President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has agreed to adopt hybrid rice as a better alternative to the inbred variety for increased crop production.
This was after the President met with SL Agritech Corporation (SLAC), represented by its chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Henry Lim Bon Liong, and farmers from Central Luzon to address the challenges in the rice industry.
The SLAC is a private company engaged in the research, development, production, and distribution of hybrid rice seeds and premium quality rice.
In a statement, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said the SLAC recommended converting rice farming areas from certified seeds (CS) to hybrid seeds. The company also proposed to convert 1.90 million hectares of target areas planted with CS to hybrid seeds in four years.
In response, President Marcos said he would implement a program to promote the shift by providing subsidies and facilitating loan financing to farmers.
Aside from his commitment to further strengthening financial support to local farmers via the loan financing program, Marcos vowed to apply the best practices of Central Luzon farmers to other areas in the country.
“We would like to apply kung ano yung ginagawa ninyo dito sa Central Luzon... so we can apply sa ibang areas (what is being done in Central Luzon so that we can apply it on other areas),” he said.
Over the past two years, the hybrid system has given 41 percent better yield than conventional inbred seeds, based on a joint study by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and local government units (LGUs).
Hybrid farmers have reported harvesting around seven to 15 metric tons (MT) per hectare compared to the average of 3.6 MT per hectare for inbred seeds.
If adopted nationwide on a two-cropping cycle per year, Bon Liong said hybrid technology would give better income to farmers and achieve rice sufficiency for the country.
From January to November 2022, the National Rice Program served 1.06 million rice farmers and 3,528 farmer cooperatives through the provision of hybrid and inbred or certified seeds, production-related and post-harvest machinery, small-scale irrigation, as well as extension and training activities.
The program also established Hybrid Rice Model farms.
Under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Program, the Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) granted P3.37 billion in zero-interest and non-collateral loans to 10,643 rice farmers and 197 borrower organizations and cooperatives.