Tuesday, June 14, 2011
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Philippine rice sufficiency at risk as government withdrew subsidy for hybrid rice seed.
The country’s rice sufficiency is reportedly in danger with the Philippine government’s decision to withdraw subsidy for hybrid rice.
The agriculture department’s exclusion of hybrid rice technology from its priorities spells doom to the country’s bid to become self-sufficient in rice, said Dr. Noel Manicpic, vice president for seed quality control of SL Agritech. The firm is a leading private hybrid rice seed producer in the country, supplying hybrid seeds to several South East Asian countries.
Manicpic criticized Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for excluding the promotion of hybrid rice technology. He declared that the agriculture chief’s lack of interest in hybrid rice is unfortunate because with the “hybrid rice’s higher yield, the gap between the production of inbred rice varities and the former is very wide.”
Hybrid rice varieties yield as much as 17 tons per hectare compared to seven to eight tons from inbred rice.
“Previous DA secretaries have always made hybridization a core program but Alcala is not inclined towards hybridization,” said Manicpic.
He explained that the withdrawal of the government’s seed subsidy which had been enjoyed by farmers in the past is premature because acceptance of the technology by farmers is not yet at the point when no more government intervention is needed to keep farmers planting hybrid varieties.
Manicpic said that at its peak, only 300,000 hectares of the country’s 1 million hectares of irrigated land were planted with hybrid rice.
“Many farmers know of the advantages of planting hybrid rice but the inaccessibility of its seeds due to its high price gets in the way. Also, being a new technology, hybridization should be aggressively promoted. Hand in hand with seed subsidy, the govenrment should also provide credit and research and development,” said Manicpic.
Hybrid seeds go for P4,000.00 to P5,000.00 per hectare, an amount which is prohibitive for many farmers, said Manicpic. He said subsidizing at least half the amount would be a great help to local farmers.
“My point is that the hybridization program has not yet reached the point when it is wise to discontinue seed subsidy,” Manicpic repeated.
The hybrid rice promoter was in Tabuk City, the Cordillera’s rice bowl, as guest in the harvest festival to show to other farmers in the city the 100 hectares compact farm for commercialization of hybrid rice.
Cabaruan, Tabuk’s Barangay Chairman Rogelio Polon said that the average yield per hectare of the 17 hybrid rice farmers who already harvested their crops are 183 cavans, way above the 100 per hectare normal yield of inbred rice in Tabuk.
To further prove his point, rice farmer Edward Boclongan of San Julian village also in Tabuk, said he harvested 237 cavans per hectare this cropping season using the hybrid rice technology. He netted P180,000.00 from hybrid rice production.
Tabuk City agriculturist Gilbert Cawis said more farmers prefer subsidy than other interventions from the government. “If they cannot continue the subsidy program, they should instead subsidize the price of palay especially when prices of the grains fluctuate.
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