PILI, Camarines Sur --- Over 61,000 rice farmers in the Bicol region are expected to plant hybrid rice varieties this wet season as the Department of Agriculture (DA) started distributing one bag hybrid rice seeds and three bags urea fertilizer per hectare to farmers under DA’s Rice Resiliency Program (RRP), DA Bicol chief Rodel P. Tornilla said.
Tornilla said that major farm inputs for adopting high-yielding technologies would be promoted to increase local supply of the staple food under the RRP. This project is under the DA stimulus program named Agri 4Ps – Plant, Plant, Plant Program otherwise known as Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat kontra Covid-19 (ALPAS sa Covid-19).
The accelerated distribution of seeds and inputs in all the municipalities of the six provinces of Bicol is being conducted in partnership with provincial agriculturists (PAs) and municipal agriculturists (MAs).
As of press time, DA Bicol has distributed a total of 25,451 bags hybrid rice seeds regionwide. In Albay, 16 local government units (LGUs) have already distributed 9,026 bags to the same number of farmers. In Camarines Norte, 12 LGUs have already distributed 3,608 bags. In Camarines Sur, 24 LGUs have already distributed 8,473 bags.
In Catanduanes, 11 LGUs have already distributed 756 bags. In Masbate, 4 LGUs have already distributed 118 bags. In Sorsogon ,13 municipal LGUs have already distributed 3,470 bags to the same number of farmers.
Aside from hybrid seeds, the farmers will also receive urea and zinc sulfate.
The hybrid rice seeds varieties distributed were: SL 20H; S6003, NK 5017, Bigante Plus, Habilis, AZ 7888; PHB 73; TH 82, US 88, and Quadro Alas.
The intensified promotion and distribution of hybrid rice seeds and inorganic fertilizers to all the 107 municipalities is under the Expanded Hybrid Rice Production component of the Rice Resiliency Program (RRP) where one bag of hybrid seed and three bags of urea per hectare will be given to each farmer upon presentation of proof of purchase or receipts of two bags urea fertilizer.
Another component of the RRP is Enhanced Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) were two bags of urea fertilizer per hectare will be given to each farmer beneficiary of RCEF seeds from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) upon presentation of proof of purchase or receipts of two bags urea fertilizer.
This covers Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Sorsogon provinces under RCEF. The third component of RRP is the Expanded Inbred Rice Production where rice farmers in Camarines Norte, Catanduanes and other areas not included in RCEF will receive two bags of urea fertilizer per hectare upon presentation of proof of purchase of two bags urea fertilizer.
The private seed companies have designated experts in hybrid rice production to provide technical assistance to the rice farmers and monitor problems encountered by farmers.
The DA Bicol Rice Program headed by Lorenzo Alvina and the Research Outreach Stations in the six provinces are working double time to deliver the seeds to the LGUs were the farmers can get the seeds.
Alvina said that in 2019, the DA Bicol Rice Program distributed a total of 40,040 bags of hybrid rice seeds for the whole year. This Covid-19 pandemic time, the program will distribute 61,202 hybrid rice seeds in less than a month’s time to catch up with the start of wet cropping season.
With the provision of high yielding seeds, fertilizers and other technical assistance to farmers, the DA Bicol Rice Program projected an increase in the regional rice production of 1,192,904 metric tons (MT) (PSA data) in 2019 to 1,405,432 MT in 2020 and 1,566,176 MT in 2021.
Cost of production per kilo of rice is also projected to drop from P10.53 in 2019 to P9.58 in 2020 and P8.88 in 2021. Average yield is also seen to increase from 3.49 MT/ha (PSA) in 2019 to 4.11 MT/ha in 2020 and 4.57 MT/ha in 2021, Alvina added.
These projections, however, are attainable under normal conditions and in the absence of destructive typhoons. (Lovella P. Guarin/RAFIS 5)