Monday, January 12, 2009
The government is urging farmers to plant more hybrid rice during the dry season of 2009 to boost their yields and consequently prop up the domestic production of palay for this year.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), said there is an incentive for farmers to plant hybrid rice as the government will provide a seed subsidy of P1,500 for every 18-kilogram bag until 2013.
Philrice said the dry season is the best time for farmers to grow hybrid rice as it provides the environment to produce as much as 12 metric tons (MT) of palay per hectare.
Also, the drier condition reduces the occurrence of bacterial leaf blight (BLB) disease and will help hybrid varieties overcome their relatively weaker resistance to the prevalent type of the BLB pathogen.
For the 2009-10 period, the DA said it is targeting to expand hectarage of hybrid rice seeds by 900,000 hectares.
The Philippine government is urging the massive propagation of hybrid rice as part of efforts to achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2013. The target to achieve rice self-sufficiency has been moved to 2013, from 2010, due to the spike in fertilizer prices and the lack of support to the agriculture sector in recent years.
Hybrid rice has the potential to provide more harvest farmers compared with the inbred variety. Farmers can harvest more than 10 MT per hectare, compared with 4 MT for inbred rice varieties. Some nongovernment organizations and farmer groups, however, are opposed to the use of hybrid rice seeds and the provision of government subsidy for seeds. They charge that the subsidies could be lost to corruption and that the cost of seeds at P3,500 per bag is quite prohibitive.
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