By Zhao Yipu, People’s Daily
The Philippine-Sino Friendship Farm is located in Maluid Barangay of the municipality of Victoria, Tarlac province, the Philippines. Rice growing is a major business of the farm.
Villager Maniego, 94, who owns the six-hectare farm, often goes to the fields to check the growth of rice.
“I’ve been cooperating with the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology (PhilSCAT) over the past more than a decade. I have grown many varieties of hybrid rice developed by Chinese experts, which improved the yield per hectare to nearly 11 tons from three to four tons in the past,” said Maniego.
“I raised the salary for my employees on the farm after the production was lifted,” he told People’s Daily.
The PhilSCAT was established in Nueva Ecija province, the Philippines in 2001. It focuses on the research, development and promotion of hybrid rice varieties.
The center has helped plant commercial hybrid rice on 514,400 hectares of paddy fields in the Philippines over the past 21 years, and set pilot demonstration programs of rice growing and seed production techniques in 29 Philippine provinces. It has benefited over 300,000 farming households and increased grain production by over 4.8 billion kilograms.
“We believe in China’s hybrid rice technologies and Chinese experts,” said Maniego.
Maniego spoke of his Chinese friend Ma Wendong, who offered technical guidance for his farm. “We used to check rice growth in the paddy fields together, wearing straw hats and barefooted,” he told People’s Daily.
Ma is a hybrid rice expert sent to the PhilSCAT by Yuan Longping High-tech Agriculture Co., Ltd. (Longping High-tech)， which is named after Yuan Longping, known as the father of hybrid rice. Under Ma’s guidance, all six hectares of Maniego’s farmland are planted with hybrid rice.
Experts sent by Longping High-tech to the PhilSCAT have cultivated and introduced to the Philippines multiple high-quality hybrid rice varieties, including 18 that have been approved by the country’s agricultural authorities and entered the local market.
At the completion ceremony of the PhilSCAT Technical Cooperation Program Phase III, then Philippine Secretary of Agriculture William D. Dar noted that China’s hybrid rice technologies had steadily lifted rice production in his country, which was important for ensuring food security and improving farmers’ livelihood.
Besides, the PhilSCAT has introduced 449 sets of equipment to the Philippines for training, production and scientific research.
The PhilSCAT Technical Cooperation Program Phase III is undertaken by Central Luzon State University. In 2019, its employee Efraim Saturno went to China to attend a training program on hybrid rice technologies.
“I saw efficient mechanized agricultural production in Ningxiang, central China’s Hunan Province. All procedures were completed by machines, including seed production, sowing, growing and harvesting. It was very impressive,” Saturno said.
So far, the PhilSCAT has trained 15,000 people and sent 11 batches of Philippine technicians to China for training. It also offers suggestions for the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture and relevant institutions, promoting reforms on eight local mechanisms.
Edgar Orden, president of Central Luzon State University told People’s Daily that the university is a witness to the PhilSCAT’s development over the past 21 years, which saw the contributions made by Chinese agricultural experts to Philippines-China agricultural cooperation.
He said the Chinese experts’ contributions are important to the Philippines’ agricultural development, and Philippines-China agricultural cooperation is conducive to ensuring the Philippines’ food security.