RiceBIS cluster leaders in Agusan convene for the 1st Regional RiceBIS Agroenterprise Summit

Rice Business Innovations System (RiceBIS) cluster leaders across Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur convene for the 1st Regional RiceBIS Agroenterprise Summit on 19-20 October 2022 in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte. The two-day event highlighted the agro-enterprise developed by each cluster during the Phase 2 and Expansion Sites of the RiceBIS program. 

“For this activity, they [RiceBIS clusters] will be sharing their journey. We will be learning from each cluster [lalo na kung paano nila itinayo ang kanilang] business,” said DA-PhilRice Agusan assistant branch director Cherry U. Seville. 

Spearheaded by the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), eight participating clusters from Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, namely Bay-ang; Calamba; Luna; La Union; Humilog; Balang-balang; Alubijid; and Malpoc were able to present their significant accomplishments brought by the technology such as graduating from a Farmer’s Field School, availing farm supplies and inorganic fertilizers, raising a capital for the cluster’s agroenterprise business, and sharing knowledge on agroenterprise development from one person to another. The cluster also emphasized that these accomplishments contributed to the increase in yield and income. 

RiceBIS, through the funding assistance of DA-BAR, aims to create a development model for community transformation to improve the competitiveness of rice-based farming communities. Further, to address the low productivity and income of rice farmers, the program’s goal is to reach a 25% increase in income through agro-enterprises engagement. 

Sharen T. Rivas, focal person of RiceBIS Agusan, emphasized that agro-enterprise development is a group marketing business of organized farmers. Thus, it caters to those who are income-insecure. 

Following the program, project leader Dr. Aurora M. Corales gave a closing message by sharing how the program took off in 2017. Relevant to the RiceBIS objectives, she emphasized that farming communities were now able to market their rice products given the increase in rice production. 

"Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa mga magsasaka dahil hindi [natin] mabubuo ang mga agro-enterprises kung wala ang inyong pakikisama,” she added. 

Dr. Corales also expressed her gratitude to the DA-PhilRice Agusan for the continuous support in this endeavor. 

DA-BAR Research Coordination Division technical staff Wilson G. Viloria II, meanwhile, provided feedback and impressions on the recently-held event in a debriefing session. DA-BAR commended the DA-PhilRice Agusan for initiating its first RiceBIS regional summit and how farmer clusters participated in a discussion with the panelists. 

Simultaneously, a Site Working Group meeting was also conducted to further strengthen the RiceBIS community program. Rivas explained the status of the program in the province, as well as its sustainability plans and strategies. (### Diwa J. Velasquez)