Rice program to end imports

07 Apr Posted by Administrator

By Jed Macapagal, Malaya Business Insight

The Department of Agriculture (DA) launched the Masaganang Ani 200 program that aims  to raise farmers’ rice yield to 200 cavans per hectare to stabilize food supply and  end importation.

The program espouses the use of hybrid seeds.

At the  hybrid rice harvest festival of SL Agritech Corp. in Nueva Ecija, DA secretary said the Philippines “will be self-sufficient in rice before year 2020 if we will plant more hybrid rice seeds.”

“Masaganang Ani 200 is our best option.  Next year, we’ll have one million hectares for hybrid rice to achieve sufficiency.  We only have hybrid on less than 10 percent of our four million hectare rice land. We’ll present this program to the Cabinet on April 19,” Pinol said.

The DA chief  cited  data from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)  which said  as of 2014, traded rice stood at 42 million MT. 

“We can’t just depend on other countries.  We don’t know when the next typhoon will come or when the next El Niño will hit us.   The reality is we’re subject to climate change.  The volume of rice traded in the market is just at 36 million tons and 34 million of that is committed ,” Piñol said.

He said  in 2008, the price of rice  in the global market spiked up to $1,200 per ton.

“What if El Niño hits Vietnam, India, China? We won’t be able to compete with China.  So we must improve farmers’ productivity.  We don’t need to expand our area.  We just need to improve technology.  If we raise productivity by two tons per hectare, that will be two million tons from one million hectare, and we won’t need to import,” Pinol added.

He said the use of hybrid seeds  can double farmers’ harvest from the present 4.15 MT per hectare national average yield per hectare. 

Farmers are being encouraged to switch from using inbred seeds, also known to be self-pollinating  rice varieties, to hybrid seeds.

Self-pollination enables most inbreds with a yield of 80 cavans per hectare to a high of 150 cavans per hectare.  

Hybrid seeds have been bred using two superior parents intentionally selected for their desired traits,  allowing it with bigger yields.  

The DA  farmers under the program will be provided with their own biometric identification card and passbook.  Farmers will also be provided with machines including tractors, transplanters and combine harvesters aside from credit by lending P50,000 each in a collateral-free credit that may be obtained in three days. 

The plan, however, is being compared to the Masagana 99 program introduced by former president  Ferdinand Marcos which was  proposed for revival in 2016.

Masagana 99 also promoted the use of high-yielding rice varieties created by IRRI and allowed the country to export rice for the first time to Asian countries.

In the same event,  SL-8H hybrid rice grower Edgardo Marcelo reported he reaped for the just completed dry season 266 cavans at 59.3 kilos per cavan from his 1.3 hectare land.

This translates to 242 cavans on a per hectare 50-kilo basis. Such harvest generates P216,000 in net income for a four-month cropping period with production cost of around P50,000 at a rice husk (palay) selling price of P20 per kilo. 

In 2016, Marcelo’s harvest was even higher at 308 cavans from the 1.3 hectare land.

Another farmer, Ricardo  Buenaventura claimed  to have started harvesting at least 200 cavans since he started growing hybrid rice SL-8H.  - with Jojo de Guzman

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