A Century of Rice Innovations


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Saturnina C. Halos
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Rice innovations are technologies and practices extensively adopted so as to change production practices and productivity. This paper documents the changes in rice productivity, policy and institutions in the last 100 years and identifies the technological change that may have affected rice productivity. One hundred years has totally changed rice production practices and improved productivity. Technical innovations that helped improved rice productivity include irrigation, pest management notably, the management of locust outbreaks, fertilization, modern varieties, farm mechanization, improved rice milling and crop rotation. Irrigation increased productivity and the total annual area planted to rice. More technologies associated with irrigated lowland rice cropping were developed and disseminated subsequently rice productivity in irrigated areas is higher than in other areas. The rice innovation system comprised of technology developers, innovators or promoters of technologies and their delivery systems. Technology developers include public institutions like BA/BPI, UPCA/UPLB, IRRI, PhilRice, other SUCs as well as agri-input companies. NGOs are recent technology developers as well as innovators. The major innovator is the government, the Department of Agriculture with its rice programs. Of its various rice programs, the Masagana 99 Program revolutionized rice production with its legacy of farmers receptive to technological change. Rice productivity slowly rose from 0.832 MT/ha in 1903 to 3.28 MT/ha in 2002, this latter represents only half of possible maximum yield. This slow rate of productivity increase is due mainly to slow adoption of new technologies rather than lack of new technologies. Of the critical technologies contributory to yield, only the use of modern varieties is extensively adopted whereas irrigation, fertilization and pest management practices are yet to be extensively applied. Further improvements in the government rice program, in the extension system and new technology designs are needed to improve technology adoption. Technology developers should include in the design of technology its acceptability and its delivery strategy to rice farmers. Other considerations in technology design should include global warming, decreasing water supply, and environmental protection. Needless to say, investments in RDE must be increased and improvements in the R & D climate to retain rice scientists versed in new methodologies in the country must be made.