Harvest Time

PhilRice Deputy Director is Ilocos Region son

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By Dr. Sosimo Ma. Pablico

FIRST, Dr. Leocadio S. Sebastian from Vigan City, Ilocos Sur was the PhilRice [Philippine Rice Research Institute] deputy executive director for research when Dr. Santiago R. Obien was the executive director then, Dr. Madonna C. Casimero of Balungao, Pangasinan became the third PhilRice deputy executive director for research when Dr. Sebastian was already the second PhilRice executive director.

Soon after Dr. Sebastian left PhilRice late last year to become the director of Biodiversity International in Malaysia, Dr. Casimero also resigned from the Institute to assume a post at the ACIAR [Australian Center for International Agriculture Research]. However, another son of the Ilocos Region – Dr. Eulito U. Bautista, also from Balungao and a relative of Dr. Casimero – has been selected as the Institute’s fourth deputy executive director for research.

The cliché “small but terrible” could very well describe Dr. Bautista, almost 52, an expert in the design and development of farm machinery and postharvest equipment. He is also a specialist in industrial extension, technology commercialization, and farm machinery economics.

Accredited as Scientist III by the Department of Science and Technology and the Civil Service Commission, Dr. Bautista was No. 2 in the 1980 licensure examination for agricultural engineers. Moreover, he already has six inventions with patent and three others with pending patents.

He received a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in agricultural science from the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan through a Ronpaku fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He also obtained a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in agricultural engineering from UP Los Baños through scholarship grants from the Agricultural Machinery Development Program (AMDP) and Don Jose Zamora scholarship fund, respectively.

Before he joined PhilRice in 1991, he worked at the UPLB AMDP and then at IRRI [International Rice Research Institute]. He got involved in the development of fertilizer applicators, seeders for rice and other crops, and hand tractor accessories, as well as in the training of engineers from other countries on specific machineries. For a while, he was a consultant in the Asian Rice Farming Systems Network, collaborating with the Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences in China.

At PhilRice, he led in the design, development and commercialization of the following technologies in the Philippines: PhilRice improved drum seeder, rice micromill, Maligaya flatbed dryer, Maligaya rice hull household stove, PhilRice-JICA rice rotary reaper, PhilRice rice stripper, microtiller for the rice terraces, cleaner for inbred and hybrid seeds, panicle thresher for the Cordilleras, and a rice mini-combine.

Dr. Bautista has received the PAGASA award from the CSC as a co-team leader in the development of agricultural machinery for rice production, a development award from the Los Banos Science Community for his research on the rice stripper-harvester, the outstanding agricultural engineer award from the Philippine Society of Agricultural Engineers (PSAE), the Most Distinguished Invention award from the DOST, a performance achievement award from IRRI, the UPLB distinguished alumnus award in 2004, Japan’s Mori technical award in 2004, and the national best paper award from the Bureau of Agriculture Research in 2005.

He was also named one of nine outstanding inventors in 1993 by DOST and the best PhilRice researcher (level 2) in 1994. He was also one of the three national finalists in the Gawad Saka search for outstanding scientist in the Department of Agriculture in 1996. Moreover, he has won a total of six best papers – 2 from PSAE, 1 from the Central Luzon Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium, and 3 from the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

Bautista’s improved drum seeder took off from an IRRI design, which he worked on earlier. It was designed to drop seeds in rows spaced at 20 centimeters at adjustable rates on wet soil surface. The machine is aided by a pair of skids with drums, which allow working on soft soil surface.

The PhilRice drum seeder places the seeds in furrows, minimizing bird and rat damage. The machine creates small canals where seeds would drop from the drum hoppers. It has ground wheels at both ends, which serve as row markers. The irony is that it was Vietnam that commercialized the machine ahead of the PhilRice because the Vietnamese manufacturers are more aggressive than their Filipino counterparts. The good news is that the drum seeder is now picking up in the Philippines.

The rice micromill has made an impact in remote areas where the only means of milling rough rice is by the traditional mortar and pestle. Without this machine, these rural villagers carry their palay to distant village centers where big rice mills operate. The machines made by one manufacturer in Ilocos Norte are selling like hot cakes in remote places in Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Ifugao.

The Maligaya flatbed dryer was intended to solve the problem of drying rice during the wet season. In collaboration with a university in Vietnam, the furnace of this dryer was designed to derive heat from burning rice hull or a combination of rice hull and other farm wastes. More than 300 units of this dryer have been adopted in the country for drying palay, corn, coffee, and banana chips.

The multi-crop flourmill produces fine flour from dry rice and other grains. The flour is fine enough to be used for bakery products like sponge cake. (With Hazel V. Antonio)

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