

The adapted inherent characteristics of RAB 01 from the female parent plant is its being aromatic and with long grains. Inherited from the male parent plant is its being tolerant to the occurrence of pest and diseases. From both parent lines it results to more tiller number per hill (average of 35) and the average number of grains per panicle is around 290-300.

On the other hand, RAB 02’s 2nd generation harvested 50 grams while the 3rd generation harvested 1 can. Mr. Joel Tajunio, one of the SA farmer practitioners from Mabuhay, Valencia released RAB 02 seeds to Bukidnon Masipag Farmers (BMFMC), Tongantongan Organic Farmers Society on Sustainable Agriculture (TOFSSA) and Sustainable Agricultural Center for trial purposes. Each of the group until now is continuously planting RAB 02 for distribution purposes to each farmer member.

The adapted inherent characteristics of RAB 02 from the female parent plant is its plant height (95-100cm), its being tolerant to lodging and early maturity lines which can be harvested at 100-110 days only. The size of the grain dominantly comes from the female but its being a red grain when milled is from the male parent plant. The adapted inherent characteristics from both parents are in the number of tiller per hill (average 35), 280-290 grains per panicle and being aromatic.

The power of the farmer

The success of this study stemmed from the belief of and on a farmer. According to the researcher, the great responsibility of not only feeding his immediate family, but the entire nation as well, lies in the hands of a farmer. The researcher encourages every farmer to not waste the right to freely experiment especially in one's own farms.

Rice is the world’s most vital crop garnering 80% of the total calories consumed by 2.7 billion people, or half of the world’s population. The continuous supply of this vital crop must therefore be ensured, starting from its seeds which need to increase both in quantity and in quality. The researcher emphasizes to all farmers that there is no need for well-educated scientists and sophisticated laboratories to help p in testing plant breeds. A farmer is also a researcher being that they make observations, experiment in producing new seeds and on methods in order to make appropriate choices as based on the result of their experiments. Thus by selecting and saving their own seed, the farmers have better control of the most important resource – the seed supply. This way, they will not only be of help to themselves and their families but the entire country as well.

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