The Department of Agriculture (DA) has targeted an unprecedented hybrid rice area of 1.2 to 1.3 million hectares for crop year 2022 after a lull in planting amid the pandemic.
Frisco M. Malabanan, DA rice program consultant, said at least 700 hectares of hybrid rice are being readied for the bumper dry season of 2022.
“For our third year now, we have aggressively pursued hybrid rice planting. That is the reason why we have been able to attain the highest level of rice production this year. With hybrid rice, you’re sure to automatically harvest an additional 1.52 metric tons per hectare versus inbred,” said Malabanan.
The Philippines posted a record rice harvest of 19.44 million MT in 2020 from 18.81 million MT in 2019. But this requires a DA budget for the food security to ensure a sustainable hybrid rice program.
“The budget of DA for food security has yet to be approved. It’s still being discussed in the Senate,” said Malabanan.
Private seed growers have committed to supply DA with the needed hybrid rice seeds. They are now readying the rice area involving DA’s rice clustering program.
The clustering program consolidates a hybrid rice area of at least 100 hectares, particularly in 15 priority provinces.
“We assure the government of our support for this public partnership program. It will be the key to our goal for food sufficiency and food security,” said Rice Board President Recher Ondap.
“We hope to be assured of the government’s budget allocation as many farmers have started land preparation for the dry season 2022. Budgetary support should not only be for this rice clustering program but for the entire food sufficiency and resiliency program,” he added.
Out of the 15 priority provinces, five provinces already been identified. These top five provinces are Bukidnon, Bicol, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, and Ilocos.
DA has been successful in restoring the hybrid rice program after DA secured a budget for this in the last two years.
“Secretary (William) Dar has been supported by the economic managers in the budget for hybrid rice. Prior to this, our hybrid rice area was only at around 300,000 to 400,000 hectares,” Malabanan said.
Under the hybrid rice program, the DA allocated a seed subsidy of P5,000 per hectare. This is with fertilizer support of three vouchers per farmer equivalent to P1,000 per voucher.
But these are not the only things needed for the DA rice program to take off. The programs on irrigation, fertilization, mechanization also have to be funded.