DA bolsters quality hybrid rice seeds in Western Visayas

The Department of Agriculture continues to increase the utilization of quality hybrid rice varieties in Western Visayas to boost production, income and adaptation to climate change.

In collaboration with the Rice Productivity Advocacy Inc. (Rice Board), DA gears up the 2nd National Rice Technology Forum and Field Day in Pototan, Iloilo on March 16-18, 2016 which gathered over 3000 farmers and agricultural workers from Region 6,7,8 and 18 to witness before them some of the high-yielding rice varieties grown in the area.

According to Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Edilberto de Luna, who is also the DA national rice program coordinator, they decided to bring the forum and field days to other regions in the country as there are still provinces whose rice yields are below the national average and their utilization of high quality seeds is low which include Regions 6 and Iloilo province.

Provincial Agriculturist Ildefonso T. Toledo said low utilization of hybrid rice is one of the reasons for low average production in Iloilo.

The province is averaging 3.6 to 3.7 metric tons per hectare (MT/ha) as compared to the national average of 4.03 metric tons production in rice yielding areas in Nueva Ecija, Isabela and Pangasinan in Region 3.

“We are among the top five rice producing provinces in the region but our production is below the national average. But if we are using high yielding variety, we can average about 10 to 15 MT/ha. So if we will be able to improve our production, that would mean a lot to our farmers,” Mr. Toleda said.

Through the forum and the National Rice Program, De Luna encouraged the farmers to adopt hybrid rice which based on reports have recorded a yield advantage of 33% more than those of inbred certified seeds. The event is also a venue to clarify why quality hybrid rice seeds cost more at P4,500 per bag of 20 kilos as compared to the registered varieties at P1,600 per bag that Ilonggo farmers find very costly.

“Hybrid rice varieties have recorded a 33% increase in yield potential for farmers. That is why I challenge all of our industry stakeholders in making sure that majority of the areas planted to farmer’s home-saved seeds will shift to hybrid and inbred certified seeds to significantly boost the rice production in the country,” De Luna said.

He said achieving rice sufficiency is the primary challenge of the rice industry. The rice program will continue to encourage farmers to plant elite rice varieties to help the country address the yearly increasing food demands and move closer to achieving self-sufficiency.

Rice production in Vietnam costs P6 per kilo, in China, P8, while in the Philippines is P11 per kilo, thus the Philippine farmers have to move forward in the highly competitive rice industry in time for the 2017 ASEAN integration, de Luna stated.

Moreover, some of the farmers who have shifted to hybrid rice varieties gave testimonies on their improved yield during the forum.

Among them was Rodel G. Parcon from Barangay Dapitan in Pototan who has been using hybrid rice for 10 years.

“Hybrid seeds easily adapt to climate change. I am averaging 150 to 160 cavans (50kg sacks) with hybrid rice compared to only 100 cavans with inbred rice. Right seeds, right technology, and ample supply of water would ensure you of a good harvest,” he said.

Meanwhile, seed board president Recher Ondap assured the board has ready and enough supply of hybrid rice seeds for Visayan farmers that can be availed through their farmer associations and cooperatives and the agriculture provincial and regional offices. PPBernal

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