October 21, 2021
The private sector-led Rice Board has expressed support for the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) clustering program that consolidates at least 100 hectares of hybrid rice land in 15 provinces even as it pressed for an assurance of the DA national budget for food sufficiency program.
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be supported by the Rice Board as the program requires the supply of high-yielding hybrid seeds.
“We assure government of our support for this public partnership program. It will be the key to our goal for food sufficiency and food security,” said Rice Board President Recher Ondap.
“We hope to be assured of the government’s budget allocation as many farmers have started land preparation for the dry season 2022. Budgetary support should not only be for this rice clustering program but for the entire food sufficiency and resiliency program.”
Locations for five provinces out of the 15 priority provinces have already been identified. These rice farms are found in Bukidnon, Bicol, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, and Ilocos.
The consolidated farms in 15 provinces will become a more permanent technology demonstration (techno-demo) site.
These hybrid rice clusters will also become regular commercial farms season after season.
Techno-demo trials being held by government and the private sector under the National Rice Technology Forum (NRTF) are temporary.
The NRTF involves just one province with 100 hectares per season where the best of Philippines’ rice seed technologies are being demonstrated.
A total of 13 techno-demo trials had been carried out by the DA. local government units, and private sector under the NRTF in the last seven years as an effort to transfer hybrid rice technology to farmers.
The last one was held in Leyte. Report on the trials came out last October 12, 2021.
Under DA’s Memo Circular (MC) No. 11 issued June 2, 2021, these clustered hybrid rice farms should produce at least one metric ton (MT) higher yield than certified inbred seeds. Or yield should be equivalent to at least 5 MT per hectare.
“Within the 15 provinces selected for hybrid rice planting and in the selected areas outside the 15 provinces, focus (should be) on areas where our last two field reports have indicated that hybrid rice has a yield advantage of 1 ton over the certified inbred seed and an average yield of 5 tons per hectare,” MC 11 said.
Yield of the field reports is based on the harvest of 2020 Wet Season and 2021 Dry Season.
DA and its attached Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRICE) used to provide subsidy for hybrid rice seed production and commercialization.
Still, DA affirmed the private sector’s role in assuring hybrid rice seed supply for the rice productivity program to succeed.
“The private seed companies’ role is recognized as crucial in attaining the hybrid varieties’ optimum performances and attainable yield. The companies can provide the needed technical support to farmers and guide them on the proper management of their varieties following the clustering approach, “ MC 11 noted.
The Rice Board adheres to this provision, Ondap said. In fact, seed companies are employing more technical people to better facilitate the transfer of hybrid rice technology to farmers.
As they are expected to churn out high yield, these farms should raise the country’s food self sufficiency. This program should also reduce production cost and increase the income of rice farmers.
Aside from the use of high-yielding hybrid seeds and crop protection products, these clustered rice farms will also demonstrate other farming technologies.
These include best cultural practices, irrigation technology, use of machinery and drones for aerial seeding, pest/disease and nutrient management.
Present hybrid rice area in the Philippines is placed at around one million hectares. Of this, 600,000 hectares were under the DA’s hybridization program. The remaining areas were put up under efforts of the private sector .
Any expansion is foreseen to significantly reduce imports of around two million MT yearly . (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)