Written by Alfred Franco T Caballero
Many people will swear to love one spouse in their lifetime but Alfredo Roble swears he will love hybrid rice even in his next life.
“Mamatay man ako at mabuhay uli, hybrid pa din ang itatanim ko!”was Roble’s impassioned words during his presentation during the 1st National Hybrid Rice Congress at the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.
Wildest dreams come true
You would understand his love for hybrid rice when you hear about what it has done to improve his and his entire family’s lives. The turn-around has been so complete; never in their wildest dreams did they imagine everything that has happened to them so far. What used to be one of the humblest of nipa huts has now transformed into a fully-concretized and even air-conditioned bungalow that can comfortably house his family. He now owns a motorcycle and if things continue as they are right now, he plans to acquire a truck for delivering his rice to the market.
Roble, like many of his neighbors in Valencia, were struggling inbred rice farmers. However, unlike many of his friends, Roble was one of the first to try planting hybrid rice in their area after a season–long DA-sponsored hybrid rice production training course.
Roble, also the village chief, is one of the best farmers in the country. He was awarded the 2011 Best Hybrid Rice, a Presidential trophy and citation, and P100,000 cash by President Benigno Aquino III at the Malacañang Palace, December 2011.
Gawad Saka is the most prestigious agriculture award in the country. It is given annually to various members of the agricultural sector who have shown exemplary performance.
So how exactly did Roble do it?
In his presentation, Roble enumerated best practices that he believed led to his success.
First, he shifted to hybrid commercialization. This gave him a 188% increase in yield. He used to harvest 4t/ha from inbred varieties but shifting to hybrid rice saw him earn a whopping 11.51t/ha! That is a 150- cavan difference from his highest inbred harvest.
Second, balance fertilization is important. Aside from providing the right amount of nutrients at the right time, which ensures the best growth of the rice plants, proper fertilization also helps avoid pest infestation. High amounts of nitrogen, for example, make the plants more attractive to many pests that feed on the more succulent plants.
Third is the practice that really elevated him above the rest. He ratooned his hybrid crops. For example, he once earned P240, 000 from his main crop and another P40, 000 from his ratoon crop. At 15% additional cost, he earned 17% percent more than usual.
Fourth, he advised planting a different variety every site, every cropping season.
With all his recent success Roble is keen on expanding farm enterprise, branching into vegetable production and hog raising. With his prize money, he can certainly do this. He has also set his sights on organic farming through a natural farming system. He plans to go into the production of organic fertilizer and natural farming inputs.