Farmers double palay harvest using hybrid rice
By By Roderick T. dela Cruz
Manila Times, February 16, 2004

FIVE Filipino farmers received recognition from President Arroyo for proving that hybrid rice could double their earnings.

One of them is Ernesto Pablo Sr., husband of a town mayor, who claimed to have harvested 259 50-kilo cavans of palay (unmilled rice) with 18-percent moisture content from a one-hectare plot in Barangay Sto. Nińo in Rizal, Occi­dental Mindoro, in October last year.

“Hybrid rice could significantly increase the income of Filipinos farmers,” Pablo told the Business Times at the recent National Rice Summit. “For one, my harvest per hectare has doubled since I shifted to hybrid rice.”

“Because of good harvest, I was able to purchase farm machine­ries,” he added.

While Pablo’s actual harvest was lower than the 292 cavans of palay earlier reported by the Department of Agriculture, this still translates to 12.95 metric tons (MT) a hectare, a significant jump from the national average of only 3.3 MT.

His wife, Mayor Sonia Pablo of Rizal, said they were able to realize a gross income of P154,800 at a single harvest from their one-hectare farm planted to Dońa Maria (SL-8H) which is being propagated by SL Agritech Corp.

According to Pablo, their investment, including SL-8H seeds and other production inputs as well as labor cost, amounted to only P31,292. She said they earned a net income of P123,508.

Vicky Pineda, another awardee, reported a yield of 182 cavans (9.1 MT) a hectare from a farm in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Antonio Villanueva, for his part, reported a 230-cavan harvest a hectare from his farm in Ilocos Sur. Villanueva’s harvest translates to 11.5 MT of palay a hectare.

Norma Lozada, who has a five-hectare farm in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur, claimed that his average yield for every hectare doubled to 172 cavans (8.6 MT). Lozada described as an intelligent move his shift in the use of seeds from traditional inbred rice to hybrid variety in 2001.

Benigno Ramos of Pila, Laguna, also claimed that he was able to produce 172 cavans a hectare in a single harvest last year.

Lorenzo’s solution

Agriculture Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo Jr. is selling hybrid rice as the solution to the country’s growing population and shrinking farmlands. By 2025, the country would need 15.57 million MT of milled rice to feed its population, which is expected to climb to 107 million people.

“Thousands of farmers nationwide are now into hybrid, and most, if not all of them have produced record harvests and incomes,” Lorenzo said. “This is the only way through which our farmers will be competitive in relation to other rice producers all over the world.”

Lorenzo, however, said that farmers have to do their part in making the hybrid technology successful.

“Hybrid rice technology demands training, discipline and precision,” he said. “Farmers have to undertake thorough land preparation, proper seedling and water management, a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers and even effective snail management.”

Lorenzo said he envisions a change in the farmer’s mindset.

“[The farmer] must be transformed into a businessman,” Lorenzo said. “Increase in production is important, but should also have a pre-identified market for their produce.”

Lorenzo claimed that with 100,000 hectares planted to hybrid rice, the country set a new record-high target for palay (unmilled rice) production of 13.49 million metric tons (MT) last year.

Palay output grew by 1.7 percent to 13.49 million MT in 2003 from 13.27 million MT in 2002, mainly because of a 2.7-percent improvement in yield a hectare.

Lorenzo expressed hope that palay production would reach 14.9 million MT in 2004, with the planting of hybrid seeds in 600,000 irrigated areas. The final goal is to exceed the national palay requirement, which is expected to reach 15.48 million MT this year.

“We have gone far and there is no turning back,” Lorenzo said.

Chinese Mestizo

Frisco M. Malabanan, director of the Department of Agriculture’s rice program, defined hybrid rice technology as one anchored on the genetic phenomenon of heterosis or hybrid vigor. Heterosis refers to the superiority of the hybrid rice over its parent varieties that were subjected to cross-pollination.

At present, the government promotes the planting of its Chinese Mestizo varieties—Mestizo (PSB Rc72H), Mestizo 2 (NSIC Rc114H) and Mestizo 3 (NSIC Rc116H).

These varieties, which actually comprise the second-generation hybrid rice in the Philippines, were called Mestizo because they were products of cross-pollination between Philippine-grown varieties and the hybrid rice from China.

“With the remarkable and well-documented experience in China, the Philippines recognized how the technology can be exploited to achieve self-sufficiency in rice and feed more than a billion,” Malabanan said.

Before the Mestizo lines, the Philippine Rice Research Institute had developed Magat (PSB Rc26H) as the first generation hybrid rice variant.

On top of the Chinese Mestizo lines, the government also endorses the use of commercial hybrid varieties such as Dona Maria (SL-8H) of SL Agritech Corp., Bigante of Bayer CropScience Inc., Magilas 500 of Monsanto Philippines, Inc. and Rizalina 28 of HyRice.

When President Arroyo issued Administrative Order No. 25 in 2001, the country began implementing the Hybrid Rice Commercialization Program, with the planting of hybrid seeds in only 6,000 hectares.

“From zero to 6,000 hectares in 2001, the area planted to hybrid rice grew by leaps and bounds. Currently, we now have 100,000 hectares, and we are programming 600,000 hectares this year,” Lorenzo said.

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