Rice farmers in Aurora and Bohol have increased their average yields by 1t/ha or more through the high-quality seeds they received through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Seed Program. 

Aurora’s provincial agriculturist Arnold Novicio reported that their yield rose from 3.5t/ha 10 years ago to 4.5-5t/ha today. 

Lorebien Lagapa, provincial rice seed program coordinator of Bohol, said their yield also improved from 2.73t/ha in 2022 to 3.6t/ha in 2023. She added that some farmers even reached 8t/ha. 

“With PhilRice, certified rice seeds are planted in areas that are beyond the reach of irrigation facilities. These inbred seeds have been tested to survive in rainfed areas, so that farmers get the maximum harvest by using the best-suited seeds to areas with sparse water,” Lagapa said. 

Aside from Aurora and Bohol, most of the 42 target provinces of the RCEF Seed Program have also attained higher yields, the program’s seasonal monitoring and evaluation survey showed. 

According to Flordeliza Bordey, director of the RCEF Program Management Office at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the yield increase is due to farmers’ adoption of the certified seeds, which they received repeatedly for at least seven cropping seasons through the program. 

“Certified seeds are relatively pure, have fewer weed seeds, free from visible seed-borne diseases, full and uniform in size, and have at least 85% germination rate. Based on studies, the use of certified seeds can increase yield by 10% or more,” she explained. Some of the high-yielding and location-specific varieties distributed by the program include NSIC Rc 216, Rc 222, Rc 402, and Rc 160.

Bordey said that more provinces posted higher than 5t/ha average yield in the 2022 wet and 2023 dry seasons, compared with the 2019 baseline yield.

These provinces are Zamboanga Sibugay, Lanao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, and Davao del Sur. Kalinga, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Bulacan, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Occidental, and Sarangani also achieved such yield during the dry season. 

Fifteen provinces also attained 4-5t/ha yield in 2023 dry season, while 18 provinces reached the same yield in 2022 wet season. Most of these 4-5 tonner-provinces used to yield 3t/ha and below in 2019. 

“The target provinces of the RCEF Seed Program are low and medium-yielding. Given their environmental and socio-economic capacities, they have higher potential to adopt inbred certified seeds,” she said. 

Bordey also noted that some provinces still have to post significant increases in yield as problems on degraded soil fertility need to be addressed. She cited Aklan and Samar as the only provinces that remained under the 3t/ha and below mark during the dry season, due to limited availability of irrigation water and pest and disease occurrences. 

On the other hand, Laguna saw a decline in yield, from 5.27t/ha in 2019 dry to 4.60t/ha in 2023 dry season, as their farmers shifted to planting good-eating quality rice varieties that have higher value but lower yield.

Bordey also noted that some provinces still have to post significant increases in yield as problems on degraded soil fertility need to be addressed.

“Micronutrient deficiencies in the soil were prevalent in several municipalities in the 42 provinces based on the massive conduct of crop response-based soil analysis through Minus-One-Element Technique. We are currently cascading results of the soil analysis we conducted, including the site-specific fertilizer recommendations to concerned cities and municipalities so that the deficiencies can be addressed,” she said. 

The RCEF-Seed Program is a component of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law, which allots P10 billion fund every year for the rice farmers. Sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Villar, the program is a six-year government initiative to help the farmers improve their competitiveness. PhilRice leads its implementation, in partnership with the local government units and lawmakers.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute