PhilRice, Irri to craft PHL rice-farming plan

January 08, 2017

By Jasper Y. Arcalas

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it would bank on the inputs of the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in crafting a national rice farming program.

“The government has plenty of work to do pertaining to rice. We would be very dependent on Irri and PhilRice in terms of formulating our program,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Operations Federico E. Laciste Jr. said in a statement issued by Irri over the weekend.

Laciste, who is also the deputy director of the Philippines’s  National Rice  Program, said collaboration in developing a national strategy for rice farming is important to uplift the lives of Filipino farmers.

Irri said Laciste was briefed on the various collaborative research projects implemented jointly by the research institute and the PhilRice in support of the National Rice Program.

The projects include Rice Crop Manager, a web-based decision support tool for precision farming; Philippine Rice Information System, a satellite-based rice forecasting and monitoring system; and Green Super Rice (GSR), climate-smart varieties developed under the Next Generation (NextGen) project.

For the country’s rice sector to be competitive, farmers must produce at least 7 metric tons (MT) of rice per hectare at P7 per kilogram, according to Irri, citing a benchmarking study of an ongoing project it is conducting with the DA.

“This is already possible,” said Dr. Jimmy Quilang, deputy executive director of PhilRice, adding that in one of their agency’s project, called Palayabangan (rice and pride) challenge, one farmer produced 10 MT of rice in a hectare at only P5 per kg.

“With the technologies that we have developed with Irri, we already have ways to really make Filipino farmers more competitive,” Quilang added.

Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the DA will plant hybrid-rice seeds in 1 million hectares of irrigated lands starting this year, in its bid to achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2019.

Under the program, dubbed as Masaganang Ani (MA) 6000 program, the government will identify 10 initial areas with 1,000 hectares of irrigated land.

“The DA is positive that it can be done. We are now in the process of finalizing the MA 6000 program, which will initially target 1 million hectares of irrigated areas,” Piñol told reporters.

“These areas will be supported with hybrid-rice seeds, sufficient fertilizer, and efficient irrigation system and mechanization,” he added.

The DA is eyeing to hike the national average rice production to 6 MT per hectare from the current 3.9 MT per hectare. Citing farmers’ testimonies, Piñol said they are able to produce more than the national average yield by planting hybrid-rice seeds in areas with proper irrigation system and efficient farm machines.

Business Mirror January 8 2017