Tuesday, August 30, 2011
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If only all rice farmers in the Philippines’ 2.7 million hectares of rice paddies can hit an average palay (unmilled rice) production of nine tons per hectare each cropping season, the country can easily reclaim its top position as the world’s rice granary.
Impossible? Not to Alexander Manguera, 47, of purok 8, barangay Base Camp here. Manguera recently harvested 9.6 tons of pure organic palay in his one-hectare rice paddy in his first-ever attempt at using the Integrated Rice-Ducks Farming System (IRDFS) propagated by the non-government organization Philippine Agrarian Reform Foundation for National Development (Parfund).
Manguera’s harvest is the biggest, so far, in the history of the IRDFS in the Philippines. He surpassed the erstwhile bounty harvest of 7.3 tons in the one-hectare farm of Rodi Dongallo in Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental.
But Dongallo’s 7.3-ton harvest was achieved only after four years of implementing the IRDFS while Manguera achieved his in just one cropping season (three months from seeding to harvesting) using the M3 rice variety.
“I was very happy when Sir Poloy informed me that I have the biggest harvest of palay using the rice-duck technology,” he told the BusinessMirror.
Poloy, nickname of Jose Apollo Pacamalan, Parfund program director, is the only IRDFS expert in the Philippines who studied the technology under the watchful eye of its developer, Japanese innovative organic farmer Takao Furuno.
The average palay harvest per hectare in the Philippines is 3.7 tons (or 74 bags of 50 kilos each), according to the Department of Agriculture (DA). But Manguera’s harvest was 9.6 tons (at 160 sacks of 60 kilos each).
“If each farmer can harvest 9 tons per cropping, we need not import rice anymore,” he said.
The Philippines imported a record 2.3-million tons of rice and spent about US$1.5 billion in 2010 alone, the biggest importation so far since the country started importing rice in 2000. The DA said that since 2000, the annual average rate of rice importation of the country until 2010 is 16 percent. This makes the Philippines the world’s number-one rice importer despite its basically an agricultural country like its rice-exporting neighbors in Asia.
The country’s irrigated rice production continually increased since 2000, with the country harvesting a total of 9,412,676 tons. It harvested 9,790,260 tons in 2001; 9,949,173 tons in 2002; 10,250,223 tons in 2003; 10,941,836 tons in 2004; 11,233,793 tons in 2005; 11,594,933 tons in 2006; 12,269,390 tons in 2007; 12,556,150 tons in 2008; 12,083,264 tons in 2009; and 11,992,459 tons in 2010.
The Philippines continues to import rice because of the rapid increase in population and the inefficiency of Filipino rice farmers.
According to data from the DA, the typical Filipino rice farmer “is only 40 percent efficient” with only 25 percent of this number able to attain a harvest of four tons per hectare (t/ha).
“Seventy-five of every 100 farmers produce less than four t/ha owing to their inability to benefit from high-yielding technologies arising from high costs of production (farming inputs) relative to profitability, uncertainties in production (insect pests, diseases, typhoons, drought), low or fluctuating prices of palay, and inaccessible credit facilities,” the DA said.
But the DA, under Sec. Proseso Alcala, is bent on making the Philippines a rice-sufficient country by 2013. Under the 2011-16 Rice Self-Sufficiency Plan drafted by the government, the Philippines is targeting to produce 17.46 million metric tons (MMT) in 2011, 19.2 MMT in 2012, 21.12 MMT in 2013, 21.76 MMT in 2014, 22.41 MMT in 2015 and 23.08 MMT in 2016. This, compared to the projected palay requirements of 20.68 MMT in 2011, 20.9 MMT in 2012, 21.11 MMT in 2013, 21.56 MMT in 2014, 22.02 MMT in 2015 and 22.49 MMT in 2016.
During the DA’s 113th anniversary last June 23, Alcala vowed to totally eliminate the Philippines’ over-dependence on imported rice, reducing to one-third the 2010 rice imports of 2,380,000 MMT to just 860,000 MT this year and 500,000 MT in 2012.
By 2014, the Philippines may start exporting surplus rice, including organic rice, to fulfill the central goal of the Aquino administration’s Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Roadmap (FSSR) for 2011-2016, which also serves as the country’s blueprint for food security, to make the country rice self-sufficient.
“Sa tuloy-tuloy na reporma natin, possible pong bago tayo bumaba sa pwesto sa tanghali ng Hunyo 30, 2016, sa halip na mag-angkat, baka tayo na ang magbebenta sa ibang bansa ng bigas,” the President said during the DA’s 113th anniversary celebration in Kawit, Cavite.
But Manguera said Aquino or Alcala should not wait for 2013 or 2016 to make the country rice self-sufficient.
“We can export rice the soonest possible time especially if we implement the rice-ducks technology all over the Philippines,” he said.
The IRDFS is regarded as the future of rice farming. Furuno developed it in 1989 in an effort to reintroduce ancient rice-farming techniques in Japan and increase productivity per hectare without increasing farm inputs.
“The system [IRDFS] is based on agro-ecological principles and biological synergies that require less input but yield the highest production of rice per hectare,” Furuno said in Japanese that was interpreted by Hirotaka Konagaya. Furuno extensively lectured on his own experiences in rice-duck farming during the Sixth International Rice-Ducks Conference at the San Carlos University-Talamban Campus in Cebu City in 2008.
By Business Mirror
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